Groceries eat up a huge portion of Michelle and my yearly budget. An average family of four spends close to $600 per month, equaling $7,200 per year. Most families spend more than that number.
If you need to find a way to save money, the first place you should look is your grocery budget. It is the easiest category to reduce your expenditures. Trimming your grocery budget doesn’t mean you can’t feed your family quality food. You can eat a wholesome diet for cheap.
Now with two children in our house, we must save money where we can. Over the years, I’ve learned how to reduce the grocery budget.
Here are my top 10 ways to save on groceries:
You wouldn’t go into battle without a plan, so don’t go into the grocery store without a plan.
No, a grocery store isn’t a battlefield, but it sure can feel that way with all of the different tempting foods and sale items. If you are like me, the word sale makes me want to purchase it, even if I don’t need the item.
Plan out the items you need at home.
Doing so allows you check your pantry. You don’t need to buy more rice if you have four boxes already. Also, you don’t want to run back to the store because you forgot an item.
Unnecessary trips typically lead to extra, unnecessary purchases.
First, make your meal plan based on the items you have on hand. If you have a pork loin, make BBQ pulled pork.
Once you use up the items already available, plan other meals your family enjoys, and make a list of needed items. Meal planning can be simple.
Check Out the Ads
As you are making your plan, look at the ads for that week.
Broccoli might be on mega sale one week, which means you might have broccoli cheddar soup one day and broccoli for a few side dishes.
If pasta is on super sale, stock up and have a few pasta meals that week. If the price is low and non-perishable, consider purchasing a few extra to store in your pantry for later weeks.
Shop in Season
Fruits and veggies cost less when you purchase in season. Strawberries nearly triple in price when you purchase them in the middle of the winter. Plus, the taste isn’t amazing.
Instead, stick to the produce that is in season. The price will be lower, and the quality is better.
Another great idea is to consider freezing produce that is in season. Do you love strawberries in your smoothie?
Stock up while they are in season.
I grew up with meat included in each dinner. The meat was the most important part of the meal.
However, meat also can eat up the largest portion of your grocery bill, especially if it isn’t on sale.
Instead, pick one or two meals a week to go meatless.
Don’t add meat to your spaghetti, use tomato sauce and include a salad. Make pancakes and eggs without bacon or sausage. Cutting a few portions of meat out decreases your overall bill.
Meat doesn’t need to be the centerpiece either. Dice up your meat and put it in your chicken instead of having individual breasts for each person. Mix it in your casseroles, or shred the pork. Focus on some amazing side dishes, which are cheaper as well!
Buy Bulk… When the Price is Right
Buying in bulk can be a fantastic way to save money, but only when the price is right. It doesn’t always save you money.
Don’t assume that bulk stores are cheaper, because that’s not true.
If saving money matters to you, do your homework. Think of the items you purchase on a regular basis. Head to your normal store and write down the price, as well as the unit such as ounces or pounds. Determine the price per unit.
For example, a 16 oz jar of peanut butter might cost $2.80. The price per ounce is $0.175.
Now, head to your bulk store and look at the price per unit there. If it isn’t the same or cheaper, leave it on the shelf. It isn’t a good buy.
Also, if you can’t use it all before the item expires, leave it. The price of bananas might be amazing that week, but you waste money by tossing out several bananas.
Cook from Scratch
Most snacks in the store are expensive compared to the cost to make them at home. Processed and boxed foods contain preservatives, so making the foods at home is healthier as well.
Start off by making a few of your family’s favorite snacks at home.
Cookies and granola bars are cheap and easy to make. Don’t purchase artisan bread; make it yourself! Salad dressings, condiments, croutons, soups, and more can be made at home!
Reconsider Dinner Meals
When you think about dinner, you might imagine elaborate dinner with a cut of meat as the centerpiece. Several side dishes and rolls sit on the dinner as well. Don’t forget a dessert!
That sounds like a meal I want to enjoy, but it is far from reality all of the time.
Dinner doesn’t have an elaborate meal all of the time. It is wonderful when you can make it so, but dinner also can be a large salad with chicken and fries.
Dinner can be breakfast for dinner, complete with pancakes and eggs. Your family will be happy with grilled cheese and tomato soup!
Use Those Leftovers
Tossing out leftovers is the same thing as tossing out money. Would you throw away a $5 bill?
Chances are you wouldn’t, so why are you tossing out a pot of spaghetti?
Leftovers are perfect for lunches! Bring them to work the next day. Reinvent your leftovers!
Spaghetti can become spaghetti pie. You can put meats on a bed of lettuce for a creative salad. Freeze the leftovers in lunch portions for another week. Waste not, want not.
Okay, I know that some people must have brand new ketchup, but generics taste nearly the same. Generic brands are the same quality as name brands, but they come at a lower price. Some generics cost up to 30% less.
If you are fine shopping generic brands, you’ll love generic stores like Aldi.
Almost all of the brands you find at Aldi aren’t available at a Wal-Mart, but the price makes it worth visiting. I promise; you won’t ruin a recipe from using generic tomato sauce.
You shouldn’t be brand loyal or store loyal. Shop at different stores rather than the same one. That allows you to take advantage of the best sale deals.
Most of us don’t pick our current grocery store because it is amazing. We pick it because of convenience and routine.
Don’t let your routine cost you money!
Make sure to check the ads for other stores. You might need to head to a few stores to save the most money. Why would you buy grapes at $2.98 per pound when they are $.99 per pound at the store across the street?
Shopping around can save you bundles.
Aside from these ten tips, I have two more tips to give you.
- Use apps on your smartphone that give you money back.
- Use cash at the store.
Yes, go to the bank and purposefully pull out cash to grocery shop.
Leave your debit card in the vehicle. When you only have a set amount of money in your possession, you are less likely to overspend and more likely to track your items closely.
Keep an envelope in your wallet with your weekly or biweekly allotted budget amount for groceries. Once the money is gone, you don’t go back to the store until the next payday.
Several apps pay you if you purchase certain items. Ibotta and Checkout 51 are two popular apps. You can earn money back that you spent on groceries, without using coupons.
Saving money on groceries doesn’t have to be complicated or require hours of clipping coupons. Busy families don’t have hours per week to clip coupons and match with ads. While it is fantastic if you have that time, but you can still save hundreds on groceries with these simple, ten tips.
Want more ways to save money? Check out over 125 simple ways to save money on almost anything!