16 Real Ways to Save Money on Groceries {That No One Talks About}

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How many times have you looked at your grocery budget and realized that it was still higher than you would like it to be? If you’re like most of us, it has probably happened more times than you care to admit. You have that realization and you hop online to find out new ways to save money on groceries, but what happens? Nine times out of ten, you run into the same tips being talked about over and over again and no real new information to help you lower your grocery budget even more than you already have.

Ways to Save on Groceries that No One Will Tell You - Is your grocery budget too high? If so, these 16 ways to save money on groceries are sure to help! You won't find the common tips here, these are all rarely talked about!

It was this realization and thought that I had the other day while I stood in my kitchen making homemade chicken stock. We’ve all heard the same tips over and over and it’s very rare that anyone talks about how they really save money on groceries. Sure, menu planning and learning how to shop the sale cycles all are fantastic ways to save money on groceries, but they only go so far. If you ask me (which no one ever really does), these same tips being rehashed with no real new information being put out there is one of the reasons so many people have trouble getting their food bills as low as they could get them.

16 Real Ways to Save Money on Groceries {That No One Talks About}

So I decided that since those obscure ways to save money on groceries are so hard to find that I would do a post with the “other ways” that I use to save in my own home. Most months, I feed a family of 4 for around $150/mo which is far less than what I have seen some of my own blog readers tell me they spend. We eat well at my house including steak once a week. Steve is a big meat and potatoes kind of guy and while accounting for that in my grocery budget took some fancy footwork at first, I’ve got it down to a science now. Just because you’re on a grocery budget doesn’t mean you have to eat rice and beans everyday.

Just as a heads up; this is going to be a long one. Can’t read it all in one sitting? Pin it for later or bookmark it and come back when you get more time.

Shop Clearance Markdowns Often – 

We all know the clearance section is a great place to find deals, but are you hitting every clearance section your store has? Most offer clearance on meat, dairy and produce as well as the pantry items you’re used to shopping. Here’s the kicker though and this may take a bit of willpower on your end; shopping the meat, dairy and produce clearance sections once a week or month isn’t really going to save you much in the long run. Instead, stop by those sections anytime you have some spare money in your grocery budget and are in the area. You may be surprised at the deals you find.

Along with this also comes figuring out what day and time your store(s) mark things down. If you can get there around the same time they’re putting clearance items out, you’ll stand a much greater chance of getting the deals you’re looking for. A good example is the photo above of the clearance deals I shared on Instagram just a few days ago. Since I was able to figure out when my local grocery store marks things down, everything you see pictured cost me exactly $8.68. Each bag of produce was $2.00 and each package of cheese was $1.34 each. Everything except the apples went into the freezer and my girls have devoured the apples since I brought them home. The next time I shopped the clearance section at this particular store, I scored a gallon of milk for $1.40, two pounds of cheddar for $2.50,  a roast that was regularly $11.00 for only $6.00 and another package of swiss for the$1.34 price.

This really is one of my favorite ways to save money on groceries and I usually keep my from my grocery budget back just for stopping in when we’re near. Since it is on the way home whenever we go to the next town over, I’m not spending any extra gasoline to stop by when we come home.

Do understand though that when you’re shopping clearance for meat and produce that the items you’re getting won’t always be in pristine condition. The meat may be starting to change color since it is nearing its sell by date. The produce may have a few bad spots. That’s okay. Put the meat in the freezer immediately and cut around the bad spots in the produce when you eat it or preserve it.

With all of that said, I mentioned that it will take a bit of willpower on your part and it’s true. If you can not walk out of the store with nothing other than your clearance purchases or if you’re frequently susceptible to giving into impulse buys, don’t utilize this tip until you can get that under control. You will only cost yourself more money than you will save in the long run.

Side Note: Really looking to increase your savings in every area of your home and life? Check out my book, Six Dollar Family HERE. It’s packed with awesome ways to save money and more! Available on Kindle or in paperback.

