Tracking your spending gives you a clear picture of where your money goes every month. Once you know where your money is being spent, it is then easier to decide where you can make changes in order to spend less and save more. Our easiest thing to cut spending on was food. Below is a list of effective ways I have saved money on groceries.
When I first started tracking our spending, I only had a vague impression about where our money actually went each month. It wasn’t until I started keeping track of every penny we spent that I got a very clear view at where our money went. And just how much of it we were throwing away without really realizing it. To be honest, there are some expenses that just can not be decreased. The house payment was as low as we could get it. The cable/internet/phone was bundled as low as we could get it without sacrificing service we weren’t willing to sacrifice. But the biggest area I could make spending cuts was food. We were hemorrhaging money on food. I had to get that spending under control, even if it meant I had to be the bad guy for a while.
Ways I Have Saved Money at the Grocery Store
Meal Plan. I have been planning our meals for two months now and I am still amazed at how much money and time and stress it saves me every week. Planning what you’re going to eat for the week (or month) means you only buy what you need. It means only one trip to the store each week, and always an answer to “What’s for dinner?”
Use your freezer. With spring here, and summer just around the corner farmer’s markets will be popping up, selling fresh fruits and vegetables at a lower price than the stores can. Why? No processing and no transportation. Stock up on fresh produce when it’s in season. (You can use this map to see what’s in season in your state.) You can chop/dice them, and freeze them in freezer bags.
Do It Yourself. Shredded cheese is more expensive per ounce than block cheese. You’re paying for the processing, and you could be doing it yourself at home. You can use a cheese grater or even a food processor. Either way it saves money. Also pack your own lunches, chop your own vegetables. The more you can do at home, the less you pay someone else to.
Eat leftovers. I always make enough food at dinner so that Sam can take leftovers to work for lunch. I am not a big fan of leftovers, but Sam and Zoe will eat them, so that means I don’t have to buy food for lunches. Zoe’s last day of school is two weeks away, so I will be responsible for lunches every day. She deserves better than peanut butter and jelly every day.
Buy in bulk. One of our local grocery stores had a huge 10 for $10 sale a couple of weeks ago and we stocked up on items that I knew we absolutely would use, and what had a lengthy shelf life or we could easily freeze. I bought $176 worth of groceries for $85. I got it all for half price or less. But be careful at 10 for $10 sales. Not all items are more than $1.00 to begin with it. I only bought what I was saving money on.
Know your top dollar amount. Soda is almost always on sale around here. The prices are as varied as the stores. I have a top dollar amount that I am willing to pay for a 12 pack of soda, or a case. If it’s over that price, I won’t buy it. That means we go without soda and I’m perfectly ok with that. Know what your top dollar is for the items on your list and do not pay more than that amount.
Check out your gas station. I know this sounds strange, but seriously, check out the price of milk the next time you’re at the convenience store getting gas. Gas stations make their money on the convenience items, (candy, soda, coffee) and a gallon of milk is usually 30-50 cents cheaper than in the grocery stores.
Buy Instant. Powered milk is cheaper per serving than regular milk. Plus is has a longer shelf life. While it may not be appealing to you to drink, it can be used in baking and cooking the same as regular milk.
Shop the perimeter of the store. The inner isles and endcaps are where they like to stick things at a higher price. True story, Sam and I needed burgers for dinner one night. One of the freezers in the isle had frozen burgers for $8.00. It was tempting, they were right there. But I waiting until we got to the meat department and found fresh burgers for half the price. Same goes for higher/lower shelves. The higher priced items are eye level, if you step back and look at the higher or lower shelves you’ll see lower priced items.
Use your phone. I am a recent convert to money-saving apps on my smart phone. Ibotta* offers money back on things we are going to buy anyway, like milk, bread and eggs, so why not get the money back? You can get $10 when you redeem your first rebate by using my referral code jvukltt when you sign up. I also use the Wal-Mart savings catcher app that matches advertised prices of local competitors and refunds me the difference of any lower prices found. Last week alone I saved $15 using these apps.
I know that coupons are a popular way to save big, and I really want to be start using coupons. My problem right now is I am having a difficult time finding coupons to use. It’s like there is a magic garden somewhere and I just can’t find the secret entrance.
I have worked very hard to cut our spending on groceries without my family feeling like there is nothing to eat. I know that while I have saved money, there is still more ways to save even more.
How do you save money at the grocery store?
I’d love to hear how you save money. Also, if you know a great place to get printable coupons I’d love the password or secret handshake to your clubhouse.