save money on groceries

22 Expert Ways To Save Money on Groceries

If there is one necessity in our budget that we can’t live without, it is food. While avoiding restaurant and coffee shop visits is easy, finding ways to save money on groceries can be challenging.

This is especially true as shoppers continue to see rising prices at the grocery store. Everyone is feeling the strain of higher prices and wondering when (and even if) prices will come down.

Fortunately, it’s possible to ensure your grocery spending doesn’t ruin your entire budget. From planning to saving before you even get to the store and more, here’s how you can save money on groceries.

Plan To Save Money on Groceries

As with most aspects of your finances, you must plan for success. The same goes when you want to save money on groceries.

Here’s what you need to plan for as you prepare to shop!

Make a Budget

Take a look at your overall budget and analyze how much money you actually can afford to spend on food based on your income and other expenses. If you have a clear idea of how much money you have available for one month, you can set firm limits on how much you can spend on groceries weekly.

Having a predetermined grocery budget can inform your choices about what meals to make, the items you need to purchase, and where to buy what you need.

Set Your Priorities

One of the most important contributors to having a lower grocery bill is setting priorities. For example, maybe you are trying to eat an organic diet or implement a healthier diet. This can be challenging on a tight grocery budget, but it’s doable.

To help stick to your priorities, you might need to get creative. For example, maybe you can grow some of your own fruits and vegetables. 

Create a Meal Plan

Meal planning isn’t the most earth-shattering tip to managing your grocery bill, but it does work. Depending on how often you plan on visiting the grocery store, you can come up with as many meals as needed to get you through until your next shopping trip.

It can be easy to see meal planning as restrictive, but you can make it flexible. You don’t have to dictate what meal you’ll have on a given evening, only that you’ll eat these specific meals during the week. That gives you flexibility while also limiting what you need to buy.

If that isn’t enough, meal planning helps avoid temptation, which is incredibly important when trying to keep your grocery bill low.

Make a List

Once you know what meals you’ll be making, it’s time to create a list of the items you’ll need to buy. This will ensure that you stick to the meals you budgeted for and aren’t over your budget by the time you reach the checkout counter.

Cut Costs Before Going To the Store

Once you have a plan, you can start to prepare for your shopping trip before you even head to the store. Doing so can help you reduce your spending BIG time. 

If you want to save money on groceries, make sure you consider doing the following before you head to your nearest supermarket.

save money on groceries

Shop Your Pantry

Before you go to the store, take the time to shop your pantry. Most of us have growing hordes of food in our pantries and freezers, slowly making their way toward 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 cutting your costs. Look at the shopping list you made and see if there are any items you can cross off based on what you already have.

You could even take things a step further and see if you have items you can substitute within your planned meals, helping you spend less once you get to the store.

Opt for Fruit and Veggies Instead of Junk Food

If your weekly meal plan includes bags of Cheetos or Pop-Tarts, consider replacing these junk food items with fresh fruit or veggies. In most instances, opting for fresh food guarantees you more sustenance and higher nutritional value for your money. 

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the average price for a 16-oz bag of potato chips was $6.68 in October 2023, while the price for a pound of bananas was only 63 cents at the same time of the year.

Clip Coupons to Save Money on Groceries

Coupons can help you save money on groceries if you use them right. The trick is to only find coupons for what you will actually use and would likely buy anyway rather than let the coupons determine what you want to buy. 

Outside the local newspaper, you can search online for coupons for items you 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.

Look for Sales

One of the best ways to maximize your meal plan is to shop the sale items. Not only will this let you stock up on items you may like but don’t want to spend too much on, but it also allows you to buy staples you know you’ll be using regularly.

Sit down with the fliers you receive each week and find what’s on sale. This takes maybe 10-15 minutes at most. You can match this with couponing if you want to maximize your savings.

Buy a Freezer 

If you have adequate savings, consider using part of it to buy a deep freezer. This can be a big help in lowering your grocery bill because you can do some targeted stockpiling when certain items go on sale. 

You can buy ground meat, frozen vegetables, and milk when they go on sale and put them in your deep freezer. The first two items are common groceries you can freeze, but you can indeed freeze milk. 

The key here is to put the milk in the freezer once you buy it in order to preserve its shelf life. Then, take it out the night before you want to use it and put it in a sink of cold water. You’ll be good to go the next day.

Get a Membership Card

Many major food chains offer loyalty cards. Most of them are free and easy to sign up for. Generally, you’ll just need to give your name and phone number. 

Cardholders are frequently entitled to great deals and much lower prices. This can help you save money on groceries.

Cut Costs at the Store

Once you are at the grocery store, put your planning and preparation to good use to stay on track. Then, implement these strategies to stretch your budget further.

Shop at Discount Grocery Stores

One money-saving option that some shoppers might not think about is going to the cheapest grocery store there is in their neighborhood. The discount grocery stores near me include Aldi and Save-a-Lot, and they are often 15-25% cheaper than groceries from Walmart.

