Groceries can be one of the largest expenses for any household. Putting food on the table is equally as important as having a roof over your head. But sometimes it can be difficult to save money on groceries when your appetite has other ideas, and you don’t realize how the prices of food items can quickly add up. It’s easy to learn how to save money on groceries and with some guidance, you’ll be saving in no time.
Create a Grocery List
Having a solid, well-planned out grocery list is arguably one of the most important strategies for saving money on groceries. This will keep you on track to stick with what you need, not whatever you want. Going to the grocery store hungry and without a list can make your bill much larger than needed. In fact, some people say they save money by doing grocery store pickup or delivery orders because it limits the temptation of unnecessary products in the store.
Shop at Budget Grocery Stores
You’ll get full whether you shop at Aldi or Whole Foods Market. Compare local grocery stores in your area to see which ones have the best prices overall, and shop weekly deals for the best value.
Aldi and Walmart are two of the most cost-effective grocery options available in the United States. When comparing the Great Value brand vs. Aldi (who relies on lack of brand name recognition to keep prices low), price depends on the item. Aldi generally has better prices on meat and produce, while Walmart is better for pantry staple items such as rice and beans. Having a good foundation of groceries at home like potatoes, rice, eggs, and soups is great to stretch your budget when you don’t have the funds to stock your pantry.
It is worth looking into local farms for cheaper prices on meat, dairy and produce. The food quality is often better, too. If you follow a specific diet such as gluten free or keto, it can be even more challenging to accommodate a budget, but it’s not impossible. Even cheaper grocery stores stock items for every dietary need.
Sign up for the Loyalty Program
No matter where you shop, signing up for the store’s loyalty program will be worth it. Loyalty programs help you save money by offering weekly deals that you can build a grocery list around, making your shopping even more strategic.
If you have a large family, you can join a wholesale club like Sam’s, BJ’s or Costco. The savings typically aren’t worth it for a single person, but can quickly make a difference if you have many mouths to feed. Even better, you can find deals to sign up for the wholesale clubs at a discount throughout the year by checking Groupon and social media.
Digital coupons will be available even if you’re not a member. Keep your eye out for coupons that you would use before heading to the store.
Where and When to Shop
Some people, such as college students, may not have a kitchen to prepare food. But for those of us who are able to prepare food, there are no excuses for buying pre-made foods, as you pay for the convenience and time saved with your own money. Skipping the prepared foods aisle can save you money, as these items are typically more costly than if you made them from scratch. Even if you’re short on time, having a dedicated meal prep day can help to keep your grocery expenses in check.
Shopping late at night before the stores close or early in the morning increases your chances of finding marked down food. There is nothing wrong with buying food that will expire soon if you can cook it immediately or freeze it until you are able to use it, and this can cut the price of meat in half!
Say you have $25 and already have a few staples at home like rice, beans, and canned goods. You can get a few items to last you until better (pay)days.
Rotisserie chicken: $6.47
Rotisserie chicken can be split up into several meals and used in a variety of ways.
Great Value 12 count large white eggs: $2.52
Eggs are a great source of protein and can be used for breakfast or as an added bonus in ramen.
Great Value Pasta: $0.92
Great Value Mushroom Pasta Sauce: $1.50
Ground Beef (73% lean, 47% fat): $4.34
3 lb. bag Gala Apples: $3.78
This puts you at 19.53. Condiments and spices will go a long way to make this food filling and satisfying. You want to save a few dollars for sales tax, but you were able to get meat and produce. That said, this budget assumes that you don’t have any dietary restrictions. Excluding meat can help you save money, so if you do follow a specific diet, splurging on a protein powder will benefit you.
Buy Frozen and Canned Goods
Frozen food is commonly mistaken as less fresh than its non-frozen counterparts, but that’s not the case. Buying frozen meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables will greatly reduce overall spending. Buying single-serve microwave meals is not advisable for spending or nutrition, but buying frozen chicken, broccoli, etc. will give you the option to cook when you want while saving a few dollars.
As mentioned above, if you dislike frozen food or try to eat a whole foods diet, your best option might be finding a local farm where poultry, dairy and produce are much cheaper than common grocery stores.
Use Cash Back Apps
Using Cash Back apps consistently can lead to serious savings over time. Well known apps like Ibotta, ReceiptHog, FetchRewards, Rakuten, and Checkout 51 save you .50 to several dollars per item. It can take a while to cash in on savings, but that depends how often you grocery shop and use the apps. If you’re dedicated to saving every penny you can, we recommend signing up for one app, sticking to it, and racking up as many rewards as possible.
Of course, one final option is to use a credit card to earn cash back on everyday purchases like groceries. However, credit is not the best long-term option for saving money since it can lead to overextending your budget.
Go Forth and Save!
Hopefully these tips have helped you plan your next trip to the grocery store. Ask friends or family how much they spend on groceries, and use this helpful monthly grocery budget calculator to see how your spending stacks up. With so many options available to save money on groceries, you can eliminate the stress of overspending next time you go shopping. We hope this article empowered you to take your financial wellbeing in your own hands, and showed you how simple behavior changes can lead to big results.