The best ways to money on groceries.
Groceries is one of the biggest monthly expenses in most households. And, unfortunately food prices continue to rise every single day. The good news is that this is one of the expenses that can be lowered, it just takes a little extra effort. I’ve been learning how to save money on groceries for over a decade now. It has taken a lot of trial and error, but I have finally found a few tricks that work.
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1. Meal Plan
A meal plan is an essential step when trying to save money on groceries. I recommend you browse through pinterest boards, and recipe books to give you fresh ideas of what to cook each week. Write down everything you want to make for the week, including snacks and meals. As you meal plan, make a list of groceries to buy. Take this list with you to the grocery store and only buy what you wrote down, nothing else!
A good meal plan will be written based on what you already have in your pantry and cupboards. Take a few minutes to take inventory of what you already have at home and plan your meals around those items.
Meal planning limits impulse buys and the temptation to eat out. Do not skip this important step!
2. Keep it Simple
It’s fun to experiment and try making a few fancy meals. But, when you meal plan remember to think about the cost of ingredients. Sometimes those fancy meals have ingredients that will cost you a lot of money.
Try simplifying how you cook to save money on groceries. You don’t need to have simple meals every day of the week, but try to plan a few meals each week that are simple and basic.
Here are a few simple dinner ideas: breakfast for dinner, grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta bake, bean burritos, spaghetti, quesadillas, stir fry, etc.
3. Buy What’s On Sale
As you meal plan check the weekly grocery ads to see what’s on sale for the week. Plan your meals around those sales. For example: If chicken is on sale, I will plan a few meals with chicken.
If you have room in your grocery budget buy a few extra of what’s on sale. If you buy it when it’s on sale, you will be spending less in the long run. I like to stock up on snacks, cereal, fruit (buy fresh and freeze for later), and canned goods during sales.
The best way to check ads is by using the Flipp App. It’s a completely free app to use and very easy to navigate. You will enter your zipcode, select your favorite stores, and then can browse each of the ads. There are new ads each Wednesday.
4. Shop Your Pantry
Before you ever meal plan or even look at the weekly ads, look through your pantry. Take a quick inventory of what you already have. Plan your meals around those items. Turn it into a game and try to come up with as many meals as you can, only using the ingredients you own. This is a great way to use up the items you bought shopping sales.
If you have kids, try to make it fun for them. Tell your kids that you are playing Box Car Children (did anyone else love those books as kids????). During this game they can only eat the food you can find and gather around the house. Kids love this!
Another way I use up my pantry is by having regular YO-YO nights. YO-YO stands for “You’re On Your Own” and is really just a fancy way of saying we are having leftovers for dinner. When I plan Yo-Yo for dinner the family knows we are eating leftovers and whatever can be found in the pantry. Cheapest dinner around!
5. Utilize Cashback!
Take advantage of every cashback app available. It hardly takes any time to scan your receipts and you get FREE MONEY!
If I ever see my husband throw a receipt in the garbage without getting cashback I ask him, “Would you ever throw 50 cents in the trash can? No! But when you throw away a receipt without scanning it first, it is the same as throwing away money.” The small cashback adds up! In the 5ish years I have been using cashback apps I have gotten hundreds and hundreds of dollars back.
My Fave Grocery Cashback Apps:
Ibotta: The first cashback app I ever used was ibotta, and I’m still using it weekly. It’s so easy to use!
All you have to do is shop, check the app for rebates, scan your receipt, and the money is instantly put into your ibotta account. Easy. Peasy. They have a wide selection of rebates, and I can always find something to earn on. My favorite rebates are the “any brand” rebates they often put on items such as milk, produce, pantry items, beauty and household.
*******Sign up for Ibotta with this link and you will get up to a $20 welcome bonus! Yay! This is the perfect way to try it out!***********
Discover Card: My FAVORITE way to earn cashback is by shopping with my Discover Card. I know a lot of people don’t like using credit cards, and I get it! But, for me, this has been the best way for us to earn more money.
In short, when I shop with my Discover Card I automatically earn cashback on all purchases. They give you 1% cashback on EVERYTHING and 5% on different categories that are rotated monthly. (Currently, I am receiving 5% on groceries).
