In this post, you will learn the easy tips that will help you save more money on groceries every month, allowing you to save more for your financial goals.
Do you often spend somewhere between $1,000 – $1,500 on groceries for your family every month? Do you even know how much you spend on groceries?
If you are spending this much, you aren’t alone! I was easily spending over $1,000 every month for just me and my young son.
However, with just a few simple adjustments to the way you shop for food, you can save a significant amount of extra money each month. And that adds up over the course of the year.
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My budget for food is now just $650 for the two of us. And most months we don’t hit this limit. It also includes dining out at restaurants.
In this post, I’ll go over all the small adjustments I have made that allow me to consistently save around 25% on my groceries every month, without changing the foods I buy, or clipping coupons.
Super simple tips to save money on groceries
- Whichever store you shop at, see if you they offer an app for your phone. Then, download your store’s app. I use Safeway but many stores offer the same rewards programs. What you want is an update of what is on sale each week at your location and ideally for your app to track what you commonly purchase.
- Comb through the app and look through the sales before you go to the store. As you come across items you typically purchase, save the item. Depending on the app, this is either saving the coupon under your account, adding the item to your preferences, etc. The goal is to build up a list of items you normally purchase.
- Before you shop, look for great deals on items you typically purchase.
- Plan your meals around what is on sale that week. If chicken is $1.50 off per pound, then plan on making chicken that week rather than turkey or beef.
- For items with a longer shelf life, purchase them when they are on sale, not when they are full price. For instance, I only buy coffee filters when they are on sale for $1. They normally cost a little over $2. Once they are on sale, I buy two boxes. There will be another sale before I run out.
- Only make one trip to the grocery store a week. No more extra trips (and time and gas). If you like to shop a two or three different stores, pick which one you go to this week and save the others for the following weeks. For instance, I go to Trader Joe’s regularly for certain must have staples, and Safeway for everything else. Therefore, one week I will go to Trader Joe’s. Then the following week I will go to Safeway. I used to go to both stores back-to-back. I would buy my usual items from each store and then stock my pantry and refridgerator. And I would have so much food that I’d end up throwing a lot of it out because my son and I just couldn’t get through it all. Going to only one store a week has saved me money and time and prevents over buying.
- Which leads me to the next tip, eat everything that I have! This is so huge and something I was terrible at. Until I really became more aware of how much my usual grocery items cost me, I didn’t think much about throwing out that spinach pack that I didn’t get around to. But if I bought that spinach pack on sale for $1 off, original price $3, I feel like I’m actually throwing $3 in the trash when I don’t eat it. I’m much better about planning meals based off of what I have available and utilizing everything.
- Part of utilizing all the food I already have in the house is actually using the frozen food I have squirreled away in the freezer. It has a way of accumulating. Sometimes I delay going shopping for a few extra days just to eat down what I already have in the freezer or pantry. I know how much money that saves me and it becomes a game, how much lower can my grocery budget come out to at the end of the month? Can I beat what I did last month?
- Also keep in mind, this includes eating out. If I come in under budget for grocery shopping but over budget for eating out to compensate, that doesn’t count as any money saved.
- By using the store apps and staying focused on the items I picked out ahead of time, I have a better chance of curbing my shiny object syndrome while I’m shopping. I don’t give into the impulse buys that leave me wondering what in the world I’m going to do with all the eggplant I somehow thought was a good purchase.
- If you feel like it’s super inconvenient to comb through your grocery store app and plan meals ahead of time, compare it to an hourly rate. If I don’t feel like taking 10-20 minutes out of my day to look through the weekly sales, then I put it in a different perspective. By taking the time, I probably save about $25. Let’s assume that it takes me 10 minutes of finding coupons on my app to save that $25 at the store. At an hourly rate, that’s $150 an hour. So now is it worth the extra 10 minutes? Yes!
Once you are in the habit of doing this you will be more aware of what your usual items typically cost. Then, as the next level of savings, you can check how much things cost across different stores. I typically buy certain things at my local Walgreens instead of my Safeway simply because they are cheaper. Keep in mind, it’s the same item. I was going to buy that Kleenex anyway. Simply by being aware of what items I normally buy, how much I normally pay for them, and then how much I can save when those items go on sale, I’m able to shop a whole lot smarter.
So far, I have saved the most money by sticking with Safeway and using my rewards card and the app on my phone. I haven’t branched out much beyond this. But, there are other options.
Some stores that have sale/rewards apps:
- King’s Super
- Checkout 51
Take it to the next level and save even more:
- Meal planning – I’m terrible at this. I just stick to what I usually purchase and plan meals in the spur of the moment. And, I hate schedules. If I have a meal plan I can almost guarantee you that what sounded like a great meal idea will be the most unappealing option that day, simply because it was mapped out. Therefore, I use similar ingredients and cook them in different ways depending on how I feel.
- Meat is usually the most expensive food item. Plan meals around what meat is on sale that week.
- There is a great website by Erin Chase called the $5 Meal Plan. You can visit it here: 5dollarmealplan.com. By signing up you have meal plans sent directly to your inbox and you can mix and match them around your weekly sales.
- Coupons from local free newspaper: They really do save you money. I don’t do this, I’m not that disciplined. But if you are hard core and ready to save more, go for it!
- Ibotta and Checkout 51 are apps that provide cash back from manufacturer coupons. You get cashback after you purchase rather than saving money before you purchase. All you do is take a picture of your receipt after you shop and if any items have a manufacturer coupon, you get that discount added to your account. The savings add up over time and when you hit a certain limit you can cash out.
Most important tip
I saved the most important tip for last.
It’s really important that you have an intention for the money you saved.
If you use a cash-back app like ibotta, the money accumulates in your account until it reaches a certain threshold. Then, you transfer that amount to your paypal account. Have a purpose for that money. You could transfer it straight to a debt payment or it could be your Christmas money for the year. When you have a purpose for it, you will be more motivated to stick with this new routine, save more money, and put in the extra effort to keep growing your savings.
The top three categories that Americans spend the most money on are living expenses, transportation and food. If you are looking to save more or pay off debt, you have two options.
- Make more money
- Cut spending
Living expenses can be difficult to cut back on since it means moving to less expensive housing. Transportation can also be challenging to cut back on. It often requires a huge life adjustment to alter the way you commute every day and it isn’t often beneficial to downgrade your car for a cheaper one.
Food, however, is an area where cutting costs can lead to significant and impactful savings over the course of the month. Which continues to add up to big savings over the year.
Here’s a review of the top tips that will save you money on groceries:
- Think of food as money. The time you put into lowering your food expense is like an hourly wage. The money you save is debt pay down or Christmas shopping or the family vacation fund. It has a purpose.
- Don’t buy things because they are on sale. Look for coupons and discounts on the items you are already going to buy.
- Try one thing, get good at it, then add the next thing. Overwhelm will block you from moving forward. Small steps at the pace that you can implement.
- Look at your store app before you make your shopping list, then, shop with a purpose.
- Plan meals around what is discounted at your store.
For further money saving and wealth building tips:
- Download your favorite store’s app.
- Play around on the app and start building a list of items you commonly purchase.
- Before you go shopping, look through your app and what is on sale.
- Plan your shopping around what is on sale.
- Stick with it. If your app keeps track of what you saved, move that savings from your checking account into your savings account. That money saved now has a purpose. Use the extra savings to pay off debt or towards a specific money saving goal.