Saving money on groceries is a great way to reduce your overall monthly budget. Everyone needs to eat and if you just head to the store and let your stomach make the decisions for you, you may leave with a lighter pocket. The great news is that it can be easy to save money on groceries if you follow a few of these tips.
Nothing saves time, energy, and money than having a meal plan and purchasing food for those dinners. Having a strategy saves the shopper from buying things that might or might not get eaten before they expire or go bad.
If you make a large weekend meal or have leftovers from your planned weekly meals, have a leftover night before going shopping the next day. You can supplement the leftovers with fresh bread or a salad.
Buy Meat on Sale
Shop the flyers. Each week the local stores put out paper flyers with what’s on sale for the week. Plan the meat in your meals around what’s on sale. If you have the freezer space, you can buy extra, prep and freeze it for a meal later in the month.
Plan Meals Based on What’s in Your Pantry
Shop your shelves. What do you have, and what can you make out of those ingredients? Try out an app that can help you make a meal out of random items in your pantry. Look into SuperCook or Allrecipes Dinner Spinner to make this even easier!
Taking cash into the store is one way to keep you from impulse buys. Know how much you have to spend from your weekly budget and don’t go over that amount. It takes discipline, but if you only have $100 in cash to spend, you will need and return items you can’t afford.
We hate carrying cash but love the envelope system so we use YNAB for our budgeting. It is the same premise of carrying on a specific amount of cash on you but is more flexible. It does require a little more self-control though.
Stick to Your Shopping List
Create a shopping list and stick to it. If you need chocolate bars for S’mores, put it on the list. Have everyone add to the list, so they get what they need as well.
Other Ways to Save
Check store ads
This is a great way to shop for the items on sale. You can use the store ad to plan your meals. You can also buy multiples of things you might need in the future if you have room to store it. This is especially true for paper products. It’s sad to run out of tissues right when the whole family comes down with a cold.
Remember when clipping coupons was cool? With a little planning, you can clip coupons and buy the things you will need and use. It doesn’t make sense to buy a bottle of shampoo that you’ll never use even though you have a coupon for $.50. Coupons come in the Sunday newspaper in most cities, or find them online and print them yourself.
Phone apps for rebates
Check out Ibotta, which has you do tasks and verify your purchases by scanning the bar codes before submitting a photo of the receipt. Paribus watches your email for receipts from big chain stores like Walmart and gives you a refund if prices drop within three to seven days. Coupons.com app provides paperless coupons at popular chain stores like Target. Others to research are SavingStar, Acorns, Receipt Hog, Shopkick, Rakuten, and BerryCart.
Most people can’t tell the difference between the store brand and the brand name. If you want to test that theory, have a blind taste test to see. If you buy something and your family doesn’t care for it, don’t buy it again. You can save a lot of money buying the store brand sitting right next to the branded item.
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Store loyalty programs
Get involved in-store loyalty programs. They don’t usually cost anything and can save you money off the top of your order like the Red card at Target, or it might give you a cash rebate at the end of the year. There are often deals for loyalty members.
Compare prices with online retailers
Shelf-stable items, canned goods, toiletries, and paper products can quickly be shipped to you, and by comparing prices with online retailers, you could save money. You can also take a picture of the price online to see if a local store will match your found price.
Pay attention at the register
Things get scanned twice, sale prices might not be put in the computer correctly, or you scan the wrong barcode if you use self-checkout. If you’re not paying attention, you might be paying more than you should or expected to.
Shop in-season produce
Not only will you be getting the freshest produce by shopping local in-season fruits and vegetables, but you might also be helping a small farm or a local produce supplier. When the crop is in season, you will most likely find it on sale.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry
This tip can save hundreds over a year. Everything looks good when you’re hungry. You have less willpower, and the shelves on the end, which carry impulse purchase items, will call to you. When you arrive home, you will have things you didn’t need or plan to purchase, many of which don’t belong in a healthy meal plan. Having a snack or grocery shopping after finishing a meal is the best way to stick to the plan you created for this outing.
Buying in Bulk
Shopping at warehouse stores like Sam’s Club or Costco can save you money on groceries if you know how to avoid the pitfalls of shopping in bulk.
- You are less likely to run out of an item you bought in bulk, which means fewer trips to the store.
- You can save money on things you buy in bulk. You’ll have to pay the cost upfront for the items, however.
- If you’re environmentally conscious, there will be less packaging in bulk items.
- You must find a place to store the items or ingredients you purchased.
- Certain items don’t store well, or if you don’t use the thing regularly, it could go bad before you get the chance to use it.
- You’ll probably have to buy a membership card to a wholesale store, which can cost up to $100.
Don’t be afraid to take some time to do some prep work on your own. This is a great example of how to save money on your groceries with a little extra of your time.
Shred your own cheese
Save money and eat better cheese by purchasing a grater and shredding your own. Buying the bags of pre-shredded cheese is easy, but there is a coating on the cheese to make it stay fresh longer, and with just a little effort and a block of cheese, you can have fresh grated cheddar or mozzarella. This is an excellent job for some children to handle while supervised.
Wash your own lettuce
Buying a head of lettuce, washing it, and chopping it yourself can save you money over purchasing the bags of pre-cut salad. The lettuce you cut will also last longer.
Cut your own fruit
Cutting your own fruit is easy and delicious. Fresh fruit like melon or pineapple can be cut easily and stored in the refrigerator for quick snacks. The fruit will be juicier than its pre-chopped counterparts.
There are so many tips and tricks to saving money. I’m sure you’ve thought of some as well. With a little planning, you can save hundreds on your grocery bill each year and use that money toward your next family adventure.