If you have a family, it’s likely that your grocery budget is one of your biggest household expenses. But I promise that it doesn’t have to be that way! There are a variety of simple steps you can take to save money on groceries each time you visit the store. With these 12 easy tips, you’ll be able to save money on groceries and slash your family’s grocery bill in no time.
Let’s start learning to save money on groceries by “making a plan”.
Whether you’re hoping to save money on groceries or any other regular purchases, planning is essential. The first plan you should put in place is a meal plan. Before you head to the grocery store, sit down and make a meal plan for your family for the week.
Plan out breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks your family will eat each day of the week. Having a plan could easily be one of the best ways to stay on target and know how to save money on food.
After you have outlined the menu for the week, make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need to make each meal. But before you head to the grocery store to buy the items on your list, check your pantry, fridge, and freezer for items you already have.
If you find an ingredient that you have in your cabinets, mark it off your list to make sure you don’t waste money on duplicate ingredients.
But meal planning and list-making aren’t the only plans you need to make to save money on groceries. You also need to plan your budget. If you have never budgeted for grocery shopping before, take a look at your past few receipts to see how much you spent.
Then, budget an average of that amount the first few times you shop. After shopping on a budget begins to become a habit, start challenging yourself to save money by cutting back your budget each time you shop.
Stick to Your List
While it may seem like common sense that once you make a list, you should stick to it, sometimes, that’s easier said than done.
As you shop, be conscious of the items on your list and avoid tossing things in your cart that aren’t on that list. Impulse purchases are one of the easiest ways to go over budget as you shop.
Bring a Calculator
One of the easiest ways to make sure you don’t go over budget as you’re shopping is to use a calculator to keep a running tally of the groceries in your cart. Each time you place an item in your cart, punch the cost of the item into your calculator.
You’ll quickly be able to see how much you’re spending while you’re shopping, making it easy to stay on track. And seeing how quickly the items in your cart add up will help you avoid impulse purchases or buying items that your family doesn’t really need.
Get Creative with Your Menu
Although your family may love eating steaks or roasts every night of the week, cooking a big meal for each dinner isn’t budget-friendly. When creating your meal plan, think creatively about the meals you serve your family each night. There are simple ways you can get a little creative and save money on groceries.
Start by looking through your pantry, fridge, and freezer to come up with a meal you can cook using only items you already have at home. Or make one day of the week a leftover night, letting your family enjoy leftover food from the meals you already had that week.
Shop in Season
Fresh produce can be one of your biggest grocery expenses if you’re not careful. But by shopping for produce when it’s in season, you’ll be able to save tons of money each week. Wondering what’s in season in your area? Check out this handy guide from Seasonal Food Guide.
Don’t Be Store Loyal
While you may have a favorite grocery store, shopping around is one of the best ways to save money on groceries. Take the time to look through store flyers to see what’s on sale each week or use an app like Flipp to help you compare prices across several stores at once. Once you know what items are on sale that week, use that information to help plan your menu and shopping list for the week.
Skip the Brand Names
Although there may be a few brand-name products you’re loyal to, opting for generic products is a great way to save money. And there are a variety of products that don’t require a brand name to be delicious. Pantry staples, like flour and sugar, or dairy products, like milk and butter, are great products to buy generic.
Use Your Freezer
No matter how much you plan, sometimes you won’t use up all the food you purchase at the store each week. But using your freezer is a great way to reduce food waste and help you save money on groceries at the same time.
If you have meat or produce that’s about to go bad, and you know you won’t use it before it’s expiration date, freeze it. You can create a freezer meal using the ingredients or simply vacuum seal the meat or produce and place it in the freezer on its own. Either way, you’ll have an extra meal in your freezer for you to use in the future.
Do it Yourself to Save Money on Groceries
Purchasing a bag of shredded cheese or precut lettuce is a great time-saver in the kitchen. But you pay extra for that convenience. In order to save money on groceries, consider doing it yourself.
Buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself. Or purchase your greens and lettuce whole and cut and wash it yourself at home. These simple tasks don’t take much more time but they’ll definitely save you a ton of money at the grocery store.
Buy in Bulk
But only when it’s cost-effective. If your family enjoys eating an item and you know they’ll finish the package before it expires, it might be a good idea to buy that item in bulk. But before you grab that big package, take a look at the unit price.
To calculate the unit price of an item, take the total price and divide it by the number of items in the package. While it seems like bulk purchases are money savers, if the unit price is higher on the bulk package than the smaller one, grab a few of the smaller packages instead to save a little extra money.
Sometimes, avoiding the store all together is the best way to save money on groceries. Amazon Prime Pantry has a variety of pantry staples available for the same price (or less) as your grocery store.
Or, take advantage of online ordering at your grocery store, Wal-Mart, or Target. Simply fill up your online cart, schedule a pick-up time, and let the store do the shopping for you.
Grocery stores are set up in a way that entices you to make impulse purchases as you shop. First of all, the staples of the store – produce, meat, and dairy – are located along the outer edge of the store, forcing you to walk past all the aisles filled with unneeded items.
Next, the stores often stock the priciest items at eye level. As you shop, attempt to stick to the outer edges of the store to grab your essentials. And as you travel through the inner aisles, be sure to check the top and bottom shelves for cheaper options.
Did you notice that none of my tips included using coupons to save money on groceries?
That is because I rarely use coupons myself… maybe it’s weird, but I don’t like food companies telling me what I should be feeding my family, and I don’t like the greedy attitude that often comes with extreme couponing, so that is why I do my best to save without coupons (I once saw an extreme couponer almost completely knock over an elderly gentleman as she cleared the shelves of what he was trying to buy…he looked so confused as she wheeled her full cart away, not leaving a single item on the shelf for him to grab. It was a horrible thing to witness).
Don’t get me wrong, if I see a coupon for something I need and know that I will use, I cut that sucker out…and use it. I just think that they should be used in moderation, on things that we actually need or else we’re actually wasting our money by purchasing things that are just going to go bad long before the time we use all 50 of them that we purchased “for cheap”… but that is just my two cents.
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