Heyyy there! Are you looking for ways to save on groceries? Well, then you’ve definitely come to the right place!
Learning how to stretch or as some say conquer your grocery budget is an easy way to help you save money & live better.
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Recently I happened to come across an article that talked about how the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that 30-40% of the U.S. food supply is wasted each month!
Say WHAT?? The report also says that the average family of four spends approximately $1,000.00 a month on food.
So, are they trying to tell us that we are throwing away $300-$400 a month?! Wow, that figure is hard to swallow!
Considering what the average family spends on food each month and the amount of food that is wasted, many families are probably not taking the small steps necessary to save on groceries. To help you learn how to save, I created an easy to follow list of 18 Resourceful Ways to Save on Groceries.
Once you conquer some of these 18 Resourceful Ways to Save on Groceries and feel like you are ready to amp your savings up even more, check out my post here on 11 Secret Ways I Save on Groceries.
Here’s some food for thought: If the average family of four spends $1,000.00 a month on groceries and wastes 30%, that’s $300.00 you are literally throwing away each month! That’s $3600.00 a year!
In addition to learning how to not waste so much, the tips below might help you save even more money on your groceries. That could add up to some serious money back into your monthly and yearly budgets.
Grocery spending is an area where pretty much everyone (including myself) could learn a thing or two and improve on. Which is why I’ve decided to create this list.
Don’t worry, yes, your family can eat pretty well on an affordable grocery budget. Don’t worry, you got this!
How To Save On Groceries:
1. Meal Plan
Meal planning can be one of the single most important ways to save on groceries. Planning allows you to see what you are really going to eat instead of doing things on the fly. By organizing your food schedule you can integrate left over foods into the next days meal to help eliminate food waste (and maximize savings).
An example of this could be meatloaf one night, then you could use the left over meat in a pasta sauce for spaghetti. Or maybe burgers one night and tacos for lunch the next day.
If your not very good at meal planning there are services out there to help you, like this $5 meal planning site. I recently heard about $5 meal planning and have been using it to help my family. I have a crazy work schedule and often times..ok ok hardly ever… can’t meal plan myself.
$5 Meal Planning helps my family stay on track with our grocery budget. Guess what, the first two weeks are FREE. This means you have time to try them out and see what I’m talking about.
$5 meal planning sends emails directly to you along with the grocery lists! It’s easy to use and will save you both time and money. Keep in mind the first two weeks are free! It’s worth trying it to see if it would be a good fit for your family.
I know we are talking about saving money, however the $5 it costs a month to have someone else meal plan for you will save you more money in the long run!
If you are interested in taking advantage of the two free weeks, sign up here!
2. Plan Your Grocery Trips
When you plan what you are going to purchase in advance, it’s almost a guarantee you won’t spend extra money. One of the main ways planning your trip helps you save money, is by curbing your impulse shopping desires .
Planning your grocery trip includes doing things like:
- Planning your meals in advance
- ALWAYS shop with a list
- Search for the best deals
- Check for local sales
- Gather up the Coupons you will need
- Know what’s in your inventory
By planning your trip, it will help you to purchase only what you need as you won’t be going into unnecessary isles or areas that are not included in your list.
Don’t worry, the ways to plan your shopping trip will be discussed further in the list below.
3. Shop With A List
Shopping without a list is 100% not a good idea. Generally speaking you are not going to remember everything you need or exactly how much you need of every item. This leads to purchasing too much of some items and not enough of others. Most of the time the extra food will only end up in the garbage due to food spoilage. You literally are throwing your money in the garbage when you shop without a list.
Shopping with a list will remind you why you are at the store. I can’t tell you how many times I would go to the store and will forget an item or two because my 4 year old started acting up. My shopping list helps keep me on point. Lately, I have even been giving the list to my son to hold and help me cross off what we have already added to our cart (mainly so he doesn’t distract me… lol).
Having a shopping list keeps you out of isles that you don’t need to be in, helps you purchase only what you need and curbs impulse shopping! Please don’t forget your list.
4. Check For Sale Items
All grocery stores have sale cycles. Learning these cycles can save you tons on your groceries. Pretty much everyone out there, knows that grocery stores have weekly specials. What most people don’t pay attention to, is that there is actually a method to the madness and it’s actually a set sales cycle.
By checking the stores online flyer before heading to the store, the newspaper or your mail you might also be surprised at what grocery coupons are available.
Learning the sales cycle, will enable you to be able to to get stockpile items. These stock pile items will be able to get you thru till the next sale. You can also meal plan around the seasonal and sale items that the stores are offering. Many of the ways you can save on groceries are all tied pretty close together.
