My wife and I are pretty frugal when it comes to groceries and others area of our budget. We never thought twice about spending less than $250 each month on groceries until a few of our friends asked in amazement “how can you do that?” Apparently, $350 – $400+ is normal for two people, but we’re here to say that it’s possible to eat well and spend $250 or less on groceries each month.
While these tips seem simple, they’re ALL essential for us to follow in order to maintain our well-kept food budget. If you are trying to cut back with your groceries, I strongly encourage you to review these steps and honestly ask yourself which area might need improvement. If you’re already living on a trim grocery budget, these tips might save you extra money without feeling like you’re tightening your belt.
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1. Plan your meals ahead of time – Before we shop for the week, we plan our meals and look for ways to maximize items – i.e. if we’re buying ground beef because of a sale, we’ll plan for tacos, sloppy joes, or hamburgers to make sure we use up all the food.
2. Make a list and stick to it! – If you plan your meals ahead of time you’ll know what you need. Don’t deviate, and you’ll learn to buy the essentials required to make the meals you planned for.
3. Don’t shop hungry – Sounds like it’s too simple to work, but if you’ve ever shopped hungry, you know what I’m talking about. Drink some water, eat a granola bar, or chew gum to stave off your hunger until you’re out of that grocery store!
4. Use a cash only budget for groceries – When you set out cash for each week, you’re forced to cut back and think twice before you throw something in your cart!
5. Price match when possible – I know that WalMart offers this, so we take advantage of other store sales while getting the best price at one location – saving time and money…gotta love that!
6. Watch store circulars for sales – Walgreens and CVS will highlight their store savings in a store circular, so be on the lookout for this small paper when you walk in. Sometimes these deals will combine with a coupon and make the item nearly free!
7. Clip coupons from the Sunday paper and match with store sales - Nearly 75% of grocery coupons come from the Sunday paper. That’s why we will buy 2-3 copies and maximize our savings.
8. Know your store’s coupon policy – If you plan on using coupons, it’s good to know how your store handles them. I’ve known some people who have even brought a copy to the store if they thought a cashier would make an error.
9. Print coupons – We print coupons from coupons.com, redplum.com, and couponmom.com for even more great savings on our groceries.
10. Use rain checks if products are sold out – If you missed a sale, ask a floor manager if they will provide a rain check on the sale item. The next time you’re in, you can redeem the rain check even if the product isn’t on sale anymore.
11. Build a small stockpile – Our stockpile isn’t huge or anything, but we do have a few items like deodorant, soap and other toiletries that will last us 6 months or so. By the time another great sale comes around, we’ll be able to replenish our supply at a great price (oftentimes for 25% of the regular cost!).
12. Freeze your fruits – Don’t throw away those over-ripe bananas – freeze them! The same can be done with blueberries, strawberries, and other fruits. We like to use them for smoothies or for baking.
13. Pick your own produce – You can save a lot of money if you pick your own produce. Visit a local blueberry farm and pick a pound for $1.75 instead of paying $2.00 for a fraction of the berries. Freeze them and you can have them through winter too!
14. Try the store brand – We will often get name brands because coupons make them cheaper than the store brand, but some things don’t make a difference to us. The pennies can add up, but if you can tell a difference with the products, you might be willing to pay a little more.
15. Stay organized – Nothing’s worse than having a disorganized pantry when you’re trying to save money on groceries. Keep items well organized and in sight so that you don’t buy something by accident or forget you have an item that will soon spoil.
How do you save money on groceries? Will you try any of these tips?