Spending Less on Groceries
Grocery shopping is unavoidable.
Groceries are also expensive, especially when you have a lot of mouths to feed. However, what you buy, where you shop, and how you shop significantly impact your grocery budget. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to cut down on your grocery spending and stretch your food dollar.
Here are 16 tips for spending less on groceries every time you shop.
- Spending Less on Groceries
- How To Spend Less Money on Groceries
- 1. Review the Sales Circulars
- 2. Plan Meals for the Week
- 3. Join the Loyalty Program
- 4. Clip Coupons
- 5. Join a Wholesale Club
- 6. Make a Shopping List and Stick to It
- 7. Stock up on Sale Items
- 8. Try Other Brands
- 9. Try Other Stores
- 10. Don’t Buy Processed or Prepared Foods
- 11. Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat
- 12. Buy Produce In Season
- 13. Have a Meal Prep Day
- 14. Bring Your Own Bags
- 15. Keep a Price Book
- 16. Get Cash Back
- Buying Groceries for Less
How To Spend Less Money on Groceries
1. Review the Sales Circulars
Supermarkets run weekly sales. You can usually find a stack of sales circulars near the front door, but you may get them in the mail. You can also visit the store’s website and see what’s on sale before shopping.
Do not ignore the weekly ads. Instead, use them for meal ideas. The circulars usually come out mid-week, giving you plenty of time to plan your shopping if you typically go to the grocery store during the weekend.
2. Plan Meals for the Week
Once you know what’s on sale, make your meal plan around sale items and what you already have. Your weekly meals will cost less by planning based on what’s on sale. You save money on groceries automatically since your ultimate aim is only to buy sale-priced items.
3. Join the Loyalty Program
Most grocery stores offer free loyalty programs. Once you sign up, you can benefit from members-only prices and discounts automatically applied at checkout. Some stores will use your purchase history to send you coupons or special offers on items you buy regularly.
4. Clip Coupons
Maximize your savings by clipping grocery coupons for the things on your list. The Sunday newspaper and the store circular might have paper coupons for what you usually buy.
After you sign up for your grocery store’s loyalty program, download their mobile app. Look for digital coupons to load onto your loyalty card through the app.
Reach out to your favorite brands by email or through their Facebook page. Some will send you free coupons in the mail or email you coupons you can print out.
Be on the lookout for opportunities to stack coupons. It takes a little more effort, but you save even more if you can find a coupon for a sale item or use a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon together.
5. Join a Wholesale Club
Wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club can help you save big by buying in bulk. If you have a large family, purchasing a wholesale club membership might be good.
Wholesale clubs aren’t for everyone since you will spend more upfront to realize the savings over time. It depends on your budget and cash flow.
The other issue to avoid is waste. Ensure you have adequate storage space and only buy what you can reasonably expect to use before the expiration date. That giant bag of apples is a waste of money if half of it goes in the bin.
6. Make a Shopping List and Stick to It
Going grocery shopping without a grocery list makes it easy to fill your shopping cart with extra items or things you don’t need.
Even when you have a list, it can be hard to stick to it. If you shop when you’re hungry, there’s plenty to tempt you. If you bring your kids, it can be challenging to say no.
Impulse buys run up your food costs and lead to food waste. Eat first and leave the kids at home if possible. Make a list, then don’t buy anything that isn’t on it.
Having a list and following it also means fewer grocery trips. The less time you spend in grocery stores, the more money you can save.
7. Stock up on Sale Items
Not everything you need will be on sale when you need it. If you wait until you run out of something to replace it, paying full price might be your only option. Avoid that by stocking up when basic pantry staples and the foods you buy often are on sale.
Grocery sales run in cycles. Most of your staples are probably discounted at some point in the month.
It makes sense to shop sales to stock up on things like toilet paper, paper towels, and canned vegetables at their lowest price. You don’t want to overdo it with perishable items, though. Ensure you can use or have room in the freezer for your stockpile.
8. Try Other Brands
Brand loyalty is great for the companies that make the products you buy. It’s not so great for your grocery budget. Having to buy a specific brand every time means you’ll pay the full price more often than not.
You can often find store or lesser-known brands that taste just as good as your favorite brands for less cash. Skip the expensive name brands and choose a generic brand instead. You might not notice a difference.
9. Try Other Stores
Don’t be afraid to venture out beyond your usual grocery store.
