When it comes to budgeting and shopping, many of us could probably find some ways to spend less on groceries. You may think that means extreme couponing, but that simply isn’t true. There are some simple tricks anyone can use to save money on groceries.
No matter your grocery budget, you want to do everything you can to save money on groceries. Whether you spend $75 a week or $275 a week, the idea is to lower your grocery costs, whenever you can.
While most people know about using coupons (printable or in your Sunday newspaper), the truth is that not everyone wants to use them. For many, they are a hassle and don’t result in savings on the items they need. I get that because that is the case for my family. It also meant that I had to get a bit more creative when it came to finding ways to save money on groceries.
That’s where this list came from. I don’t want to keep my secrets to myself. What fun is that!? I’m sharing my list of more than 50 ways that you can save money on groceries — without clipping a single coupon!
- How to Figure Your Grocery Budget
- 10 Must Know Aldi Shopping Tips
- 12 Tips to Make Shopping With Kids Easier
TOP WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON GROCERIES
MAKE A GROCERY PLAN TO HELP YOU SAVE MONEY
Before you run to the store, you need to have a plan! You may use a shopping list, but that is just the first step to following a plan that will ensure you save money on every grocery trip.
Start shopping at Aldi
If you live near an Aldi, you can find ridiculously low prices on all of your groceries. The savings can be 50% off — or more. But, before you go, make sure you know the tricks for shopping at Aldi and also the items you must buy there.
Make a meal plan
Another simple way to save money on food is to create a menu plan. Your menu plan helps ensure you buy the items you need for all of the meals you want to prepare.
If you aren’t up to making your own, there are menu planning services you can use. One of my personal favorites is 5 Dollar Meal Plan. It is affordable and has meals your family will love!
Cook from scratch
Pre-made foods add additional cost that you don’t want. Instead, make your foods from scratch! Pinterest has thousands of recipes for everything you need.
One way to get the most out of your grocery budget is to learn the sales cycles. Every item you need to buy will go on sale via a recurring schedule. This may mean anything from 6 – 12 weeks.
Learn how to figure out when the items you need will be available at the lowest possible price by creating and using a price book.
Shop with a grocery list
Never walk into your store without a grocery list in your hand. Then, only buy the items on your list. Create a shopping list before you shop.
Don’t shop hungry
If you walk into the store and are starving, you will be more likely to buy on impulse than to stick to the items you need.
Shop alone (if possible)
Leave the kids and spouse at home (if you can). They can lend themselves to “helping” to find items that may not be on your list.
Substitute if needed
If you are out of buttermilk, don’t run to the store to buy it – create a workable substitute by using milk and vinegar. Using substitutes for items you may need is a simple way to save. Check out this handy Baking Substitutions sheet to know which items you can swap out.
Get multiple meals from one large item
Have a meatless meal
At least once a week, prepare a meal that doesn’t have meat in it. Using beans or other proteins can be a simple substitute and easily save money on groceries.
Be open to new stores
Another trick to save money on groceries is to try something new! If you normally shop at only a specific grocery store, try another one. Look at their weekly ad and start out by buying the sale items. You never know what other amazing deals you’ll find.
Limit your trips
Visit the grocery store just once a week. The less you visit the store, the less money you will spend. Once again, your menu plan will help ensure you get everything on your grocery list in a single visit.
Know your budget
Before you even walk into the store, know how much money you have to spend by checking your grocery budget. Doing so will keep your spending on track. You can use grocery apps to keep track of everything you buy, and also use cash. Using cash ensures you never overspend — because you can’t!
GROCERY SAVINGS TIPS TO USE AT THE STORE
Now that you have your plan of action, make sure you save once you get to the store. These are the tricks I use to save money on groceries, once I get to the store!
Shop the perimeter
The processed foods are in the center of the store. Stick to the perimeter to find the produce, meat and dairy items that you need.
Buy the weekly ad loss leaders
The loss leaders are the items on the front of the store’s weekly ad. These items are at the lowest possible price. Now, if you do still want to use a coupon, this is when you should really spend the time clipping them.
Watch the end caps
These items are not necessarily on sale. Or, if they are on sale, they are really not a great deal. Find the item on the regular shelf and check the price to make sure it really is a discount. Stores are great about using this (as well as others) sneaky trick to get you to spend more money.
Look high or low on the shelf
Many times, the most expensive items are at your eye level in the store. This is to entice you to buy them. Take a moment to look at above and below those items for different brands, as they may cost less.
