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If you spend more than you’d like on groceries each month, I want to be the first to tell you that you CAN cut your grocery budget.
Before I started following the tips I list below, I used to spend anywhere between $500-$700 a month in groceries on my family of 5. Now I’m able to keep my grocery budget around $400 a month.
If you are looking for ways to free up some extra cash in your budget, reducing your grocery budget is one sure way to have extra money in your pockets.
Don’t make your next grocery shopping trip until you see how you can save money.
Create a budget
Setting a budget will be beneficial to you any time you want more control over your spending. Creating a budget can be easy, but sticking to your budget is what really makes the difference.
Take a look at the amount you have been spending and determine a reasonable budget going forward that will be pleasing to your pockets, but still allow you the things you like most. Using some of the tips below will help you get the biggest bang for your buck.
Cash is king! Simply put, you cannot spend what you do not have. After you have determined your budget, put that amount in your pocket and head out to the store.
TIP: I like to use cash envelopes. Paying with cash prevents you from purchasing impulse items because you end up putting unnecessary items back when it comes down to choosing what you can afford to pay for.
A helpful hint is to leave your debit/credit cards home or in the locked glove compartment so you won’t be tempted to swipe or insert your card.
You can save money by planning out your meals for a specified period of time. List out the days of the week for the time period you are grocery shopping for. Then write out what you would like your family to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks; also include any beverages that you may want to buy.
Finally, determine what ingredients are needed for only those items you listed on your meal plan. Now go shopping and only shop from your list.
If you want to save time, try the $5 Meal Plan. For just $5 a month, you’ll get a meal plan emailed to you every week. You can either use the drag and drop meal builder or the pre-made meal plan. It also include a shopping list. You can try it free for 2 weeks.
Shop the ad
Shopping store ads is a great way to save money because the items listed in the ads are what is currently on sale. You’ll get the biggest savings by planning your meals around what is on sale at the moment.
Shop multiple stores
Sometimes in order to get the best deals, you may have to shop at different stores. Maybe you’ll luck up and shop at a store that price matches, but Walmart did away with price matching a while back.
Personally, I don’t mind going to different stores if I’m saving money on groceries. Because I live in an urban area, the stores are pretty close to one another. But even when going to multiple stores, I still plan ahead and meal plan from their ad.
Make a shopping list
Knowing what you want to buy when you walk into a store will prevent you from picking up unnecessary items. Abide by this grocery shopping motto: If it’s not on the list, I must resist. But no, seriously, you should make a habit of only shopping what’s on your grocery list.
This will keep you from overspending. If you think you’ve missed something and you absolutely have to have it, evaluate whether it’s something you need in this moment. Think about whether you could instead budget this item for the next grocery shopping trip.
Do an inventory check
Make a note of what you already have in your kitchen – this includes your pantry, refrigerator, freezer and spice cabinet. Doing this will help you to stop buying duplicative items. You’ll also be inclined to develop meal plans around what you already have in your home.
I know there are some items you just can’t buy generic for at certain stores, but a lot of items can be purchased generic. For example, your canned fruits and vegetables – how big of a difference in taste do you really notice with DelMonte versus the Walmart Great Value brand?
Think about the items you eat on a regular basis. Now figure out which items will have minimal taste variations if you were to buy generic. Start there and continue to test different generic brands until you find one that satisfies both your taste buds and your pockets. Continue swapping out brand name items for generic items and before you know it, you’ll have shaved $20 or more off your monthly grocery budget.
Ibotta is my favorite grocery cash back app to use. Their offers seem to be more applicable to my shopping style. How it works is:
- Search for the store(s) you’re going to be shopping at ahead of time
- Browse the cash back offers
- Press the plus sign to add the desired offers
- Make your usual purchase at the grocery store
- Press ‘Redeem’ and upload your receipt. This step is skipped at some stores such as Kroger because it allows you to link your Kroger card within the app. When this happens, the app automatically redeems all the cash back offers.
