I’ve always believed that the grocery budget is one of the most flexible categories in your budget. So here’s how to save money on groceries.
There are so many things you can do to lower your grocery budget, and maximize your savings.
I spoke about this topic on my Savings Segment on Fox. Watch the replay video here:
Despite it being so flexible, our grocery budget is often one of the highest line items in our budget as well, so I’m always looking for new ways to save.
This is the reason why I compiled the best grocery budget tips I know to show you how to save money on groceries, help you stay on budget, and even lower your grocery bill right now!
Create A Meal Plan
It always amazes me just how many people don’t have a meal plan!
This small, simple step could save you hundreds on your grocery bill, yet many people don’t do it.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be difficult!
If you have no idea where to start, here is how you can get started.
Stick To Your List
You walk down the aisle to get to the spices, and on that same aisle, you pass all the snack food. I don’t know what it is about certain aisles, but I know if I go down them I will end up putting something that’s not on my list in the shopping cart.
One of the biggest busters in your grocery budget is impulse purchases!
If you can’t fight the temptations in the store, then an online order pickup or some other method is probably best for you.
Be strict and follow your grocery list. Plan for situations when you are allowed to stray a little. For example, clearance bins when you have coupons that match. This will not only make it easy to avoid those impulses, but you’ll have a plan to combat them.
Sticking to your lists will also help when you have to take the family shopping. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in the cart.
It may be hard, but you can do it. Some stores even have a no candy checkout lane too. Use it! That’s another way how to save money on groceries!
Only Bring The Amount You Need
Plan your trip ahead of time and carry only the amount of cash you plan to spend with you (or your cash envelope for groceries). Don’t forget to think about the items that are taxable and factor in that extra cost (I’ve been caught off guard by this so many times… and it’s embarrassing).
When you tell yourself that you can only spend a certain amount, and you have that certain amount set aside in cash, you will be less likely to buy things you don’t need.
Nothing is more embarrassing than having to ask a cashier to put something back because you don’t have enough money to pay for it.
So bring enough to cover your expenses and stick to your predetermined number! Be strong and determined!
Want to know a secret? In years of cooking, I rarely ever buy fresh herbs or spices! Now I know some of you cooking experts may say that I’m cheating and not following the recipes right, but guess what, they always turn out just fine!
Cooking is all about substitutions!
Being able to make what you have work can be the difference between a $10 trip to the store (that turns into a $20 actual trip) or $0 out of pocket.
It’s likely that if you’re “missing” something, you can find something in your home to use as a substitute.
Once I ran out of minced garlic, and you know what I used instead? Garlic powder. I looked up the ratio online and was able to save myself some time AND money.
I’ve gotten to where I can substitute almost everything in a recipe (not all at once, mind you.. but one or two at a time). Want to know my favorite secret substitution ingredient to throw into things? Parmesan Cheese. I have used that to substitute bread crumbs even! It might just be the miracle food.
Don’t Be A Brand Snob
There are obviously a few exceptions here that will be specific depending on your families needs. But the moral is that you should be willing to try other brands if they are less than the brand you are used to buying.
For example, if you always buy Secret deodorant, and you are convinced that nothing else will work for you, but the Dove brand is on sale for 70% less than Secret, you should give it a try this time, and switch back to Secret when it comes up on sale in the near future.
I always compare the lowest price for what I am buying at the time. And I am definitely an advocate for trying generic brands too!
Sometimes you can find the store brand even cheaper than the name brand you had planned to buy that was on sale! I’ve found that the generic items taste just as good.
If you are able to get the same item for less with a coupon and it’s name brand, fabulous! Otherwise, don’t be afraid to try the generic brand. We’ve found crescent rolls, milk, eggs, biscuits, tortillas, and even peanut butter that tastes just as good (or better) as the name brand.
Take Less Trips To The Store
Limiting your trips to the store can save you a lot of money. The more trips I make, the more I spend because I end up buying things we don’t really need.
If you’re not able to handle once a month shopping, I know I can’t, then try to identify one day a week when you do your shopping and keep a list of what you need to get the next time that day comes around the following week.
There is a science to the marketing that has proven that the more times you go to the store, the more you will spend.
Don’t fall for that trick and waste unnecessary time and money by going more times than you really need to. Make your list and stick to your one day per week.
This is also where meal planning comes in handy. If you know all the meals you are making for the week or next two weeks, making sure you have all of the ingredients for those meals before you go to the store, means fewer trips overall!
Grab these FREE Meal Planning Printables to help you get started!
Don’t Shop At Only One Store
While having store loyalty can pay off in rewards, grocery shopping is not one of them!
Unless doing this is helping you avoid impulse purchases, or they genuinely have the lowest prices, you are missing a bunch of great deals that other stores are offering! This doesn’t just include grocery stores either!
