Looking for ways to save money on groceries?
Trying to cut down on the grocery bill is no easy task. Apart from the housing bills, food can be a big expense for many. Finding ways to lower your monthly food costs while trying to live frugally can be overwhelming sometimes.
Here are some tips you can use to implement in the next month to lower your food costs and stay within your budget.
It is important to note that making a realistic budget is part of making it work. If you set a really low budget and end up always overspending it is easy to get discouraged and give up.
Instead, opt to set a slightly lower budget than your usual, and slowly work down to a budget that will actually stick.
It will take some work up front to figure out all the things you need to do in order to save money. However, once you do, you can enjoy those savings for years to come.
Best Ways To Save Money On Groceries
Savings At the Store
1. Save With Ibotta
Ibotta is a free, cash-back app that will save you hundreds on your groceries within the year.
Signing up is easy and free. All you have to do is create an account with a valid email address. Then you can start saving money at any of the hundreds of retailers. Stores include Target, Walmart, Lowes and many more popular retailers.
Start by looking up qualifying offers at the stores you are planning to shop at to see products you could get cash-back for. Once the offers are activated in your account you can shop as you normally do. If you have loyalty accounts at your favorite retailers then you can link them in your Ibotta account.
When you use those accounts at checkout, then your qualifying offers will automatically give you cash-back that you will see in your account within 24 hours.
Otherwise, if your accounts are not linked, you will need to upload you receipt. Once it is received, once again you will see cash-back in your account within 24 hours.
The offers available are not only for groceries but can be used more many more products. When your account reaches $20, you will be able to withdraw your money.
2. Only Shop Items On Sale
Stores actually have sales running on items every certain number of weeks. The real secret to saving on groceries is to stick to only buying things when they are on sale. The savings can actually get all the way up to 50% when you shop sale items.
This doesn’t mean you have to buy things you don’t want or usually don’t buy just because they are on sale. Go to the store every week and write down the things you see on sale that week.
Keep a record of what items were on sale for each week until you see that item on sale again. That’s when you will start seeing a pattern and know exactly when the things you want are on sale.
For example, a simple can of black beans, a staple in many pantry’s, is usually about .79 cents at the grocery store. During the time they are on sale, they go for about .59 cents per can. If you buy 20 cans at .79 cents that comes out rounded up to $16. If you buy 20 cans at .59 cents that comes rounded up to $12.
That is a $4 difference in a small inexpensive item. Imagine how much savings there are in the things that are usually more expensive. Remember, cents and dollars add up.
From the example above, it is easy to see how much money saving potential there is in shopping sale items. This brings to the next point, that when an item is on sale, buy in bulk.
The method might not decrease your grocery spending entirely in the beginning, but once you have a good stockpile at home of your essentials, this will significantly reduce your spending. In the long run, you will have still saved money on those things by buying them on sale.
Then, you can just go to your pantry if you need something than run to the store every time and overspend.
To know how much to buy of each item, use the previously figured out schedule of when the store runs sales. Buy enough staple items for the family that will last through the weeks until the item is on sale again.
If you can’t do that yet, start small and allocate a certain amount of money to buying sale items in bulk each week.
Have an ongoing list of things you have in your pantry. Every time you purchase something write down what you got, so that things don’t get lost in the pantry as they often do.
Likewise, mark out each item you grab from the pantry so you know which are in need of restocking, as some things last longer than others and may only need to be restocked every other sale.
4. Find Inexpensive Stores
Don’t assume one store is more expensive than another. You may be surprised that stores that are considered expensive have better sales than other stores that claim to have the cheapest deals.
Explore the stores around you to find the best deals. Ask around your community if anyone knows about some great deals in your area.
Stores like Aldi or Costco, often have some of the best prices, but don’t limit yourself just to big box stores either. Often times, local stores, ethnic stores, meat or produce markets, and local farms are a far better deal not only for the wallet but for healthy food as well.
5. Save with apps and coupons
One of the best money savers for groceries is the Ibotta app. You are able to browse through different stores that you actually shop and see what deals they have. To save money, go through the offers in the app and activate them.
Then once you are finished, scan the receipt of your purchase and you should have cash back deposited into your account.
Your big box grocery store more than likely also has an app. Download it to see the weeks specials and sales for that particular store. This can help compare different stores to find the best prices. Sometimes, stores have newsletters they send out with the weeks best deals so sign up for their email list if that’s available.
Many stores have their own loyalty cards that give you the special in store sale price, so be sure to sign up for the cards in the stores you frequent.
A site like coupons.com can help find some extra coupons to add even more savings.
6. Buy Generic
Many stores have their own brands of foods that are much cheaper than name brands. If you can’t taste the difference between the generic and the name brand then opt for the generic one. Things such as pasta and condiments have little variance in taste.
Usually the name brands are significantly cheaper and can get to even almost a dollar difference. Just make sure they don’t have extra ingredients added that don’t need to be there.