I can save at least a few bucks on essentials by visiting these more affordable stores. There are plenty of other cheap foods as well. Plus, as a bonus, the cashiers are the fastest I have ever seen! I can typically do all of my grocery shopping in less than 10 minutes when I go to Aldi or Save-a-Lot.

saving on groceries

Save Money on Groceries by Shopping Generic

Major grocery stores often offer a “store brand” version of popular products. Generic brands of staples like paper plates, napkins, and shaving gel tend to be on par with brand-name products.

Store-brand medicinal and food items are often on the same level as brand-name options. To double-check, read the back label for ingredients and nutritional information.

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.

Watch out for those checkout line goodies as you are in line, and steer clear of the aisles with the appealing, sugary impulse buys that cause you to want to needlessly splurge. They don’t do anything for your financial or physical health.

If you cut spending on junk and only buy what you really need, it’s possible to feed each person in your family for $100 per month, potentially less. 

Avoid Pre-Cut Fruits and Veggies

It might be tempting to purchase pre-cut fruits and veggies since slicing and dicing can be time-consuming once you get home. However, you’ll pay a premium for these items. 

The time savings likely isn’t worth the hit to your grocery budget, so stick with whole fruits and veggies you cut yourself when you get home.

Compare Prices

Comparison shopping is one of the best techniques to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. Check out the unit price, which is listed on the shelf sticker right next to the product price.

You want to pay the lowest price per unit, even if it means buying a larger amount since that will stretch your dollars further.

Buy in Bulk To Save Money on Groceries

Since you can often get a lower per-unit price on bulk products, sometimes buying in bulk is more cost-efficient. Staples like beans, rice, pasta, flour, and frozen vegetables are often much less expensive in large amounts.

Just be sure you can properly store bulk products. Your savvy shopping investment will go to waste if the food spoils before you can eat it.

If you are shopping for a family or you can split the costs of bulk items with roommates or neighbors, 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.

Use a Rewards Credit Card

Before diving into this one, it comes with a caveat. You should only pay for your groceries with a credit card if you can pay off your card in full each month.

There are many rewards credit cards that give you extra rewards on purchases made at grocery stores. These rewards can be redeemed for things like cash back or travel. So leave your cash at home and pay with a credit card that lets you rack up points.

Make Fewer Trips To the Store

By cutting down on your trips to the grocery store by once a month, you might be able to save $50 to $75 per month. Fewer trips to the store means you not only save money on groceries themselves but also gas costs and time spent shopping.

If you push yourself to go to the store less often, you’ll also significantly reduce food waste. Plus, in the event you do run out of fruits or vegetables, you can make a quick stop at the store to get a few of them to carry you through until your next big shopping day.

save on groceries

Leave Your Kids at Home if You Can

If you have children, you know they always want something when you go to the store. While this is expected, it can be distracting and might cause you to make unwise shopping decisions. 

Try to leave the kids at home when you shop. It will save you time and help you stick to your grocery budget more consistently. 

Lower Your Costs Once You Get Home

Just because your shopping trip is over doesn’t mean there aren’t still money-saving opportunities on the table. When you get home, take advantage of these strategies to maximize your savings.

Save Money on Groceries by Using Rebate Apps

With apps like Fetch and Checkout 51, taking a photo of your receipt can earn you points that you can cash out for gift cards to popular retailers. This means you can turn your grocery shopping into gift cards to places like Amazon, Target, Visa, and more.

You have to buy groceries anyway, so getting rewarded for it makes sense. Take a few moments once you get home to upload your receipt and start earning points.

Use Your Leftovers

MedicalNewsToday found that the average U.S. household wastes $1,866 in food each year. That’s almost $36 per week and is a huge bite out of your grocery budget.

If you have leftovers, be sure to eat them for lunch the next day or repurpose them into another meal. When you cut back on your food waste, you don’t end up throwing money in the trash.

Evaluate and Adjust

As you near the end of the week and start getting ready for your next shopping trip, evaluate how well you stuck to your budget and grocery list.

How much food waste did you have? Did you spend on any impulse purchases? Were you able to make all the meals you planned? Or did you end up dining out during the week because making those meals was too overwhelming?

By looking at your successes and shortcomings, you can make adjustments as you plan for the new week. Perhaps you need to re-establish your priorities or create a less complex meal plan. Maybe your list needs to be streamlined a bit. You may need to implement better saving strategies before you get to the store or once you get there.

This step is imperative so that you can stay on budget and find ways to reduce your food costs next week.

The Bottom Line

Rising prices at the grocery store don’t have to mean a blown budget. By planning, preparing, shopping wisely, and being cost-conscious throughout the entire shopping process, you can save money on groceries and improve your long-term wealth.

22 Expert Ways To Save Money on Groceries
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