Do you long to save money on groceries without using coupons? The grocery budget is one of the big line items in the budget for most of us. Over the years I’ve developed tips to save hundreds of dollars in the grocery budget. Once you get started using these tips you will also be eating healthy too.
1. Eat in Season
Buy fruits an vegetables when they are in season. Berries taste great but they are at least half the price in the summer. You could even make it an outing and go to a berry farm, pick your own and freeze them. A lot of fruits and vegetables are cheaper in the summer, but squash is cheaper in the fall and cabbage in the winter. Eating in season also helps you have variety in your diet a great way to eat healthier.
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2. Try an App to Save Money on Groceries
Try Ibotta you can earn cash back by using Ibota with this referral link, you get a $10 credit to start. Who doesn’t love free money? I was skeptical at first because I thought it would be just processed convenience foods (which I don’t buy anyway. That is not true at all you can use it for all kinds of basics like bananas, eggs, salsa, bread, nondairy milk. I can’t believe I didn’t try it sooner.
3. Shop Sales
Stores often cut prices on a few items to get you in the door (loss leaders) in hopes you will fill your cart with nonsale items. Don’t fall for it plan what you will buy based on what is on sale this week. Get to know the sale cycles at your local stores. Usually, sales come around every 6-8 weeks the exception being seasonal fruits or vegetables. When one of your favorite foods is on sale stock up for a few weeks.
4. Use Credit Cards Wisely
There is a difference of opinion on using credit cards, however, if you have a credit card that earns points and you pay it off monthly you can earn extra dollars using them. The Target Red Card is one of my favorite credit cards and I save 5% every time I use it. You can get it as a credit card or as a debit card.
5. Plan Your Meals
Meal planning around what is on sale this week or what you have on hand can save you a ton of money on groceries. Plan to have leftovers for lunch. It makes packing lunch much easier and you are more likely to pack it instead of being tempted to go out and grab something. Eat at Home is a great meal planning system that streamlines the process for you. Try these money-saving worksheets to feed your family for less than $65 per month per person.
I put together a game plan for getting meals on the table in 20 minutes or less. You will find it in the resource library, including a grocery list for that set of meals. Sign up below to get access to that and other great resources.
6. Stick to Real Unprocessed Food
Avoid the meals with prepackaged pasta, sauce and spices just add a pound of meat. It really doesn’t take any longer to open a bag of pasta, a can of tomatoes or spaghetti sauce, chop an onion and some garlic while the meat is browning. You save money and the environment by avoiding all that packaging. Stick as much as possible to things your great-grandmother would recognize and if you read the ingredients and it sounds like a chemical it probably is. Pass on the chemicals and get something closer to real food saving money and eating healthier.
7. Eat Less Meat to Save Money on Groceries
There are many ways to do this. You can go totally vegetarian, have 1 or 2 meatless meals per week or you can use meat as a small part of the meal instead of the main course.
Our favorite vegetarian meal is falafel. You can find a recipe for that and other yummy vegan meals in Easy Healthy Frugal Vegan Meals You’ll Love.
Other favorite vegetarian meals:
meatless lasagna (I actually prefer this with spinach and add a jar of sauce so I don’t need to boil the noodles, more vegetables, and less dirty dishes)
fettucini alfredo- I use Neufchatell cheese, garlic, a little milk, and parmesan cheese
Frittata with lots of vegetables
Creamed boiled eggs and broccoli or asparagus on toast (this is a meal I have when kids are at their dad’s, they aren’t into this one)
Homemade Macaroni and cheese (I usually sneak in vegetables, pumpkin, cauliflower and spinich are my top 3 choices the first two can go unnoticed by the children)
Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Pumpkin pancakes with sliced baked apples
Less meat meals:
Potatoe soup with a little ham, bacon or a brat or two
Chicken soups, noodle, dumpling or rice
Chili as soup
Chili over baked white or sweet potatoes
Lentil soup, this can be meatless, but I prefer a little meat
Bean soup with a ham bone
Stir-fry heavy on the vegetables
Burrito bowl with beans and beef or beans and chicken or skip the meat all together
French toast with sausage or bacon
8. Make a List and Check the Pantry
Once you have planned your meals based on what is in season and what is on sale make a list. The second step is to check the pantry to make sure you don’t already have what you need. Then, stick to your list. If it is not on the list leave it in the store and put it on the list for next week if you still want it go for it.
