Want to tame your grocery budget and make cheap yet healthy meals for the family? Here are the best ways to save money at the grocery stores without sacrificing quality and convenience!
Do you always overspend on groceries and household items? If so, you’re not alone. With inflation, I know it is super easy to overspend in these areas. These are also some of the expenses that would easily bust our budget.
The soaring prices may be out of our control, but I know that we can all learn to spend less and save money. There are so many ways that can help you put a few more dollars back into your pockets on a single grocery trip.
Here are some of my favorite tips that help us save at least $200 a month on groceries and household items. By incorporating healthy money habits into our financial life, we were able to save $100,000 in three years without a six-figure income. And it doesn’t matter where you live! You can immediately start saving money by practicing some of these good financial habits. I still follow these hacks even if my family is now living in the Philippines to retire!
Ready to learn a few ways for saving money on groceries? Then, keep reading.
Table of Contents
If you’re like me, who’s obsessed with lists, you also realize how helpful it is to carry a list when you grocery shop. I always make a list of the things to buy by checking what I have and do not have in the pantry and fridge. It helps me avoid buying stuff in duplicate, which helps me save money.
Plus, a grocery list is like a visual reminder to get only the stuff I need and that I should shy away from the enticing ads that only tempt me to spend money beyond my grocery budget.
Since a list tells you what to buy and not buy at the grocery stores, you should read through the entire article because these tips are going to be interconnected. The Frugalwoods, for example, buy extra frozen pizza doughs, which come in handy on nights when they don’t have the time or energy to cook a full dinner. Instead of blowing money on takeout or restaurant meals, buying pizza dough while grocery shopping is indeed a great idea!
Food prices nowadays can really hurt, and that pain doubles when you see food waste. One of our proven and tested methods to save money on food is to buy and eat food in season. Seasonal foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are cheaper and fresher, and some of them can be preserved for future use.
Since moving to the Philippines, our food choices have also changed to suit our budget. For example, we buy mangoes, pineapples, and other tropical fruits instead of berries that are way more expensive here.
Also, be careful when buying produce in bulk. To keep excess produce from going bad, there are ways to make it last longer. Little House Living suggests storing avocadoes and garlic (separately, of course) in a brown paper bag. Citrus fruits and apples should be kept in the fridge. If you have plenty of lettuce, chop it up for salads, place it in a lidded glass container, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
Saving money first happens right at home and at the grocery stores second. One of the savvy ways to save money on food is actually to grow it yourself!
I’ve been growing food since I was a child and I know that wherever you live, there are always food plants you can grow in your backyard or even indoors. I always grow a few plants such as ginger, lemon grass, tomatoes, basil, mint, and green onions in my small backyard.
You can plant a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in pots, windowsill gardens, and your yard. Some of them, such as carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, can be grown from food scraps. When you harvest, you can be sure that your produce is fresh, healthy, and cost-free.
I cannot emphasize enough how effective meal planning is in saving money on groceries and food.
Meal planning may seem like a daunting task at first, but once you have created a few weekly meal plans that work for your family, you’ll realize how meal planning can tremendously benefit you. Meal planning can help you save not only money but time as well.
Before you go about planning meal ideas for the week though, compare prices, figure out the sales cycles, and shop in season. Plan your meals around the cheapest food to save more money.
And don’t just plan for the main meals, but plan how you will use the leftovers as well. You can prevent food waste if you recycle last night’s dinner for the next day’s lunch or snacks. For example, make a huge batch of soup on Monday to be used as lunches for the rest of the week.
You don’t need to buy fancy food items in grocery chains to make tasty meals. Simplifying your meals with fewer ingredients (and smaller amounts of some ingredients) can save you from grocery bill shock and still allow you to cook healthy and nutritious dishes for your family.
For example, store-brand cereals are often just as good as name-brand cereals. Adding fresh fruits to cereal makes it a powerful breakfast, yet it is still cheap. While it’s good to get out of your comfort zone from time to time and explore new tastes and cooking techniques, you should remember that simplifying your meals is the most practical way to save money on food.
