Last updated on July 22nd, 2022 at 04:21 pm
Grocery prices are rising faster than wages. If you need help controlling your grocery budget, here are 27 ways to save money on groceries. These tips are easy to implement, requiring forming habits more than skills.
27 Ways To Lower Your Grocery Budget
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1. Plan A Simple Menu
How does a meal plan save you money?
- It makes you aware of what you already have on hand so that you don’t go out and buy more than you need.
- It helps you eat out less since you have a week’s worth of dinner ideas and all the ingredients to make them at your fingertips.
- You can base your menu choices on what is on sale that week, helping you avoid high-cost ingredients.
- You can plan meals based on what you have going on that night. Quick and simple for busy nights and more complicated meals for nights you are home all evening.
Personally, I think a meal plan filled with economic meal choices is one of the most effective ways to save money on groceries. This is why I created a downloadable menu template to make it easier for you to complete this step week after week.
2. Always Shop With A Grocery List
Shopping with a list in hand helps you avoid multiple trips to the store for forgotten items and reduces the temptation to buy things that are not on your list. If it isn’t on your list, don’t buy it. The only exception should be deep markdowns for food your family eats frequently.
Use your meal plan to write your grocery list. Once you get into the habit of writing a list, you will begin to see that you buy almost all the same things weekly. When you get to this point, it is a time saver to create your own printable grocery list using whatever word processor you prefer. Make sure to leave adequate space at the bottom of the list to add those items you don’t buy regularly.
3. Check Sales Flyers Before Leaving The House
If you shop at chain market stores like Kroger, Meijer, etc., make sure to go online and check to see what they have on sale so that you can stock up on items your family uses weekly.
For instance, if you know your family uses a bottle of ketchup a week and it is on sale this week, Pick up an extra bottle or two even if you are not currently out.
Doing this with your family’s most frequently eaten items will cost you more money upfront, but in a few weeks’ time, you will notice your weekly grocery bill dropping as you have to buy less and less at full price.
Make sure to look at your weekly meal plan while looking at the sales flyer. If chicken is on sale and hamburger isn’t, use it to make enchiladas instead. These ingredient swaps will automatically lower your grocery bill.
4. Use Printable Coupons
Before you head out to the store, check to see if these printable coupon sites have coupons for name-brand items on your list.
Here is a list of all the places I find coupons (and not one of them includes buying a newspaper for the coupon insert).
5. Sign Up For Loyalty Programs
If the grocery chain in your town has a rewards program (also known as a loyalty program), sign up for it and learn how to use it to save money.
6. Use A Rebate App or Two Or Three Or More
Smartphone apps are another great way to save money on groceries; here is a list of ones I use
Ibotta–Go here to sign up for Ibotta.
If you buy store brands, make sure to check Ibotta’s “any brand” area.
Fetch Rewards–use my referral code RE9FU during sign-up for a bonus on the first receipt you upload.
Makeena–Great for saving money on organic produce, non-organic fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole foods: Use my referral code TWNAVD during sign-up for Makeena to earn 1,000 points (equals $1) once you upload your first receipt.
Receipt Hog–Go here to sign up for Receipt Hog (use my referral code YECT1667 at sign-up for free spins).
What I love about coupon apps is that you can use the ones that are not store exclusive to save money at places that don’t take printable coupons like Aldi (here is a list of the apps you can use to save money at ALDI).
7. Look Through That Stack Of Junk Mail
You could be surprised by what you could find in that stack of flyers in your mailbox. I once found a $5 off $25 purchase coupon for Aldi in a stack of what just looked like trash offers. I have also found high-value toothpaste coupons, which, combined with sales, have led to free toothpaste.
8. Shop At The Discount Bread Store
I discovered a discount bread store that stocks the 100% whole grain bread my family eats for significantly less than the stores carry it for and even less than I can bake it for. The store is a bit of a drive for us, but it is in a city that we visit a few times a year for various events, so when we go, we buy a month’s worth and put it in our freezer.
