Grocery Shopping On a Tight Budget: Save More Of Your Cash Now
Everyone eats, and everyone has to shop for groceries. That doesn’t mean that you can’t trim your grocery budget. It is the easiest place to save money! Here are 15 tips to get you started.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Menu planning saves a lot of money and it’s not hard to do! Even 15 minutes a week could save you $50 or more every month. I’ve published a few menu plans here and here if you need inspiration. Just remember that it doesn’t need to be fancy. Do what works best for you.
Make (and use!) A Grocery LIst
After you’ve made a menu plan, you can go through your kitchen to see which ingredients you are missing. Again, don’t over complicate it. Do what works for you, whether it’s a sticky note, a notepad or an app on your phone.
Go To Multiple Grocery Stores
Don’t spend gas money running around town, but plan strategically. When grocery stores are close to one another or on the way to another destination, it may be worth stopping at more than one location. Store A might have excellent pantry prices, but Store B sells the majority of your items for cheaper. You’ll figure this out by knowing the prices of items you purchase regularly and noticing when sales rotate. Consider keeping a price book if you really want to learn pricing patterns.
Many grocery stores will put your items in bags and deliver them to your car for you. You don’t even have to get the kids out of the car. Not only does this free service save you time, but saves you money! It eliminates impulse buys and additions to the cart from your kids (or husband).
Shop Mark Downs
I love going to the grocery store and finding our meat for 20% off. I keep my eye out for the discount sticker! When items are at or close to their sell by date, grocers mark it down! Don’t worry about the food going bad. You can freeze almost anything. The bakery, dairy and meat departments almost always have mark downs. You might have to go on a weekday morning to find them before anyone else does.
Buy in bulk
You don’t need a Costco or Sam’s Club membership to buy in bulk. Make sure you check out the price per unit for fast comparison, and often times the larger container will be cheaper. Pantry and frozen items are especially great to buy in bulk.
Cash Back Apps
This is a new area for me, but very worth it. These are free downloads that you can install on your phone. After you go grocery shopping, just scan your receipt and earn money back. It’s really that simple. Some offer cash back when you buy certain brands, and others are generic. You’re buying the products anyway, so why not earn money back? Remember that although the money you earn back is minimal (around a quarter per receipt), if you use the apps together you can earn around $2.00 every time you shop. Over a short period of time this adds up and can be used for extra Christmas money!
Ibotta: You’ll earn $10 here just for signing up!
Clipping coupons in the paper will still save you money, but you can also find great coupons online. Google search your favorite store to see if they have specials. Use RedPlum and Coupons as well, and keep that money in your pocket.
Eat What’s In Season
Besides saving money on in season fruit and vegetables, they are healthier! In season produce has a higher concentration of nutrients. Eat local and in season!
Don’t Shop Hungry
This one should be common sense, but it’s just not. If you go grocery shopping before you eat a meal, you are going to buy more. Products that normally look unappealing will begin to look like it’s food for royalty, and you’ll even eat in the car. Do yourself a big favor, and eat before you go to the grocery store. If you don’t have time, eat a healthy protein bar, fruit or veggie in the car on the way.
There are a few items that I’ve found are just worth the extra money to buy name brand. For everything else, I use generic products. I’ve found that they really are just as good as the name brands, and sometimes cost 50% less! I always buy generic medications, and compare the active ingredients to save big money at the drug store.
Grocery Pal is another free app to save you money. Instead of giving you cash back after shopping, grocery pal saves you the money up front. Download either the Android or Apple version for your device. You’ll enter your zip code and Grocery Pal will show you where to find that product for the best price in your area. You’re welcome!
Buy Unprepped Food
Don’t spend money on pre-prepped food. You can de-bone meat and cut veggies yourself and save so much money! If your knife skills need some work, check out this brilliant video on YouTube by my favorite Chef, Jamie Oliver.
Those of you who know me personally know what a huge carnivore I am. As much as it pains me to say it, sigh…you can eat meals without meat. I am not suggesting you ingest tofu; if I ever do suggest such a thing please know I’m under duress and the police should be called. What I suggest is using beans to cut the cost and keep the protein in your meal high. Beans are cheap, versatile, and even my family doesn’t miss the occasional meat free meal.
This seems obvious as well, doesn’t it? The truth is that every time you go to the store you probably buy one or two items that you don’t need, but want. If you cut down the number of times you go into a store, you’ll buy less impulsively.
I sincerely hope you learned at least one thing that you hadn’t thought of before. If you have additional ideas please share them! I love learning to save money just as much as the next girl.