Easy ways to spend less money on your groceries every month
The grocery budget is by far the easiest category to overspend in. And usually it is the small, additional purchases that bust the budget, not the act of grocery shopping itself.
But, when you can manage to whip that grocery budget into shape, and feed your family good, healthy meals, it feels so amazing.
When we were paying off Mr Dentist’s student loans, our grocery budget was small! Less than $400 a month for a family of 5. So I know a few things about keeping grocery budgets in check.
If you are struggling with your grocery budget and looking for easy ways to lower your grocery bill, then you have come to the right spot.
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How to save money on groceries and household items
Use a Grocery Savings App
There are two grocery saving apps that I love to use to get cash back. I use both of these because I am rewarded for doing my regular shopping.
The first is Ibotta. Ibotta is super easy to use. Just open the app, scan your receipt and submit. The app will then go through the items on your receipt and match your purchases to current deals being offered within the app. You get automatic cash back that, over time, results in real money you can use for other things.
Once I have scanned my receipt into Ibotta, I will then double-dip my savings and scan my receipt in the Fetch Rewards app.
Again, Fetch rewards is super easy to use. You scan the receipt and the app matches what you purchased to current deals.
The difference with Fetch, though, is that you are given points for the items you purchased.
As these points add up, you can trade them in for gift cards to popular stores like Target, Amazon, Wal-Mart and more.
I love to save up the gift cards and use them for birthday and Christmas gifts.
The trick to truly save money on groceries and food, and have a successful, on budget, shopping trip, is to go with a shopping list that is based on your meal plan.
Meal Planning can seem hard and frustrating, especially if you get into a food rut and you don’t know what to cook.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to take forever and cause lots of frustration. You can have budget friendly meal plans delivered to your email every week with the $5 Meal Plan.
No more hunting for recipes, hoping you get inspired and then getting sucked into all the amazing ideas on Pinterest (come on, we’ve all done it!)
The great thing about $5 Meal Plan is that it is delivered to your email complete with recipes so you never have to go hunting for a dinner idea again.
And for only $5 a month (seriously!) you will have weekly dinner ideas to make meals that will actually help you save money on your groceries every month. Each meal is designed to cost $2 per person, or less!
Delicious food, easy meal planning and saving money? Yep!
Take Inventory of Your Pantry
If you want to save money on groceries, one of the best ways to start is to know what you have on hand.
Take time to inventory what is in your fridge, freezer and pantry. This will give you a good idea of what you have in terms of groceries and household necessities.
Furthermore, you can plan your meals around what you already have on hand. This way you will cut grocery costs by not wasting what you already purchased, and you will purchase less because you will know what you have and not wonder what you need.
Go with a List
Once you have your meal plan set, you need to create your list and shop what is on the list. It is so tempting to get to the store and buy whatever looks/sounds good. Don’t do it. Your list should incorporate everything you need to buy to last you until your next shopping trip.
So buy what is on your list, and only what is on your list.
If you find yourself shopping and see something and realize, “Oh we need that” and it wasn’t on your list, then you need to get a “pre-shopping” list going.
Have somewhere in your house where you can make note of things you need as you run out of them. Then, when you make your actual shopping list, add those items that were on the “pre-shopping” list.
One of the biggest tricks to saving money on your grocery bill every month is the stop buying the name brand products, and buy the generic store brands.
If you do a price comparison of a name brand versus a generic brand, I can guarantee that almost every time the generic will save you a significant amount of money.
And, to be honest, the different brands do not taste that different from each other, if at all. In fact, they are often made in the same factory and just given different labels.
I have learned over the years to go grocery shopping alone. I know that that can be hard if you are a stay at home mom to young children (I am one too, after all).
But I find that when I go by myself, we are far less likely to buy extra things that we don’t need/didn’t plan for.
And I’m not just talking about going with kids. Even when I go with my husband, we inevitably add $30-$40 to a grocery trip!
The solution–go alone! Whether you go at night when the kids are in bed, or on the weekend and brave the crowds. I can promise that your grocery budget will thank you.
Buy In Bulk
When it makes sense, buy items in bulk. But make sure to check the price per unit. Sometimes buying MORE in bulk is actually more expensive than buying two smaller bulk items.
We buy things like flour, rice and other dry goods in bulk. These items last a long time and we save money over the long term by buying more now.
Buy Meat that is “On Sale”
When you go to the meat section and see meat that has been marked down, don’t be afraid of it. In fact, buy it up!
This is meat that is going to pass the sell by date for the store, but NOT the use by date. I love finding deals on chicken and beef this way. It is an easy way to save on buying meat.
