Have you been looking for ways to save money on groceries? I know I have! I can’t believe how many times I’ve spent a hundred dollars on groceries that only fill three small bags. If you want more food for your money, you’re going to love today’s guest post by Val Breit over at TheCommonCentsClub.com.
If you’ve never inspected your spending, you might be surprised to learn how much money you spend on groceries. In fact, the average American spends nearly 13% on food (Source). Since the median household income is around $58,000 per year in the U.S., that means most families pay $600 or more on food every month.
Some families get by with only spending $200 or $400 per month on food. How do these families save so much money on their groceries?
As someone who learned how to cut our grocery bill nearly in half when we got serious about saving for a beautiful yet inexpensive wedding and paying off our debt from college, I’ll share with you the best and easiest ways to save money on groceries and spend less of your hard-earned money.
The Best Ways To Save Money On Groceries
First, anytime you’re making changes with your money, the best first step is to figure out exactly where you are right now. Then you will be able to track your progress and see if you’re headed in the right direction.
You can do this by looking at your monthly budget for groceries and eating out. There are budgeting apps like mint.com or spreadsheets that can help you categorize your monthly spending so you can quickly figure out exactly how much you tend to spend on food every month. If you’re not sure how to set up a budget, you can check out this simple guide on making a monthly budget to complete this first step.
Now that you’ve taken inventory on how much you spend on groceries, the next step is to take stock of the food you already have in your house. This means you’ll check the freezer, the pantry, your fridge, and your kitchen cupboards to figure out what you already have on hand.
Get Creative With Your Pantry
You guessed it! Saving money on groceries starts by eating the food you already have! This might mean you’ll have some pretty interesting concoctions at your place over the next few weeks, but when you think about it, why do you go to the store and fill up a cart full of food when you already have a bunch of food sitting at home?
Have a can of beans in the cupboard? Add that to your tacos instead of buying more ground beef. Find frozen corn in the freezer? It might be corn dip this weekend instead of a taco dip. Have a box of rice in the pantry? Time to check out Pinterest for some yummy rice recipes. When you get creative with using the food you already have, you can get by with buying a lot less at the grocery store.
Double Down on Coupons
Ask a customer service rep at your local stores to find out if there are any special coupon days. Many stores will have a dedicated day of the week when coupons are worth twice the face value. You can also double down by using coupons to lower the price you pay in the store, then use a money-saving app that will give you cashback on purchases afterward.
This tip comes from Nicole, she is a blogger at StruggleTodayStrengthTomorrow and has been an avid couponer for many years.
One of the most effective ways to use a coupon is to learn about sale cycles and watch for the proper times to stock up. Sales cycles repeat like clockwork and rarely disappoint, by shopping when items are at their lowest, you save the most.
For example, exercise equipment and health foods go on sale in January because of all the New Year’s resolutions, and TVs go on sale around then because of the Superbowl the following month.
Natural cleaning supplies go on sale in April, due to spring cleaning and Earth Day.
Cereal and sandwich foods go on sale in August because of school starting. When holidays get close, you can expect turkey, ham, and processed foods like canned items and boxed stuffing.
Save Money on Groceries with Apps
There are lots of coupon and rebate apps out there and here are a few you need to try if you haven’t yet:
- Ibotta – awesome rebates for grocery and household items
- Ebates – a % of cashback for almost all your online purchases
- Check out 51 – smaller amounts of cashback for the icing on the cake
Here’s an example of how using these apps can cut your grocery bill: I recently found a bag of frozen fruits and veggies for smoothies that is usually $9 at Walmart. It was on sale for $2 off, Ibotta had a $2 rebate, plus I had a $.50 coupon…making that $9 bag only $4.50! The best part is these apps are easy to use if you have a smartphone to scan your receipt. Using rebate apps like these can be another excellent way to get money back for the food you buy anyway.
While Aldi is my go-to store for cheap groceries, sometimes the best deals can be found online. This can be especially true if you have certain health restrictions or diets to follow, as I do. While I haven’t had much luck buying cheap groceries on Amazon, I have found some excellent deals on healthy foods from Brandless, where everything is just $3. I did a complete Brandless review to show you how Brandless prices and quality compare to similar items you can find at Aldi or Amazon so you can easily see which one is the best deal.
Grow Your Food
Over the years, my husband and I have learned a lot about how to be frugal to meet our goals. Regarding food, we’ve gone from two tomato plants in a pot outside our apartment to a giant garden in our backyard. Although this is a time commitment, growing our food can be a tremendous way to save money on groceries. Even if you only grow lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, this could be a salad right in your backyard! Plus, those are some of the easiest vegetables to grow so you can cut costs on pre-packaged salads from the store or expensive restaurant salads by growing your veggies.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, meal planning will help you spend less money on groceries. Part of the reason we all spend so much money on food is that we don’t plan. Our lives are so busy, so we need fast and convenient meals. But we pay a premium for convenience, whether it’s pre-chopped veggies, ordering takeout, or going through the drive-thru again. By starting the habit of planning your meals at the start of each week, you’ll know exactly what you need from the grocery store and what meals you’ll eat for the week. This will prevent all the extra trips to the store–which really adds up.
If you have something besides food that you’d rather spend your money on, like traveling, you don’t have to go into debt to do it. Instead, try these simple tips to save on groceries so you can use your money on the things that truly matter most to you.
About the Author
Val Breit destroyed over $42k of student debt then resigned from school counseling to become a stay-at-home mom. Now she spends her days trying to keep her two little ones out of the toilet. She uses nap and bedtimes to show you the simple rules you need to win with money at TheCommonCentsClub.com.