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40 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Bill

It seems the cost of groceries goes up a bit more each year.  Add a few mouths to feed, as well as possible income loss, and you might find yourself hard pressed to feed your family.  Regardless if you are a starving college student, a single person, or someone raising a family, anyone can benefit from saving money on groceries.  Strapped for cash or even just wanting to save some extra dough? Take a look at the 40 ways we’ve listed for you to cut back on your monthly grocery bill.

More details on each point following the infographic.

40 grocery saving tips

1.  Set a Budget

When you go grocery shopping without a specific budget in mind, it is much easier to overspend.  Estimate the approximate amount of groceries that you typically purchase and start from there, or use the handy calculator we linked to above, to figure out the approximate need of your household.

2.  Make a List

Next, you need to make a list.  Go through your cupboards to identify what items need to be replaced, this includes food and non-food items. Then make a list of ingredients based on the meals you are planning to make.

3.  Plan Meals

If you haven’t gotten that far yet to plan meals, this is the next best step for you to take.  In our family, we find it easier to plan meals for dinners since we are all together for that meal, and then provide various breakfast and lunch of foods that can be made individually.

4.  Coupon

Sometimes, you can plan your meals around what coupons and deals you find.  However, if you have a specific diet that makes planning your meals around coupons difficult, you can still find coupons for some items that you use.  Also, many stores sometimes offer  double couponing days to save you even more money.

5.  Read Coupon Fine Print

Coupons are often very specific based on the brand and sizes that are eligible.  Also, checking the expiration date is a no brainer.  It is overall a good idea to familiarize yourself with the offer so you don’t waste your time, or that of the people standing behind you at the checkout register.

6.  Take Your Pantry Inventory

One of the best ways to save money is to plan meals around what you still have in your pantry, cupboards, and refrigerator. You can easily make some bean soup or bean burgers from a random can of beans, or perhaps consider making breakfast with your last few eggs, homemade pancakes, and pick up some bacon. You get the idea.

7.  Eat Before You Shop

Not only is it obvious that when you are hungry you will be tempted to buy food you didn’t plan for, this also raises your chance of purchasing higher caloric foods like sweets and junk. So it’s not just more expensive, it’s unhealthier!

8.  Eat More Vegetables

A large part of money spent on groceries is for meat.  Consider replacing one or two meals a week with a meatless option.  You can easily get filled up and consume adequate protein through beans and legumes.  Consider making bean burgers, a baked potato bar topped with veggies and condiments.  Get creative and you can use this tool to your advantage.

9.  Buy Off Brands

This has been shown to save shoppers an average of 25%! Taste tests have also proven that in many products, brand name products don’t actually taste better. You can find a generic brand for almost every product. Consider purchasing generic staples like salt and sugar, sodas, and cereal.

10.  Buy in Bulk

Consider joining a warehouse club for bulk foods, as well as taking advantage of local grocer’s case lot sales.  There are many grocery stores that have bulk products in bins so you can get exactly as much as you need at a time.

11.  Take Advantage of Frozen Fruits and Veggies

Fresh can often be better, but frozen foods allow you to only use what you need at any given time.  This reduces the amount of food waste you are creating.  It has been said that the average family has 230 pounds of food waste that is fresh produce alone.

12.  Be Willing to Shop in More Locations

Finding sales and coupons at different stores can also save you quite a bit.  Granted, make sure that the gas you are spending getting from one location to the other doesn’t cancel out the savings you are getting on groceries.  But if you live in a place where you have access to several stores within a 10 mile radius, this could be a good option for you.

13.  Do Your Math

Researching prices at your local grocers, as well as between different products, you will be surprised to find where you can save money.  For instance, compare the price of apples per pound, and the price of bagged apples. Often, per pound can be pricier though you might think not.

14.  Get Meat on Sale

Call your local grocery stores and find out what day of the week they put their meat on sale.  Don’t be afraid to buy meat that is on sale because it is nearing the expiration date.  If you do not think that you will be able to eat it before the expiration date, stick it in the freezer.

