When you are looking to lower your grocery bill, you have to have a strategy. Let these money saving tips help you get a better deal at the grocery store.
How To Lower Your Grocery Bill
Just like so many of us, I know you’re asking, “How do I lower my bills?” Saving money at the grocery store checkout is important to all of us, but knowing how to shop smart will help you to save even more.
There are some very easy ways to cut the cost of your weekly shopping list, you just need to know where to start. With minimal effort, here are several different ways to cut your costs.
Buy In Season
1. One way to save money on groceries is to buy in season. When fresh produce is available because it is being grown right now, your local grocery store and local farmers market can sell it at lower prices.
Buying in season also provides you the added benefit of encouraging new things. If you can get a good deal on bell peppers this week, let them guide your meal planning for the week. If there are fresh herbs that you are unfamiliar with at the farmer’s market, buy a small amount and get creative by Googling new recipes.
If you want to buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are not in season, see what you can find in the frozen foods section instead. You may be able to substitute frozen for fresh at additional savings.
Shop The Sales
2. Make the grocery store circular your friend. Every single week, check what is for sale on the front page. These are the loss leaders (the heavily reduced items that are meant to get you into the store) and these are what you want to stock up on.
If granola bars are on sale for $.99 per box this week and you use them regularly, buy four. If cereal or macaroni and cheese are on a deep discount ($1.49 and $.69 respectively, for example), buy six. These shelf-stable items last for quite a while and if you can get them for deep discounts, it’s way better than having to shell out a full price of $3.69 for one box when you realize you need them.
This is one of the best ways to make the most of your grocery budget over time. If you constantly shop for the best deals, you will begin to learn the best price you can find for individual items. If you begin stocking up on the sale items, you will find your food bill slowly decreasing because you will already have some of what you need.
3. Another way to save some money at the grocery store checkout is to use coupons. Every little bit helps and the savings really do add up. You can find them in the newspaper, online, or through various apps (such as Ibotta and Checkout 51).
Be sure to take a quick scan through your grocery list and match what savings are available before heading to the store, as new coupons are added daily. Most grocery stores also offer their own digital coupons, so you can easily take advantage of that savings as well.
Most coupons that you will see will correlate with name brands instead of the store brand. At the end of the day, you are looking for the lowest price, so you may still get the best value with the generic brands over the manufacturer’s coupon and the name brand on sale. Do a little math to determine the lowest price before buying.
Note – do not purchase items just because you have a coupon for them. $.40 off of a $3 box of something you may never use is a lot more expensive than not buying it at all.
Shop Buy One, Get One Free Sales
4. Take advantage of Buy One, Get One sales on items that you need to buy regularly. Make sure that you have an idea of what the average unit price is for the product as well as the regularly offered sale prices (so that you can be sure you’re getting a better deal).
This type of savings is most often seen on toiletry items such as shampoo, shaving needs, soaps, toothpaste, etc. as well as vitamins, so be on the lookout for this kind of sale when you realize that you’re running low on these more expensive items.
Buy One, Get One Free deals are a great way to create or replenish your stockpile and save extra money well ahead of when you might need something. Be sure to also use coupons on these groceries as often as you can.
Buy Canned Goods
5. Buying canned goods can save you a good deal of money. Canned vegetables, fruits, legumes, and soups are great budget stretchers – particularly if you stock up when they’re on a major sale (think $.60 or less).
Canned goods last for a long time, so they are one of the easiest ways to cut down on food waste and supplement your fresh food purchases. Your local stores will have deep discounts on canned foods a few times per year, so don’t be afraid to buy twenty cans if you see them on sale for $.25 each.
Allow the price of groceries to speak for the amount of food you plan to buy and then spend a little time to meal prep how to use them over the next year.
Stock Up On Dry Pasta, Beans, And Lentils
6. Make sure that you purchase some dry pasta (on sale!) since it’s one of the most common (and thriftiest) meals. Dry pasta can be made into quick spaghetti dinners (with jarred pasta sauces) or even added to homemade soups. Plus, it is a product that stretches. For $1 or less per box, you can make half a box of pasta as a side for the family and save the other half for another meal.
Dry beans and lentils are other staples that come in many different varieties, colors, and flavors, and can be much cheaper when you buy in bulk. They can be added to rice for a thrifty meal or side dish, and are also rich in protein and fiber. This is an easy dinner option when you’re on a strict monthly food budget.
Avoid Snack Foods
7. If you are watching your credit card purchases closely, avoid buying treats at the grocery store. Cookies, cakes, pastries, chips, and other snacks aren’t usually a necessity – or even on a decent sale – so it can be tough to get a great deal. Buy them only if your budget permits or for a special occasion and avoid impulse buys.
Remember, just because the ad circular says that chips are on sale for $1.99 this week, that may actually be the regular price (or the sale price for 8 weeks in a row, virtually making it the regular price). Make sure that you know your food costs to get the best savings.
Use Cheaper Cuts Of Meat
8. Meat purchases are usually the most expensive grocery store purchase next to things like toilet paper and paper towels. Save money on your monthly grocery bill by choosing cheaper cuts. A 5 lb roast for two people may cost you 15 dollars or more. That said, it can be used to make a meal AND you’ll have leftovers for sandwiches or stir fry for the next day’s meal.
When you compare this to purchasing two steaks for the same $15, you can see that the roast is the thriftier option because you can stretch it further. Ground turkey and chicken breasts are often priced lower than ground beef, so consider those as alternatives.
You can also think about eating less meat by installing Meatless Monday in your house. There are lots of delicious vegetarian meals that you can make for dinner (such as this Sheet Pan Gnocchi with Roasted Vegetables) and you will save quite a bit more.
Buy Pre-Made Dinners (Here And There)
9. I know that this is counter-intuitive, but buying some pre-made foods can save time and money.
Lasagna can be a very expensive dinner to make from scratch (particularly with meat and several cheeses). Pre-made family-sized lasagnas usually run anywhere from $7-$10. Make it for dinner, use it for lunch, and freeze the rest to use at another time.
Shepherd’s pie, pizza, and egg rolls are other pre-made meal choices that are usually cheaper to buy pre-made than to make yourself. Make sure that you know your price points for each ingredient and go for the cheapest option. You may also want to look at shopping at a discount grocery store like Aldi rather than Whole Foods so that you’re not spending as much money on these quick meals.
There are lots of little ways to cut your grocery bill, but the key is doing one thing at a time and building each step in as you go. Every tiny bit helps, so start stocking up on the loss leaders on the front page of your grocery circular each week, follow the tips here, read additional cost cutting ideas, and you’ll see your budget stretch even further.