Amber is a writer with a large family and a wide array of knowledge on various topics, including budgeting, parenting, and many more!
Tips for Saving Money at the Grocery Store
If you're wondering how to save money on groceries, you're not alone. I'm a single mom with three children and a grandchild, and I don't get assistance. This, combined with the rising cost of groceries, has left me wondering how to save on the cost of groceries, too.
I've come up with several ways to save money on food for the family. If you're struggling or simply trying to save money, these tips will help you spend less and save more.
How to Save Money on Food
Grocery bills are one of the main costs that families struggle with. You can easily go to the store and end up spending a few hundred dollars on one grocery trip. The more people you have to feed, the more you spend per month on groceries.
However, there are quite a few ways that you save money at the grocery store, too. Use these grocery shopping tips to decrease the amount that you spend on groceries.
Buy Cheaper Food
Instead of heading to the store with a specific grocery shopping list for everything, browse through the meat and produce aisles to find affordable fresh produce and meat. These are usually more expensive than processed items and can instantly wind up being half of your monthly grocery bill.
Making a list can be helpful, but that grocery shopping strategy doesn't always tell you what in-season produce is in stock. The way that meat is packaged plays a huge role in its price. Buy cheap products and then make a meal out of them. If you notice that pork chops are on sale, pick up a few packs, and that's what you're having for dinner.
Look at Your Old Receipts to Learn Where Your Food Budget is Going
If you find that you're spending hundreds more than you think you should, you can easily find out why. Save every grocery receipt. Then, compare them all to find patterns. This will tell you where most of your money is going. Then, you can look for key ways to save money on food.
Most grocery apps will keep track of your grocery purchases for you so you don't have to bother with saving a grocery receipt. They are typically recorded with your loyalty card.
Meal planning is a great way to save money, provided that you do it correctly. If you meal plan without checking out the sales, you might wind up spending more money. Instead, check out the local ad for your grocery store, and meal plan around foods that you can get at a discount. You'll save quite a bit of money.
Shop When the Store isn't Busy
This is an especially good tip for anyone that has anxiety around a large number of people. When the store is in chaos, it's easy to run inside, grab something for dinner, and then run back home. However, that is going to cost you more because you are not putting thought into your purchases.
Instead, go during the day or the middle of the week when the store is not as busy. You'll feel comfortable browsing for cheap items and won't want to hurry up and get home.
Carefully Consider Where You're Shopping
Corner stores and small, locally owned grocery stores are often more conveniently located, but they are usually more expensive as well. You can save quite a bit of money by heading to grocery chains.
Dollar stores are notorious for having cheaper groceries. I buy almond milk at Dollar Tree because it's significantly cheaper than it is at grocery stores. This is a great place to pick up some snacks for the kid's lunches. If you're looking for ways to save money on groceries, this is a great tip to follow.
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Price Compare While Shopping to Cut Back on Grocery Spending
Instead of buying the first item you see that you need, take the time to price compare. Look at how much foods cost per ounce or pound, and buy the cheaper option. Now is a great time to start trying out generic brands! This will guarantee that you spend less money at the store. All of those tiny options tend to add up to big savings.
Avoid Online Grocery Shopping From Your Local Store
Online grocery shopping is convenient, but it can cost you a lot more money. It's difficult, if not impossible, to price compare when shopping online. You'll have to pay a grocery delivery service fee and tip your delivery driver. It's more cost-effective to head to the store yourself if you can.
Check Out Amazon
Sometimes, price comparing can save you a lot of money. Amazon typically sells things in bulk, so you wind up paying less than you normally would. Some of their items are more expensive, but some are significantly cheaper. That's why it is important to price compare.
For example, I am a sucker for Fruit Punch Rockstar Energy Drinks. At the store, they cost a little over $2. On Amazon, I can order a case of 12 and pay less than $2 per can. I wind up saving six bucks a week by buying them by the case from Amazon.
Stock Up On Sale Items
Buying things that you normally use in bulk when they are on sale is a great way to save money. Certain items are always on sale during certain times of the year. This is called the sales cycle.
For example, ketchup is typically on sale during certain months of the year. Start paying attention at your local store to figure out what the sales cycle is, and then start stocking up. You'll save a drastic amount of money on food.
Look at Unit Prices
If you notice that items are sold both individually and in a multi-pack, such as boxes that have several smaller boxes of chips, tame a minute to look at unit prices. Unit prices will tell you how much you are paying for each individual item in the multi-pack.
Then, you can price compare the price of individual items so that you purchase the one that is cheaper. This is particularly important if you buy items in bulk, such as the items sold at Sam's Club.
Set a Budget
Before walking into the store, it's important to set a budget. Once you're inside the store, purchase the absolute necessities first instead of wandering up and down the aisles. Your necessities will include things for meals that people eat at home, like dinner. Then, use the rest of your budget for extra things, such as snacks.
Make a List
Making a grocery list, and sticking to it, can help you save a ton of money on food. Put the most important things at the top of your shopping list. Then, shop in order going down the list while keeping your budget in mind.
Keep an Eye Out for Discontinued Items
Every so often, a store will discontinue a product. It doesn't mean that they are expired. Instead, it simply means that the store will no longer be carrying them, and they want to get rid of them. You can find baking mixes under a dollar if they are discontinued.
Finding coupons before you go to the store is an exceptional idea. Most stores have apps that let you download digital coupons to make things easier at the register. Don't forget to include the items that you have coupons for on your list!