Example: If ground beef is on sale, you might want to plan on having tacos, burgers, spaghetti with meat sauce, beef stroganoff, meatballs or like items to take advantage of the sale prices. You may even want to purchase extra meat to hold your family over until the next great sale on ground beef.
5. Use Coupons
Couponing is much easier than most people seem to think! I’m astonished at how many people don’t use coupons. Sadly, I’ve heard from many that they don’t like to use coupons because they are embarrassed and think it’s too complicated. Couponing is easy! If you find a coupon or have one for an item that you are going to purchase, then USE IT!
Using coupons is by far one of the easiest ways to save on groceries, yet often the most overlooked. Coupons are pretty much everywhere these days.
Places to find coupons include:
- Newspapers and local ad inserts
- Your mail
- At the entrances to grocery stores
- Grocery apps like- Ibotta & Checkout 51
- Online – Coupons, Redplum, Smart Source, All You Magazine
And so many other places!
Every dollar counts. So if you think that a coupon for $.75 isn’t worth it, you are wrong. They are totally worth every penny you can save. Coupons add up quickly turning into a good chunk of savings off your grocery bill. Think about this, if you can save even $5.00 a week using coupons, that’s $260 a year in savings.
Now I will warn you, don’t purchase things just because you have a coupon. Buying things you don’t really need and most likely won’t use is pure waste. Purchase items that you are going to use and won’t be wasted.
6. Know Your Stores
All stores have different sales cycles. Once you learn your stores sales cycles as well as regular pricing you will be able to see when you really have a great deal on your hands. Knowing your stores allows you to menu plan and helps be able to stock pile specific items until the next sale rolls around.
This truly goes hand in hand with several other ways to save on this list.
7. Don’t shop when hungry…. I REPEAT…. Don not shop when H U N G R Y
Shopping while hungry is NOT a good idea! O man, this can lead to some serious overspending as pretty much everything and anything looks good when your stomach is rumbling and begging for food.
Recent research also proves, hungry shoppers tend to purchase higher caloric foods as they become more tempting when people shop while hungry. According to the Journal for the American Medical Associate, “even short term food deprivation can lead to a shift in choices such that people choose less low-calorie, and relatively more high-calorie, food options”.
This translates into: Grocery shopping while hungry leads to unhealthy food decisions and we all know junk food is not cheap. So when you shop hungry your are most likely going to spend more money and on foods that you otherwise might not purchase.
Shoppers be warned!
8. Purchase a Water Filter
Buy a water filter, there I said it. I know a lot of people who don’t agree with me on this one. Trust me, there’s a HUGE savings by purchasing a water filter instead of overpriced water in bottles.
Here are some water filters and water bottles that I personally use and recommend. You might be interested in purchasing some as well once you read the statistics below.
Americans spent 12.3 Billion dollars in 2013 on bottled water. that means we are literally spending 300x the cost of a gallon of tap water on bottled water. However, according the the American Water Works Association, if you really consider the fact that 2/3 of bottled water is in the 16.9 oz bottles, we are actually spending 2000x the cost of tap water.
The 16.9 oz bottles average out to cost $8.00 a gallon, 2x the cost of a gallon of regular gas. CRAZY!
American’s purchase more bottled water than milk or beer, the only thing Americans buy more than bottled water is… DRUM ROLL…. SODA. Soda, is consumed about twice as much.
On Average each American spends about $100 a year on bottled water and even bigger families spend more. So let’s put this into perspective: an average family of four spends $400 a month on bottled water or $4800.00 a year. WOW! This may sound high for your family but most families fall into this category.
9. Price Compare
When you’re at the store searching for the products that are on your list, make sure you price compare. There seems to be this pre-conceived notion out there that generic is always cheaper. Umm .. reality check- “they’re not”.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a good amount of generic products out there that are better quality and cheaper than name brand. Don’t just search for the generic brand to save money, compare price by checking out the size, weight, ounces, quality and so on. It’s not always about the “price” per say.
Example: I’m not going to spend $2.54 on half a gallon of milk when a full gallon is $3.09. I know you understand where I’m going with this!
Personally, I purchase many generic products. In my experience I have found that sugar, cooking oil, salt, Walmart brand mayo ( I know.. I know.. I was a Hellman’s girl, but man Walmart’s mayo is hands down the BEST), flour, pasta, cheapo Fruity Pebbles, dish soap and garbage bags are better, if not the same quality as the big name brands.
10. Scan Your Cabinets First
It’s so easy for items to get “lost” in your cabinets. I highly suggest taking inventory of what you have before heading out to the store. Scan you fridge, pantry, cabinets, freezer and any other area of your house you store food items (like in your kids closets and under their beds, that is where my kids seem to like to “hide” the cookies… lol).
