Let’s chat about FOOD. We love it and can’t live without it (literally), but for most people and families, it is one of the biggest budget categories. But the good news is that it’s also one of the easiest categories to cut.
Slash Your Budget
And because the food budget is one of the largest, it’s often an area where many overspend. Add to that the insane prices we’re seeing at the grocery stores, and it’s likely your wallet has been feeling the pinch. That’s the bad news.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be. With careful planning and a few helpful tools, you can be slashing that grocery budget in no time, which can free up more money to pay down debt or invest.
How To Save Money on Groceries
When you have a very tight budget, every little bit counts. These 11 tips will help you see substantial savings at the grocery store, even during this time of high inflation.
1. Don’t Shop Hungry
This is crucial. Sometimes, you might not even realize it, but think back to the last time you spent way too much at the grocery store; I bet you hadn’t eaten. Everything on the shelf looks tempting, and unfortunately, most of it ends up in your cart.
Believe it or not, there have been studies done that show you will spend more money shopping for anything when you’re hungry – not just groceries. Eat a good meal before heading to the store; you’ll notice a difference…and so will your wallet.
2. Bring Cash
Bring only what you want to spend and leave your debit (or credit) card at home. You literally cannot spend what you don’t have.
It may be helpful to use a calculator the first few times so you don’t feel embarrassed if you’re stuck at the checkout asking to put items back…it sounds like a pain, but it’s not a big deal; just be sure to give yourself a few extra minutes to shop.
3. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk can absolutely save money, but plan carefully when making your bulk purchases so they don’t bust your budget.
Try purchasing bulk meat directly from a farm, co-op, or delivery company like Omaha Steaks. While this can save money over time, if you don’t have a way to properly store it or your family likely won’t eat that much, you’ll essentially be wasting your money, not saving.
4. Plan Out Your Meals
Consistent meal planning is one of the most effective tips on this list. Planning out your meals ahead of time, using that plan to create a detailed grocery list, and being disciplined enough to stick to that list will help you save a lot of cheddar.
Yes, meal planning can be time-consuming, and some struggle with not having enough recipes or knowing what to make. If this sounds like you, don’t be discouraged. Paid meal planning services offer done-for-you meal plans that save a ton of time.
5. Shop the Sales
If you get the newspaper, you likely receive the circulars from your local stores. Another option is to visit the store’s app or website to view their circular. Using these to create your meal plans for the week (or even to fill a freezer stash for later) can help you take advantage of the best prices around.
Maximizing your savings would likely require you to visit more than one store, so if you have the time to make a few trips, it will likely be worth it.
6. Use Cashback Rebate Apps
No, they’re not a scam, yes, they do work, and they literally give you free money. Be mindful of getting sucked into buying things you don’t “need” just to earn the rebate. But hey, free money is free money, right? Some of the most popular cashback apps are iBotta, Fetch Rewards, and Dosh.
7. Use Coupons
Couponing may feel antiquated to many, but it’s still a great way to save money – especially if you don’t shop at discount stores (such as Aldi) and purchase mostly brand-name items.
Couponing takes time, and it’s a bit of an art, but if you have the patience and organization skills, you can save some major cabbage. Ditch the scissors and download the apps for the stores you frequent, as most grocery retailers offer digital coupons on their apps.
8. Join Warehouse Clubs
Warehouse clubs can be a huge money saver. You pay a yearly membership fee to join but easily earn it back in savings very quickly.
But, they, too, can be a slippery slope if you’re not careful because it takes willpower to stick to your list, and it can be easy to overspend and purchase items you don’t need. Most warehouse clubs also offer savings on gas as well.
9. Subscribe & Save
Consider using Subscribe & Save programs for items you purchase repeatedly. Merchants like Amazon, Target, and Chewy offer discounts for ordering items on “autoship,” where they are shipped to you automatically on a schedule you create (and can modify at any time.)
This is especially great for baby and pet items, so you never run out. These programs allow you to edit or cancel at any time. In addition to a discount, most retailers also offer free shipping on Subscribe & Save items.
10. Order Your Groceries Online
Seriously, how cool is this? I know it might seem crazy to do your grocery shopping online, but here’s the best part: you can see a running total in your virtual cart the whole time you are shopping.
You can immediately see if you are over budget and easily make adjustments to get back on track! It’s basically like using a calculator while you shop without needing three hands to push the cart, grab your items, and keep your tally. Simply pay and pick up your groceries when they’re ready. How easy is that?
Another option is to pay for your groceries to be delivered. Of course, you’ll incur additional costs for the delivery, but some stores, like Walmart, charge a flat fee for the entire year and do not mark up the prices on the grocery items.
11. Shop at Discount Grocery Stores
Shopping at discount grocery stores is underrated! Some popular stores include Aldi, Trader Joe’s, LIDL, and many more. Aldi has a bit of a “learning curve.” You have to deposit a quarter to use a shopping cart (which is returned when you return the cart), and it’s much smaller than your typical store plus, you have to bag your own groceries, but you can save anywhere between 30-50% on your weekly food bill.
Take action and put some of these tips into practice to start saving big! Do you have any of your own tips to add?