Shop the right day of the week
Many times, stores will offer a shorter sale, which is different from the regular weekly sale. For instance, my favorite store runs its weekly ad from Wednesday to Tuesday each week.
However, they always have a shorter sale that includes Friday and Saturday (sometimes Thursday and/or Sunday are added into the schedule). I shop only on Friday so that I can take advantage of both the regular weekly sale and the short sale – without making multiple trips to the store.
Shop at the right time of the day
If you really need to save money on groceries, another idea is to hit your store early in the morning when the prior day’s meat and other items are marked down.
This does not mean they are bad – but they are sold at a discount to put the fresh cuts out to be sold.
Shop in season
The simple way to keep your grocery budget in check is to stick with the produce that is in season. When you buy out of season items, you pay a premium.
Buy store brands
In most cases, store brands are big name brands — with a different label. There is seldom a difference in quality. Try the store brand for the foods you love and you may never notice a difference.
Buy frozen produce
If the product you want is not in season, check out the frozen section instead. You can still enjoy the fruits and veggies you want, without that high out of season cost.
Don’t be so brand loyal
Be open to trying other brands. You never know when you’ll find something that tastes even better – but costs less money!
Price match to get the best deals on your food
Many stores will now price match their competitors! Check with your store to learn more about their price matching policy – and then use it!
Get rain checks
Whenever items are on sale, they may sell out before you have a chance to buy them. If you find this at your store, visit customer service and get a rain check.
Then come back the next week, when the item is back in stock, and still get it at that super low price (just check with your store as not all items are eligible for rain checks).
Watch the per unit price
Before you pick up any item to add it to your cart, check the price of different package sizes. More importantly, check the per unit price. Sometimes, it can be less expensive if you purchase a larger item – or – even if you by two smaller ones that happen to be on sale.
Watch the prices scan at the register
Make a mental note of the prices of the items you find on sale (or even snap a photo with your phone). As they are scanned, watch to make sure that the proper sales price is reflected as sometimes, there are glitches and prices are not reduced as they should be.
Use the butcher’s secret
Find the largest cut of meat you can and then ask the butcher to cut it for you! They can make hamburger, steaks, roasts – etc!
Pay attention to dates on product packages
Read the dates on your packages. If you know you will not consume items past the Best If Use By date, then it could result in wasted food and wasted money.
- “Sell-By” — This is the date by which the store can display the item for sale. If you find an item past this date, it does not mean it is bad, but you might get a discount. In most cases, you should purchase the product prior to this date to allow time for consumption before quality begins to decline.
- “Best if Used By” — This date is reflected to let you know the date recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
- “Use-By” — This date is the last date that the manufacturer recommends you use the product. Again, this is not a safety issue, but a quality issue.
Stock up when on sale
It just makes sense that when you find a great deal on products that you purchase additional items and save them in your freezer. A price book helps you track the sales cycles so you always know when products will be on sale at your local store – so you know when to stock up and how long you need to wait between those sales.
HOW TO STOP WASTING FOOD
While clipping coupons before you to go the store may not be ideal for you, there are some ways you can actually save on food – just by shopping smarter!
Buy only what you can eat
The best way to save money on food is to buy only what your family will eat.
When there is a good deal at your store, it can be tempting to overbuy. But, if you have to throw away food that spoils, then it is not such a great deal after all.
No one likes, them, but throwing out leftover meals really costs you. Don’t call them leftovers, but set everything on the table and call it a potluck meal or something fun.
Only make what you will eat
If you are bad about consuming leftovers, then prepare less food. Only cook what your family will eat for dinner that night, so you have little to no waste.
Keep foods visible
If a carton of strawberries slides to the back of the fridge, they will spoil and you’ll have to throw them out. Keep those items that may go bad more quickly where you see them – so they can be eaten.
Rotate the pantry
When you, shop, it is easy to just slide the new boxes into your pantry, which sends older items to the back. This can mean dried out, stale and even expired foods. Make sure to rotate items so that you always have the oldest foods to the front – so you can use them.
THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT BUY AT THE STORE
These budget busters might make life simpler, but they can quickly eat up your food budget!
It is tempting to buy this for your family. If you do want it, stick with the liters as you only pour what you need into a glass and will have less waste (vs. a can that you find still half full and must throw out).
Unless you have a picnic to go to, skip the paper and use your regular dishes instead.
Stick with cloth napkins
When you find a great deal at Kohl’s (or another store), stock up on cloth napkins. You can reuse them over and over again and will end up saving more than you would spend on paper napkins.
