A significant chunk of our income every month goes towards groceries and dining out. These are two areas that I’m trying my best to cut back on. On average, our family of four has been spending about $300-400 in groceries each month. Its a little steep and unlike fixed expenses like our mortgage, food expenses is an area that we have more flexibility with.
This year, my goal is to reduce our grocery spending down to $270 a month and continue reducing from there. Baby steps.
These are some strategies I already use to save money on groceries each week:
Cook according to what is on sale that week.
By meal planning based on what is on sale that week, I find I’m able to save quite a bit of money. If you need some inspiration or ideas on what to cook based on an ingredient, I’ve found that sites like Allrecipes.com or Tastespotting to be very helpful in meal planning.
Buy seasonal produce
When a certain fruit or vegetable is in season, it will be sold at lower prices than at other times during the year. This is the time to buy a lot of it and incorporate it into meals. Some fruits and veggies, such as strawberries and grapes, are freezer friendly. By buying these items while they are in season and freezing or canning them for later, you can save some money in the long run.
Buy in bulk and stock up when you can
Sometimes a store will have rock-bottom prices on something like chicken, beef, box pasta or canned food. If you have the pantry and freezer space to do it, take this opportunity to stock up. By taking advantage of these sales, you can create a well-stocked pantry and on weeks when grocery store sales aren’t so great, you can “shop” from your own pantry.
Don’t forget to read my next post – Whistling Tea Kettle – Tooting to Stay in the Kitchen
Invest in a second freezer
This is not for everyone, but for those who can afford buying a second freezer and have the space, this can really enable you to stock up and take advantage of low-price sales on meat, frozen vegetables and fruit. For example, if boneless skinless chicken breasts are on sale for $1.99 a pound, I’ll buy at least 6 pounds worth and separate the chicken breasts into plastic bags before freezing. That way I’m able to defrost just what I need at a time and avoid having to buy chicken when it’s not on sale at double the price.
You can also use this second freezer to prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them for later, thus saving you from spending money on dining out and groceries (no need to buy frozen meals or ready-made breakfast sandwiches when you can make your own for less). We bought this chest freezer on sale from Home Depot last year and I absolutely love it. I make a lot of freezer meals, breakfast and chicken burritos, copycat egg mcmuffins, and an assortment of breads and muffins that I store in here. It has definitely saved us money in the long run.
Oftentimes, the generic option is just as good as the name brand option, but for less. If your Target has a grocery section, you can buy the up&up Target brand of groceries and household items for less. On top of that, if you use your Target Redcard, you can score an additional 5% off everything.
You can get many great coupons from the Sunday newspaper, but if you don’t subscribe to the paper, you can also find many coupons online. Websites like coupons.com offer printable coupons that can help you save on groceries each week. If you can, use coupons on items that are already on sale to reduce your grocery costs even more.
Make things from scratch
If you can make some things from scratch instead of buying them at the grocery store, you can save quite a bit of money. For example, buying pre-made chicken stock is costly and often high in sodium. Yet, making your own chicken stock and freezing it for later costs almost nothing. All you need is a large pot of water, chicken bones and vegetable trimmings to make some delicious broth that beats out the store-bought stuff any day. Making your own breakfast sandwiches is another way to save some cash, and chances are, what you make will be tastier (and less salty) than the store-bought frozen version.
Make a list and stick to it
If you can, plan out your menu for the week and make a list of the ingredients that you need. By making a list and only buying what you need, you can avoid impulse buys and purchasing items that you didn’t really need in the first place. As a bonus, by shopping from a list, you would save yourself from making multiple trips to the grocery store to pick up things you forgot on the first (or second) trip.
Don’t go shopping when you are hungry
Go buy groceries after you’ve had a full meal. This way, you would be less likely to succumb to impulse purchases and buying more groceries than you actually needed (because when you’re hungry, everything looks good!).
Check the unit prices
Most stores will provide the price per unit breakdown for you, right on the price tag. Use this to your advantage to make sure you are getting the best price on what you are buying. For example, a 16 ounce container of Noosa yogurt may be on sale for $4.49 next to the smaller 6 ounce container priced at $1.79. You might initially want to grab the larger container thinking it is a better deal, but the price per unit cost will show you that actually, the smaller container is cheaper at $0.22/ounce.
These money-saving strategies have helped us cut down on our grocery bill. Hopefully these money-saving tips help you save on your grocery bill this month!