9. Use Foaming Soap Dispensers For These Three Products
We include all our personal products as well as household cleaners in our grocery budget. One way I have found to cut down our soap consumption is foaming soap dispensers for our hand soap, dish soap, and body wash. I estimate this trick saves us hundreds of dollars each year (I don’t recommend it for shampoo, I tried, and it did not clean as well).
After years of doing this, I have found that Method foaming hand soap bottles last the longest. I have been able to refill them for years before they stop working for one reason or another. I refill them with a half soap half water combination, leaving space at the top for the pump and a bit of air. Then I close the lid tight and shake to mix the water with the soap, allowing the mixture to settle before using.
10. Purchase Marked Down Meat
We don’t eat much meat, but when we do, it is normally bought from the markdown section. This saves our family an additional 20% off. Cuts of meat on sale are often marked down if the sale isn’t going as well as the supermarket thought it would, leading to even lower prices.
11. Stretch The Meal With Rice, Pasta, Or Potatoes
Rice, pasta, and potatoes are pantry staples in our home. I routinely use them as a base for stews or top them with sauces as an inexpensive way to stretch more expensive items such as meat.
12. Don’t Fear Generic Brands
I was raised on generics so I never developed a taste for name brands. If you don’t share my ultra thrifty childhood, ease into store brands by trying one new one per grocery shopping trip and always buying the smallest size. Yes, the smaller size is probably more expensive per ounce, but if you don’t like it and you end up throwing over half of it away, it wasn’t cheaper. If you like it, buy the less expensive per ounce size next time.
13. Always Shop With A Calculator
Grocery store math can be hard to do in your head. Not every store clearly states the per ounce cost of an item. Carry a calculator and use it to find out which brand is the cheapest.
14. Follow These Tips For Leftovers
When you have leftovers, store them in a clear container and place them at eye level in the fridge. This will help you remember to eat them.
Another money-saving tip for leftovers is to plan a 7-day meal plan, but go grocery shopping every eight days. This will stretch your creativity in using leftovers.
15. Keep A Price Book
My price book comes out of the woodwork about once a year as I do an annual checkup to see if I can beat my current best price for items. The price book helps me find the best price on items that don’t normally go on sale, what is a good sale, and what items are cheaper at the warehouse store.
I find if I spend about 30 minutes each week for a month updating it, I am good to go for another year. Ideally, for maximum savings, I would carry it and update it all year, but that has yet to happen.
16. Keep Your Pantry Stocked With A Few Simple Meal Ingredients
Here is my list of simple meals that can help you avoid take-out on a busy evening. Use it as a guide to creating your own list of simple meals made from mostly shelf-stable or freezer-friendly ingredients that you can keep continually stocked.
17. Visit All Your Local Grocery Stores At Least Once
We are all creatures of habit; sometimes, those habits can save us money, and sometimes they can cost us money. Trying one grocery store in your area and sticking to it is probably costing you money. Grab your price book and do some comparison shopping.
18. Check Out The Local Farmers Market
My husband and I love to visit local Farmers Markets in different cities that we visit. What we have found is that some are treasure troves of fruits and veggies at low, low prices, and others have prices that sting. You don’t know your local market type until you visit it.
19. Shop At More Than Just Grocery Stores
I always find deals on groceries that can’t be beaten by my grocery store at Big Lots. Their prices can get even cheaper with their Buzz Club Reward special offers, discounts, and coupons.
I have friends in other towns that rave about their local scratch and dent grocery stores or their dollar store food finds. Every town differs as to what deals are available. The key is to get out there and look around.
And if you are a lover of unique grocery items, Trader Joe’s and TJ Maxx are worth checking out. It is where this foodie gets several British goodies for less than anywhere else. Crumpets and Lemon Curd, anyone?
20. Consider Joining Warehouse Clubs
If your city has Costco, Sam’s Club, or another warehouse club, it might be worth paying the annual fee if you use large quantities of items they sell.
It will take a trip with a calculator and your price book to figure out if these clubs are worth it for your family or not. For our family, it was worth it when our kids were in the diapers and wipes stage of life, but not as worth it once everyone was out of diapers.
