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It’s a no brainer that you need food to survive, but the price of groceries alone can make or break your budget. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of $7,923 was spent on food in 2018, with $4,464 belonging to groceries.
Been noticing a slight increase in your grocery budget? Nope, you’re not going crazy. The amount of money we’re spending on groceries is actually increasing each year!
Factor in the cost of inflation and you’ll see why it’s so important to figure out how to save money on groceries.
Here are 13 tips I use to do it:
13 ways to save money on groceries
Order your groceries online.
I swear by ordering your groceries online! Not only does it save you from dragging your kids through each aisle, but you’re not sliding a few items into your cart that you know you don’t need!
Many major grocery stores now offer grocery pick-up services for convenience and time-saved. A couple of main pros is that you can:
- Take your time comparing prices.
- Easily double-check your list to ensure you haven’t missed anything!
As you add items to your online cart you can see the total, which saves you from having to manually add up the items yourself. Then, when you’re all done you know how much your total is before you check out.
This gives you the opportunity to remove items as needed to stay on budget. Gone are the days of being super embarrassed at the check-out line because you spent wayyyy too much.
I love using Walmart Grocery Pick-Up because it's free unlike Kroger and I find that they have a better pick-up availability. A huge bonus is that whenever produce isn't fresh they don't bag it so you won't be sent home with moldy veggies and fruit. Here's $10 to use just for trying them out for the first time.
Plan your meals.
If you don’t know what you’re shopping for then chances are you’re going to throw a bunch of random crap into your cart. Then when it’s time to cook up a meal you don’t have everything you need so off to the grocery store you go…again. #Fail!
Planning your meals is one of the best ways to save money on groceries. You don’t have to be the “ queen of Tupperware” type of meal planner, but at least making a grocery list of meals to cook can save you a lot of headaches. You can opt to plan for a week, bi-weekly, or an entire month!
Before making your list, first, shop your pantry to see what ingredients you already have. Then, plan around those items to shorten your list.
For example, let’s say you have a random pack of chicken, a bag of rice, and a can of cream of chicken soup. Using these items you decide to make a chicken broccoli casserole so you buy a head of broccoli and a pack of shredded cheese.
When you’re making your list, don’t forget to include what you’ll need for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!
To make shopping simple, I like to make categories for each meal of the day. Under each category, I add what items I’ll need.
It looks something like this:
- Wheat bread
- Avocados (3)
- 2% milk
- Honey Bunches of Oats
A quick tip: Don’t forget you typically run through more food on the weekends because the family is not at work and/or school.
Only buy for a few meals at a time.
If you’re someone who typically finds themselves throwing out freezer-burnt food (this was so me!) then this tip is for you!
It may seem convenient to buy food for the entire month, but if you’re not using what you buy by the expiration date then you’re throwing away money! Literally.
A trick that I’ve learned along the way is to only buy food for a few meals at a time. Whether those meals last you a full week to a few days is totally up to you. I love doing this because I can ensure that I’ve used everything I purchased before I go back to the store.
Instead of buying for a full month or longer, plan for three meals at a time. This is typically a full week in my home when I factor in leftovers!
Doing this also leaves some room for those lazy days in which you would rather pick up a meal from a drive-thru versus cooking it.
his way, you’re not feeling super guilty about the meat you have sitting in your freezer that you could’ve left out to thaw.
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Buy meat in bulk.
Buying meat in bulk, especially when it’s on sale, is a popular way to save money on groceries. You can get more uses out of a pack of 12 chicken breasts versus a pack of three, but you should buy in bulk only when it makes sense.
For example, many of my recipes require chicken. If I have three meals I want to make then I will buy a large pack of chicken and freeze the extra.
Getting paid to grocery shop is a win and Ibotta makes it possible!
Ibotta is a free cashback app that supports 276 stores such as Walgreens, Kroger, and Walmart! To date, I’ve earned over $40 and have used the earnings to pay for things such as gas or a little treat.
Using this app is simple. Simply check out what offers are available at the store you will be shopping at and purchase your items. Then, submit a photo of your receipt or scan the code at the bottom!
Boom, that easy.
One thing I love is that Ibotta now allows you to link a loyalty account, such as your Kroger membership. This way you can easily redeem offers without having to submit a receipt. Click here to download the app and start saving!