Savings At Home
7. Make your Meal Plan
It’s always good to have a plan for anything, and creating a plan to save on the grocery bill is no different. There are many meal plans you can find online that will help you figure out the recipes to make for the week.
This helps to know exactly what you need to buy at the store, how much you will be spending and where you can save.
Start by planning out one week to get adjusted to having a meal plan and then move on to having two weeks or more planned ahead.
Add in your family favorites and look up recipes that you can include in your meal plan.
8. $5 Meal Plan
For everyone feeling overwhelmed by having to make a meal plan, here is the solution.
This $5 meal plan will arrive in your inbox at 11 AM every Friday. In this meal plan you will find, 5 dinner entrees with sides, of which one will be slow cooker, one freezer friendly and one 20-minute. Also included is a lunch and breakfast as well as a goodie such as snack, drink or dessert.
These meals will usually cost less than $2 per person and you will have the grocery list and the recipes provided.
So if meal planning is stressful and too time-consuming for you, try out the $5 meal plan. If you’re still on the fence if this will help you, try the 14 day free trial.
9. Stick to Your Budget
Saving money on groceries means you have a certain amount of money you are able to spend on groceries.
If you still haven’t worked out a household budget, this budget guide will help you create a budget that you can actually stick to.
Start by being realistic about your numbers. If you set a number too low and completely overspend the first month, you will be disappointed that you weren’t able to stay within your budget which will be counterproductive. If you start with a bigger number and come in under your planned budget, then you will feel proud of yourself and will stay motivated to keep on saving more money.
The biggest way to stick to your budget is to keep track of your spending. This way you won’t overspend in the first couple of weeks and barely have any budget left over for the last weeks of the month.
10. Freeze Food
One of the best ways to preserve food for longer period of time is to freeze it. Whether you buy already frozen food or freeze the food yourself, this is definitely a money saver.
When you know you aren’t going to eat all of the food in your fridge in time, the best thing to do is freeze it before it goes bad.
Buying already frozen foods is a great way to stock up on necessities such as frozen berries, fruits, vegetables and meats. This is the best way to make sure that your money doesn’t go down the drain after having already bought the items.
11. Make Bigger Batches
Making bigger batches of meals at a time and freezing them for later is not only an efficient time saver but a money saver too.
Things like casseroles, meats and sides can all be frozen to use as a meal later on. Cook the meal in a bigger batch, then portion out and freeze.
Just like buying in bulk saves money, using those ingredients up and cooking in bulk will help save money too. If you don’t have time on a weeknight to cook up a meal, all you need to do is pull it out of the freezer – no need to order out.
12. Plan Cheaper Meals
Meat is usually the most expensive item on the grocery list. To reduce this expense, try to make it last longer by halving the amount of meat a recipe calls for and substituting another ingredient, or making meatless recipes at least a few times a week.
Not to worry, meatless recipes are just as good. Some cheap dinner ideas could include:
- Vegetarian Lasagna
- Coconut Chickpea Curry
- Black bean or other version of vegetarian chili
- Pasta with veggies
- Fried rice
13. Get Creative
Many of us have some things that get stashed away in our kitchen cabinets or the back of the fridge that we forget easily. This is the time to reorganize and get creative with what you have.
Try to build some of your meals for the week from what you already have. This can be tuna cans or grains that maybe you don’t use as often.
Using food you already have to make new recipes, will save you plenty of money in the process and help you find new recipes. If your celery gets forgotten, chop it into stalks along with carrots and put it in a jar with some water to keep it fresh. This way, you have a snack ready right in front of your eyes that you are more likely to reach for.
If you have any leftovers from your meals, find new ways to reuse that food in other recipes. Having leftover meats are some of the easiest foods to reuse. Leftover dinner chicken can be used on top of a salad for lunch the next day.
14. Keep Food Fresh Longer
Food waste happens more often than it should. Things don’t get used fast enough and end up going bad. That is essentially throwing away hard earned money for nothing. Thankfully, there are little tricks that you can learn to keep your food fresh longer.
This especially relates to fresh produce like vegetables and berries. Berries are one of the things to bad especially fast. A trick is to wash the berries in a little bit of vinegar which will help keep them fresh longer. For some more genius hacks to keep produce fresh longer, this article gives great tips.
15. Grow your own food
A great way to save some money on food is to grow your own food. Consider growing staple ingredients that you use the most often. There is nothing like picking your own produce out in your garden. They are much more fresh and tastier than anything you can buy in the store. While it is a bit more time consuming, it is one of the most budget friendly alternatives.
If you are not able to have a garden then at least consider a smaller herb garden in a planter. Herbs often cost a lot for a few little sprigs.
Having your own herbs will give you the ability to get the amount you need for your recipe, and still have more for next time. Planting your own is easier to have variety in your recipes at a smaller cost.