21. Go Through Your Shopping Cart Before Heading To The Checkout
I learned this tip from the book Slaying The Debt Dragon. It is a simple tip that can reap big savings when used week after week. It is a rare person who doesn’t put at least one unnecessary item in their cart. Make it a rule that no matter what, you will put at least one item from your cart back before heading to the cash register.
22. Shop Online
Since I wrote the first version of this post (I have updated this several times since then), I have started shopping online for groceries more and more–especially for household cleaners, personal products, and dry goods.
Here are two websites I use to purchase grocery items most often:
- Amazon Subscribe and Save—I am constantly adding more and more items to my Amazon Subscribe and Save monthly orders. I, of course, take full advantage of the five items or more 15% discount (some items are less). I get as high as a 20% discount on a few items because I am an Amazon Prime member.
- Boxed.com—I like to describe Boxed.com as a wholesale club store without the pricey membership and the deals come to your doorstep instead of you having to drive and pick them up. They even give you free samples with every order, so you don’t miss out on those either (am I the only person who loves the free samples at wholesale stores?). Shipping is free with an order of $50 or more; since you are buying in bulk, it doesn’t take long to reach that.
23. Make and Use Homemade Cleaners
Vinegar and baking soda make up the bulk of the homemade cleaner recipes you find on Pinterest (follow my Homemade Cleaning Products board if you want some ideas). These cleaners cost just pennies to make. You might have to try a few recipes before you find the one that works and smells great but it will be worth the time investment.
24. Use A Bread Machine For More Than Bread
I use my bread machine to make dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, pretzel bites, pizza dough, breadsticks, and more.
These items are often pricey in grocery stores, but don’t take long to make when you use a bread machine.
If you don’t own a bread machine, try visiting your local thrift stores. I have purchased several like-new bread machines at thrift stores for around ten dollars, which is a lot less than a new one costs.
25. Read This Book
Want more great tips on how to cut the cost of your grocery bill? Check out my favorite book on how to save money on groceries without relying heavily on coupons.
26. Avoid Temptation
If you don’t step into the store it is a lot harder to make impulse purchases. This is when curbside pickup options offered by stores could help you save money.
Use store offered curbside pickup options and not grocery delivery apps. I signed up for a grocery delivery app only to read the fine print and discover that certain grocery stores increase the prices of items for the users of this app to recoup some of the costs of offering the service.
Walmart does not add fees to those who use their curbside grocery pickup–I read all the fine print to ensure. Meijer doesn’t either. Check the grocery stores in your area to see if they offer their own curbside pickup that matches in-store shopping prices.
27. Earn Gift Cards To Your Favorite Grocery Store Doing Things You Already Do Online
Below is a list of my top four favorite point programs and below each of them is the list of gift card options they offer for groceries (all of them offer many more types of gift cards, but for this article I am just mentioning the grocery store gift cards).
If you are under the impression you have to take long, boring surveys to earn gift cards–think again. Depending on the company, you can earn gift cards by shopping online, performing web searches, printing coupons, entering promo codes, and more.
I suggest you sign up for several companies and then spend a bit of time learning all the ways you can earn gift cards with each one. Stick with the short and simple ways to earn at a few programs and watch the points add up. I have had readers report to me that they earn $50 to $100 a month with these programs. Even with current high prices, you can buy some serious groceries each month with that amount.
- Sam’s Club
Here is a post I wrote sharing the ten easiest ways to earn gift cards with Swagbucks.
- Whole Foods
Here is a post I wrote sharing my favorite ways to earn gift cards using InstaGC.
- Sam’s Club
- Whole Foods
Here is a tutorial I wrote about how to use PrizeRebel to earn gift cards.
- Sam’s Club
There are many other programs like these four where you can earn gift cards in small pockets of time throughout your day to help pay for groceries. Here is a list of 15 and you will find a few more listed on my 52 Thrifty Tools page.
Three more articles that will help you lower your grocery bill
- One Way To Save Money At ALDI That You Are Probably Overlooking
- 20 Apps & Websites For Saving Money On Organic Food
- A Step By Step Guide To Grocery Shopping Like A Thrifty Ninja