Today I wanted to share five simple tips on how to save money on groceries! Budgeting has always been important for us, and a large portion of our monthly budget goes toward groceries. It can be hard to save money, but there are things you can do to cut costs without sacrificing your favorite items or meals.
A little about me…
Before I share these tips I wanted to give a few details about our grocery/family/life situation:
I budget around $120 on groceries per week – this covers 7 days of breakfast, lunch and dinners for our whole family. I will budget less if we plan on eating out, but we try not to, as the dollars can add up. This also does not include household items.
I do not use any coupons. I know this may be blasphemy to some of you, but stay with me here. It is truly RARE for me to come across a coupon for something that I legitimately use and need. If you use coupons, more power to you – but you won’t see them suggested on this particular list.
Tip #1: Make A Meal Plan
Making a meal plan is a CRUCIAL first step for someone who wants to save money on groceries (and it’s actually easier than you think!).
If you’re someone who has a hard time planning ahead, you can start by making a general list of meals you know your family enjoys. For example, we LOVE chicken here, so every week I usually include one or two chicken-centered dishes. Your kid will only eat mac and cheese and hotdogs for every meal? Plan for those too! Even if you don’t follow your plan down to the day, setting your meals in stone is a great way to make sure your actual list doesn’t have a bunch of items on it that you’re not going to use.
Tip #2: Make A List
Don’t go to the store without a list. I repeat, DO NOT go into the store without a list. Because when you don’t have a list, you know what happens? “Oh I’m just grabbing a couple things” turns into –
“Wow geez I haven’t had Lucky Charms since I was a kid!”
“Oh also these chips look good…”
“Oh I might as well buy these 18 other things for no reason.”
Making a grocery list of every item you need will help you say N-O to extra things you don’t need, which in turn helps you save money. This goes hand-in-hand with making a meal plan. When you’ve planned your meals and have ONLY those ingredients on your list, you’d be amazed at how much easier it is to bypass those extra things.
Tip #3: Purchase What’s On Sale
You know those weekly sales flyers you throw away with the rest of the ‘junk’ mail? For someone like me who doesn’t clip coupons, checking the weekly flyer of your preferred store is a great way to find out about reduced prices and specials.
Also, check the sales flyer for the current week as you’re sitting down making your meal plan. If your family loves tacos and you notice ground beef is on sale for that week, add tacos to your plan and pick up the beef at its discounted price. You don’t have to purchase ONLY sale items (unless you want to!) but basing your meal plan around what’s on sale that week can definitely help you save some dollars! Chances are, multiple stores in your area send out weekly flyers, usually with competitive prices! Weigh your options to ensure you get the best deal available.
Bonus Tip: Use Apps and Cash Back Services
I couldn’t write a post on how to save money on groceries without mentioning apps and cash back services. Keep an eye out for additional sales that are only made available through store apps or online services. For example, the Target app (formerly known as Cartwheel) usually has a few exclusive discounts only for app users.
Vitacost is another website that is always having sales, and is a great destination to find organic snack foods, vitamins, and other speciality items that sometimes cost a fortune in a regular store.
Last but not least, you can use apps like Rakuten (formerly Ebates) or Ibotta, which give you cash back when you shop. Both apps allow you to make online purchases through the app as well, and it’s not just for groceries! Shop online at stores like Target, Walmart, Amazon, Kohls and more. I’ve used both and they’re both worth checking out!
Signing up for either of these apps will give you $10 after you make your first qualifying purchase – more details available on each website. If you use my referral links above, we both get a cash bonus! It’s a win-win!
Tip #4: Utilize What You Already Have
Frequently taking inventory of your fridge and pantry is a great way to stay on top of what items you already have on hand. Knowing what you already have can keep you from buying excess of one specific item, and also help you eliminate things on your list.
I don’t buy a lot of frozen vegetables (no real reason, I’m just partial to fresh), but one thing I always have on hand is a bag of frozen green beans. I love the Trader Joe’s brand, and the Aldi brand is a close second! Frozen vegetables in general are great to have on hand as a healthy side dish.
Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes both have a decently long shelf-life and are SO versatile. If you have one odd ingredient you bought for another recipe – such as a fresh herb or a special type of sauce – try using it in another recipe that week so that it doesn’t go to waste.
BONUS TIP: If you find yourself buying fresh herbs often, but struggle to use the whole bunch before it goes bad? Try freezing the leftovers! This guideline provided by The Farm Girl Gabs gives you two different methods to try when freezing your herbs.
Tip #5: Learn To Love Leftovers
If you’re someone who cringes at the thought of leftovers, I know this fifth and final tip might be disappointing, but hear me out! Eating leftovers may not be glamorous, but it’s a great way to save money when your grocery budget is a little tight.
This deserves a post of it’s own, but there are countless meals that make incredible leftovers: roasted chicken, chili, lasagna, quiche – just to name a few. If you plan for leftovers at least once or twice a week, your grocery list will be shorter, and your wallet happier!
If you work away from home, you can still save money by cutting the lunch foods from your list, and taking leftovers instead! I love whipping up a batch of my favorite chili recipe and enjoying it for lunch and dinner for a couple days afterward.
A whole, roasted chicken can be used the next day in a soup or salad. Leftover side dishes such as quinoa, rice, vegetables or potatoes can be enjoyed in a breakfast omelet, or used to put together an easy casserole. The possibilities are endless!
Do what’s best for you!
I hope these tips enlightened you a bit about how to save money on groceries. In the end, you just need to find what’s best for you and your family and go with it! A little bit of organization and planning truly goes a long way.