How to Save Big on Groceries
Groceries can be a big expense in your budget.
Fortunately there are easy ways to cut costs on groceries on a consistent basis.
Follow the tips below and you could potentially save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year on groceries.
How Much Should I Pay For Groceries?
While the cost of food is always changing, you can find the average cost of food according to the USDA on this website.
Even if you are trying to be thrifty or keep stay in the “low-cost plan”, you could potentially be spending between $500-$700 a month for a family of four.
If you are trying to spend less than that, you’ll need to invest some time into learning the strategies below.
Set a Budget
Decide how much money you can spend on food each month.
Your grocery budget will be a reflection of your overall budget, so make sure to create a full budget.
Related Article: How to Start a Budget that Works
Multiple studies have shown that you will spend less money when you use a cash system.
There is an emotional attachment to money when it is in the form of cash. This makes it a little harder to part with your money at the cash register than when you pay with a card.
Another benefit of a cash system is you can only spend what is in your wallet.
If you know there is only $100 in your wallet, you’ll be sure to spend less than that. You can’t go one penny over (after tax) otherwise you will have to put something back.
If there are products you are loyal to, it makes the most sense to only buy those products when they are on sale to save money.
This will mostly apply to non-perishable foods and household items but can also apply to fresh food and produce.
Sales come around every 8-12 weeks for individual products. That means your families favorite cereal will go on sale, then be regular price for 8-12 weeks before it goes on sale again.
Sales typically run for 1-2 weeks. Check your grocery stores weekly ad for sale duration.
Tips for shopping grocery sales
- Buy enough of an item to last until the next sale.
- This will allow you to only pay the sale price for this item
- This will also allow you to have a small stockpile on hand so you don’t run out very soon
- Only buy what your family will use. No need to go overboard and clear the shelves. Another sale will come around and you can buy more later.
- Plan your meals around sales. This will allow you to buy and use fresh meat and produce for a lower cost.
- Write down your family favorites a keep your pantry stocked with needed ingredients when prices are low.
Plan Your Meals
Like I just said, it’s best to plan your meals around sales, but any meal planning will help you save money. You don’t always need to go to the store for all your meals.
Tips for Meal Planning
- Check your fridge for leftovers and use them for lunch or dinner the next day.
- Use what you already have in your pantry.
- Have a backup plan for something simple in case you have something come up to save you from ordering fast food.
- Be flexible, if something doesn’t sound good one night, swap it for something you were going to have later in the week.
- If you have it in your budget, it may help to use a meal planning service. This can potentially save money because it helps you come up with ideas and stick to a shopping list.
Buy It Before You Need It
I once told a friend about a great sale on baby wipes.
She said, “Oh, I think I’ll be ok for a few weeks.”
The thing is the sale wouldn’t be back around until after she was out of wipes.
If you wait until you’re out of something, you’ll most likely have to pay full price or a premium for that item.
Unopened baby wipes will last a while and my friend would probably need them for at least another year. Buying it now while the price was really low would save her from paying double the price later.
Buy In Bulk (Sparingly)
Bigger isn’t always better, so you may need to compare prices, but many times buying in bulk will save you in the long run.
You will pay less per ounce (or whatever the measurement is) and won’t have to buy the item again for a while.
If it’s an item you use a lot or don’t want to have to buy very often, buying once in a while can be a good idea.
Use caution when buying in bulk at case lot sales or warehouse type stores. Choose a few of the items you use most. If you get carried away with buying a lot of case lot items, you’ll be sure to rack up a big bill at the cash register.
What I Don’t Do to Save
I used to chase around from store to store trying to get the best deal from each location.
I found this to be too time consuming and unnecessary. The closest store to me is a Smith’s (Kroger) Store and I can do just fine only shopping at Smith’s if I have a meal plan in place.
I also don’t stress out if there is something I need and it’s not on sale.
I’ll just buy a small quantity, perhaps an off brand, to tide me over until there is a sale.
- Decide how much you want to spend and create a budget for groceries.
- Using cash helps prevent overspending.
- Buying at a sale price will save you money if you buy enough to last until the next sale. This way you will only ever pay the sale price.
- Planning meals can help prevent waste of food in your fridge as well as last minute trips to the store (or McDonalds) because you don’t know what to fix.
- Buying bulk items mean you won’t have to replenish that item as frequently and may mean you pay less per ounce/pound/etc. for the item.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Personally I have saved over a thousand dollars a year on groceries by using these strategies.