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Does your monthly grocery budget need a makeover? For most families, your food expenses are a pretty significant part of your monthly budget. While grocery shopping is a necessity, that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank.
Here are thirty one tips to save money on your next grocery shopping trip!
Shopping on a Grocery Budget
When you are looking for places in your budget where you can cut back, grocery shopping is a great place to start. It’s not fixed, there’s a good amount of flexibility and it’s an area where you have absolute control. Whether you have big saving goals or are just trying to give yourself a little more breathing room in your budget, here are 31 tips to save money on your grocery budget every month!
Saving money starts before you leave home!
1. How much do you have to spend? One of my very favorite bloggers, Jordan Paige of Fun Cheap or Free recommends $100 per person, per month. I live in a high-cost living area and it’s just not possible for me to make this work for my family of 5. I think it’s a fantastic place to start though. Based on where we live, I shoot for closer to $750/month and that works well for my family.
2. What do you have on hand? Search your pantry and freezer and check to see what you already have. Plan meals based on what you have on hand. I have a bit of an organization compulsion and like to keep track of what I keep in my freezer and pantry. So I have a spreadsheet that I keep on my fridge. I don’t keep track of every single item, but I do keep stock of what I keep in my freezer and when I put it in there. There’s nothing more disappointing than realizing somethings been in there for so long that its gone bad. #moneywasted
3. What are you going to make? The biggest mistake you can make is heading to the grocery store without a set plan in mind. Well, that and going when you are hungry. Either way, you will find it much harder to stay on budget. I try to plan my meals based on what’s seasonal or on sale and then use as many common ingredients as I can to cut down on what I have to buy. Need tomatoes for spaghetti sauce? Maybe you can run a few through the food processor to make your own salsa. Or maybe you love bruschetta? You can make or get started on making, 3 different meals with your one bag of tomatoes!
4. Where are you going to shop? Are you an Aldi fan? Costco? Either way, most stores have sale ads. If you are tech savvy, you should check out the app Flipp. It allows you to search the ads of stores near you– so handy! (In case you were wondering I’m not an affiliate for Flipp and this isn’t a sponsored post!) The other tip I have in regards to where to shop– make your own price book! It’ll take some time, but for items you buy regularly, it’s nice to know where the items are actually the cheapest. Also, make sure you are comparing same size/quantities (price per unit), so it’s an apples to apple comparison.
- If you are a couponer or you want to be, please check store websites, newspaper etc, for store coupons. Also, find out what their policy is regarding competitor coupons. Some stores will still honor them!
5. How often are you going to do the shopping? The more often you go to the grocery store, the harder it could be to stay on budget. If you have a hard time with impulse purchasing, maybe it’s time to consider going monthly or bi-weekly to do your grocery shopping. Another way to get around impulse purchases is to utilize Instacart or even the online ordering! Yes, Instacart does charge for delivery, however, paying $6 for delivery maybe be worth it, if it keeps your grocery budget on track. Plus, also consider you aren’t having to spend the time or gas making the trip. Something to think about!
Saving Money at the Grocery Store!
1.Shop your list! OK, this seems obvious, but seriously, marketers are smart. It’s amazing how we can get lured into purchasing a bunch of things we don’t need! The only time I let myself deviate from my list is if I find a staple I use regularly on crazy sale. Example, I found myself in Walgreens picking up a prescription. They were clearing out rows and had baby diapers on clearance for 50% off– yes please! However, tortillas on sale for .57 cents cheaper than normal and you aren’t making quesadillas or soft tacos– NOPE! Step away, my friend, step away!
2. Shop the perimeter first! Most grocery stores are set up with the meat, dairy, and produce along the perimeter. You know what’s not on the perimeter of the store? Snack size cookies. Individual packs of crackers. These items, when you consider the price per serving, are really adding up and are often less healthy options ( #nojudgements sometimes you need the Milano cookies!).
3. Watch the “sale” items! Stores are clever!! I can’t tell you how many times, I slide the store “sale” tag over, only to discover, it’s not been discounted at all!
4. Only buy what you are going to need. I’m not talking about BOGO (buy one, get one) that’s pretty straightforward! It’s the buy 2, get one free that really getcha! Do you really need 3 bagged salads? Are you going to be able to eat that much before it goes bad? It’s not a good deal if you end up throwing it away!!
5. Step AWAY from the toiletries, cosmetics, cleaning and paper products! More often than not, you will be able to find these much cheaper, other places– not the supermarket! Obviously, this depends on where you are shopping, but if you are at a typical supermarket– skip it!
6. We don’t need no stinkin’ brand names! Did you know in many cases, brand name products and generic products are made right alongside each other?? I’ve not found many cases where the Brand name product warranted the higher price tag. If I’m honest, I quite prefer store brand (Target–it’s my weakness!!) over those other guys!
