If there is one necessity in our budget that we absolutely can’t live without, it is food. While it is easy to skip out on restaurants and coffee shop visits, cutting grocery bills can be a big challenge even for the most budget-minded planners. If you are looking to cut your budget at the supermarket, here are some strategies to get you started.
Eat the Pantry
The first place you should look when trying to save at the supermarket should be in your own home. Most of us have growing hordes of food in our pantries and freezers slowly making their way towards the expiration date.
Keeping a stockpile of essentials isn’t a bad idea, but clearing out space and using what you already have is a great first step in meal planning and saving at the grocery store. Look at what you already have on hand and search recipe websites like the Unwrapped Veggie, allrecipes, or just type ingredients with the word recipe into Google for ideas to get you started.
Buy In Bulk… Sometimes
Once you’ve eaten through your stockpile, which doesn’t cost you a cent, look at strategically building up a good stockpile of healthy, evergreen ingredients. Prepared foods almost always cost more than cooking from scratch, so focus on raw ingredients more than prepared meals and dishes.
If you are shopping for a family, stores like Costco and Sam’s Club may pay off. If you are just feeding one or two people, you’ll still probably fare better at the local supermarket or Walmart than you will from paying for a warehouse club membership.
Find Relevant Coupons
Coupons can save you a ton of money if you use them right. The trick is to only find coupons for what you will really use and would likely buy anyway rather than let the coupons determine what you want to buy. That is unless you are an extreme couponer like the folks on TV. But even they usually only find coupons on items I would rarely buy myself.
Outside of the local newspaper, you can search online for coupons for items that you really do want to buy. There are a few big coupon repository sites, or you can always search for the item with the word coupon on Google.
Cut Empty Calories
Spending on healthy, fresh items can add up quickly, so don’t waste money on junk food or empty calories. Candy, soft drinks, desserts, frozen meals, and super processed foods have little nutritional value and can build up your grocery bill quickly.
If you cut spending on junk and only buy what you really need, you can be like John and feed your family for less than $100 per person per month. If you want to take it a step further, learn from this post hosted by my friend Joe at Retire by 40 and grow your own food. It’s easier than it sounds!