Posted By Sara Graham
Posted In Spend Less Money
Last Updated: 06/07/2022
Spending Less on Groceries
Grocery shopping is unavoidable.
Groceries are also expensive, especially when you have a lot of mouths to feed. However, what you buy, where you shop, and how you shop significantly impact your grocery budget. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to cut down on your grocery spending.
Here are 16 tips to spend less on groceries every time you shop.
How To Spend Less Money on Groceries
1. Review the Sales Circulars
Supermarkets run weekly sales. You can usually find a stack of sales circulars near the front door, but you may get them in the mail. You can also go to the store website and see what’s on sale before you go shopping.
Do not ignore the weekly ads. Instead, use them for meal ideas. The circulars usually come out mid-week, which gives you plenty of time for planning your shopping if you typically go to the grocery store during the weekend.
2. Plan Meals for the Week
Once you know what’s on sale, make your meal plan around sale items and what you already have on hand. By meal planning based on what’s on sale, you save money on groceries automatically since your ultimate aim is only to buy sale-priced items.
3. Join the Loyalty Program
Most grocery stores offer free loyalty programs. Once you sign up, you can benefit from members-only prices and discounts automatically applied at checkout. Some stores will use your purchase history to send you coupons or special offers on items you buy regularly.
4. Clip Coupons
Maximize your savings by clipping grocery coupons for the things on your list. The Sunday newspaper and the store circular might have coupons for what you usually buy.
After you sign up for your grocery store’s loyalty program, download their mobile app. Look for digital coupons to load onto your loyalty card through the app.
Be on the lookout for opportunities to stack coupons. It takes a little more effort, but if you can find a coupon for a sale item or use a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon together, you save even more.
5. Join a Wholesale Club
Wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club can help you save big by buying in bulk. If you have a large family, purchasing a wholesale club membership might be good.
Wholesale clubs aren’t for everyone since you will spend more upfront to realize the savings over time. It depends on your budget and cash flow.
The other issue to avoid is waste. Ensure you have adequate storage space and only buy what you can reasonably expect to use before the expiration date. That giant bag of apples is a waste of money if half of it goes in the bin.
6. Make a Shopping List and Stick to It
Going grocery shopping without a grocery list makes it easy to fill your shopping cart with extra items or things you don’t need.
Even when you have a list, it can be hard to stick to it. If you shop when you’re hungry, there’s plenty to tempt you. If you bring your kids with you, it can be challenging to say no.
Impulse buys run up your food costs and lead to food waste. Eat first and leave the kids at home if possible. Make a list, then don’t buy anything that isn’t on it.
7. Stock up on Sale Items
Not everything you need will be on sale when you need it. If you wait until you run out of something to replace it, paying full price might be your only option. Avoid that by stocking up when basic pantry staples and the foods you buy often are on sale.
Grocery sales run in cycles. Most of your staples are probably discounted at some point in the month.
It makes sense to shop sales to stock up on things like toilet paper, paper towels, and canned vegetables at their lowest price. You don’t want to overdo it with perishable items, though. Make sure you can use or have room in the freezer for what you stockpile.
8. Try Other Brands
Brand loyalty is great for the companies that make the products you buy. It’s not so great for your grocery budget. Having to buy a specific brand every time means you’ll pay the full price more often than not.
You can often find store brands or lesser-known brands that taste just as good as your favorite brands for less cash. Skip the expensive name brands and choose a generic brand instead. You might not notice a difference.
9. Try Other Stores
Don’t be afraid to venture out beyond your usual grocery store.
Dollar stores and other discount stores often have the lowest prices for some food items like spices, canned tomatoes, or condiments. They’re also an excellent place to get non-grocery items like coffee filters or napkins.
You might find a discount grocery chain like Aldi has prices that can’t be beaten on staples like eggs, butter, and bread.
Ethnic grocery stores might have a much more extensive selection of fresh produce. Some have significantly lower prices than supermarket chains.
10. Don’t Buy Processed or Prepared Foods
Pre-cut vegetables and bags of shredded cheese are very convenient. Convenience comes at a price, however, and convenience foods are expensive for what you get. Buy whole fresh vegetables or block cheese and do the prep work yourself for much less.
11. Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat
Meat makes up a large percentage of food budgets for people who eat meat. It is usually the most expensive ingredient in any recipe that calls for it. If you can save a lot of money on meat, you can save a lot of money on food.
Pass on the ribeye steaks and other expensive meats on display at the meat counter. You can buy chicken thighs, frozen fish, canned fish like salmon or tuna, ground beef, and chuck steaks to stay within your budget.
You could also try eating less meat. Swap meat for beans or other vegetarian protein sources like tofu.
12. Buy Produce In Season
Fresh fruits and vegetables are typically much cheaper in season, even if you insist on organic produce. Incorporate in-season fresh produce into your meal plans. If there’s some out-of-season fruit or vegetable you have to have, head to the frozen foods section.
Frozen vegetables and fruits are flash-frozen at peak ripeness. You won’t lose much taste or nutrition from frozen fruits and veggies.
13. Have a Meal Prep Day
Cook in bulk one day a week. Make several recipes and portion them into meals. You’ll have something you can take with you to work for lunch or quickly reheat for dinner after a long day.
You can also cook a large batch of a versatile ingredient like ground beef for use in other recipes. Half the work is already done if you need to whip up a quick weeknight meal.
Having meals prepared in advance saves you time during the week. It could also save you money on takeout and delivery. You’ll be less tempted to stop on your way home or fire up a food delivery app if you know you have homemade meals waiting for you.
14. Bring Your Own Bags
Save the environment and save money by bringing your own reusable grocery bags when you grocery shop.
Whole Foods offers a $0.10 discount with every reusable bag you bring. Target, Foodland, and some Trader Joe’s locations offer a $0.05 discount. Some Kroger locations offer fuel points or a small discount for each bag.
The savings aren’t much, but cutting down on unnecessary waste helps everyone.
15. Keep a Price Book
If you have multiple grocery stores in your area, keep track of food prices for what you buy often. A notebook or a simple spreadsheet is all you need for logging regular prices and discounted prices from the sales circulars.
Compare unit prices for the most accurate comparisons. The larger package isn’t always the best deal. Using unit pricing will give you a clearer picture.
Once you’ve kept track of prices in your area for a little while, you’ll immediately know if the price in the ad is a good deal or not. You’ll also learn the sales cycles so you can time your purchases to coincide with sales.
Consider shopping at two different stores to optimize your saving. As long as it isn’t too time-consuming and you don’t spend more on gas than you save on groceries, you could significantly lower your grocery bills.
16. Get Cash Back
Paying for groceries with a credit card that gives you cash back or statement credits will offset your grocery spending. As long as you pay the bill before interest kicks in, it’s free money.
If you’re thinking of signing up for a rewards card, compare offers from multiple credit card companies before you apply. Some offer higher reward percentages at supermarkets than others.
You can also get cash back on groceries through grocery apps. With a grocery rebate app such as Ibotta, you register for free and link a loyalty card or submit receipts to get rebates. You will save extra money on top of savings from credit card rewards, store loyalty benefits, and couponing.
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