I’ve been creating a budget the past few months, closely tracking my spending, and I’m proud to say I’ve been able to stick to my budget since I started. One of the largest parts of my budget is how much I spend on groceries, so I’ve started practicing new techniques that keep me on budget. Sometimes I’m even under budget. I’ve shared a few grocery budget tips in other posts, but it’s all of these tips done together that are going to save you the most money on groceries.
It’s scary to go on a budget, looking exactly at how much money I’m bringing in compared to what’s being spent. But if you’re trying to pay down your debts or save money for a future investment it’s absolutely necessary. I started tracking my spending closely in August, and it’s really changed my perspective on what I buy and what’s most important to put money towards.
Fitness and health is important to me, therefore spending money on quality and nutritious foods is important to me. On top of that, I follow flexible dieting to optimize my overall performance at the gym and body composition. Following flexible dieting doesn’t mean I have to buy special foods, but I do go out of my way to ensure I’m eating more “macro-friendly” foods. So, if you’re not on a specific diet or meal plan, you can likely save even more money than I currently am.
Below are the the six tips that I’ve put together based on what has worked for me. I’m confident that if you take the time to do these, they’ll save money for you and your family too.
How To Save Money on Your Groceries
- Shop your pantry and fridge.
Look through your kitchen and take an inventory of what you have. This may include pantry items such as rice, pasta or other carbs, frozen foods, such as veggies and protein options. I go to Costco once or twice a month for frozen chicken breasts, frozen vegetables, egg whites, and yogurt which are our staples.
- Browse the ads.
This is something that I used to neglect because I thought it was pointless. I would grab the mail and toss the grocery ads directly into the recycling. But the ads are very important for basic produce and pantry items, or if you have room in your budget to stock up on the sales. Keep in mind, that if you’re shopping the sales to only buy the foods that your family will use in the future.
Don’t like the paper ads or get them in your area? Download the store apps or check line. Also, don’t forget to join the loyalty programs. Sometimes they will offer freebies or better deals to its members!
- Research and create a meal plan.
Go through Pinterest, your favorite recipe book, or browse a few recipes that I’ve created and put together a weekly (or monthly, if you’re ambitious) meal plan based on what you already have in the house. Decide on your three big meals for each day and any snacks that you’ll want for the work week. For me this includes my my morning snack and preworkout meal that I eat at work.
After deciding on my recipes, I write down each recipe and other food preps (i.e. cutting carrots, celery, etc.) that I need to take care of over the weekend. As I finish a recipe or food prep, I cross it off the list.
- Write a grocery list.
Grab a pen and paper, or download an app like Our Groceries, and make a list of only the foods you need based on the plan. Bringing a list will keep you from making impulse decisions on foods you don’t need. When you go to the store, bring a pen and cross off the items as you go. This will help you stay on track while shopping.
One of the things I’ve let go of is the fear or missing out. Last year, I bought a lot of seasonal and limited edition foods for that exact reason. And that’s what the food companies want you to do.
Instead of buying seasonal foods, I’ve gotten creative by making my own. A can of pure pumpkin runs $1 – $2 and can be added to almost anything. Pancakes, French toast batter, mug cakes, cookies, brownies, oatmeal, oat bran, cream cheese. Sprinkle in some cinnamon, vanilla extract, and sweetener of your choice and you have a homemade seasonal treat!
- Check for cash back.
After doing the steps above, check for cash back on apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51. I recommend this last because most of the foods on those apps are prepared or packaged, name brands, or only available at the chain stores. Prices are generally more affordable at Aldi or Fresh Thyme, which are not always available on cash back apps.
- Shop the most affordable store.
If you’ve exhausted all these steps, and there’s not a good ad this week or you need to stock up the pantry, shop at the most affordable grocery store nearest to you. For me, that’s usually Aldi, Fresh Thyme, and then Walmart. Sometimes I have to be strategically plan going to these stores, depending on their location, but I never drive a long distance to the store.
Do you have any money saving tips to stay on budget? Am I missing one that I should be doing before my grocery tips? Leave them below!