You don’t have to do anything, just use your card and your cashback will grow. I earn around $500 cashback with Discover a YEAR, and all I do is shop like normal!
Fetch Rewards: Fetch Rewards is hands down the easiest cashback app to use! All you have to do download the Fetch Rewards app, scan your grocery receipt, and fetch will automatically reward you with points. It’s seriously that easy!
These points can be redeemed for gift cards to ALLLL of your fave stores (I usually choose Amazon or Target!). One of my favorite parts of Fetch Rewards is that your points can be redeemed for as little as $3 (3,000 points equals $3). This makes collecting the reward quick and fun.
Checkout 51: Checkout 51 is very similar to ibotta. You shop, scan your receipt and qualified purchases and you will get the rebated money instantly in your account. Once you reach $20 in your account you can request your money, same as ibotta. Most importantly, it only takes a few minutes to check for rebates and one minute to scan your receipt. I have made over $50 cashback using Checkout 51!
6. Cook From Scratch
The more you cook from scratch, the less money you will spend on groceries (I promise!). I know how big the temptation is to grab the prepackaged foods at the grocery store. But, if you really want to save money on groceries you need to learn to resist this temptation.
If cooking feels really overwhelming to you, start small with a few simple recipes. Slowly try new things. Don’t let a few failures get you down. I have been cooking almost my whole life and I still make a few flops every now and then.
If you struggle finding the time to cook start meal prepping during the week. Set aside one day each week as your meal prep day. This might be a weekend, evening, or whenever you have free time.
Your meal prep day will be the day you cook up your meat, cut up veggies, and mix up a few snacks. These can all be stored in your fridge to use throughout the week for meals.
- Related: Homemade Graham Cracker Recipe
7. Buy Meat on Sale
Meat is one of the biggest grocery expenses. Get into the habit of only buying it when it’s on sale.
One way to get cheaper meat is to buy it in bulk. Look for places selling bulk meat, like Butcher Box, and stock up when they are having sales.
7. Shop Less Often
How many times have you gone to the grocery store for “just one thing” and left with a cart full of food?!?!? It has happened to me more times than I would like to admit! The less times we go to the grocery store, the less money we will spend (I know you’re shocked right).
The next time you feel that temptation to run to the store for one little thing, don’t do it! Instead, figure out how to make it work without buying that one ingredient. Look up a good substitute ingredient, or find something else to make. I promise your bank account will thank you!
8. Calculate Your Spending
Make sure you don’t go over your grocery budget by keeping track of how much you are spending while at the grocery store (before checking out!). Whip out your phone calculator and add up each item as you put it into your shopping cart.
This helps keep you on track so there is no surprises at the checkout counter. If you see you are going over your budget, take some of the food out of your cart and put them back on the shelf.
The EASIEST way to keep track of how much you spend while grocery shopping is to shop using Walmarts Free Grocery Pickup. This is probably the best invention ever. Not only does it save me time and sanity (hello no crying kids in the grocery cart), but it also saves me so much money!
The Walmart Grocery App is easy to use. Just open it up, click the items you want to add to your cart, and then check out when done! You will select a time and day to pick up your groceries at your nearest Walmart. A nice Walmart employee will bring your groceries out straight to your car and load them up for you! It’s the best!!
Grocery shopping this way helps me easily keep track of how much I am spending. Before I check out I look at how much money I have spent, if I have gone over the grocery budget I delete a few items until I get to the right amount. I haven’t gone over budget since I started doing this!
********If you want to try Walmarts Free Grocery Pickup (AKA My Favorite Thing Ever!) you can get $10 off your first order by using this link!
9. Buy Generic
I use to be such a name brand snob (not proud of it) and insisted I would never buy generic. Many years later I am so glad I saw the error of my ways. Most generic grocery brands are just as good as the name brand, sometimes even better! I now wish I would have realized this earlier, we could have saved so much more money!
Try buying less name brand and more generic and you will notice a huge savings on your grocery spending. This is such a simple change that can make a big difference.
10. Meatless Mondays
Spend less money on expensive meats by incorporating a few meatless meals into your weekly meal plan. We like to have Meatless Mondays, which is one day every week when I plan a meal without meat. You can set up your meatless days however works best for you.
