I have two preteen boys who eat like food is going extinct tomorrow, plus a five year old and an ever hungry husband. If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to save money on groceries! Every time I think I’ve purchased for a week, the fridge is empty in just a couple of days, so it’s essential to plan ahead and keep those kiddos full, as well as properly nourished.
If you find yourself struggling to keep enough groceries on hand or if you just want to start cutting back a bit on the expenses, this post is for you. I’m going to show you how to save money on groceries every month.
How to Save Money on Groceries
Ready to start saving? Here are my top ways to save money on groceries each and every month.
1. Cut Out the Extras
Chances are, you buy a few things that are extra each time you hit the grocery store. That pack of gum or cherry cola aren’t necessary and if you grab a couple of extras each trip, it adds up fast.
A simple way to save money on extras is to make a list and stick to it when you shop. Your list will be even more useful if you actually meal plan, so you know exactly what you need for every meal this week. You will buy just what you need and skip anything that would otherwise be wasted.
2. Use Coupons
This is a really obvious piece of advice, but it has to be included here. Don’t just clip a few coupons and head in to buy food, though. Study up on the opportunities that your local shops offer. Some will let you double coupons, some will price match, etc. so it’s worth learning what is offered.
Don’t forget to sign up online for deals, too. Many stores and brands will send you emails with coupons and offers. If you use Gmail, a simple way to collect these is to create a folder for “Offers” and send all your coupon emails there so they don’t clutter up your inbox and are easily accessible at the store.
3. Shop Sales
Knowing when the sales are at your local supermarkets is key to getting good deals and saving money. Again, signing up for the store email can help you stay on top of sales, but you should keep an eye out while in the store, too. You never know what might end up discounted.
As an example, a certain brand of macaroni and cheese was changing up their branding after selling to another company and I found the boxes for 75% off at my local grocery store! While this wasn’t advertised, it was a great deal and I bought all their boxes to keep on hand.
4. Price Compare
Are you in a rut, always going to the same store because that’s where you’ve always gone? It’s time to take a closer look at where you shop and what you buy. Price comparing is an essential part of getting a lower price.
First, make a list of items you regularly buy and the price in your regular shop. Then check out at least one or two other supermarkets to find out if they offer the same thing cheaper. You may need to switch stores!
The second part of price comparing is within the store. Is the larger bag of cereal cheaper than the smaller one? Usually it is, but always check. Sometimes, you can get a great deal by purchasing a bunch of the smaller packages.
5. Use an App
Technology abounds, so take advantage of it to save money on groceries. There are a few different apps out there and some may be used alongside others. If you’re actually interested in saving money on groceries, check these out:
Ibotta: There is a lot of talk about this app these days and for good reason. It gives you cash back on your purchases from a wide variety of stores. Definitely worth checking out.
Checkout 51: This app works very much like Ibotta, but tends to have more staples, where Ibotta is more about brands. Hot tip, you can use them both and earn twice!
Favado: Use this simple app to help you find the best sales in town! It’s easy to use and will also alert you to coupons and deals.
Coupons.com: Another great app for saving money on groceries, this one helps you find the coupons you’ll actually use!
6. Order Online
Sometimes, it’s cheaper to sign up with AmazonFresh or Prime Pantry (both those services have a free trial, btw) and get your basics delivered to your door every week or month. There are a lot of options available for food, even organic, if you like. Once you set it up, you can change your order whenever you want, but all the basics arrive regularly. Honestly, if I lived in the States, I’d be using this. What a time saver! Also, when you subscribe, you get a nice discount on your orders to make it even cheaper.
7. Buy Bulk
Buying in bulk is often a better deal than purchasing individual packets of food. For example, buying a 10 lb. bag of rice will almost always be cheaper than buying 10 bags that are one pound each. Check out the bulk stores near you, like Sam’s Club, Costco, etc. to see if they are worth it.
One thing I do is purchase a 10 lb bag of chicken pieces at Pricesmart for considerably less than buying at the supermarket and repackage. In fact, repackaging everything is a great way to keep it manageable. A two pound bag of ground beef can quickly be portioned into eight quarter pound portions and frozen, while a large bag of pretzels can be divided up between a bunch of Ziploc bags for lunches and snacks.
8. Reduce Your Proteins
Meat and animal based proteins tend to be more expensive than plant based ones. Even if you just cut back 25% on the amount of meat you eat, it can make a huge difference to your budget. Obviously, vegetarians and vegans won’t find this tip helpful, but if your family likes to have chicken or beef as the main part of the meal every evening, look into alternatives. You don’t have to eliminate it, just reduce.
A quick and easy way to make meat stretch is to cut it up and use it in a stir fry or sauce, instead of having a large piece of meat on each plate. You can take half a pound of meat and mix it into chow mein rather than serving two pounds of meat. Ground meat can also be stretched with textured vegetable protein or other fillers.
9. Buy in Season
It costs a lot to import avocados and fruit from a tropical country in the middle of winter and you, the consumer, pay for the ability to eat tropical fruit with snow outside your door. Likewise, having apples or strawberries in the spring will be far more expensive than if you purchase them during their growing season.
Purchasing in season produce can be limiting, but it is the best way to make sure you’re getting the best produce and it’s considerably cheaper. When a favorite food is in season, go ahead and buy extra to freeze for those out-of-season cravings.
10. Skip the Brands
Are you stuck on a certain brand for your food? Often, the well known brands are more expensive than the no-name or store brands and you can actually save quite a bit of money by just shopping the cheaper boxes. Most food is very similar and your family won’t even notice the difference, but your wallet will! (If you think they will protest just because of packaging, go ahead and put the new stuff in the old package.)
Certain foods may taste different and you’ll want to either adjust to the new taste or stick to the brand on those things. For example, salad dressings tend to taste very different, but sugar is the same no matter which brand it is.
It’s possible cut your grocery budget drastically with these tips. By incorporating many of these, we managed to cut our food bill by $200 a month. It’s possible and you can do it too!
What are your favorite methods to save money on groceries?