Earn Free Gift Cards – 

Yeah, I know this is one that I’ve mentioned quite a bit, but there is a reason for that. It works and really is one of my favorite ways to save money on groceries and in fact, I used it just the other day to buy pasta sauce and snacks for my girls totally free from Amazon. I was only able to do that because I took the time to earn free Amazon gift cardsWhile we use my homemade pasta sauce recipe most of the time, I do like to keep a few jars on hand for the nights when we run out of mine or one of the girls cooks dinner to make it easy on them.

 

When you take the time to learn how to earn free Amazon gift cards, you open up one of the best ways to save money on groceries that I know of. Instead of using cash from your grocery budget, you are now able to use those gift cards to help yourself buy items you normal buy, but you also give yourself another way to build a stockpile on a budget without breaking your wallet in half.

Yes, learning how to earn free Amazon gift cards can be a true learning experience, but it will do wonders for not only your grocery budget, but your personal budget as well. For me, I use a variety of legit survey sites to earn free gift cards online. These 39 ways to earn free gift cards online are a fantastic place to start for anyone who is just starting out or wanting to increase their online earnings.

Buy Seconds Whenever You Can – 

If you shop for fresh produce, check to see if you can buy the seconds instead of the regular priced items. Unsure what “seconds” are? Well, they’re produce (usually) that has been rejected by the main store for one reason or another. Usually they’re slightly bruised or may be close to their freshness peak. Since most items can be preserved past their dates in one way or another, as long as you keep the amount reasonable to what you’re able to preserve, you’ll be able to save the product for later and save money on groceries at the same time.

This tip works best if you buy at farmer’s markets or can find a farmer to buy from directly and that is how I utilize it. I have, however, seen it done at grocery stores successfully. Like anything else in life, you’ll never know unless you try.

Cut down on waste and use every bit of everything you can – 

As a society, we waste an enormous amount of things that could be used in a different way and a lot of those ways will save money on groceries in one way or the other. If you’re using every bit of everything that you can, you’ll spend less later on. For instance, did you know that you can regrow certain vegetables from scraps? Why not start a container garden from scraps and save money on fresh produce? It’s easy to do. I highly recommend that you start with learning how to regrow celery from scraps since it is one of the easiest to do. What you won’t use in your container garden can most likely go into your compost pile since here is a huge number of things you can compost.

Even things that you wouldn’t be likely to look at and think it could be used differently can be. Have bananas that are browning? Make this amazing banana bread recipe or these banana bread muffins and keep them from going to waste. Throw the peels in your compost and you’ve eliminated any waste. Egg shells can be ground up and fed to your dog (or chickens) as a calcium boost or tossed in your compost. Coffee grounds can be made into a coffee beauty scrub or added to your compost. Orange peels can be used to make a homemade orange oil cleaner. Apple peels and cores can be added to compost or used to learn how to make homemade apple cider vinegar. If you opted not to grow a container garden with your scraps, keep your chicken bones, carrot scraps, celery scraps and others to make homemade chicken stock. Stale bread can be run through a food processor and turned into bread crumbs.

My point is that there are endless things you can reuse to save money. You only need to look at things a bit differently and once you start, you will find yourself saving more and more each month.

Another fantastic way to cut down on the amount of goof you’re wasting is to learn the difference between sell by and use-by dates. We toss millions of pounds of food each year that really didn’t need to be simply because someone misunderstood how to read the date. By learning the difference, you’ll find yourself tossing far less food than you probably currently are.

Don’t Assume Homemade is Automatically Frugal – 

I am all for making more and buying less. In fact, one of the first things I did back in 2015 when I really needed to start cutting expenses was to stop buying and make these 30 items that we used on a regular basis. That originally list of 30 has expanded quite a bit now and can be found HERE if you’re interested. Here’s the catch though; not everything on those lists will be frugal for your family.

The truth is that some of the items; such as my homemade deodorant recipe or my coconut shampoo recipe; can be quite expensive if you’re not already spending a lot on deodorant. In our case, we were spending quite a bit on it and making it homemade really was cheaper for us. In addition to the amount we used, there were also health issues on my part from using a lot of store bought products that was driving up the costs as well.  If, however, your deodorant of choice isn’t causing you health issues and you use an affordable brand such as Suave deodorant, you will save more in the long run by skipping the homemade version.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am an urban homesteader. I enjoy making what I can homemade for my family and I highly encourage you to make as much as you possibly can. For the most part, homemade will almost always save you money and aside from that, they are much healthier than over processed items that really aren’t great for your body or home.  I simply want you to understand that homemade doesn’t always equate to frugal. Once you understand that, you can make the decision whether making something at home is going to help or hurt your grocery budget.