Skip bottled water
They are so easy to use, but can really kill your grocery budget. Buy reusable water bottles and fill them yourself. If you want your water really cold, fill your bottle halfway with water and freezer overnight. In the morning, add the cold water from your fridge and you’ll have ice cold water.
No more packaged snacks
Another way to save is to skip the packaged snacks and do it yourself. We created a snack basket and that is what we do. I buy a larger box of the snacks that the kids want and then repackage them into the amount I want for them to eat. I have better portion control and save money at the same time.
USE APPS TO SAVE ON GROCERIES
While I said you don’t have to clip coupons to save, there are still some great ways that you can lower your grocery bill – even if that means savings after you buy.
Walmart Savings Catcher app
If you shop at Walmart, this app can easily save you money. When you buy the items you need, the app searches local stores to see if they have the same item at a lower price. If they find something, the app will add the difference to your account – without you having to do a thing!
The Ibotta app is one that pays you back for buying certain items at the store. You find what it is you want to buy and then follow the instructions to add (and even increase) the amount of cash back you can get. Once you buy, scan your receipt and the rebate will be deposited to your account.
Use store savings
Some stores offer digital offers to customers. Many offer digital coupons that you can find right on your phone. No clipping needed – just show your phone.
Follow your Store on social media
Another way I save money on food is to follow our local grocery store’s Facebook page! Each week, they place “fan only” offers for customers to use. As a follower of their page, I just have to show the image to the cashier and I can instantly save.
This app works in the same way as Ibotta – but with different offers. I like this one as there are times when they have offers on produce that I can’t find elsewhere. Learn more about Checkout51.
MORE GROCERY SAVING STRATEGIES
If you’ve tried the above ideas to save money on groceries, then you will also want to add these to your list of money-saving trick!
Buy discounted gift cards
If you do your grocery shopping at big box stores, such as Target or Walmart, you can buy gift cards at discount at Gift Card Granny. That means a card with a $50 value can be picked up for $45. You’ve already saved $5 on your purchase!
When you shop with cash, you can never overspend. Ever. It is just impossible. If you have $100 to spend, then there is no way you can add $105 worth of items to your cart.
Read more: How to Use The Cash Envelope Method
Use virtual cash envelopes
If using cash is too much of a stretch, opt for one of the virtual envelope apps instead. One such app is ProActive as you can still use plastic to shop, but you can still not overspend!
Read more: The “Cashless” Cash Envelope System
Plant a garden
Skip some of the produce at the store by growing it yourself. If you can, create a neighborhood garden where everyone can plant different foods and you all can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Buy in bulk
Sometimes, warehouse stores will offer a better discount when you buy in bulk. Just make sure you know the price per unit you pay at your regular store before you jump in and buy.
Then, break out the larger item into the sizes you will consume as a family (i.e. chicken breasts into individual servings).
Use containers rather than baggies
While convenient, baggies can really take a toll on your weekly grocery bill. Instead, invest in reusable containers to store your leftovers and open foods. Baggies, aluminum foil and plastic wrap all can add costs you don’t need.
Re-use plastic baggies
Of course, if you must use a plastic baggie, don’t toss it when you are done! Wash it out, and let it dry and use again. Most baggies are durable enough to be used again and again.
Use your own grocery bags
Many stores offer a small discount if you use your own bags.
Visit the Farmer’s Market
Skip the grocery store completely and pick up your fresh produce at your local farmer’s market. You not only cut out the middleman (the grocery store), you get the chance to support local growers in your city.
When it comes to non-perishable items, go online. Many times retailers such as Amazon, will have online coupons that you can use to lower your cost even further (and you have the added bonus of it being delivered right to your front door).
Your local grocery store may also offer online shopping services, which may even include delivery right to your front door!
Know your grocery budget
Before you head out to shop, make sure you know exactly how much you have in your weekly grocery budget – and then stick to it! There is no right or wrong amount to spend, as everyone’s needs differ. If you want to set goals, aim for $25 – $40 per person, per week. That would mean, a family of four may want to budget as little as $100 a week.
Turn savings into a game
One thing I love to do is challenge myself. If I budget $250 for groceries for 2 weeks for my family, I will do all I can to spend $225. It is fun to play this game against myself where I try to save as much as I can each week. Then, I take the leftover budgeted money and put it aside for birthdays and holidays.
