Sometimes grocery shopping is accompanied by “sticker shock”. That feeling when the total on the register is more than you expected. Finding ways to save on your grocery bill should be done before you shop.
A good trick to use is counting the items in the cart, multiple by 3. Doing so gives a bit of an idea of your total before you hit the register. That is if most of your items are in the $1 to $3 range. Buying higher-priced items like meats will make the total much higher.
Aside from your mortgage, your biggest monthly expense is likely groceries. Unlike your mortgage, your car payment, and most of your other bills, you actually have some control over how much you spend at the grocery store. We’ve put together some easy-to-do strategies you can use to get your grocery spending under control.
Make A Grocery Budget
Start by tracking how much you’re spending on groceries for a few weeks. From there, come up with a weekly or monthly budget. Allot that money for groceries and whatever you do, don’t go over.
This may mean making some changes like switching out name brands for store-brand foods, cutting back on convenience foods, or adding some low-cost meals to the menu.
Most grocery stores have “their” brand now. Try out some of the food items that are not a name brand and you might be surprised. Many of the no-name brand foods are just as good or better. Saving money doesn’t always mean you give up quality or taste.
Next, try cutting back your budget by $20 per month. Keep going and see how low you can go. Make a game out of it to see how much you can save each month. The remaining tips will help you do that without feeling like you’re depriving yourself.
One might think coupon clipping is old school, but it’s still a thing. Many stores still send out weekly ads, to your mailbox. Yes, to your mailbox. You can sign up for those online or in your local stores.
Using coupons is a great way to save on your grocery bill.
Keep A Price Book
Who doesn’t love a bargain or a good deal? They are all over the store, but do you know if what they advertise as a good deal is actually saving you money?
Keep a little notebook in your purse or keep a text document on your phone with the regular prices of the items you buy most often. Not only can you see if that “deal” really is a deal, but you can also determine what kitchen staple is cheapest where and adjust your shopping accordingly. Your price book will also come in handy when you browse through weekly grocery flyers. You can decide if a deal is worth driving to the store long before you ever set a foot out the door.
Be Smarter than the Grocery Store
Many times stores will raise prices to drop prices. This way of “marketing” is old, but tried and true for retailers. Prices are raised on popular items and then a deal is offered on other not-so-popular items. Doing this ensures that the shopper will be buying more than what they intend to. Why, well because many shoppers buy their normal goods, but then will buy whatever is on sale because is “on-sale”.
Say you need a few staples, like eggs, milk, butter, and bread. You might not notice that those items have gone up a few pennies here or there, right? But, what you will notice in the milk aisle is that pudding cups might be on sale. Maybe you don’t normally buy them, but because they are on sale you will today. BAM.. a store made you buy your normal items and also, items you might never buy.
Making a list, and sticking to it is very important when you are finding ways to save on your grocery bill. Don’t worry about what’s on sale, unless it’s something you really need and use weekly.
Come Up With A Few Frugal Dishes
You don’t have to make drastic changes and eat nothing but rice and beans all week. Instead, think of a few inexpensive dishes your family enjoys. They may be rice and beans. Or how about a big pot of soup or chili. Often meatless dishes will be your best frugal bet or use meat in small portions on frugal dish days.
Meal planning is becoming really popular. Doing so helps you not only shop for the week but takes a lot of time and worry off your plate. Knowing what you will make each night is really an awesome concept. Plus you save money when you meal prep because you only buy what you need each week.
There will always be leftovers and that helps just as much. Enjoying frugal meals even just a handful of days during the month combined with using up any and all leftovers will make a big difference in your grocery budget. Never throw out food, as you are throwing away hard-earned money. There is always a way to make leftovers into something fun and delicious.
If it’s recipes you need, check out our recipes category. From one-pot meals to desserts we’ve got your meal planning covered.
Cut Out The Extras
Make a list before you head to the store and stick to it. All those little extras like the fancy bread from the bakery or the candy you grabbed at checkout start to add up. Get in the habit of skipping those extras unless there’s a good reason to buy them.
Stick to your list and you’ll cut your grocery bill by quite a bit each week. It’s amazing how all those little extras add up.
Nobody needs those novelty items at every checkout lane, or that magazine staring at you while you wait in line. If kids are with you, talk to them before you get into the store about not begging for extra items. Teaching them to be smart at the grocery store helps them now, and in the future.
Give these tips a try and see if you don’t start to see big savings on a weekly basis. What you do with all the extra money each month is up to you. Save up for a fun summer vacation, pay off those credit cards or start building your financial safety net.
Learning ways to save on your grocery bill can be very fun, and rewarding. Making it a game to see how much you save a year, might surprise you in the end. And, you will still be eating healthy, on less.