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We all have to buy groceries. And while some of us rush in, get what we came for, and head to the cashier, we often tend to leave money on the table.
A lot of money.
You see? Groceries are the second largest expense after housing. Surprisingly, it’s also one of the easiest areas to reduce your expenses.
When I was working on paying off my debt, the first place I started making changes was my grocery budget.
I researched and tried so many strategies to reduce my grocery cost.
Some things worked really well, while others, even though they worked, were more time consuming.
Being a busy wife and mom of two, I needed to find ways to save money on groceries without having to sacrifice additional time each week.
These 10 strategies helped me cut my grocery budget by half!
And the best part is, these are strategies I use today.
Here are 10 easy ways to save hundreds of dollars on your grocery bill:
1- Organize Your Fridge
Have you ever went to the store, purchased an item you thought you needed, only to go home and find that you have that item in your fridge already?
I’ve been there. I bought a pound of limes only to go home and find that I still had a half-pound bag of limes in my fridge.
Spending just a few minutes re-organizing your fridge before your shopping trip will eliminate duplicate purchases.
You can see exactly what you have one hand, and you can make room for the groceries you’re going to buy.
Takes a few minutes but can save you a lot of money and minimize your food waste.
2- Check out your local ads
I am a huge advocate for checking out your ads before you decide which store you’ll visit.
At one point, I stuck to the same store week in and week out. But, I found that by checking the ads, I had a better chance at saving more money if I shopped at the store that had more deals that week on things I needed.
Being loyal to one store doesn’t help you find the best deals on your groceries.
Instead, be savvy, check out your local ads, see what’s on sale this week and shop at the store that will save you the most money on your groceries.
3- Stock up on staple items
In conjunction with browsing your local ads, look for the lowest prices on the items you use the most.
Items like bread, butter, flour, rice, pasta can be purchased in multiples, especially when they’re on sale.
Have a stockpile of your staple items so that you only have to shop for fresh veggies and dairy.
This not only reduces your shopping time, it also eliminates the need to buy your staple items at higher prices.
I usually buy my rice from Costco. That 25-pound bag lasts me about 6 months and I always have rice on hand to add as a side to any meal.
4- Limit your shopping trips to once a week
The less you shop, the more you save.
Shopping for groceries just once per week does several things.
It keeps you mindful of what you really need. It also forces you to use what you have on hand until your next shopping day. And lastly, it saves you from impulse purchases.
If you’re shopping for tonight’s dinner, you’re standing in a long line full of people doing the same. You waste more time and energy than if you planned a little ahead and shopped for everything you needed at once.
5- Meal plan AFTER you shop
Many people create their menu, then go shopping for their ingredients. I do the exact opposite and I think you should as well.
Remember, you have a lot of staple items on hand (if you followed tip 3) so you should easily be able to look in your pantry and fridge and create great meals.
Have main ingredients on hand like rice, pasta, lettuce, chicken and steak can make numerous meals.
Keeping your meals simple will help you come up with several meal options based on what you have in your pantry and fridge.
And it saves you from scrambling from store to store looking for special ingredients you’ll probably only use once.
6- Use what you have first
This has the same idea as tip 5. Using what you currently have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry will not only save you money on having to buy new ingredients, but it also effectively rotates your good stock.
7- Have a leftover day
How often does your fridge get cluttered with leftovers that eventually go bad? In my house, if I’m not careful, I’d be throwing away leftovers every single week.
That’s my hard earned money right in the trash.
Not to mention my energy cooking the food and cleaning up afterward.
All for it to be tossed in the trash later?
I designate a day to eating our leftovers. That dinner tends to be a hodgepodge of food, but each person chooses their faves to eat and before you know it, my leftovers are gone.
In our tummies and nowhere near the trash.
What’s even better is that it saves me time and energy because I don’t have to cook a meal that day.
If you’re not currently eating up your leftovers, try taking them as lunch the next day. You’ll save on your work lunch too.
Another double win!
I’m just full of ‘em today, aren’t I?
8- Shop when you’re full
Shopping when you’re hungry just ends badly…for your wallet and most of the time your health.
When we’re hungry, we’re prone to impulse buys like the bag of chips at the end cap of the aisle. We’re susceptible to the chocolate bar at the payout counter. And we’re more likely to buy some items that weren’t on our list at all.
Shopping when you’re full keeps you in control and better able to stick to your list that you prepared for this week.
9- Shop during the week and after the dinner rush
Designating a day during the week to do your shopping is a great way to save time. But, more than that, you’ll save money as well. It’s been said that the longer you stay in a store, the more items you’ll buy and the more money you’ll spend.
If you shop on the weekend when there are bigger crowds, chances are you’ll spend much more time in the store than if you shopped during the week when the store is not quite as full.
More savings in time and money.
Even better is if you shop after the dinner rush.
Most people who shop during the week are often walking in to the store to pick up that night’s dinner ingredients. As a result, there tends to be longer lines between 5-7pm.
If you set your shopping time after 7 pm, you’ll have a shorter wait time in line to check out.
10- Learn your price points
Keeping a mental price list can assure that you’re always buying that item at it’s lower price. When I first started grocery shopping on my own as a newlywed, I would call my mom to tell her all the prices I paid for my groceries.
With her experience, she’d let me know whether I got a good price or not. More often, it was the latter.
It took time for me to learn my price points, but each time I went to the store, I made a mental note of the sale prices, and kept a tally of the lowest price for an item.
Now, it’s become second nature.
I know that the lowest price for a gallon of milk in my area is $2.49 and a dozen of eggs is $1.49.
If you’re not familiar with your prices yet, that’s okay.
Just start paying attention to the sale prices in your area and either jot those prices down in a notebook or make a mental note of the prices.
11- Have a list
This is a crucial component to saving money on your groceries. If you have a list, it’s easier to stay focused and get only the items you actually need.
It also helps you remember all the items you need despite the distractions you find at the store.
Making a list is a great way to stay organized and sticking to your list means you’re not buying items you don’t need.
12- Shop for ingredients that can be used more than once
Remember how I mentioned meal planning after I shop? This is a helper in that area. Shopping for general ingredients that you can use several times throughout the week help you make easier and faster meals.
It also helps you with meal prep, when you’re chopping the same veggies for you stir fry and for your casserole.
13- Use coupons
I added coupons as the list item on my easy ways to save because not all of you will have the time to clip coupons. But, I still think it’s worth noting, especially now that there are so many digital coupons available to you.
Ibotta is a great cash back app that you can use to get cash back on groceries you were going to buy anyway. It’s easy to use and easy to collect your savings.