Use home delivery service
Use a local delivery or pick up service to save money. There are two ways that this will actually save money. First of all, you can’t overbuy! When you walk through the store, you will often add extra items to your cart. But, when you are shopping online, you can’t do that! You have to put everything into your cart and checkout – without adding in spending trap.
The other way you can save is through incentives to use the service. For example, Walmart is offering new customers a discount of $10 off of a $50+ purchase. Just use the code WOWFRESH at checkout and get instant savings!!
Use the drug store
Sometimes, you can find grocery items at a lower cost here than at your local store. Drug stores don’t make their money on food, so they will offer super low prices to get you into the store — hoping you’ll buy more! Check those sales prices on items such as eggs, milk and more to see if you can get a better deal.
SAVING MONEY ON MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS
Know Your Dairy Prices
Many times, stores like Aldi sell milk at a much lower price than your regular store or even larger chains. I see milk priced at $1.99 – $2.49 a gallon compared to $3.49 – $3.89 in the grocery store. For that savings, it can be worth stopping by your store.
SAVING MONEY ON MEAT AND POULTRY
Shop early in the morning
Many times, the meat items which are nearing the sell-by dates are discounted early each morning. Even if you don’t plan on eating it right away, just take it home and freeze it.
Buy in bulk
Many times, you can get your meat at a reduced price per pound if you buy a larger quantity at once. You don’t want it to go to waste, so purchase freezer bags and break it out into smaller sized portions and freeze it. Make sure you note what it is and the date frozen on it, so you make sure to use it up before it becomes freezer burned.
Buy larger sizes
If you buy a whole chicken and then cut it up yourself, you can often pay less. When I an item is cut up for you, you do pay more for that convenience. Finding these items can save you money.
Check out your local meat market
Sometimes, you can find a lower price at these stores. It never hurts to look into using them.
Avoid the Deli
I’ve purchased both packaged and deli meats and honestly, I cannot tell too much difference. Not only that, packaged items often have coupons whereas deli meats usually do not.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON PRODUCE
When you’re buying a product that is a set price for a package, like $1 for a 2 lb bag of carrots, take an extra minute and weight 3 or 4 bags. The suppliers can have a +/- of a specific weight on the package and still be within the guidelines to sell the product. So if you weigh it, you’ll be able to get more product for your money.
Some items have a flat price for a container. Check these and find those with more quantity inside (you can weight them as well). Sometimes, you will get more bang for your buck.
Always buy in season
When you try to buy an item out of season, you will pay more for it. Therefore, plan your dining and meals around the foods in season. If you need something outside of the regular growing season, opt for frozen which is much less expensive.
Forget the store completely
Why not grow your own? You can make a raised garden bed or perhaps even find a community garden where you can work with others to reap a great crop. You can save money plus feel better about growing it yourself.
If you can’t grow it yourself, check out your local farmer’s market. You not only get it fresh from the farm to your table, but you get to help support a local business owner.
Check out canned or frozen
If you are using your item as part of a larger entree, this can be a way to cut down on cost (and time). Just double check the packaging content.
SAVING MONEY ON BREAD
Bread outlet stores
Many brands of bread have outlet or day old stores. The bread that is left on the truck at the end of the day that stores didn’t need, or that they pulled because it was within a day or two of the sell-by date go to these stores and are marked down for quick sale.
You can typically find bread anywhere from 50%-75% off the retail store price. Many times, you can find items like specialty whole wheat bread for only $1 when they retail for around $4 at the stores.
Make your own
Bread is pretty easy to make. You can find great easy recipes on Pinterest. Even without using coupons and stocking up on ingredients you can cut your cost by at least 50% on a loaf of bread.
Homemade bread can also be frozen, so you can bake 4-6 loaves in one day and freeze all but one and thaw them as needed. A bread machine is an investment, but it makes the process of making bread take you about 5-10 mins.
Make your croutons
Bread can dry out before you use it. You can save that bread and make croutons – saving yourself money. There are many recipes out there — here is one idea.
Buy rice in bulk
Rice is one of those staples that you can find in most bulk food stores. You can find it at natural food stores, specialty Asian food store, or even in Amish communities. Rice is a reasonably priced grain that you can buy in bulk to get the best price, and it stores well for a long time.
SAVE ON FOODS FROM A – Z
The best way to save money is not to waste it. Some foods have a limited shelf life after you buy them and others can last longer if you freeze them — but the key is to store them properly. Below you will find an alphabetical list of some of the most popular foods and simple tips to make them last longer!
It is not difficult to save money on groceries and food. Just know the expert tips to help you lower your grocery bill!