If you have noticed that your grocery bill is growing every month. You are not alone. In the last year, grocery prices have risen 2.4%.
Some might say it's because we are spending more time at home. But even if your habits are the same it is hard to not notice how much things are starting to cost these days.
But don't worry. We got you covered. Because today I am sharing some of my favorite tips for grocery shopping on a budget. And it is more than just buying generic or eating pasta and sauce everyday. (Although I love me some pasta and sauce).
So keep reading for tips how how to save money while grocery shopping and still eat well.
10 Tips for Saving money when grocery shopping
- Meal plan ahead so that you know what groceries to buy
- Start by taking inventory of what you have in your pantry and fridge
- Use the ingredients you already have in your refrigerator and pantry
- Plan meals around things that are on sale at the grocery store
- Buy produce that is in season to save money
- Buy frozen produce instead of fresh produce to save money and time
- Make a grocery list
- Use coupons as much as possible
- Buy food items in bulk but check the expiration date
- Never ever ever shop hungry
- Bonus: Shop around
Meal plan ahead so that you know what groceries to buy
Before heading to the grocery store it is always a good idea to plan ahead. This will help prevent you from carelessly dropping things in your cart that look good and then go to die in the back of your pantry.
Depending on your lifestyle you can meal plan up to a month in an advance. But week to week works as well.
Meal planning a month in advance seems intimidating think about some of your favorite recipes that you have in rotation. This also helps with meal prep as well.
Start out by filling in the days with those favorites. Let's say you have five dishes that you always make and your family loves. You can most likely make those five dishes at least twice in a month period. That's already 10 days' worth of meals.
Start by taking inventory of what you have in your pantry and fridge
Before you even head to the grocery store shop your pantry and fridge. You will be surprised at what will find. Have something in the fridge that you're not sure what to do with. Google “recipes with x” in order to get some ideas of things you can make. You can also check out sites like All Recipes that allow you to do ingredient searches that will help you with planning.
Use the ingredients you already have in your refrigerator and pantry
You already have an idea off what you have in your pantry and fridge. Challenge yourself to make meals only with what you have. Maybe that means doing a meatless Monday or experimenting with a new recipe.
Not only is this a great opportunity to save some cash but it is will spice things up a bit in the kitchen when you get to serve a new to you dish.
Plan meals around things that are on sale at the grocery store
Shopping sales are my secret weapon. I have save hundreds of dollars a month by using this trick. It might seem limiting or intimidating at first. But trust me. The money you will save makes a huge difference.
Start with some of the most expensive products. Meat can easily break the bank. Have you seen the meat prices lately. Uff.
Check out what's on sale and what's in season. If chicken is on sale then make sure you incorporate a couple of chicken dishes into your meal plan for that week.
Also, don't be afraid of store brands. While you may prefer a certain brain of ketchup or mustard. You will find that store brands of other products might be just as good or better.
Finally, don't be afraid of new to you cuts of meat. I am not a big steak fan but I recently found chuck steak on super sale. It was scary. But I found a recipe with amazing recipes, gave it a go and it's now become a favorite in our house.
Buy produce that is in season to save money
Another area that kills my grocery bill. Produce. Why is it so expensive?
Here's a tip. Shop what is in season. Usually you can tell because all the stores will put the same types of produce on sale at the same time. By shopping what is in season not only are you eating some of the freshest produce but it's most likely going to be a heck of a lot cheaper.
Buy frozen produce instead of fresh produce to save money and time
Another great hack for produce. Buy frozen. You may have been told that fresh is better. I say that is subjective. Nutritional wise it is the same thing. However some people do have a preference and that is perfectly ok.
However if you're cool with it buying frozen no only will save you lots of money but it will also save you time. I love making stir fry or veggie fried rice with frozen vegetables.
Frozen berries are also great for breakfast to use in smoothies, oatmeal or to top off your yogurt.
Make a grocery list
Don't be that person that says you have it committed to memory then walk out the store with no milk about $500 less in your bank account than you had walking in.
Make a grocery list and stick to it. Better yet. Keep a running shopping list. I keep mine on my phone and add to it as things run out or as I run out of things. This is one of the easiest ways to go grocery shopping on a budget.
Having a list will keep you focused. But it will also prevent you from forgetting a key ingredient and then deciding you're just going to order take out instead because it is easier. (I speak from experience on that one).
Use coupons as much as possible
Remember when the coupons would come in the Sunday paper every week. I used to look forward to clipping those coupons as a kid.
You might get a physical paper anymore however you can still clip digital coupons. Getting this coupons is a great way to go grocery shopping on a budget. Check out sites like coupons.com where you can find digital coupons at various grocery stores.
Buy food items in bulk but check the expiration date
Buying items in bulk is a great way to save money. However, do your homework. First make sure it is an actually a good deal. I have found that sometimes it is cheaper to buy things individually then at bulk. So do the math before dropping things into your cart.
Check the expiration date. It is not going to save you money if you have to throw it out when you're halfway done. Even shelf stable products have an expiration date. So be mindful off these dates before buying bulk. If you can eat those 12 boxes of pasta before they lose their freshness then we are in business.
Never ever ever shop hungry.
I have been caught so many time not following this advice. And I have a bag of chocolate chip peanut butter cookies sitting on my table right now that are about to go bad because I don't even eat chocolate chip peanut butter cookies.
When you're hungry no only do you tend to add things to your cart that you don't even really need but you will find that you probably don't have a lot of patience either. So you grab the first thing you can see and there goes your grocery budget.
Make sure you have a nice meal before you go shopping to fight the urge to impulse shop or just rush through the process and end up blowing your budget.
Bonus: Shop around
I said there were 10 but I lied. I saved the best for last. Shop around. (You can read more here about my theory around shopping often.) This one may take a little time and effort but it can save you hundreds a year.
Pick about 3 stores that are near you and before heading to the store check out what is on sale and who has the better prices on want. The more you shop you will realize that store A might have better deals on meat while store B is better for detergent. And Store C might be better for specialty products (like that really good olive oil) at a discount.
Yeah it is convenient to just shop at one store but shopping around can really help you stretch your food budget.
What groceries should I buy on a tight budget?
You probably heard people say to buy frozen and packaged food when you're on a budget. And it does seem like sometimes these things are cheaper. However, before you stock up on pasta and frozen meatballs (my fave) do your homework.
If you stick to buying what is in season and what is on sale you will find that you will save more money in ways you never thought before.
For example, having variety means you're less likely to get bored and want to order take out. Eating whole foods keep you full for longer which means you will be less likely to want to snack. And finally, when you feel good you're less likely to binge.
Some things to keep on your list: fresh fruits, fresh produce, whole grains and pantry staples.
How can I spend less a week on groceries
Grocery shopping can be a budget buster. But it doesn't have to be. With some planning, you will be surprised at how you can extend that grocery budget while still eating well. If you don't believe it give these grocery shopping tips a try for a week. And let me know how it goes.