A husband and wife cooking together at the stove.

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Food costs can be a burden for retirees. Here are some moves that could help ease it.


Key points

  • A recent survey reveals that one-third of seniors have a hard time paying for groceries.
  • Shopping and cooking strategically can make groceries more affordable, as can using the right credit cards.

Though many people look forward to retirement, it can also be a stressful period of life. That’s because many seniors wind living up on a fixed income, and that could create a scenario where money is perpetually tight.

In a recent survey by Clever, 33% of retirees said they struggle with the cost of groceries. If you’re in a similar boat, here’s how to eke out some savings with your food shopping and make your grocery bills more manageable.

1. Shop the sales

Most supermarkets run sales on a weekly basis. If you’re retired, you may have time in your schedule to research sales ahead of time and take advantage of those discounts. You might also have the time to go to more than one store, provided that doesn’t require a ton of driving (if it does, then what you save on food, you might spend on gas).

Best of all, you don’t need to sign up for a dozen circulars to see what sales are going on. Many supermarkets make that information available online.

2. Buy in bulk strategically

Buying in bulk is a tactic that can backfire if you’re not careful. But if you’re selective about the items you purchase in bulk, then loading up on mass quantities of certain staples could be a big money-saver.

Think about the items you consume more regularly and crunch the numbers. If there’s a brand of cereal you eat every day, there’s a good chance you’ll go through your bulk supply before its expiration date. And as a general rule, it’s safer to buy nonperishable items in bulk than those that require refrigeration. So if you live alone or are new to buying in bulk, you may want to stick to that category to avoid wasted food — and wasted money.

3. Cook in bulk

Making food in large batches is another good way to save on groceries. That said, this strategy requires planning out meals in advance. But if you’re willing to go that route, you could end up cutting your food bills and freeing up money for other purposes.

4. Maximize credit card rewards

The right credit cards could make your groceries more affordable by putting more cash back in your pocket for making those purchases. Imagine you normally spend $400 a month at the supermarket. If you use a credit card that offers 1% cash back on grocery purchases, that’s $48 a year that will come back to you. ($400 x 1% = $4. Multiply that by 12 months, and you get $48).

But if you can find a credit card that pays you 3% cash back on groceries, you’ll score $144 back during the year instead. That’s almost $100 more in savings, just from using a grocery credit card.

One upside of being retired is having more time to shop strategically and prepare meals at home rather than being so busy with work that you resort to more expensive takeout. But that doesn’t mean food costs aren’t a burden for many retirees. If you’re struggling to keep up with your grocery bills, these moves could help you spend less, save more, and alleviate some of your financial stress.

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