An important thing to remember is that just because you have a coupon does not mean that you have to use it. Only use coupons on items that you would normally buy anyway.
Avoid Shopping When You're Hungry
If you head to the store with an empty stomach, you're guaranteed to spend more money. Instead, make sure that you fill up your stomach before leaving. The food will look less appetizing, making it easier to stick to your list.
Leave the Kids at Home
If possible, don't grocery shop with your little ones in tow. They'll ask for things. If a child throws a fit, you'll instantly want to hurry up and leave the store. Both of those things will lead to you spending more money than you should.
Look at the Bottom Shelf
It's a common marketing technique to put items at eye level with customers if you want them to be purchased. That's why items on the bottom shelf are often cheaper! Take the time to make sure that you're looking at the entire grocery shelf, including the bottom.
Put in Some Extra Work to Make Meals
You can do quite a few things to prepare your own food that will save you a lot of money in the long run. Instead of buying shredded chees, pick up a block of cheese and grate your own cheese.
Purchase the ingredients to make homemade pancakes instead of buying a box of pancake mix. Homemade items are almost always cheaper in the long run. They contain fewer preservatives, so they are better for your health, too!
Avoid Impulse Buys
It's hard to resist a good sale, and you can't help but notice all of the cool things that are by the checkout lane. However, these are often more expensive items that will push you over your grocery budget. It's important to learn how to avoid impulse purchases to save money at the store.
Before going to the store, make a commitment to yourself that you won't buy anything near the register. Before buying something that's not on your list, ask yourself if you really need it. Will it provide value to your life? Often, the answer will be no.
If you still want it, tell yourself that you'll buy it next week or tomorrow. There's a good chance that you won't want it by the time tomorrow comes.
Store Brands Are Always Cheaper
You can stick to your favorite brands when purchasing your favorite items, such as a box of cereal, but there are quite a few staples that you can pick up cheaper if you buy the store brand. Purchase peanut butter, canned vegetables, and frozen vegetables in a store brand to save money on shopping trips.
Avoiding Food Waste Will Help Cut Food Costs
We spend a small fortune on groceries only to throw large portions of them in the trash. You can drastically cut down on your grocery bill by trying not to waste food. These tips will help you do just that.
Use Food That You Have
How often have you had to throw away things that are expired? When you do that, it's like throwing money down the drain. Instead, raid your pantry once a week before you go to the store.
Look at the food that you have and its current shelf life, and consider what else you need to buy to transform it into a meal. You'll find that you have to buy less food when you make use of the food that you already have at home.
Instead of tossing food as soon as you're done, make use of your leftovers. This is especially important when it comes to meat, as the average price of meat is more expensive than other foods. It will help you save quite a bit on your grocery bill.
Make leftovers for lunch the next day. Feed your kids leftovers as afterschool snacks. Spruce up leftovers for dinner the next night by making a few new sides to go with the main course. At the end of the week, have a buffet-style dinner with the leftovers from the week before tossing them.
Eat Perishable Items First
If you have both canned fruit and fresh fruit, eat your fresh fruit first. You'll quickly find that you're throwing away less food because it's gone bad when you start eating like this. It's better for you and your family because your entire family is eating more healthy foods!
Pick Up Frozen Food
If you're not a fan of canned fruit and vegetables but find yourself throwing away produce at the end of the week, consider picking up a frozen food item here and there. These are often available at lower prices than fresh produce. You can use price comparison to find the lowest price. The taste of frozen food is often as wonderful as fresh food.
Properly Store Food to Prevent Food Waste
Learning how to store food properly can ensure that food doesn't spoil as quickly, helping prevent food waste. Store tomatoes and apples by themselves. Put fruits and vegetables in separate bins.
When storing lettuce, put paper towels or toilet paper in the bottom of your Tupperware container. It will absorb the moisture to prolong the life of your lettuce! Small tips like this can help your food last longer and help you save money.
Other Ways to Save Money on Food
If you've followed every tip you can find but are still struggling with a high grocery bill, these tips are for you. They'll help you reduce the overall amount that you spend on groceries per month.
Meal ideas that don't include meat will be cheaper than ones that do because the meat is so expensive. Make pancakes for dinner one night, or stuffed green peppers with rice, cheese, and tomato soup.
Avoid Pre-Cooked Meals
Although it can be tempting to pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner instead of cooking, this is going to cost you more. Fast food and restaurant food are often more expensive. Instead, purchase the ingredients that you need to make meals.
Get a Rain Check for Out of Stock Foods
If your local store has a huge sale on a particular item, but there is none on the shelf, pick up a rain check. You can stock up next week when you head to the store and enjoy the sale price!
Don't Buy Drinks at the Gas Station
Every time I went to a gas station, my children wanted a juice or bottle of Gatorade. I could easily spend $20 on drinks at the gas station. I had to cut that out of the budget.
Instead, I pick up bottles of water at the store. My littlest has a water bottle that she can fill up before we leave if she would like to. Small adjustments like this can help you save a lot of money over time, even if you're not spending $20 per day at the gas station.
Go to the Store Weekly
Instead of going to the store every time you need something, make a comprehensive list and shop once a week. This can help cut down on how much you spend because you use less gas, and you do not have the option to buy extra things at the grocery store.
Money Saved at the Grocery Store Can Be Put to Use Elsewhere
Saving money at the grocery store can help you set aside a nest egg for emergencies or simply make sure that every mouth is fed. Combine several of these tips to increase your savings and watch your grocery budget slowly decrease.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Amber Lynn