- Within the next 24-48 hours, you will get a notification that you earned cash back. Once you have earned $20, you can cash out your
Ibotta gives you a $10 welcome bonus to sign up as a new saver so you can technically earn your first $20 rather quickly.
Fetch Rewards isn’t like any of the other apps mentioned here. This app is so simple to use. It allows you to scan your receipt after you do your grocery shopping and it will automatically “fetch” any brands that match their current offers. They give you a certain amount of points for each item.
Even if you go to a store that sells off-brand and foreign brand items, you’ll still get points for the receipt. So scan EVERY grocery receipt. The points build up fast.
You can then redeem your points for different gift cards, including Amazon gift cards. EVERYBODY shops at Amazon right?
Use my code C9QVF on Fetch Rewards to get a bonus 2,000 points after you scan your first receipt. The lowest tier redemption starts at 3,000 points, so definitely take advantage and get a head start on your earnings.
Saving Star is another grocery cash back app that comes in handy for saving money. It works similar to Ibotta, but Saving Star’s offers are generally on items that require you to buy multiples or spend a certain amount of money on a particular item.
For instance, it may say $3 cash back when you spend $15, or buy 2 and save $1. The savings is your cash back and like Ibotta, once you hit $20, you can cash out.
Checkout 51 works similar to the other two apps. When you go to the screen, you’ll see offers for cash back on certain items. A lot of the items on Checkout 51 allow you to claim the offer multiple times.
Each offer has its own limit, but I’ve seen plenty that allow you to claim the offer 5 times. Just think, if you claim an offer that gives you $2 cash back and you can claim it 5 times, that’s $10 doing something you were going to do any way and stocking up at low prices.
Shop the perimeter of the store
The perimeter of the grocery store is usually filled with all of our food essentials. Typically you’ll find the meats and fish, dairy, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. The interior aisles are usually filled with all the processed foods which tend to add unnecessary expenses to our grocery budget.
The Sunday paper continues to offer your printed coupons. There’s typically 3 different type of coupon inserts you’ll get – SmartSource, RetailMeNot and P&G. You can either choose to sign up for a newspaper delivery service or head to Dollar Tree and grab the Sunday paper there.
Many stores also have digital coupons available that make it easier for you to “clip” coupons. Usually, you have to download that stores mobile app and create an account. Then you would find their coupon section and add the digital coupons to your digital wallet. Once you get to the checkout line, you’ll either input your phone number or have the cashier scan a barcode from the app.
Couponing is getting easier to learn with the many websites that break down the sales – krazycouponlady.com is a good one to start with.
Ask for rain checks
Did you know that some stores offer rain checks on items that are on sale if they have run out of stock? I often overlook this too. Usually, you’ll just have to go to the customer service counter and let them know which sale item you would like a rain check for.
Pay attention to quantity limits and expiration dates.
Cook smaller quantities
I know my family cannot be the only family that would cook way too much food and end up wasting a lot of it. Think about it like this, any food that gets thrown out is essentially the same thing as throwing money in the trash.
Example: If you know that one can of vegetables is enough to feed your family, don’t cook two. Chances are, if you cook the two cans, you’ll put the left overs in the fridge and not touch it again until you’re cleaning your fridge out.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry
You ever notice that when you go grocery shopping while your stomach is growling, your checkout total tends to be much higher than usual? That’s because when you’re hungry, your mind subconsciously tells you to pick up anything that looks satisfying and pleasing.
Don’t shop eye level items
It’s no secret that stores will put their highest priced items at eye level, so prepare to go high or go low to find the lowest cost items.
I was just at Walmart recently looking for the generic brand of barbecue sauce and could not find it. I didn’t want to spend more than $1 on barbecue. Low and behold, there it was on the bottom shelf almost hiding.
I’m curious to know, do you implement any of these strategies in your routine grocery shopping? What other tips do you have to save money while grocery shopping?
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