Globally, Switzerland sells the most expensive groceries, with prices 79.1% higher than in the U.S. Norway is the second most expensive place to buy groceries, with prices 37.4% more expensive than in the U.S., and Iceland is third most expensive, where food items are 36.6% pricier.
That's according to a recent report from Bayut, a Dubai-based property portal, which used data from Numbeo, a crowd-sourced global database of consumer prices, to determine where in the world groceries cost the most — and the least.
Bayut used Numbeo's 2019 Cost of Living Index, where the U.S. was used as the baseline (set to 0%). Therefore, the index for each country represents where it stands relative to the U.S.
This study also determined which countries are the least expensive when compared to the U.S.:
- Pakistan: Groceries cost 72.9% less
- Tunisia: 67% less
- Ukraine: 66.7% less
- Egypt: 65.6% less
- Kosovo: 65.6% less
Additionally, nations with prices similar to those in the U.S. are:
- France: 1.3% more
- Taiwan: 3.2% more
- Australia: 0.8% less
- New Zealand: 2.6% less
How to save on groceries
Although groceries may be significantly cheaper in another country, it's likely you're not able, or willing, to move just to save at the supermarket. But if you feel like you are spending too much on groceries, here are four strategies for saving on food items that you can exercise right at home.
1. Avoid buying in bulk
Yep, you read that right. Buying in bulk for the sake of buying in bulk generally isn't advised when trying to save money, says Priya Malani, founder and CEO of Stash Wealth.
That's because people who shop in bulk are often buying more than they need in order to earn savings. "That short-term savings that you think is beneficial isn't always," Malani says. "Instead of buying the 12-pack of batteries for $25 when you need just two AA batteries, buy the 2-pack that costs $5 and put the other $20 toward your debt. It's a mindset thing."
Rather than every household item in bulk, stick to only when it's necessary, meaning you actually need a large amount of a given item.
If you're hosting a large gathering, it's probably fine to go ahead and buy the 500-pack of party cups. But should you run across a 20-pack of peaches for just $3.99 at your local warehouse-style grocer, it doesn't mean you need to buy the whole bag only for half of it to spoil once you bring it home.
2. Buy generic
Although it can be tempting to purchase only name brand products, there's major savings that comes with switching from premium to generic. It might not seem like a lot at first, but you'll save money little by little. In fact, buying generic could save you more than $1,500 annually, Mic reports.
To decide whether it's worth it to go for the off-brand version, check the ingredients on the back of both the premium and generic options. If the ingredient lists are the same, opt for cheaper of the two.
3. Choose in-season produce
Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables are less expensive because it's typically cheaper for grocers to buy and sell locally grown foods than to sell produce that's been shipped in from other climates.
Not sure what's in season? You can either ask around at your local grocer or reference the Department of Agriculture's seasonal produce guide.
4. Pause before your check out
In a 2019 interview with CNBC Make It, Cherie Lowe, author of "Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After," explains her No. 1 tip for saving money at the grocery store.
Lowe's tip is simple: Pause before checking out to review what's in your cart. You may realize items that you haphazardly threw in the cart, but don't really need. By pausing and taking inventory of what's in your basket, you can cut back on your grocery bill each time you visit the supermarket.
"There are some things that sometimes we pick up and maybe we might need them next week — and it's fine to go ahead and buy them next week — but right now you probably don't [need it]," Lowe told CNBC Make It. "Just pause and only buy what you really need."
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