How We Are Saving Hundreds On Our Groceries
Groceries are a necessary cost, but with a few tricks you can lower your monthly cost significantly. I have always been pretty frugal at the grocery store. In college, I averaged about $70 per month when I lived with a roommate that loved to eat my food when she ran out. Luckily, after college my roommates would either replace my food if they ate it or share something of theirs. The tricks I have picked up along the way can help anyone on any budget make their money go further. I spend up to $200 (a total of $400 for a two person household) per month now, but I eat ten million times healthier than I ever did in college. Also, I am not eating ramen multiple times per week anymore. I do end up eating almost the same things every week because I am very picky. This is just another challenge for us to keep our grocery bill low, we are trying to eat healthy on a budget with one picky eater.
1. Plan your meals
Before you leave your house, decide what you want to eat that week. Think in terms of specific meals, not just in general. For example, I want spaghetti for dinner tomorrow and barbecue chicken later this week. We usually plan two or three dinners for the week so we don’t have to cook every day and then we have leftovers for the other days. We plan our side dishes with our meals as well. By incorporating more side dishes, our main dish can be stretched longer. Use the weekly ad or website to see what is on sale and plan your meals around the sale items.
2. Take note of what you already have
After you have decided what you want for the week, write out all of the ingredients you will need for each meal. Now cross off anything you already have. We are so bad at this step and we have tried really hard to get better, but even last week we bought milk when we already had almost a full gallon in the fridge.
3. Find coupons
Be careful of this step, I am not suggesting adding anything to your list in this step. Unless it is a completely free item. Only cut or download coupons for items on your list. I skip this step a lot because it usually doesn’t help us save very much.
4. Eat before you go
Pretty self-explanatory on this one. I’m going to lump in leaving kids at home if you have them. Basically do whatever you need to do to avoid any impulse purchases.
5. Compare prices in the store
Compare between name and store brand. Compare each brand to itself by the different sizes available. If you have any coupons, be sure to apply the discount to the compared price. Do not make any assumptions. I thought you always got a better deal buying a larger quantity. after checking the price per unit, I have been corrected many times.
6. Use the store’s loyalty card
Make sure to use your loyalty card when you check out to get all discounts and any digital coupons that were loaded to your card. We always get 1% in gas rewards and for the summer they are offering 2% when purchases are made on weekends. Sometimes, we have the chance to get 4% when purchasing gift cards. We use this to our advantage by stocking up on gift cards to our favorite places and any that we plan to give as gifts.
7. Pay with a rewards credit card
We recently opened a credit card purely for groceries and random other shared expenses. I am not a fan of the rotating categories that are chosen by the credit card company. When you are spending as little as possible in general, it is fairly unlikely that you will be spending money in most of these categories every quarter. Our card lets us pick the category, but we only get 3% instead of the typical 5%. We get this rate 365 days a year instead of for only one quarter, so since this is a “grocery” credit card it does us absolutely zero good to have 5% rewards on gas or travel and only get the 5% on groceries for three months per year.
8. Rebate apps
After you get home, check out some apps that offer rebates for purchasing groceries. My favorite is Ibotta (Psst, this link will earn a bonus for both of us when you redeem your first rebate). A few others I use are Checkout 51 and Receipt Hog.
Which of these do you use to save money at the grocery store? Which do you plan to try? Are there any other ways to save that we missed?