Cook for your family; not the individual – 

One thing that drives me absolutely batty is when someone claims a meal is frugal that really isn’t. Tacos are a good example of what I mean. How many tacos does it take to feed your family? I know that each of my girls can eat four or five in one sitting. Steve can eat as many if not more if he’s super hungry. We’re already up to twelve tacos and that is without me eating.

Now ask yourself how much meat you actually use to make enough tacos to feed your family. Do you really only use 1 lb of meat? No, you more than likely use 2 lbs and maybe more depending on how large your family is. Right there you have a meal that costs around $4.00 just on meat alone. Add in shells or tortillas, cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, beans, guacamole and any other toppings you may eat with your tacos and your “frugal” meal just got pretty expensive.

Why? Because you cooked for the individual. Instead, you could have grabbed a 9 x 13 baking dish and layered all of your taco fixings in it as a taco casserole and fed the entire family for considerably less. Why? It takes fewer ingredients to layer that baking dish as a casserole than it does to feed each individual a taco. When you make a taco casserole, you can use 1 lb of meat. You can use less lettuce and less of each ingredient because of how it layers in the dish. Everyone will eat their fill and your grocery budget will be a bit lighter.

When you do sit down to plan your menu, make sure you’re planning for the family as a whole and not individuals. Individuals are super expensive to feed. Families really don’t need to be.

Grow what you can, but be wise about it – 

I’ve already mentioned learning how to regrow vegetables from scraps and learning how to start a container gardenbut if you have the room,  learning how to start a garden on a budget is best. It’s pretty easy to understand that the more you can grow, the less you have to buy. However, gardening isn’t always frugal.

If you’re spending money to buy fertilizer every month or if you’re buying plants and aren’t savings seeds so you can start your garden from seeds, if you’re growing things your family won’t eat or if you’re letting your excess garden crop go to waste, you’re going to spend more in the long run than you would if you had just purchased your produce.

Instead, learn how to make organic fertilizer at home. Take the time to figure out which type of garden is best for you so you have the kind of yield you want. Learn which items you can compost and what can not be composted and use your food scraps to make compost. Grow only what your family will eat and try not to plant more than you will need unless you plan on selling at a farmers market. If you keep your garden realistic, you’ll save money. If, however, you let things get out of hand, you’ll only end up spending more.

Hunt or Fish for what you can – 

If you don’t eat meat, this one won’t apply to you but if you do, it does. Hunting and fishing are really overlooked ways to save money on groceries because the simple truth is that not many people know how to these days. It used to be that hunting and fishing were just a normal part of everyday life because frankly, if they didn’t hunt or fish, they didn’t eat. These days, it is simple to head to the store and buy a cut of beef instead of hunting deer and it is just as simple to buy that cut of fish than throwing out a fishing pole yourself.

 

This is actually probably my favorite on this entire list of ways to save money on groceries. It isn’t because it saves so much. It is because going fishing with my better half allows us to spend time together very cheaply doing something we both love. The photo above was all caught in one day, made 6 meals once they were filleted and gave me a bit of bragging rights over him for a bit since they were mostly my catches. It was all in good fun and we both saved money and had a fantastic time together. Having a frugal summer date night and saving money on groceries is the perfect combination if you ask me. As for the savings on the trip above? It is around $2.00 per person, per meal over buying store bought fish even after we accounted for bait and everything else included.

Even if you can only provide a few meals a year for your family, you’re still saving money and your meat is much healthier than meat that is raised in commercialized farms or stocked lakes. That alone makes it worth it.

 

Stacy Ott
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Stacy Ott

Stacy Ott is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family.By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

I earned over $100,000 blogging last year! Click here to learn how to start a blog and make money blogging!
Stacy Ott
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