7. High and low. Did you know that the most expensive items are typically shelved at eye level? The cheaper options are usually on the top and bottom shelf. Next time you are at the store, check it out!
8. Prepackaged foods– skip them! They are super expensive when compared to what you could do yourself. I love these condiment cups with lids! You can make so many fantastic to-go snacks. No more single serving peanut butter cups! Do you need salad dressing? Here you go! Yogurt cup? Yep. It’s SO EASY! Invest in good Tupperware– so much more cost effective!
9. Bottled water is a no-no! Not only is it not the greenest option available. The cost alone is ridiculous. Get yourself a good water bottle. Fill it at the tap. You’re welcome!
10. Bagged produce vs individual pieces. If you are buying alot of apples, oranges, etc. It’s typically cheaper than buying a bunch of loose fruit. Now, obviously, if you only need 2 apples, even if the price per serving is cheaper– if you aren’t going to eat it, you aren’t saving anything.
11. Skip the grated cheese! Yes, it takes more time, but with a little elbow grease (or a quick trip to the food processor) you can save yourself some money!
12. Detergent. OK, if you can’t/won’t make your own detergent, powdered is almost always cheaper than buying the liquid. There are tons of make-your-own detergent recipes online. I do this for our family now, and I’d never go back. Again, it’s gonna take a little time and elbow grease, but it’s a big difference in cost!
13. Buy seasonal. Buying in-season produce is a great way to vary your diet and save money!
14. Buying in bulk. Again, check the price per unit, but usually, you can get a better deal buying more. I usually buy meat and paper products in bulk!
15. Don’t forget your coupons! You can find coupons lots of places, online, store website, competitor coupons, etc. That’s free money!
16. Skip the items at the checkout counter. You are paying a premium for convenience.
17. Check unit prices. I’ve mentioned this above, but it’s worth mentioning again. There’s usually a price/unit on the price tag on the shelf. Use that to compare items to find your best deal.
18. If you have a Keurig, skip the pods! You can buy reusable pods and fill it with your own coffee. $12/18 pods– come on, now!
19. Buying frozen. You can often find frozen meat (hamburger patties, seafood, etc.) cheaper than buying fresh. Same for out of season fruits! Frozen fruit makes great smoothies!
20. Keep it quick. Give yourself a time limit to be in and out of the store. The longer you linger, the more things you find that you ‘need’! You have your list (right?!), cross the items off as you go and badda bing, badda boom. You are in and you are out.
21. Pay attention at checkout. Items can sometimes register at a different price than what’s listed. Check up on it!
Saving Money on your Grocery Budget When You Get Home!
1. Taking care of your produce. When you get home, if you fill the sink with water, add about a cup of vinegar and let the produce soak for about 10 minutes, not only does it clean everything, but it can also help make it last longer, particularly berries!
2. Prep work. Nothing is worse than wasting food that you spent good hard earned money on. Prepping fruits, veggies, cheese, etc will not only save you time when it’s time to cook, but it can also cut down on food waste. When you are hungry and in a hurry, how easy would it be to grab a handful of pre-cut carrots and cucumbers? Or an apple that’s already been cleaned? Easy right. Let’s be honest, humans have a penchant to be lazy where we can. Do yourself a favor and front load that work.
3. Organize your fridge, pantry, and freezer. Having everything organized makes it easier for you to find and use things. Not to mention, to ensure that you use up the perishables items!
4. Grocery cash back apps. Apps like Ibotta* and Checkout51. You can upload your receipt and earn cash back on certain items that you purchased! You should check what items are earning cash back prior to going to the store to see if anything you need would qualify.
5. Keep a running list on your fridge. When things start to run low, add it to your list so you can price check and watch for sales, but also so you won’t run out and have to make a separate trip for 1 item that you thought you had…
You’ve got this!
Are you ready to rock your grocery budget?
Keep in mind this is more art than science. Yes, I know a budget is a matter of numbers, which are concrete, however, if sticking budgeting was that simple, it wouldn’t be such a struggle. It’s all those emotions- ha! #amiright. So, try some of these out, try all of them out. Figure out what works for you and rock that. Meal planning and a grocery list are probably the two biggest elements to savings. The rest of the tips are more of grocery budget hacks.
If you are like me, in need of inspiration and instruction when it comes to meal planning. There are TONS of fantastic blogs dedicated to easy, delicious meals. I also recently found, My Fridge Food. You can input the ingredients you have on hand and it will give you recipes using those ingredients. Can you say game changer!!
I would love to hear how this list worked (or didn’t) for you! Comment below if you have any hacks or tips of your own to share. I’m always looking to save money!