I’ve notice that out of all of the widely discussed financial subjects, the cost of groceries seem to come up time and time again. The conversation usually consist of the many ways to decrease a household budget. Even more importantly, the various ways to decrease a household grocery budget. The grocery budget alone is usually one of the largest household bills for a family. The larger your family, the larger the budget. When you get fed up with spending SO MUCH on food, I mean really fed up with not fully maximizing your savings, you start to take certain steps to attempt to decrease your budget. I’m here to tell you a few things that you could try if you aren’t trying them out already, and do not forget that every penny counts when we’re talking about saving money!
1. Make a Grocery List
Never walk into the grocery store without a list. No matter how good you think you are at just grabbing and going. You. Are. Not. You’re grabbing things without a plan, and when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The times that I didn’t come into the store, list in hand, were the times that I got home thinking that we were having burgers for dinner, only to realize that I grabbed everything but the meat, or everything but the buns to put them on.
2. Stick to one day of grocery shopping
Spending less time in the grocery store, means spending less money in the grocery store. This is where that handy dandy grocery list comes in, because you won’t come home to see that you’ve forgotten something. Having to come back leads you to not only have to take a second round trip to the grocery store, but possibly come home with a little bit more than you needed.
3. Stay away from inner aisles
This is a great rule to live by if you’re trying to eat healthier, but also a good rule to follow when you’re trying to save money. Inner aisles carry a lot of processed food of course, but it also carries a lot of things that you can save money on and make yourself.
4. Become a store rewards member
Remember what I said that every penny counts when you’re trying to save money. Invest your time in filling out one of those quick little store slips, and activate a member rewards card. Instant savings! Kroger does Friday freebie offers for rewards members, so does Farm Fresh if you have their store app. That’s money you can possible save right there. Being a rewards member also puts you up for store savings, and sales that are exclusive to rewards members. Imagine coming in to catch a sale, and getting extra money off just for scanning your card.
5. If you can, grow your own
This is a hit or miss. Not everyone has the option, and not everyone has a green thumb to grow an entire garden full of produce. I’m not naturally a person with a green thumb. I ultimately suck at keeping things alive. Baby steps are important, so if you decide to try this route, take your time and start an herb garden first, and then start to expand with some of your favorites veggies in a small garden.
6. Use coupons, Don’t use coupons
If you’re a coupon addict, use them! Of course it saves you money. Learning to coupon can be extremely beneficial for grocery savings. BUT, don’t fall into a coupon trap and start to buy things that you probably won’t use, or things that you wouldn’t normally need. Even when you’re saving with a coupon deal, you’re wasting when it later sits and collects dust in your pantry.
7. Utilize your rebates
Along with coupons, utilize your rebate apps. I’m HUGE on my rebate apps. I receive money for basically buying things that I would normally be walking into the store to buy. It’s great! My go to favs are Ibotta (Use my referral code niqaqku to receive $10 just to try the app) Mobi Save, and Checkout 51 are great too. You’re able to cash out and receive cash or gift cards for your purchases.
8. When in Walmart, Use Savings Catcher
I’m a Walmart girl all the way, so when I shop there I always remember to use my savings catcher app. Walmart takes pride in their super low prices, so with the savings catcher app, you just scan your receipt and it checks for lower prices in your area. If a store has lower advertised prices, then you’ll receive the difference to your Savings Catcher app. You can easily cash out onto a Bluebird card (My preference) or Walmart Pay to utilize in store and online at Walmart.
9. Don’t be afraid of Generic
Not everything needs a name brand. I like to splurge on little things that I like here and there just as much as the next person, but is it really worth it to buy the name brand box of pasta that’s significantly higher than the generic store brand? I buy generic whenever I can if it saves me a few dollars. Sometimes stores even give you extra rewards perks for buying their store brand products!
10. Stay away from convenience
Convenience meals are great for convenience, my husband isn’t a huge cook so I do still keep a few things for him to just pop in the oven and eat. As far as being mindful of what I’m spending, I stay away from those easy convenience meals as much as possible. That can easily eat up your money, they aren’t always the healthiest, and Meal Prepping and making your own to store or freeze for later probably tastes 10 times better than anything from the freezer aisle.
11. Scan the shelves, REALLY scan the shelves
Companies and brands actually pay for their shelf positions. Grocery stores tend to place more expensive items on the shelves at an eye level position for us to see first. It’s so important to scan the shelves for the items that you’re looking for that might come at a cheaper price point.
12. Rain Checks
I feel like a lot of people don’t utilize rain checks, or even know that rain checks are a thing. Stores will give you sort of an IOU if a sale item is sold out at the time so you can come back later and receive it.
13. Consider keeping your children home (If possible)
As a mother, ohhhh YES your kids will absolutely add to your grocery budget! Especially if you have multiple children. They ask for things, then the other one asks for things, and sometimes “No.” isn’t as easy as it should be. If you have kiddos with the “Oohs and Ahhs” syndrome, then when it is an option, shop alone.
14. Ditch the packaged spice mix
I know some people live for buying packaged spice mixes for convenience. They can be great for a new flavor that you just want to try out, but truth be told, it’s more beneficial to just whip up your own with the spices from your cabinet. Instead of using that one package of taco seasoning, you could have bought cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and mixed your own. It also gives you variety for when it’s time to season other dishes at a later date.
15. Shop your circulars
By checking your weekly circulars, you can buy according to sales items. If you don’t get the newspaper, or if you’re more of a digital person, the Retale app is great! It will basically do everything for you. It shows you all of the weekly ads from your local grocery stores (any stores actually!) It lets you figure out where to get the best deal on items that you’re looking for. While youre browsing the ads, you can actually click the items that you’re interested in and add them to your shopping list. It also puts you in place to find store coupons, add your rewards card numbers right into the app, and add your own clipped coupons all within this one app.
16. Scan sales first, meal plan second
It’s beneficial to scan circulars for what’s on sale FIRST, before planning out what you’ll be cooking for the week. Instead of planning for beef this week, plan for chicken, because chicken is what’s actually on sale.
17. Meal plan in general!
Meal Planning, Meal Planning! If you aren’t already hip to meal planning, it’s time to GET HIP. Knowing what you’re eating ahead of time means less time in the grocery store, less time worrying about what’s for dinner, and less money spent on groceries that end up going to waste. Check out Meal Planning 101 for some tips and tricks to get yourself started.
18. Know the average cost to properly compare costs
It’s VERY important to know what the average costs are for your regularly purchased household items. How will you know you’re really getting a deal, or maximizing your savings if you don’t know what you regularly spend? I currently don’t, but I plan to try to start keeping my own running list of prices in my family budget binder.
19. If it’s on sale and you’ll use it, BUY IT
There’s nothing wrong with stocking your kitchen! (Within reason of course) If you happen to catch a good sale on your family’s favorite kinds or brands of meat, or even canned goods, buy them. If it’s something that you know you’ll utilize, it will not go to waste.
20. Proper Food Storage
A great way to make sure that you aren’t wasting money on groceries, is to learn how to properly store your food. I’ve had my share of trial and error with accidentally freezing my lettuce in my refrigerator (Oops!), and within a day or so my half eaten head of lettuce had to go in the trash. What a waste! Make sure you’re storing things in the proper places and in the proper temperatures to prolong the life of your groceries.
I hope some of these things were helpful to you. Don’t let that grocery budget kick your butt forever. Every penny saved is a big deal. Even if you can only start one of these tips before your next grocery trip, do it. Start small, and watch your wallet thank you.