9. Try the Store Brand
Personally, all canned tomatoes taste the same to me. Store brand rolled oats is the same as the popular brand. I can’t tell the difference between one kind of brown rice or dried beans and another. Milk whatever brand is cheapest worked when the kids were home drinking several gallons. Now I usually get whatever nondairy milk is cheapest. Ketchup, on the other hand, I am loyal to my brand.
Try the store brand and I am sure there will be things that work for you that will save you a few dollars a month.
10. Drink More Water
Limit your intake of other beverages especially pop. It is fine for an occasional treat, but it is not a staple. Water is free and healthy. If you want to flavor it try adding fruit, herbs or even cucumbers to a glass of water for flavor.
11. Shop on a Full Stomach
It is really tempting to buy treats and snack food when you are hungry or tired, so go grocery shopping when you are full. Those chips, cookies, and candy are much less appealing when you have a full stomach.
12. Shop Once a Week or Less
The more times you go to the store the more opportunities to buy things you don’t really need. An added bonus is going to the grocery store less also takes up less of your precious time.
13. Buy in Bulk to Save Money on Groceries
Meat in the family pack is often on sale for 40 cents or more less when you buy a larger package. Even if you have a small family you can package it and freeze it or cook it all and freeze it cooked to make meals simpler.
I often save serval dollars by buying shredded cheese in a 2-pound bag instead of 8 oz bags and cheese freezes well.
14. Know What Things Cost
It seems different things are cheaper at different stores. You probably have some favorite meals or ingredients that you use more than others. Make a list of the top 10-20 commonly used ingredients at your house and write down what they cost at the different places you shop. Make a point to stock up on those basics when you are at the store where they are the cheapest.
15. Grow Something
Depending on where you live and how long your growing season is and how much you enjoy growing things you can have a large garden or a couple pots of herbs on the patio and anything in-between. Fresh herbs are the first thing I would grow they are expensive to buy and easy to grow.
16. Buy Spices in Bulk
Spices in bulk are pennies on the dollar. The local coop where I live is by far the cheapest place to buy spices.
17. Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs
Many stores have loyalty cards. They are free to sign up for and you get special discounts. If your grocery store has one check it out.
18. Don’t Buy Toiletries at the Grocery Store
Over the counter medication, feminine hygiene products and deodorant are usually significantly more expensive at the grocery store. They keep indefinitely, so keep a list for the drug store and get them there.
19. Skip the Fancy Cleaning Products
Stick to the basis most cleaning products are either mostly ammonia, vinegar or bleach. Those and baking soda or Awesome will clean 90% of what you need to clean. Awesome is my favorite cleaning product. I have a spray bottle in the bathrooms, laundry room and kitchen. It gets out stains in everything from plastic pitchers to clothes and is great for cleaning sinks.
Bonus tip 20. Shop alone
Shop when the kids are with their dad or any other time they are not with you. The more people in your shopping party the more likely you are to impulse buy snack food or other nonessentials.
What is your takeaway tip for cutting your grocery bill? Even if you only save $10 a week by the end of the year you have saved $520. Imagine what you can do with an extra $500. What money saving tips would you add? I love collecting ways to save money.
Hi, I’m Tamara the creator of Empowered Single Moms, a single mom, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and the author of Thriving a Single Mom’s Guide to a Happy, Positive Life and Thriving a Single Mom Journal. I have a solo private psychotherapy practice where I treat anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.
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