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Groceries take up a huge chunk of our budgets, in our house it is second only to our mortgage and it can increase even more when you have a big family.
Not to mention the growing food prices, which makes it even more important to take a look at how much you’re spending and seeing what you can do to bring down those costs.
Here are some smart ways you can save money on groceries:
Saving on protein
Protein can be one of the biggest expenses on your grocery bill, so there is a huge opportunity to save. Our local grocery store does a big meat sale 1-2 times a month. During those sales, we stock up for the entire month. We use what we can that week and freeze the rest. Then we pull out what we need.
Many stores also have a “Managers Special” section where they have products that are near their “sell by” date. You can snag some great deals there that you can also freeze or use up within the next few days.
Another option you have is to try to eat vegetarian a couple of times a week – maybe you’ve heard of Meatless Monday? Not only will it save you some dough, it’s healthy as well. Try to make it interesting for your family by trying out different yummy recipes.
Frozen fish and seafood
You can get savings up to 40% and you can also keep the fish for longer while still enjoying good quality.
Buy items on sale
Go for those goods sold at 30-50% off the regular price to get the most savings. Make sure the items you buy on sale are also the ones that your family will actually use. There is no use getting a bunch of a certain item if no one in your family will eat it.
You can also keep track of regular prices so that you will be well informed for when these things do go on sale. I have price points in my head that I use to know if I am getting a good deal. Like I won’t buy a box of cereal unless it is under $1.50 a box.
Understanding unit prices can also help you determine what kind of a deal you are getting.
This means buying an item on sale and buying a lot of it to keep in stock until it goes on sale again. Since the usual sale cycle will go from 6 to 8 weeks, you can build up your stockpile that could last for this period of time.
This one tip will save you so much money on groceries. It is way better to grab a few extra packages of toilet paper this week when they are on sale vs. paying full price for the next five or six weeks!
As you start to monitor your spending you will begin to notice patterns in the sales so you can project how much of each thing you need.
Using weekly ads
Check out your local grocery for the weekly ads they publish and look at the items on sale. You can then build your meals around these ingredients and food-stuffs for sale.
Pay special attention to items that are on the front page. These are typically super good deals that are there to draw you into the store. These are called “loss leaders.” Oftentimes the store will break even or even lose money on these items as a way of marketing to get you to buy more products.
Use this to your advantage and stock up!
Ibotta is a free app you can use to get cash back or you can use it to earn gift cards. I’ve used this for about five years now and it is a great way to get a little kickback on your purchase.
Checkout 51 is another app you can use to save money on groceries.
Not everyone uses coupons and they also don’t work for everyone. It is best to use these along with sales in order to make the most out of them and get more savings.
Sometimes people think coupons are usually for foods that aren’t healthy but you can find a ton of coupons for foods like yogurt, soy or almond milk, oatmeal, frozen vegetables, pasta, canned tomatoes, and rice. There are also coupons for items like shampoo, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and over-the-counter medicines.
When my husband and I were first married we were both in school full-time and poor as poor so I learned how to coupon. Using our same monthly budget I was able to stock up on tons more items.
I found that personal care items, cleaning supplies, etc. were the best deal for us. I still have dish soap from my couponing days years ago. It takes effort, but it can be really worth it, especially if you have a large family!
Buy in season
This is a great way to save on things that could otherwise be twice the price or more. You can even go to a farmer’s market for even cheaper prices while helping your community out as well. Work with what’s in season and you can reap the benefits through savings.
Check out markdowns
Take a look around the grocery store and check out the items that were marked down and see how much they have been marked down. This will give you a good idea if it is worth it to buy these goods. You will usually find them in the produce sections, meat sections, or at the back of the store.
Don’t spend too much time at the grocery store
The less time you spend at the store, the less the chances you can get tempted to buy unnecessary things and going over budget – we’ve all been there!
If you go to the store once a week, try cutting back to going every other week. Most things you can stock up on for a couple weeks at a time. By avoiding the store you can save a ton of money on buying groceries that you may not really need.
If you can’t stretch out your shopping trips try something grocery pickup. Many stores are now offering curbside pickup where you order online and one of the store employees will shop for you and then bring it to your car.
Some programs have a fee for this service and others have a minimum order price to qualify.
If you like to shop at Walmart you can try their grocery pick up for FREE + get $10 off your $50 order when you use this link.
This is great for things like produce or milk that may not last for two weeks.
Eat/use your leftovers
When you have extra food, reuse them another time or create meals using your leftovers in order to save. Don’t throw away food that can still be consumed and you can save on your grocery money.
I’m blessed that my hubby loves leftovers so we eat them often or he takes him as his lunch for work.
Regrow vegetable scraps
Instead of throwing those veggie scraps, you can regrow them and have your very own vegetable garden. You can do these with vegetables like onions, celery, and potatoes for example.
If you live in a climate that allows it, consider growing a garden in the summer too. Many items can be canned or preserved to last for months! We have a small container garden (two boxes about 3.5 x 3.5) and you would be amazed how much you can grow in that little space!
Growing your own spices
Instead of buying your spices from the store, you can make your own garden of herbs like basil, mint, oregano, parsley, or rosemary.
Fresh herbs can make your meals taste better and growing them in your own home can not only help you save money but also give you the assurance that you’re using fresh and healthy ingredients on your food.
I grow herbs in mason jars on my kitchen window. They are stylish and practical!
Switch up brands
You don’t need to buy name-brands all the time. Foods like canned produce, cooking oil, flour, butter, and frozen produce often times will have the same basic ingredients whether they are generic or not, but you can save more with the generic one (unless you have a coupon!).
Paying with cash
This has advantages since you won’t be as tempted to overspend. You can set aside an amount in cash specifically for your groceries and then work within that budget.
Paying with credit cards
When paying using a card, you could get grocery related rewards or cash back. Some can offer hotel points or airline miles. The key here is to stick to your plan and refrain from purchasing any unnecessary items.
We personally have the Chase Southwest card so we can earn points and fly for free!
Stay away from prepared foods
These may be more convenient and tempting to buy at times (and we all do it occasionally!), but remember that they cost around 40% more.
It is better to buy the ingredients individually and then set aside a time to prepare them. You can research on recipes and try on different meals to also add a variety.
Don’t shop hungry
It’s definitely true that if you go to the grocery store hungry, you may end up purchasing impulse buys and food that you wouldn’t need since you’ll have less patience and self-control.
Every time we go to the store hungry we end up with random junk food like corn dogs and Oreos in our cart and totally blow our budget.
Compare food prices that you see online and see which ones would come out cheaper. Amazon has great deals on things like cooking oils, beans, honey, or rice. You can also find organic and natural food online at competitive prices.
Be sure to check out this post on how to get the best deals on Amazon.
Keeping a list
By keeping track of your essentials and how much you have on hand, you can then find the right time to go to the grocery store as well as plan your trips carefully and strategically. By also monitoring what you have in your stock, you can then avoid things like food expiring or other supplies going to waste.
There are many tips and tricks you can try out to save money on groceries. See which strategy works best for you and your family to help you get those savings.
With a little due diligence, planning, and resourcefulness, you will be able to allocate your funds properly and make the most out of your grocery budget.