And, to make sure it lasts, when I get home I toss it in the freezer and use it as needed.
Have, and use, a Freezer
Whether you make the most use of your freezer attached to your fridge, or you have a deep freezer in your garage, using a freezer is a big money saver?
How? Well, like with the meat example above. If I end up buying 10 pounds of beef and 20 pounds of chicken, where am I going to put it before it goes bad? Either freeze it raw or cook it up and freeze it in portions for later.
Same with bread. If I find bread on a great deal, I will buy several loaves at once. Rather than risk the loaves getting moldy before they can be used, I toss them in the freezer until we need it.
We were given a small chest deep freezer and I have loved the flexibility it has given me to stock up on groceries when my budget allows.
Shop the Sales
Every week grocery stores send out their weekly sales. Get into the habit of looking through those ads, seeing what is on sale, and comparing what you need or will need, with what is on sale.
Then, shop the sales!
You can maximize this trick even more by planning your weekly meals around what is on sale at the stores. This way you are only buying ingredients/food that are already cheaper, that you know you need and you will definitely use. All of that helps you to save money!
Have a Price Comparison Sheet
Sometimes it can be hard to know which store has the best sale prices. You may find that the sale price in one store is actually the normal price in another store.
This is where keeping a price comparison sheet comes in handy. Whenever you go shopping, mark down the price of the item you are buying, and where you are getting it from.
As you do this more and more, you will have a good list of the items you buy regularly and what the regular price for those items is.
Then, when those items are listed as on sale, you can see if it is actually the cheapest price you can get for that item. If it is–great! Time to stock up. If not, then wait until it goes on sale for an even better price.
Go Less Often
Get into the habit of doing your grocery shopping in one trip and then don’t go again until your next scheduled trip.
Whether you plan to go once a week, two times a month, or once a month–make a schedule and stick to it. Then don’t go on a non-scheduled day.
I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to the grocery store for “just a couple things for dinner” and come out having spent $50!
Trust me, the less often you go into the store, the less chance you have of spending money!
Using cash is a sneaky little trick that helps you save money. There is actually a physical response when you spend actual cash. You see it leaving your wallet and you know it is gone. It is actually harder to spend cash than it is to swipe a card.
So if you are looking for an easy way to spend less, start using cash. It can be a hard habit to get into, but I promise it will pay big rewards.
Be Willing to Shop at Multiple Stores
This goes along with shopping sales and keeping a price comparison sheet. Don’t just assume that one store will have the best deals.
Take the time to shop around and, if it makes, sense get the best deals from multiple stores. (It also helps to do this if you don’t have anyone with you).
Sometimes the savings from going to multiple stores won’t make sense if you have to spend a lot of time and gas getting to the various locations. But, if the stores are fairly close together, then this could a big money saver.
Buy In Season Produce
Produce can be a hard place to save money. But, if you focus on purchasing produce that is in season, you will help to save money.
For example, apples are harvested in the fall and so are cheaper in the fall. Citrus fruits are in season during the winter and strawberries and watermelon are cheapest in the summer.
Yes, you can purchase any of these items at any time of the year. But they will taste the best, and be most cost effective, when you purchase them during their naturally occurring harvest time.
Don’t go Hungry
This is such a big one! If you want to avoid bringing home extra snack foods and excess groceries in general, eat BEFORE you go grocery shopping.
When you are hungry, EVERYTHING looks so good to eat. So you end up buying way more than you need. And inevitably regret it later.
Do yourself and your wallet a favor, don’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach.
Use Your Leftovers
You spent all this time shopping and preparing the food, the last thing you want to do is waste it! Not using your leftovers is like throwing money in the garbage can!
Leftovers make great lunches to take to work. We stopped buying lunch out and started taking leftovers. So not only do we use up what we have, we are not spending extra money to eat lunch. Win win!
We also will have one night a week where we will eat the leftovers from the previous few days/week. This means it is one less night that I have to cook, and we use up as much food as we already have as possible!
Using your leftovers can be a huge budget saver on so many levels!
Don’t have time to eat your leftovers? Freeze them for another time! Just make sure to mark what it is and the date when you put it in the freezer.
Final Thoughts on Saving Money on Groceries
I know that it can seem so daunting to try and cut your grocery budget. But after years of using these tips, I can promise you that it is possible.
You don’t have to try everything at once either. Implement a few of the ideas, and once you get the hang of that, move onto another one. Pretty soon you will see your grocery bill decrease and be able to keep it that way!
What is your favorite way to cut your grocery budget? Let me know in the comments!
And make sure to pin this for later so you can come back to your favorite ideas you want to try!