15.  Plug Into Some Tunes

It has been said that grocery stores play music at slower rhythms two encourage shoppers to walk leisurely through their store and spend more money.  Not only will listening to some upbeat music of your own negate this effect they want to have on you, you can drown out any screaming babies and enjoy your trip a bit more.

16.  Double Check the “10 for $10” Sales

Sometimes grocers will offer a 10 for $10.00 sale yet buying one individual item would be cheaper.  For instance, a can of peaches might retail typically four 89¢, yet the grocer advertises 10 cans of peaches for $10.00; you are then paying $1.00 per can of peaches. Or they might raise the price the week before, and then offer a 10 for $10 deal, but next week after the sale, the price will likely drop back to less than $1.00 anyway.

15.  Keep Moving and Go Only Where Your List Takes You

Grocers want you to spend more time in their store so you end up spending more money.  There is psychology that goes into a grocery store layout.  To help avoid this, make sure you follow the perimeter of the store to get to where your items are.

16.  Ask, Ask, Ask!

If you ask creative questions you can save yourself lots of money.  Even if you don’t see any, ask about items in the bakery or meat departments that are going on sale because they are expiring.  Ask if you can buy baked items when they are on sale, yet to pick them up with proof of purchase at a future date.

17.  Fill Your Basket Only Halfway Full

Marketing consultants agree that increasing the size of shopping carts can often increase your purchases. Try to stick within your list and budget and you will see that your shopping cart will often be less full.

18.  Buy Fruits and Vegetables in Season

If you are sticking to what is in season, you will save money because you aren’t buying a large variety of produce all the time. You can search your region online to find what foods are naturally in season for where you live.

19.  Get Your Meat Butchered

If you do some math, you may benefit from buying one large piece of meat and having the butcher cut out the bone to use for soup, grind it up, and perhaps even turn some into pot roast. This might save you up to 30% over buying all cuts individually.

20.  Plan Leftovers for Meals/Eat Leftovers for Lunch

Make sure to not waste leftovers that can easily be eaten another day. This way, you save money on lunch foods like deli meats, chips, or by eating out. Consider having a restaurant type night at home where everyone “orders” what they want from what needs to be eaten up out of the fridge.

21.  Plant Your Own

While it will cost you a little to get set up, you can easily grow your own food that you eat on a regular basis. Even if you live in a small space such as an apartment, there are space saving ways to grow herbs, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, beans, and more.

22.  Pop Your Own Corn

This is one of our favorite ways to save money! Popcorn is full of antioxidants and fiber. Consider getting 3-6 large bags of popcorn for $3.50 – $5.00, versus getting many times the servings for the same price when you buy plain popping corn. You also have control over additives as well so it is often a healthier choice.

23.  Prioritize Organic Purchases

Supporting organic farming is important, but don’t feel you have to buy everything organic. If you need to make some allowances then consider only buying organic fresh fruits and vegetables instead of cereal, milk, soups, etc. Depending on your meal plan, some weeks you may be able to afford more organic purchases if say, you were buying less meat that time around.

24.  Buy Dry Beans

1 pound of dry beans at $0.86 will yield you the same as 6 cans of beans that would cost, on average, $4 to $5. It is true that they take a bit more time and planning, but once you have soaked and cooked one pound, you can use it for a couple different meals that week. Or, you can just cook what you need.

25.  Avoid Bagged Salad Mix

We don’t recommend buying bagged, pre-made salad mixes because in the long run it ends up being very expensive. If you are in a time crunch, these are great, but purchasing two different kinds of heads of lettuce, and some veggies to throw in can yield you more salad and be cheaper.

26.  Buy a Whole Chicken Instead of Pieces

Depending on the prices of where you shop, buying and cooking a whole chicken may save you money. If you’ve never carved a chicken before, watch this tutorial. You get the extra benefit of being able to make your own chicken broth that can easily be frozen.

