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As a mom, I can tell you that one of the biggest expenses that a family, aside from their home, is groceries. These days a simple trip to the grocery store can cost you hundreds if you’re not careful and I don’t personally know anyone who can afford to run out and drop hundreds each week or month on food. Do you? I’m going to just assume your answer is no which means that we all need to work on getting as much grocery savings as we can. The simplest way to explain how to do that? Is by telling you that saving on groceries starts with you, right in your home and whether you are willing to take the time to learn how to save money on groceries or not.
I’m not going to lie to you. The way that things are financially for a lot of families today, the cost of even a simple pepper or gallon of milk these days and the fact that a lot of people are still out of work, can all make buying groceries hard. If you’re having to choose between paying a bill and feeding your family? There’s a huge issue. Learning how to save money on groceries can go a very long way toward fixing that issue. If you’ve tried to shop for healthy foods for your family and score a bit of grocery savings without success in the past, it can be hard to find the want to keep trying. Unfortunately that is the only way you will learn.
Grocery Savings – How to Save Money on Groceries
The one tip that you will not find included in these ways to save on groceries is to use coupons. I stopped couponing a while ago and as a result, I don’t make them a core way to save in my life or here on the blog. They are an additional step that you can take, but I caution you that if you do coupon, to only use them for items you already buy and don’t go “extreme” with things. If you’re going to use them, print coupons for items you buy on a regular basis and leave the ones that you don’t. Instead, I try to focus my savings on the ways that I use to save money on meat, the tips in this post and the free gift cards and cash that I earn each month to help boost my savings even more each month.
Save money on groceries by having an actual grocery budget (Six Dollar Family) – The first thing you should do when you’re learning how to save money on groceries is to create a food budget. Just like you have a family budget each month that includes your food costs, it can be helpful to have an actual food budget too if you’re finding that you don’t have enough money each month. To create a food budget, take the total amount that you have to spend on groceries for the month and separate it by type. Meat will likely be the biggest portion of your food spending. You’ll also want to include pantry goods, produce, pet food and any household items like toilet paper if you include them in your grocery budget as well. Being able to break your spending down by category type will help to keep you from overspending. In other words, if you know that you can only spend $50 on meat and $25 on produce, you are less likely to spend that extra $15 on meat since it will take away from another area of your shopping trip.
Make what you can at home to find even more grocery savings – One of the biggest wastes of money in a grocery budget is prepacked items. Things like frozen pizzas, the majority of the frozen foods section and boxed meals all cost you extra because you’re not only paying for the food, but the packaging, the marketing and more. This means that to help lower your grocery costs, you should try to make as many items at home that you can. We put this into practice in our home last year by making over 30 items at home that we stopped buying to start making at home. That single action has saved us over $2500 since then as well as helping us all to be healthier and feel better. The more that you can make yourself, the more grocery savings you’ll see.
Use online deals to help find grocery savings – It might seem strange to order groceries online, but sites like Groupon, Thrive Market, Grove Collaborative, Amazon Prime Pantry, and programs like Ebates (where you get paid cash back for shopping) and Shop Your Way Rewards (earn points that can be used as cash off your next purchase) can all go huge distances toward helping you learn how to save money on groceries. A lot of the time you can actually find a better deal per unit online than you can in store. Be sure that you take the time to figure out cost per unit but that you also take things like shipping into account too so that you know for certain you’re getting the best deal possible.
Save on your groceries by using cash (or debit) – It seems to be a common thing to pay for your groceries using a credit card when you don’t actually have the money to go shopping. While it’s a great option for a true emergency situation, it isn’t something that you’ll want to do on a regular basis due to high interest rates. Those rates mean that you will be paying more for your groceries for a very long time if you don’t immediately pay off your credit card bill. Why would you want to continue paying 14, 16 or even 19% more on that grocery trip? Not only that, but when you have the ability to just swipe and go, you will stand a bigger chance of spending more than you should. Shopping with cash or a debit card will prevent that. If you only have a specific amount of cash to spend (or money available in your checking account) to spend, that tends to be first and foremost in your mind keeping you from overspending.
The only exception to this rule is if you’re trying to build your credit score and you know that you can pay it off immediately. Using a credit card for a small trip like milk and bread then paying it off immediately is a great way to boost your score if you’re looking to buy a home soon. This way you’re learning how to save money on groceries while you’re also building your credit for that future purchase.
Save on groceries by buying in bulk – Buying in bulk can go one of two ways for your grocery bill. It will either cost you more than you want to spend or it will allow you to find huge grocery savings. To save the most on your groceries, make sure that when you buy your groceries in bulk that you figure out the unit cost to know whether you’re getting a good deal or not. Club stores like Sam’s Club or Costco are great for saving, but if you don’t watch what you’re doing, you can spend more than you want per item. As an example, if you pay $12.00 for 12 cans of soup at Sam’s Club, you’ll pay $1.00 per can. If you were to go to Aldi, you could have gotten those cans for $0.50 each meaning that you spent more than you needed to. Using unit price when you’re shopping is a fantastic way to save on groceries, especially if you’re trying to figure out if you should buy bulk or not.
Start menu planning to help create grocery savings – If you’re constantly cooking on the fly, you absolutely will spend more money on your groceries. Not having a solid plan makes things confused which not only increases the number of times that you order out each month, but also the cost of your groceries when you’re shopping. Without a plan, you think it’s okay to just grab things and toss into your cart making your final cost a whole lot higher. If you learn how to menu plan though, your grocery savings increase since you’ve always got a well thought out plan for what your family is eating, can cook once a month if you desire and know exactly what you need to buy when you need to buy it which will really help you save on groceries each and every month.
Save money on groceries by shopping less – Stores are fantastic marketers and those marketing tactics can make it extremely hard to learn how to save money on groceries. That’s their “job” after all. They purposely go out of their way to strategically place items in places that they know that you will simply grab and buy. Impulse buys (Six Dollar Family) are detrimental to a grocery budget so when you’re first learning how to save money on groceries, it can be very smart to shop less. The idea is that if you’re in the store less, you’ll spend less not only on impulse buys but overall. This is where menu planning comes into play again since having a menu planned can make it so that you only need to shop once a month or so. If you can learn how to avoid impulse buys, your grocery savings will skyrocket.
Save money on groceries by growing what you can – Along the same lines as making things homemade, growing your own food can help you save big. Gardening (Six Dollar Family) has been known as a great way to save money on groceries for a lot of families for hundreds of years so if you can grow your own food, you’ll be able to cash in on those grocery savings too. There are a lot of different ways that you can do this. You can either choose to start your garden plants from seeds or to buy seedlings that have already sprouted. You can plant a big garden with every vegetable your family eats or you can just do something small like growing an herb garden in your kitchen. This is one of those steps that really doesn’t matter how big you go. No matter what you do, you’ll still save money on groceries.
Use your phone to help create grocery savings – Finally, your phone is good for more than texting and playing Candy Crush. You can use it to help you save money on groceries too! With apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51, you can score cash back on buying regular groceries. They work like rebates so when you purchase an item, you’ll submit the receipt by taking a photo of it, scan the items bar code and get your cash back! It might not seem like it could make much of a difference, but it does add up and rather quickly. Ibotta even gives you extra money when you first sign up. As of the writing of this post, they’re offering $10 free when you redeem your first rebate.
Like I said in the beginning of the post, learning how to save money on groceries can take time. You will need to learn what works best for you and your family. Don’t give up if you get discouraged. Keep trucking on and soon you’ll wonder why you didn’t try to save on groceries before and looking for new and even more ways to save.