One of the easiest items to cut in your monthly budget is groceries. Here are 20 ways you can save on your grocery bill.
Are you looking to save money on groceries? There are so many ways to cut your grocery budget. A widely accepted rule for groceries is $100 per person per month. I find that to be easily obtainable with my family of 4.
Buying groceries costs more upfront but it will end up saving you money when compared to eating out. Let’s do a little bit of math. Molly eats out for lunch 5 days a week and spends an average of $8 a day for lunch. Molly also gets coffee 3 times a week which averages $5 per coffee. Molly also eats out for dinner twice a week and spends $15 on average for dinner. In total Molly spends $85 per week, $340 per month, eating out. That’s a lot of money.
If you eat out like Molly does don’t be ashamed. I used to do the same thing because it was convenient. The trick to eating out less is preparation. When you’re rushing off to work and don’t have time to prepare breakfast or lunch you’re very likely to eat out. To avoid this set aside some time on your days off or at night to prepare your meals.
You don’t have to meal prep perfect and compete meals like you see on Pinterest. Simply cooking some chicken for the week, roasting a large tray of veggies and cooking a big batch of rice will set you up with lunches for the week. Make yourself 4 or 5 jars of overnight oats and you’ve got breakfast for the week. Simple changes like taking time to prep your groceries will help you save money each month
Now let’s get into how to save money on groceries. Here are some ways to save on groceries before you even get to the grocery store
1. Try to avoid going at peak hours
If you avoid peak hours you can take your time and look for the best sales. You’re also more likely to find everything you need if you go late at night because that’s when they tend to start restocking the shelves.
2. Be willing to shop at different stores
You don’t have to go to multiple stores each week to save money on groceries. Just be willing to change up your grocery store based on the weekly sales. If you only shop at one store you’re likely missing out on some great deals. Stores I recommend checking out are Aldi, Grocery Outlet and Winco.
3. Look at the weekly ads
Weekly ads typically start on Wednesdays and run through the following Tuesday. I highly recommend going through the ads in your area and circling the items you are looking to buy. You can decide which store to visit based on who has the best sales for that week.
4. Meal plan and make a list before you shop
Another great way to save money on groceries is meal planning before you go to the grocery store. I usually plan my meals based on the sales for that week. If the sales flyer shows a great deal on ground sausage and marinara sauce then I will plan on having pasta for at least one meal that week to take advantage of those sales.
Making a grocery list is crucial. You don’t want to go to the store without a list. Write down everything you need and stick to your list. Additional items add up quickly so try to avoid adding items unless it’s a sale that is too good to pass up. To make my grocery list I like to use the app AnyList. This is a free app that you can link between yourself and someone else. That way you can both add the the grocery list. You can also set up the app to work with Alexa.
5. Shop your stash
When creating your meal plan for the week be sure to go through your pantry, fridge and freezer. Look for items that are going bad or items that you have a lot of. For example if you have a lot of rice in your pantry, some frozen ground sausage and some bell peppers in your fridge then you can create a meal using those items. A great meal idea would be my Weeknight Jambalaya. Its an easy and delicious one-pot meal and I will link the recipe HERE.
6. Bring your own bags
I will admit, this won’t save you a ton of money on your groceries but it will save you 10 cents per bag. It is also much more eco-friendly and you won’t end up with a bunch of plastic bags that you have to find a place to store.
Now let’s get into how to save money on groceries once you get to the grocery store
7. Find the clearance section
Did you know that grocery stores have clearance items? I didn’t know this until about 5 years ago and my life has changed. There are usually multiple clearance areas in the store so you’ll need to search for them. There is usually a small clearance section in the produce area, one toward the back of the store with dry goods and pre-packaged foods and one in the freezer section. Sometimes you can also find clearance meat mixed in with the regular priced meat. Look out for those clearance stickers. Be sure to check expiration dates and if it’s an item that you can freeze I recommend stocking up.
8. Buy in bulk
If you find sale items that don’t expire for a while or sale items that freeze well I highly suggest stocking up on these items. Take advantage of the sales and buy extra. I save money on groceries by buying mostly sale and clearance items and freezing the extras. Ralphs has a buy one get one free sale on chicken about once every two months. I will usually wait for that sale and buy 2 months worth of chicken to freeze. That way I always have chicken on hand and I never pay full price.
9. Stock up on cheap essentials
There are certain budget friendly items that you should always have on hand. I always recommend having meat in the freezer (that you got on sale) as well as frozen veggies. Fresh veggies like potatoes, carrots and cabbage are also staples for me because they last a long time without going bad. Fridge staples include eggs, butter and cheese. Pantry staples are rice, noodles, flour, beans, baking powder and baking soda. Keeping my kitchen stocked with basic food essentials makes it easier for me to cook instead of eating out. Always buy extra pantry staples when they are on sale.
