These tips are the best ways to help you save money on your groceries. Grocery prices have been trending up but your credit card bill does not need to get out of control.
How To Save Money On Groceries
If you are like me, and a majority of the United States, then your grocery budget is one of the largest categories in your budget. Grocery prices vary from one city to another but across the board the prices of groceries in increasing. According to CNN the price of groceries grew 2.6% in April 2020. That is the largest increase over a month since 1974!
This is due to a variety of factors such as the cost of commercial real estate, oil/gas prices, and the massive impact that the virus that shall not be named has had on supply and demand. The real question though is what are some simple ways that you can get the best deals when it come to your grocery list.
Grocery List On A Budget
I’m sure you have heard that you should never go shopping for groceries when you are hungry but have you ever been guilty of going to the store without a grocery list? You throw whatever looks good into your basket or try to piece together general ideas of a meal as you go up and down the aisles.
Grocery shopping like that is a great way to watch your grocery budget soar. You will be much more likely to acquire impulse purchases and expensive items when you do not start with a plan.
Be sure that you make a grocery list at home before you go to the store. This is extremely important and will help you save money as well as avoid frequent trips for forgotten ingredients. You will be much more likely to see better results on your grocery bill when you start with a plan.
The Fool Proof Shopping List
Okay so you know you need to make a grocery list but how do you know what to put on the list? How do you keep from forgetting to write things down?
The very simple answer is that you follow your meal plan. Create your meal plan first and then use that to construct your grocery list. This is one of the easiest ways to have success at saving money because you will only be purchasing the specific ingredients, snacks, etc that you need for the week.
If you have never created a meal plan or maybe you just have not had a lot of success with it then read this blog post on How To Create A Meal Plan. This post will guide you step by step on how to create a meal plan and grocery list.
I also have a totally free meal plan and grocery list that you can download to get you started. This is for you regardless of it is your first time creating a meal plan or if you are a meal plan veteran. You will get some great meal ideas, a menu, recipes, and even your grocery list. Did I mention it’s free?
Your Local Grocery Store
The grocery store that you chose to shop at is also going to make a difference on how much money you spend. Some places just have higher prices than others. Overall, this is going to vary depending on where you live but there are a few good rules of thumb that I can give you.
Do not purchase groceries at:
-CVS, Walgreens, or other drug stores
-Gas station/corner store
Instead of those places be sure that you are shopping at an actual grocery store and preferably your local store.
Some grocery stores will be more pricey than others. For example, if you have a food budget then I would not recommend going to Whole Foods. If you have access to Aldi that is a fantastic place to get a majority of your groceries and save a ton of money.
For other grocery stores you will just need to do a little research. This does not need to be anything extensive! Don’t overthink it. Just write down 5-10 items that you frequently purchase (milk, eggs, bread, cereal, tomatoes, bananas, etc) and compare the prices at a few local grocery stores. Whichever store has the majority of the lower prices is going to be your best bet for shopping.
Store Brands vs Name Brands
In the same way that it is important where you shop for your food it is also important what food you choose to purchase. If you are looking to get a good deal and the best prices then you will be better off selecting generic brands over name brands.
The ingredients in the store brand option are almost always very similar if not the exact same as what you will find in name brands. For most name brand items you are spending a lot of money just for the name. One of the only items I am a stickler on buying the name brand is toilet paper. There are some things you just do not want to risk and for me that is one of them.
Grabbing fast food, ordering restaurant meals, or having food delivered is always pricey and always costs more than if you made the food yourself. Still sometimes life just happens and whether you forgot to thaw the chicken or you just don’t have the energy to get supper on the table there are going to be times when it is helpful to have some convenience foods on hand.
Keeping a few convenience foods that you can grab instead of running out to pick up food will save you money and look much better in your budget.
The main type of convenience meal that I keep on hand is freezer meals. A lot of the time this is going to be meals that I have made in advance and frozen for later but it can also look like a frozen pizza that you picked up at the store.
Maybe for you a frozen pizza or casserole is not your jam but you like to keep some cans of soup, sandwich fixings, or literally anything else that is easy to get ready. The goal here is just to have a few options you can turn to when you need them rather than ordering out.
Your Freezer Is Your Friend
Speaking of freezer meals if you have the extra space in your freezer then I recommend using that to your advantage. I am in no way advocating for hoarding food. However, you can usually find some great deals or a sale price on foods that are near their expiration date.
I personally like to do this with ground beef or similar products and meats. I do not purchase in large quantities when I am planning ahead like this but if I see a price that is a much better deal than normal I will add it to my shopping cart to be frozen for later use.
The way that I take advantage of sales is by checking the sales flyers, using a store coupon, and always keeping an eye out for cheaper prices.
Things You Have Heard Before
There are some advice for how to save money on your groceries that you have probably heard before. But just in case I will include it here.
- Pay attention to the unit price rather than just the overall price of an item
- The foods that are at eye level are typically more expensive. Look for foods closer to the bottom or tops of shelves.
- Avoid impulse buys. The checkout line at grocery stores, and all stores really, are designed to entice you with impulse buys.
- Choose in season produce when you are shopping for any fresh produce.
- Organic produce will always cost more.
- The front page of the weekly sales flyer from your store will have the best deals
- Use coupons. To be honest I do not really like this advice because it’s so obvious. Just be careful that you do not purchase an item only if you have a coupon. Also, check to be sure that the store brand or generic brand of an item would not still be cheaper than purchasing a name brand item with a coupon.
Stick To Your Plan
Creating a menu plan and a grocery list is really half the battle. The other half is to stick to your plan.
I have found that always keeping in mind why we are budgeting and what is most important for our family in the long term helps keep me honest and on track. Sticking to your plan will also mean less food waste. A truly heartbreaking way to waste both money and food is with food waste. By following a meal plan that is much less likely to occur.
If you have the option to use online shopping for curbside pickup then definitely take advantage of it. Spending the extra money for curbside, around $5 for my local store, still ends up cutting my food spending because I’m not throwing extra food items in my cart.
I know it can be a bummer sometimes to be responsible and do the adult things but what can I say… that’s just how it must be. 🙂
The next time you set out to curb your grocery spending use these tips. No matter if it is you or a family member that does the shopping these suggestions will help you to save money on your groceries.