27.  Plan and Freeze Crockpot Meals

Pick several crockpot meals to make up one afternoon and freeze for future use. Not only can this save you money since many of the meals you can make have the same kinds of ingredients, it can also save you time. Take a few hours one day to make them all up and put them in freezer bags.

28.  Make Homemade Condiments and Sauces

Not only does this work with things like, ketchup, mustard, mayo, tartar sauce, BBQ sauce, and salad dressing to name a few, you can find easy recipes to make your own dips, soups, and more. Many of these products take just a few ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

29.  Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand

Buy some cheap and healthy snacks to have on hand when you are out grocery shopping, so you don’t impulse shop from hunger, as well as in your car to keep you from buying food when you are out. Things like peanuts, raisins and dried fruit are always affordable options.

30.  Learn How to Strike Point Shop

Watching for foods to go on sale that you go through a lot (canned veggies, broth, frozen hamburger, etc.), gives you a chance to buy a few extra at a lower price to save you money in the long run.

31.  Learn About Ethylene Gas Given Off By Fruits and Veggies

This is a natural gas that certain foods put off and make other food go bad very quickly. Check out the list and make sure you are not mixing all your produce together. For instance, If you keep your pears and apples together in the same bowl, the pears will produce the gas and your apples won’t stay as fresh as long.

32.  Watch the Register

The scanners at the grocery stores are updated daily as prices change, but sometimes they aren’t and certain deals will slip through the cracks, therefore costing you more. Keep an eye on every item that is scanned to ensure you are getting the correct prices.

33.  Find a Pick-Your-Own Farm

These farms usually let you get a half box of produce for around $5, and a full box for $10, (prices will vary from farm to farm), and many will let your box almost overflow for not much extra. This brings you huge savings! The same amount of produce would end up costing you well over $10 or so.

34.  Consider Shopping at Ethnic Stores

Not only is it cheaper to buy your ethnic foods and ingredients at ethnic stores, they often have cheaper prices on other items as well. This will just take some investigation on your part, but it could be well worth it.

35.  Use Repeat Ingredients

Select around 5 ingredients that you can use in almost every meal you plan to cook. These might include potatoes, tomatoes, onions, nuts, frozen veggies, bell peppers, beans, even meat like bulk chicken etc. Make sure they are ingredients that your whole family likes though.

36.  Cooking Food is Cheaper Overall Than Convenience Foods

You can spend the same amount on a frozen dinner as one that you cook yourself in some cases. However, you often have more food leftover from cooking than you would with just one service of frozen dinner. Plus, the long term costs of eating processed food will really catch up with you some day.

37.  Keep a Running Grocery List

Have you ever been at the store and are pretty sure you are out of sugar, only to come home and find a full package? If you keep some paper on your fridge and write down what you need when you notice you’ve used the last, this will help you save money since you won’t be buying duplicate items.

38.  Take Calculator To the Store With You

We love this tip because it can help you keep a running total of what you are spending. There will be no surprises at the check register since you already know approximately what your bill will be. It is also helpful to compare the cost per ounce of items you are considering.

39.  Break Your Water Bottle Habit

Not only are you creating massive amounts of waste when you go through bottled water every day, you are spending much more than you need to. Once gallon of “spring” water at the grocery store can cost you anywhere from $0.80 to $1.25, but if you reuse your containers and get water from the filtration system that many stores have, you spend roughly $0.25 to $0.40 per gallon.

40.  Shop Somewhere That Offers Price Matching

This is nice since you can browse ads from the mail, or online, for other stores’ prices, and then never need to go anywhere but your local store. If they will match prices, most often they just take your word for it. Though we do suggest writing down the cost and what store, just in case you are asked to prove it. You might even want to have the stores ad with you as well.

Do you have any additional tips for saving? Let us know!

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