It’s not always easy to keep your grocery spending in check. When you have to watch every dime, and make it go as far as possible, you need some good ideas and encouragement.
Here are a few ways that I have found to cut grocery spending down to size, and make every dollar in your food budget work harder:
- Set a budget for grocery spending. Making a budget – and sticking to it – is the biggest help in keeping your food spending in line. It’s easy for you to spend too much money if you don’t have a specific amount each month categorized for groceries.
- Pay in cash. That’s right – go to the bank and take your budgeted amount out of your bank account, then put it in an envelope marked “Food.” That is the easiest way to make sure that you don’t overspend. Only spend out of that envelope, and when it’s gone … it’s gone. Stick to your budget!
- Buy fruits and vegetables in season. Certain types of produce will be in season at various times of the year, therefore plentiful and less expensive. Watch for sales at your local grocery stores, and then stock up. For example, tomatoes hit their peak season from July through September. This is a great time to add tomatoes to salads and other summer recipes, and to freeze them for use later in soups and sauces. Here is a link to Quick Tips for How to Freeze Tomatoes.
- Buy store brands when possible. They are almost always comparable to national brands, but cost less. Most larger grocery stores will carry their own brands of items. They may be found on the lower or upper shelves – the middle shelves (at eye level) are usually reserved for the higher-priced national brand items. Buying the generic or store brands means you can still feed your family the food items they like, but at a more manageable price.
- Make a weekly menu plan. This will help on several levels; it will help you be more organized in the kitchen, knowing what meal is on your schedule for each night of the week, it will help you to use up the resources you already have in your cupboard/pantry/freezer, and it will cut down on stress. No more standing in the middle of the kitchen, frantically trying to determine what you have available to put on the table in 15 minutes. It also cuts down on food spending by allowing you to actually cook meals, instead of resorting to fast food, takeout, and having pizza delivered. Although, that can be nice every so often.
- Buy your ingredients, instead of buying prepared meals. It’s usually much more cost-efficient to buy the ingredients for a meal rather than to buy the pre-prepared meal itself. Plus, when you have “ingredients” you can use those same ingredients for other meals as well. Buying a whole chicken in the store can provide you with not only a meal for one night, but the remaining cooked chicken can also be used to make other meals throughout the week, not mention the stock for soup, etc. Plus, you will be eating healthier by not ingesting all the chemicals used in prepared meals to keep them from spoiling, improve taste, etc. The simpler you can make your meals, the better for your family and your budget.
- Plan your weekly menu around the sales and specials at your local store. Save more money by buying on sale, and then stocking up when you can on foods that you can keep in the pantry for future meals. Keep an eye on the sales fliers and newspaper ads, and think ahead for what you can buy now (in reason) and use later.
- Use coupons and discounts. Clip those coupons when it’s for an item you will really use. I am not advocating that you become like folks on the extreme couponing shows. But a coupon used now and again will help you lower your grocery spending; it’s even better when you can “stack” deals. If you have a “club card” to a certain store, and they offer discounts or sales, try to match that with a coupon. Look for sales, match those with coupons, and you can double up on savings. Here’s a link for How To Save Money at Safeway that talks about ways to use their promotions to stack savings.
- Use apps to get a little grocery money back. There are apps, like Ibotta and Savingstar, that will pay you for purchasing your groceries. Just download the apps to your phone, choose what rebates you will redeem when you shop, then upload your receipt/scan product barcode to receive cash back. Here are two posts I wrote about the ones I use; they have lots of helpful hints and tips from my own experience: Cash Back Apps – Part 1 and Cash Back Apps – Part 2 (catching names, right?!?!)
Here is a helpful link to Dave Ramsey’s “5 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill Without Coupons:
Here are a couple more helpful posts about saving money when grocery shopping:
This next link isn’t so much about grocery spending, but will help you find great deals on other stuff you shop for – either online or in-store. Dealspotr is a great tool, and it’s curated by real people – meaning that when someone finds a great deal, they share it to Dealspotr. You can sign up, specify categories or stores where you are interested in great deals, and find those great deals in one place. AND you can receive points for sharing great deals on the site, and then use those points to receive Amazon gift cards, etc. Use the icon at the bottom of the page to sign up and start receiving points AND great deals. Dealspotr – Find Great Deals Every Time You Shop