Sometimes you will find great deals on household items at drugstores, but you’ll end up just throwing whatever is on sale in your cart at the grocery store because you’re already there.
Those items are easily double and busting your grocery budget!
Coupon Down The Cost Of Your Groceries
If you aren’t using coupons, you are throwing money out the window! This is my favorite way how to save money on groceries.
Trust me, I’ve heard every excuse in the book.
“I don’t buy processed foods”, or “I only prefer organic”, but guess what? Even if you don’t buy a single processed food item, you are still saving money with coupons!
I promise you there are things you use that could be bought using coupons. If you don’t like the coupons for food, how about toilet paper? Or cleaning supplies? Or health & beauty products?
Those sauces you use for your meals can be bought with coupons. Aluminum foil, spices, eggs, you name it there’s a coupon for it! I have even seen coupons for milk!
You’ll be able to stretch your grocery budget a lot further if you use coupons, it’s as simple as that.
Start learning how to coupon and stretch your grocery budget like never before!
Use What You Already Have
Learning how to meal plan from your pantry and stockpiling so you have everything you need already on hand is one of the best ways you’ll save money.
Building a stockpile is a great thing that can save you a lot of money because you are buying items when they are at their lowest price. But you aren’t saving anything if you don’t use the items you paid so little for that are in your stockpile.
Start by planning meals based on what you already have on hand. I love to use this awesome recipe tool because it suggests a recipe to make with the ingredients you already have in your pantry! Score!
Learn To Love Water
You know what I hate to drink? Water.
You know what is a free beverage that can be found right in your own home? Water.
Water is boring I know, but cutting out other beverages and drinking water will save you big!
I love soda, juices, and lemonades too.
Here’s the honest truth, even if you cut back by half every single month, you’ll still save money!
Buy What’s In Season
Purchase produce when it is in season, and freeze it for later.
It’s the best way to pay rock bottom prices for your produce and enjoy healthy food on a budget.
If you don’t want to can or freeze them, then just rotate your meal plan to incorporate seasonal foods.
In our household, we indulge in watermelon over the summer. This is a seasonal treat, and we don’t buy it any other time of the year. The same goes for corn, pumpkin and other winter squashes in fall.
Doing this saves us so much money on our grocery bill, and we’re able to enjoy these foods when they’re at their best (taste & price).
Eat At Home
Nothing will bust your budget quicker than a meal out.
Let’s take something simple like ordering pizza. Most restaurants require that you make a $20 minimum purchase for delivery.
Not only are those pizzas loaded with carbs and calories (oh I know they are also delicious), but they are also twice the price! Instead, stock up on frozen pizzas or make your own! They are half the cost, and you can still enjoy a night off from cooking.
We enjoy making our own pizzas over ordering delivery. The kids have come up with some fantastic and delicious creations!
You can even find copycat recipes online so you can make your favorite recipes and treats at home! Talk about how to save money on groceries! This is a real budget saver?! Try this Copycat Papa John’s Pizza sauce recipe for next time you make pizza at home!
Here are the Best Restaurant Copycat Recipes On The Internet to try at home!
Buy Meat When It’s Cheap And Eat Less
Meat is expensive! Going meatless for one day a week can save you money! This is a no-brainer and something that’s probably been crammed down your throat a million times before.
The key to saving a ton of money on meat? Buy it at its rock-bottom price and freeze it until you’re ready to use it.
Our freezer currently has 5 packages of ground beef and four packages of chicken. We bought it when it was just $2.00 a pound!
Find out at your local store if they have a special day when they mark down their meat. Stock up until the sale comes around again.
Check out the SEVEN (7!) Cuts of Meat That Will Save You Money!
Freeze To Save What You Have
If something is a great deal, stocking up can save you a ton of money on your grocery budget. By buying things on sale, you can get them at their lowest price point.
By freezing the items you can’t use before they go bad, you are extending the life of that sale and allowing yourself to stretch that grocery budget further.
You can freeze everything from cheese to full meals!
Eat Before You Go To The Store
It’s been proven that one way how to save money on groceries is to never go to the store when you are hungry.
I’ve found it true also.
When you are hungry EVERYTHING looks good! This causes you not only to load your cart with unnecessary purchases but it also overloads your budget.
Before you even go to the store, check the time. I have often run out of the house at noon on an empty stomach. Let’s just say that was not a good trip. If you don’t have the time to eat a good meal, grab a couple of cheese sticks, a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit. This will at least keep the hunger pains at bay till you get home.
You could even whip up a quick protein shake to drink on the way to the store to ward off the Hangry Monster lurching inside.
Begin at the beginning! Look over these ideas. Use them to make a plan and then work your plan. Make a game out of saving money! This is how to save money on groceries!
YOUR TURN: What ideas can you implement into your very next grocery trip? Let me know in the comments below!
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