Another brilliant, tried, and tested way to reduce your food shopping expenses is to re-cook or reuse leftovers. But if you’re tired of the same old taste of your meals once they become leftovers, you can turn them into new, exciting dishes.
According to Shelf Cooking, you can jazz up leftover food by adding new flavors, seasonings, or spices. For example, adding a different sauce gives your leftovers a new taste. You could also turn leftovers into entirely new recipes, such as adding leftover veggies to your homemade pizza and leftover chicken breasts to your salads.
We all know it’s a shame to waste food, so learning how to preserve food is an amazing way to extend its lifespan and save money along the way. Whether you’re buying in-season produce from the grocery stores or enjoying a bountiful harvest from your garden, preserving produce can prove to be a cost-effective and sustainable way to enjoy good food.
You can turn surplus tomatoes into homemade tomato sauce and turn fresh fruits into jellies and jams. There are plenty of online resources to learn how to preserve produce, and most of these techniques can be easily done by the average person. Just make sure that you’ll only be preserving what your family loves and will surely consume so nothing goes to waste.
While you may be a fan of different grocery stores, if you’re looking for the freshest produce and want to save money, then you should look into your local farmers’ market. Farmers’ markets typically sell in-season produce, so you can be sure that your fruits and vegetables are fresh when you buy them. You could buy your favorite fresh fruits cheaply, then can or freeze them.
Pro-tip: According to Dave Ramsey, the best time to shop at your local farmers’ market is at the end of the day. Vendors aren’t really keen on taking their goods back home, so they’ll likely be more willing to negotiate. Make an offer when it’s almost closing time, and you’ll probably “seal the deal.”
I’ve always believed that maintaining healthy bodies is the best way to save money in the long run, as a healthy diet can prevent illnesses that bleed your pockets dry.
Whole foods or organic and minimally-processed foods should take top priority over commercially-preserved foods. Think along the lines of organic eggs, whole grains, in-season fruits and vegetables, lean meat, lentils and legumes, and fresh seafood.
So, if you want to save money on groceries and medical bills in the long term, choose your food wisely. For example,Harvard University cites that consuming whole grains instead of refined ones can help prevent inflammatory and infectious diseases and lower the risk of cardiovascular and cancer mortality.
Another smart way to save money on groceries is always to compare unit prices. If you’re the type to pick out items and put them in your cart without minding the unit price, you might be shocked to see your grocery bill skyrocket upon checkout.
On your next grocery trip, compare the best deals, even those that are on sale, by determining the item’s price per unit.
11. Buy staples in bulk
You can also save money on groceries by buying your staples in bulk. You can often buy in bulk at a discounted price compared to buying items individually. Also, having a good supply of staples on hand gives you constant and convenient access to them, cutting down your grocery trips and the potential to spend on impulse.
Some of the best staples to buy in bulk include rice, pasta, canned goods, baking supplies, cooking oils, seasonings and spices, and perishables. Remember to buy only what you need and still check the unit price of each product.
Many store-brand items have generic counterparts that are significantly cheaper but are still of comparable quality. This is especially helpful if you don’t want to switch stores but still need to save money. Almost all big box stores now have their own store brands, so it should be easy to pick up cheap alternatives without clipping coupons and still get at least 30 percent off your grocery bill.
Your eyes are not tricking you–the most expensive items are always placed at eye level. It’s a proven marketing tactic grocery stores use to entice customers to spend more money.
But if you just take your time and inspect the products below and above your eye level, you’ll probably be much happier at the end of your shopping trip.
You could save more money if you choose your grocery stores wisely. Aldi, for example, is a discount grocery store where you can buy almost anything at cheaper prices. Or, consider Costco, particularly if you like to buy stuff in bulk. Costco also sells fresh produce and other food staples at cheap prices!
Sams is also a great choice for budget-friendly grocery shopping. This massive warehouse has almost every household product and food staple you can imagine, so it’s an awesome one-stop shop for everything you need. You could also swing by your local markets to check out in-season products, artisan coffee, cheese, and more.
