When planning monthly expenses, groceries take up a large chunk of the budget. And there’s no way to get around it! Groceries are simply an essential that you need to carve room for in the budget. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can shop smart while grocery shopping. Here are some simple tips on how to save on groceries every month.
20 Ways to Save on Groceries Every Month
1. Use Coupons
Coupons are still one of the best ways to save on groceries. You can do it the old-fashioned way by clipping coupons from flyers and packaging. But now, you can also load coupons onto apps. And if you’re shopping online, like on Amazon, for certain items, make sure to use a browser extension like Honey or Rakuten to automatically apply coupons and discounts at checkout.
2. Price Match
Many grocery stores will price match. If you find an item available at one store for a lower price, show the grocery store, and they might match the lower price. You can do this by producing a flyer or using an app like Flipp that helps you find these price comparisons when shopping. When done effectively, this can save you up to 10% and time spent going between grocery stores!
3. Buy Generic Brands
When shopping for packaged materials, always see if there is a generic or store-brand option instead of name-brand items. In most cases, the product is exactly the same but has a different label printed on it. While it may only seem like a few cents saved, it adds up when you’re buying multiple products over time.
4. Shop at Different Grocery Stores
Carefully planning where to buy groceries can make all the difference. For instance, Walmart may have a great selection of pre-packaged goods for a great price, but you may prefer to buy local produce from the farmer’s market or local grocery stores. Get to know your grocery stores and where it’s a good idea to get certain groceries. While you don’t have to make multiple stops in one week, going to a different grocery store once a month can help your source better deals.
5. Make a Grocery List
Know exactly what you need before you step foot in a grocery store. This will prevent you from overshopping and making impulse purchases. You may not know what to grab for meals and snacks and end up with more than you need. And the last thing you want is for your groceries to go to waste! Make a meal plan and stick to it.
6. Meal Prep
Meal prepping can help you make your grocery shopping quick and easy. Meal prepping typically involves making a large batch of food to eat throughout the week. This not only enables you to save on groceries by limiting what you need to buy but also saves you plenty of time during the week.
7. Buy in Bulk
While more expensive up front, buying food in bulk can save you tons in the long run. If you know you’ll need it, you might as well get a bunch now!
The best places to save money while loading up on essentials for the month are Costco or Sam’s Club. The annual fee is usually well worth the savings.
Buying in bulk only works if you know you will use it. For instance, if you’re using a recipe that calls for black beans and they are 3 for the price of 2, will you actually use that many black beans beyond your recipe?
8. Buy in Season
Try to buy produce when it’s in season. Whenever fruit or veggies are at their peak harvest, you can get lots of the produce for extra cheap. If you don’t think you’ll eat that much, consider freezing, drying, or canning the extras. If you love making morning smoothies, for instance, you’ll be happy to have a huge stock of frozen fruit to last you past the growing season.
9. Buy Frozen or Canned Food
One common myth surrounding frozen and canned food is that they are not as nutritious as fresh produce. This is entirely wrong! You’ll get the same value out of frozen strawberries versus fresh ones. And in most cases, canned or frozen food is exponentially cheaper than the fresh stuff. Just be sure to give canned items a good rinse before eating to help rinse away extra sodium.
10. Use a Cashback Credit Card
Cashback credit cards are one of the best money hacks. Use cashback credit cards for expenses you know you have covered and are necessary. Like groceries! You can typically earn back 1.5% to 2% on your spending. So while you may not see that cash immediately, you can make some of your grocery money back to feed into a future grocery trip.
11. Join Loyalty Programs
Most grocery stores offer loyalty or reward programs, and most are free. Join them as much as possible! Some of the best ones include bonus savings for members only or a points system. You can earn points on items you’re already buying that you can later redeem for rewards like free groceries.
12. Stock Up on Sales
When you see a good sale, take note! This is an excellent time to stock up on items you use frequently. Or if there’s an item you might not need right away, wait and see if a sale will pop up. This is a great method for non-perishables since you don’t have to worry about using the items immediately. You can also place items in the freezer, like bulk chicken breasts and vegetables, for later use if you have the room.
13. Compare Unit Prices
What might seem like a better deal on the surface may not be after all. For example, it can be tough to know which box of pasta is a better deal when they are different sizes. To help you determine the best value, look at the unit price. And no, you don’t need a calculator!
Look at the price tag and for smaller print. The unit price is typically located under the main price. It will describe the price per unit, such as the price per ounce. Looking for the unit price is also especially helpful at places like Wholesale Club because you can see exactly how much you’re saving on each bulk item.
14. Avoid Shopping When Hungry
Your stomach can speak much louder than your eyes or your brain. When you’re hungry, you’ll want to stock up on everything that looks good to you at the moment, even if you don’t need it. Plan to grocery shop after you’ve eaten and when you’re not so focused on food at the exact minute.
15. Use What You Already Have
Food waste is a huge problem for many households. It’s tough to toss out food and, therefore, your hard-earned money! While making your weekly shopping list and meal plans, take stock of what you currently have and how you can include it in the next week. If you have half of an onion and some leftover potatoes from last week, maybe you can include shepherd’s pie on the menu this week! This prevents food waste and needing to buy more than what you already have.
16. Shop With a Calculator
There’s nothing worse than seeing that huge total when you’re at the cashier and being surprised by the number. Try to keep a running tally of your total while shopping to stay within your grocery budget. One of the best ways to do this is to use a calculator while you shop. If you’re shopping with a partner or kids, ask them to help you keep track of the total while you push the cart.
17. Leave Kids at Home
I know I just said they could help you keep track of your spending, but if you can, leave the kiddos at home! They will encourage you to get more than you need, whether that’s a sugary cereal or a candy bar at checkout. Leave the kids at home, so you don’t have to test your limits and patience while staying on track when grocery shopping.
18. Check Expiration Dates
When shopping, always look at when something expires. You don’t want to buy food and have it go bad before you can eat it, even if it’s considered non-perishable! If you’re buying in bulk, you want to make sure there’s a long-time frame on the items you’re purchasing so you have time to eat them and don’t have to rush to consume a large quantity of food.
19. Use Ibotta
Ibotta is a handy rebate app that you can use in a few ways to save on groceries in-store or online. You can submit your grocery bill for in-store purchases and get cashback on all qualifying purchases. You can also link your loyalty cards and accounts to make it even easier to collect points and cashback. With this cashback, you can earn gift cards that you can then spend on your groceries.
20. Order Groceries Ahead of Time
Looking to reduce impulse buys? You can order your groceries ahead of time and only get exactly what you came for. Then, you can choose curbside pickup, so you won’t even have to step out of your car. This is also a huge timesaver, especially when you have kids in tow.
Every Penny Counts
We hope these money-saving tips will help you save on at least one of the expenses you can count on every month. While they may seem small on the surface, a few cents here and dollars there can add up to significant savings over time, and that’s money you can tuck away for a rainy day or put towards debt or a large purchase.
For even more savings, use multiple (or all) of the hacks on this list and combine them with our best frugal living tips.