By taking inventory of what you already have, you can actually save a good chunk of change. You might even be surprised find out that you are able to meal plan with what you have on hand already and save a weeks worth of your grocery budget. It might even turn out that you might just need some perishable foods like milk, bread and eggs.
I actually read a blog post on a family that eats from their inventory for the last week of the month. They budget for the same 4.3 weeks a month just in-case it turns out their inventory won’t hold them over. However, by eating from the pantry they save about $80 a month or $960 a year from this simple practice.
11. Skip Pre-Made & Pre-Cut
Pre-made and pre-cut food can be great time savers, however they are not friendly on your budget. Pre-cut & pre-made foods cost WAY more than foods that are not cut ahead of time. You are paying a premium for convenience, not quality or quantity.
I can remember a time that my husband and kids wanted watermelon. When I got to the store, I found a whole melon cost around $4.99. We didn’t need an entire melon, so I strolled over to the section where the melons are cut in half… There I was surprised that the melons that were literally only cut in half were $5.98. Say WHAT??
Half the melon was more. Now I’m more curious than before, so I went over to the section where the melons are all cut up and in little packaging, $5.99 for a small cup of watermelon. Are you kidding me?! That’s some serious highway robbery! Moral of the story is SKIP the pre-made and pre-cut to save some serious money.
12. Watch As Items Are Scanned
Watching as items are scanned is a great way to make sure you are not being overcharged for an item. This is especially true for sale and clearance items. The new prices might not be in the computer system even though there is a lower price on the tag. Keep an eye out. There are times I’ve been incorrectly charged on produce items. This happens when the cashier inputs the wrong codes.
Taking care to watch as items are scanned helps you to avoid having to wait in a different line for your refund of the overcharged item. Walmart is famous for this. There are times as soon as I’ve paid I realized I was overcharged and told the cashier and all they say is “sorry” and point you in the direction of the customer service window to wait for the money back.
My point is to watch as the items are scanned to avoid over payment and a headache.
13. Look for Clearance Groceries
Pretty much every grocery store that I have ever been too has had clearance groceries. Sometimes the store dedicate a specific aisle to clearance items and other times you will find them mixed in with regular priced items.
Meats, breads, pastries, dairy and dent/ding canned foods are items that you can find at a small fraction of the cost. My local Walmart has the bread we like marked down to 50% off on Tuesday nights. I also frequently find meats up to 50% off during the morning hours.
14. Sign Up For Loyalty Programs
Pretty much every store offers some sort of loyalty program these days. My local store, Publix will load coupons onto your card depending on your purchase history. Publix and pretty much every major grocery store has birthday clubs for children, baby clubs, and even pet and wine loyalty programs. Most of the time the stores will send you gifts, coupons, including coupons for freebies and high dollar off coupons, discounts and more.
Even if you don’t shop at a particular store often, if you are there and they offer a loyalty program, sign up. I sign up for stores I don’t even like to visit to get the coupons they offer, I then take them to my favorite store for coupon matching.
15. Shop with Cash
Shopping with cash will definitely help you stay within your shopping budget. It’s so easy to pass a plastic card and not keep track of exactly what you are spending and how much is left. Having actual cash on hand makes it harder for you to get off track.
Research has even proven that when we have cash in hand it’s harder for us to give it up as we become attached to our money or really any object for that matter. It’s proven that the longer you hold onto something it makes it harder for you to give it up.
Shop with cash and do yourself the favor. Stay within your budget.
16. Look to the Bottom & Top Shelves
Where do your eyes go when you first look at a shelf? To the middle of course! Marketers pay high dollar to be on those middle shelves. It’s the easiest shelf for your kids to grab from as well. It’s right within their reach as you have them strapped into the shopping cart.
Looking to the bottom and top shelves will save you money. Quite often there are better quality items, different sizes and generic products on these shelves. Make sure to scan all the shelves to be positive that you are getting the best deal.
17. Purchase Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables
Purchasing seasonal fruits and vegetables can be a life saver on your grocery budget. Generally speaking seasonal fruits and vegetables are also grown closer to home, which means less costs associated with them.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables make it easier to eat healthy without spending a fortune!
18. Purchase Meat in Bulk
Meats tend to be the most expensive items on our grocery list. Purchasing meats in bulk can help you hundreds of dollars a year. I like to purchase my meats from Zaycon Fresh.
Wait…. Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Zaycon Fresh! Zaycon Fresh allows you to order meats in bulk. I like to purchase the boneless, skinless chicken thighs. My family orders 40 lbs of them for $1.69 lb. You may be thinking about the size (40 lbs ), it’s really not a lot if you think about it. If it’s too much for your family find someone to split the order with.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you know of any other helpful ways to save on groceries? I hope you were able to learn something from my money saving ideas!