Incorporate 2-3 more meatless meals a month.
Look, I’m someone who loves a good chicken leg but it’s no secret that meat is expensive. A regular-priced pack of ground beef can run you anywhere from $4 to $6 per pound!
By incorporating just 2-3 more meatless meals per month you can save yourself an easy $20.
Before the carnivore in you goes turning up your nose, there are literally hundreds of tasty meatless recipes you can make. Here are 200 meatless meals for families on a budget!
More money-saving tips to check out next!
Use a calculator.
Even though you shop with a list, that doesn’t mean you’re going to come within budget. In fact, you still stand a chance to be mortified at the check-out line when the cashier tells you your total!
I know because this was me.
Bringing a calculator with you during your trips to the grocery store will not only save you money but also embarrassment. As you add items, punch the price into your calculator, rounding to the next dollar.
For example, if a bag of grapes is $4.45, enter the price at $5. This will give you a more realistic overview of how well you’re doing because ya’ know, everything will be taxed!
As you near your budgeted amount, you can decide if you need to put things back or if you can toss in a pint of ice cream before you get to the check-out line.
Grab the sales paper before shopping.
You know those sales papers you walk by when you’re picking out your shopping cart? Uh, yea…grab one!
Before you begin shopping, check out what’s on sale to get the most bang for your buck. I like to circle the items I’m interested in so that I know to look out for them whenever I go down a specific aisle.
Look to see what’s on sale that you can substitute a few items on your list. For example, if you wrote down “Sunny Delight” but another brand of juice is on sale then swap them out and save your coins.
Eat a snack before you shop.
I’ve said it many times before and I will say it again: Shopping hangry is dangerous for your budget!
Everything looks delicious so you throw it in your cart because you want to eat it right now. Chances are, when you get home you won’t even want it anymore or wonder why you even bought it. You’ll blow your grocery budget all over a pint of ice cream and a bag of hot fries.
Not worth it!
To make matters worse, you may pull the infamous “yea I know I have groceries in the trunk but I’m hungry now and McDonald’s is calling my name.”
So not only will you blow your grocery budget by shopping hungry, but you’ll also be spending money from another category as well!
Do yourself a favor and grab a snack or two before you shop. This way you’ll be able to concentrate on your list and make it home without any unplanned stops.
Prep freezer meals.
Freezer meals are perfect for those days you just don’t feel like slaving over a hot stove. Instead of ordering take-out, you just pop a meal into your crockpot and go on about your day.
Then when it’s time to eat, dinner will be ready. Sounds like heaven right?
If you’re like me, the thought of prepping multiple meals at once brings to mind the image of a kitchen in flames! The thought is overwhelming, but it wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be. I prepped three different meals after my son was born and it saved my sanity and wallet.
Some supplies you may need include:
- Plastic wrap
- Freezer bags
- Permanent marker
- Foil pans
I found a post that goes into detail on how to freezer cook like a pro that I highly recommend reading before turning on the stove!
Confused about what to cook? Here are 50 freezer meals that are easy and actually taste good unthawed!
Look above and below!
I bet you didn’t know that the most expensive items are typically placed right where you can see them.
Obviously, when items are eye level you’re more tempted to grab them first. These brands are typically the best-sellers and they pay a pretty penny to have their items placed front and center.
Unfortunately, this means that they’re also the highest priced.
To save more money on groceries, look towards the top or bottom of the shelves. It’s in these locations that you’ll find the smaller and more cheaply priced brands.
Leave the kids at home!
Kids make it difficult to save money on groceries because the second they see something they want the begging begins!
With the minis tagging along, it’s easy to get suckered into purchasing items that are not on your list just to get some peace and quiet.
Leaving the kids, and any other over spender, at home ensures that no extra items will be making their way to the check-out line.
If you have to drag them along, give them something that will distract them from throwing things into your cart.
Plan for left-overs.
This tip alone has helped to stretch my grocery budget! When you’re planning your meals, choose dishes that will allow you to have leftovers. You can bring them to work to eat for lunch or warm them up for dinner on the nights you don’t feel like cooking! Win-win.
Once you figure out how to save money on groceries you’ll find yourself with more wiggle room in your budget to apply to other goals. Whether you wish to beef up your savings or just treat yo’ self, using these 13 tips will help you get there!