Other ways I save money on groceries
10. Buy pre-made meals on sale
When you find frozen lasagna, pot pies, frozen burritos or frozen pastas on sale I recommend grabbing a few. These items can be pricey but every once in a while you can find a good sale. I like having these items on hand for days that I don’t have a lot of time or days when I just don’t feel like cooking. Having frozen meals that I can easily warm up keeps me from resorting to fast food or takeout on those lazy days.
11. Stay away from pre-cut or convenience items
You pay a higher price for convenience. Pre-cut fruits and vegetables will cost you more. Also items like pre-shredded cheese, marinated meats & prepared foods will have a higher price tag than if you made them yourself. If you want to save money on groceries you’ll have to be willing to spend a little more time in the kitchen. That being said it doesn’t take too much time to shred your own cheese and marinate your own meat. These are easy ways to see major savings on that grocery bill.
12. Buy less processed foods
Similar to convenience items, you will pay a premium for processed foods. Consider baking your cookies and bread from scratch. Ditch the prepackaged granola bars and trail mix and make your own for a fraction of the price. I know this may not work for everyone but even switching out a few processed foods can result in huge savings. If you’re looking for a delicious and budget friendly treat check out my 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies linked HERE.
13. Pay attention to the fine print
When shopping for sale items be sure to read the fine print. Some items require you to purchase a certain number of units to get the sale. Others require that you buy a certain size or flavor. I’ve also seen sales that apply to all but one variety of a certain food. Make sure that you are reading the fine print and not losing out on those savings.
Recently I’ve seen stores that offer discounts using digital coupons. This means that you have to download the coupon to your sales card before you buy the item. Make sure that you understand the sale before you buy so you don’t end up paying full price.
14. Look at the price per unit
When trying to save money on groceries be sure to look at the price per unit or per oz. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a larger size because the price per unit/oz is cheaper. That being said, it’s not always cheaper to buy the larger size. It really depends on the item and the store so do the math and make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Another way to save is to buy generic brands. More often than not generic brands are exactly the same as store brands but cost much less. Try swapping out some of your favorite items for generic brands and see if you can find items that are exactly the same. That will easily result in savings.
15. Discount cards and savings apps
Make sure that you are signing up for the store discount cards. Most stores only offer discounts if you are a card member so don’t miss out on these savings. It’s free to sign up and you can usually sign up online if you don’t want to do it at the register.
There are several apps that also offer savings on groceries. Some of my favorites are Fetch Rewards. This app allows you to scan your receipt and you earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards. Check out Fetch Rewards HERE. You can also use Ibotta which allows you to get cash back for grocery shopping. Check out Ibotta HERE. If you like to shop for groceries online you can use Rakuten. This is a great way to get some cash back and you can use it for more than just groceries. Check out Rakuten HERE.
16. Ask for rain checks or price matches
If the sale item you’re looking for is out of stock ask if your store offers rain checks. This is not available at all stores but it’s worth a try, especially if it’s a good sale. You can also ask if your store will price match sale items. This can be beneficial because you’ll only have to go to one store but you’ll get the savings of multiple stores.
17. Tag team your grocery trips
If you have a partner, spouse, friend or sibling try tag teaming the grocery responsibilities. If you want sales from 2 different stores, split up the grocery list between yourself and someone else. Doing this will allow you to get the sales from different stores without spending the time going to multiple stores yourself.
18. Shop less frequently
This may be hard for some households but I urge you to try going to the grocery store less often. The more you go the more likely you are to buy additional items and therefore spend more money. Try to plan out your trips with enough fresh produce, pantry staples and frozen foods to last you for at least 2 weeks. This is a fool proof way to save money on groceries. It may take a little getting use to but it works.
19. Take advantage of credit card rewards
Sign up for a credit card that offers a percentage back on groceries. Then make all of your grocery purchases with that card. The trick is to pay off the entire balance each time you buy groceries. That way you’re staying within budget and not paying interest. This is a great way to earn rewards and raise your credit score. Try to find a card with no fees to be sure that the savings are worth it.
20. Go without
Try going without expensive food or treats from time to time. Let’s say you enjoy asparagus or strawberries but they’re not in season. Try going without these items until they come back in season so you can get them for a much lower price.
Another way to “go without” is to omit items if you don’t have them on hand. I consider recipes to be guidelines and I usually tweak them to make them my own. Instead of making an extra trip to the store for a specific recipe just try to use what you have.
There you have it. Those are my tips for saving money on groceries.
I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope some of these tips will work for you. Remember, groceries are one of the easiest items in your budget to cut.
Saving money on groceries is very simple. It just takes a little time and preparation. A combination of these shopping tips and meal prepping can really cut your grocery bill. Once again, meal prepping does not need to be complicated or fancy. Simply pre-cooking some meats and veggies will set you up to succeed.
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