Dollar stores and other discount stores often have the lowest prices for some food items like spices, canned tomatoes, or condiments. They’re also an excellent place to get non-grocery items like coffee filters or napkins.
You might find a discount grocery chain like Aldi has prices that can’t be beaten on staples like eggs, butter, and bread.
Ethnic grocery stores might have a much more extensive selection of fresh produce. Some have significantly lower prices than supermarket chains.
A farmers market might be the best place to get fresh produce when it’s in season. Not everything will be cheaper at farmers markets, but if you go later in the day, you can sometimes get better pricing or even haggle a little.
10. Don’t Buy Processed or Prepared Foods
Pre-cut vegetables and bags of shredded cheese are very convenient. Convenience comes at a price, and convenience foods are expensive for what you get.
Buy whole fresh vegetables or block cheese and do the prep work yourself for much less.
11. Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat
Meat makes up a large percentage of food budgets for people who eat meat. Fresh meat is usually the most expensive ingredient in any recipe that calls for it. If you can save a lot of money on meat, you can save a lot on food.
Pass on the ribeye steaks, chicken breasts, and other expensive meats on display at the meat counter. You can buy chicken thighs, frozen fish, canned fish like salmon or tuna, ground beef, and chuck steaks to stay within your budget.
You could also try eating less meat. Swap meat for beans or other vegetarian protein sources like tofu for a healthy meal that costs less.
12. Buy Produce In Season
Some people think healthy foods like fruits and vegetables cost more, but their shopping habits could have much to do with that. Fresh fruits and vegetables are typically much cheaper in season, even if you insist on organic produce. Incorporate in-season fresh produce into your meal plans.
If you must have some out-of-season fruit or vegetable, head to the frozen foods section. Frozen vegetables and fruits are flash-frozen at peak ripeness. You won’t lose much taste or nutrition from frozen fruits and veggies.
13. Have a Meal Prep Day
Cook in bulk one day a week. Make several recipes and portion them into meals. You’ll have something you can take to work for lunch or quickly reheat for dinner after a long day.
You can also cook a large batch of versatile ingredients like ground beef for use in other recipes. Half the work is already done if you need to whip up a quick meal during the week after a busy day at work.
Meal prepping saves you time during the week. It could also save you money on takeout and delivery. You’ll be less tempted to stop for fast food on your way home or fire up a food delivery app if you know you have homemade meals waiting for you.
14. Bring Your Own Bags
Spend less on food and help the environment by bringing your own reusable grocery bags when you shop.
Whole Foods offers a $0.10 discount with every reusable bag you bring. Target, Foodland, and some Trader Joe’s locations offer a $0.05 discount. Some Kroger locations offer fuel points or a small discount for each bag.
The savings aren’t much, but cutting unnecessary waste helps everyone.
15. Keep a Price Book
If you have multiple grocery stores in your area, keep track of food prices for what you buy often. A notebook or a simple spreadsheet is all you need to log regular and discounted prices from the sales circulars.
Compare unit prices for the most accurate comparisons. The larger package isn’t always the best deal. Using unit pricing will give you a clearer picture and help you trim grocery spending.
Once you’ve kept track of prices in your area for a little while, you’ll immediately know whether the advertised price is a good deal. You’ll also learn the sales cycles to time your purchases to coincide with sales.
Consider shopping at two different stores to optimize your saving. You could significantly lower your grocery bills as long as it isn’t too time-consuming and you don’t spend more on gas than you save on groceries.
16. Get Cash Back
Paying for groceries with a credit card with cash back or statement credits will offset your grocery spending. As long as you pay the bill before interest kicks in, it’s free money.
If you’re considering signing up for a rewards card, compare offers from multiple credit card companies before applying. Some offer higher reward percentages at supermarkets than others.
You can also get cash back on groceries through grocery apps. With a grocery rebate app such as Ibotta (referral link), you register for free, link a loyalty card, or submit receipts to get rebates. You will save extra money on top of savings from credit card rewards, store loyalty benefits, and couponing.
Buying Groceries for Less
Spending less at the grocery store is achievable with some mindful planning and smart shopping. By making a grocery list, sticking to sale items, using coupons and sales, opting for store brands, and being mindful of impulse purchases, you can spend less on groceries without feeling deprived.
Image Credits: Pexels
Sara Graham is a frugal living and household budgeting expert. Her writing has appeared on MSN Money, The Good Men Project, Fairygodboss, and several other online publications. She is the co-founder of KindaFrugal.com, a personal finance and frugal living blog.