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You know the feeling…
When you get up to the cashier rings up your total and you realize you’ve just spent the equivalent of a car payment on your groceries — for one week!
I still remember the shock I felt when I realized we were spending $1,250 per month to feed our family of four. And, my husband…
It was even worse. He swore up and down that there was no way we could possibly be spending that much until we sat down and I showed him each and every receipt.
And, it wasn’t just us.
For most families, one of the largest line items in their budgets is groceries.
The good news is, you can cut your monthly grocery bills while still eating great, healthy meals and it’s really not that hard.
Here are 17 ways you can start saving money on groceries today.
#1 – Plan Your Meals
Learning to plan our meals in advance was the hardest step for me. I was always a fly by the seat of my pants person when it came to meal prep, usually deciding what dinner would be about five minutes before I started cooking.
But, I was shocked at how much we started saving when we laid out our weekly meal plan in advance and only bought what we needed.
I’ll give you my exact process for meal planning that saved us so much money in a future post.
#2 – Get Cash Back
I’m a big credit card user. I’ll admit I want to say that I stick to paying cash but it would be a lie.
But, I’ve found a way to use it to my advantage. I have a couple of cards that offer 3% back on groceries and one that for 3 months every spring and fall offers 5% back. By using these for grocery shopping exclusively, I save quite a bit.
Check out your cards to see what they offer.
#3 – Stick to Your List
I used to make a list and head to the store only to use that list as a suggestion rather than a rule. If I saw something I wanted, I bought it, leading to an overflowing pantry and a huge grocery bill.
Once you’ve set up a meal plan, stick to the list you’ve created. Any deviation from the list means more expense and buying something you really don’t need.
#4 – Skip the Individual Servings
Those snack size bags of everything from cookies and crackers to carrots come with a convenience charge. Skip the individual servings and plan to divide up what you need yourself at home.
#5 – Pay Cash
I still fail at this but for those who do it, it really works!
Commit to paying only with the cash you’ve budgeted for your grocery list and put back anything that takes you over the limit.
#6 – Stockpile Basics
Make a list of the items you use regularly and only the items you use regularly.
For me, that’ s chicken thighs, flank steak, ground beef, shredded cheese, whole canned tomatoes, coconut aminos (used instead of soy sauce), dried seaweed, coconut chips, frozen veggies, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and more.
Then you can stockpile these items when they go on sale, saving you lots of money.
#7 – Shop at Discount Stores
I’m a big Aldi fan. So big in fact, that when we moved to a new town that didn’t have one, I complained for months every time we went grocery shopping. We finally have one now so… Yeah!
The point is shop at stores like Aldi if you have them. Their prices are often substantially less than you’ll find at a regular grocery store or even Walmart and you’ll be surprised at what they offer.
We buy our Italian prosciutto and our favorite aged cheddar at Aldi for about half what we were paying!
#8 – Price Match
If you don’t have an Aldi, use Walmart’s Price Match policy to save money.
Bring in the ads from other stores showing the sales price and Walmart has to match it. This way you can shop all in one place while still getting the best deals.
#9 – Get a Raincheck
If something is on sale but out of stock, ask for a raincheck.
This means you can still take advantage of the great deal, you just have to wait a few days.
#10 – Never Shop Hungry
Who hasn’t gone to the grocery store when they were starving and come out with a basket full of things they never intended to buy? I know I’m guilty.
Only shop on a full stomach to avoid this problem and the big bill that goes with it.
#11 – Know when to Stock Up
I’m kind of a geek (or really a geek, however you want to look at it). And, that includes grocery shopping.
Once we decided to create a budget for our grocery shopping, I started keeping a spreadsheet of the how much the items we bought normally cost.
This came with the big payoff of always knowing when something was on a really good sale so I could stock up.
Try it out and see how much you save.
#12 – Go Generic
There are some items that I only buy brand name for, like Heinz ketchup. My family just likes it better. But, I only know that because we taste tested them.
Other things, we’re perfectly fine with generic or store brand, like sour cream and most cleaning products.
Try out the generic brands to see what works for your family because for every item you can switch to generic, the cost savings will really add up.
#13 – Only Shop Once Per Week
The good thing about meal planning is that you only have to shop once a week.
And, the less times you’re actually in the grocery store, the less opportunity you have to spend more money.
So, limit your shopping to just once a week except in cases of emergency.
#14 – Keep a List
One thing that’s really helped my family is to put up a magnetic note pad on the refrigerator where we write down the items we run out of.
This helps with our meal planning process and ensures we know what we need when we go shopping.
#15 – Use Your Leftovers
We used to be terrible about wasting our leftovers. We always had good intentions but something would inevitable sound better the next night than yesterday’s leftovers.
Now, we have a simple rule in place. Any leftover is lunch the next day whether you like it or not.
You can just heat them up, or get creative and turn them into a whole new dish. The choice is yours.
#16 – Check Out Food Deals Online
For some of the food items we buy, it’s cheaper to get them online from places like Amazon.
For example, use coconut or almond flour for all my baking.
You can also save by checking out www.Ebates.com.
Before you shop online, just head over to Ebates and search for the store you want to shop at. Then you simply click the link from Ebates and a portion of your bill will be credited to your account.
#17 – Know Your Apps
There are also a few apps that can add up to big grocery savings:
- Ibotta – An easy app that lets you scan your receipt to earn everyday cash on your purchases.
- Saving Star – A cash back app that even offers money back on fresh produce.
- Checkout 51 – An app that sends out a new offer each Thursday. You just star what you’ll buy, scan your receipt and earn cash back.
Adding It Up
Use the tips above to stop stressing when the cashier rings up your total and start saving money on your grocery bill each month. They aren’t hard to do and you’ll see the savings add up fast.
I’d love to hear what tricks you use to save money on groceries. Post them in the comments below so that we can all learn together.
Want more money saving ideas? Check out our post on 10 Fast Ways to Save at Least $100 Every Month.
And as always, I wish you a strong family, optimal health and smart incomes.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.