Unfortunately, there are no Costco or Sams Club in the Philippines and admittedly, we missed these stores and the savings we make from buying certain products! However, we found a similar membership store where we can get some of the Kirkland products we used to buy at Costco.
For fresh produce though, buying from local vendors here is still cheaper
15. Figure out the best time and day to shop
Much like you shouldn’t shop at eye level, you also SHOULD NOT shop at any random day of the week. There’s the best time to do your shopping trip, and then there’s the worst.
According to Insider, your chances of scoring the best deals are during the weekdays, particularly Mondays to Thursdays. But if you like to take it up a notch higher, shop early in the morning or late at night. Between the two, doing your grocery run early in the morning gives you better access to fresh produce without having to deal with a crowd. It also gives you the time you need to comparison shop.
Going to the grocery store on a Wednesday is also a good idea, as most stores publishtheir new circulars showing all the special prices and bonuses that start on Wednesday. Last week’s deals may also be marked down on Wednesday, so it’s another good reason for a mid-week shopping trip.
The worst time to shop is always the weekend. Many people hit the shops on Saturdays to restock items for the next week, so expect a huge crowd.
Shopping while you’re hungry is a disaster for your grocery budget. It’s a classic shopping mistake many of us make.
But why shouldn’t you shop on an empty stomach? According to Healthline, shopping while hungry makes us prone to making bad decisions at stores. We focus more on satisfying that hunger by picking up unhealthy foods or making impulse purchases that are not even food-related.
So if you want to save money, grab a healthy snack before you shop.
If you’ve never thought of using grocery coupons before, you’re missing out on a lot of savings. Using and stacking coupons allows you to shop without paying the full price. Many stores even let you stack digital coupons along with a manufacturer’s coupon, giving you an even deeper discount.
One thing to remember when using coupons is to only use them only for items you intend to buy in the first place. Do not purchase products just because you have the coupons for them; you’ll probably end up not using or eating them anyway.
Sometimes it’s better to shop online than in the store. It saves you time and effort, you don’t spend on gas if you have groceries delivered, and you can get away from impulse spending. (Be sure to check to see if the store has a delivery charge.)
Even if you opt for store pickup or curbside pickup, shopping online still saves you money. You won’t have to go inside the store, so you won’t be tempted by random products at the checkout counter.
Whether you’re shopping groceries online or in-store, using cash-back apps can help put back some of the money you spent back into your pocket. Luckily, if you’re in the US, there are lots of cash back apps you can use to earn cash back from your purchases.
I earned over $1000 from Ibotta alone for buying groceries at Walmart.
Fetch Rewards and Ibotta allow you to earn cash back from most of your purchases in the US. Simply snap a photo of your grocery receipt and let the app process your transaction. Some cash-back apps collect rewards automatically, while with others, you’ll need to select the specific deal before buying the products in-store.
I also earned over $2000 in cash back and bonuses for using Rakuten, another cash back app that pay you for shopping at over 2000 stores online.
If you can grow your own produce, you could also make some of your own products. You can DIY many grocery items such as bread, granola, nut butter, and pizza dough, by making them from scratch.
I love making homemade food products such as applesauce, yogurt, jams and breads. Not only does it help me save money but also ensures that
You could also make your own household products such as detergent soap, soap, cleaning products, candles, room fresheners, pest control products, and personal care items like bath bombs and body scrubs.
Making your own products from scratch is cheaper and more eco-friendly. You also have control over the ingredients so you can ensure that none of your homemade products can pose health risks to your family.
Indeed, there are many ways to save money on food and groceries. You could opt for the store brand, buy meat and fresh produce at strategic times of the day, and preserve your surplus products for longer use.
Being a savvy shopper means being frugal and practical in all ways possible, and it doesn’t start and end with your shopping list. So if you want to enjoy a better deal, you must take note of your shopping habits–get rid of the bad ones and adopt healthier ones. You’ll put money back into your pocket, stretch your grocery budget, and probably become a better cook!