I have found the best meatless meals are meals with beans, quinoa, soups and pastas.
11. Learn from Others
One of the best things I have one for my grocery budget is to study! I read blogs, follow money saving Instagram accounts, and do what I can to study and learn from others grocery tips. It takes time, and it takes a little bit of effort, but it has helped me tremendously!
One of my favorite blogs to follow is Money Saving Mom. She gives realistic advice to help moms (and anyone!) save money. I actually just bought her BRAND NEW ebook Slash Your Grocery Bill: 25 Tried and True Strategies and was so impressed! She goes over 25 of the best methods to save money on groceries, giving details and easy to follow instructions.
I actually had no idea you could freeze baking mixes until I ready this book (it’s shared in tip #16!). I am planning on whipping up a few baking mixes today and sticking them in my freezer for later use.
The best part is she has the book on sale for only $8.50! Don’t waste any time and download Slash Your Grocery Budget today! It is full of so much money saving goodness!
I know you save money on groceries! Try a few of the tips in this article, the more you try, the more you will save. The most important thing is to never quit. It takes constant effort to spend less at the grocery store. I know you can do it!
Want to see exactly how I grocery shop each week on my $500 grocery budget? Check out my YouTube video below!
Just read through these tips after seeing it from your post on Instagram, which I follow you on.
Thank you for this article! I agree so much with every tip! I have recently gone from vegetarian (which lasted a couple days) to fill on veganism and I still love your tips! The pantry idea (with the kids) is SO CUTE!
I’m all for competition with yourself, on spreading out grocery days. I compete with myself regularly and it pays off! ♥️
Only issue is, I live in Canada so I’ll have to look further into receipt apps but that’s not a problem!
Thank you so much for this article! ??
Sweet Frugal Life says
Thanks for your support! I know checkout51 works in Canada!
Cooking from single ingredients definitely is more efficient. My husband always tells me to look at the cost per ounce/pound on what we are buying. The cost for prepackaged foods in ridiculous. Steak my be $7.50 a pound, but prepackaged snacks can be $10 or more per pound which he calls junk as when you read the ingredients, they are mostly fillers and additives, not food. We have a garden or fruit trees, berry bushes, berry plants, raised beds for herbs and an area where we put in the ground directly tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, green & yellow beans, snow peas, eggplant and cabbage. We got over 125 quarts of blueberries alone last year. At $8 per quart, we are eating tasty fresh fruits and saving a lot of money. I made jams and froze gallon bags of berries to use in my lunches for work and cooking/baking. I canned pickles, made sauce, salsa and froze a lot of berries and vegetables to fill my two freezers. We have chickens, ducks and guinea fowl that we get eggs from as well as extra we sell. We don’t use pesticides as one we don’t want the poison in our food and second we keep bees for pollination and we sell the honey. So we save money, make some with our side gigs and eat healthier. My kids love eating the cherry tomatoes right off the vines, a very healthy snack. So our method for saving on our grocery bill is to grow our own food. Make no mistake, it is work and there are costs of tools, equipment, seeds, etc. but we feel we get a great return on our investment. Mind you not everyone has the property or the know how to garden, but there are a lot of wasted space where people just plant grass. Sadly that is the greatest waste of water, exceeding the use of all he water used for agricultural products in the US. And people can start small with plants in pots or small raised beds. It is very rewarding picking the fresh fruits and vegetables and eating them fresh.
Sweet Frugal Life says
Growing a garden has saved me so much money too!
KatE Horrell says
Hi I just discovered ur website n being a senior on a fixed disability income is really hard. I always pay with cash so I start out with $260 a month n I get $250 a month in food stamps, but my problem is I’m a diabetic, so I can’t eat bread, rice, pasta, beans fruit. Everything that I get is very expensive n I always run out of money before I run out of month. I always make a meal plan n I plan for lots of leftovers but I still come up short every month. I cook everyday I never go out to eat, so I’m hoping to learn some tricks to help me with this. THanks
Sweet Frugal Life says
Oh I am so sorry to hear this! I’ve found that if I can’t find any ways to lower my grocery expenses, then it might be time to try to lower a different budget category instead. Is their another part of your budget you can lower to help you to not come up short anymore?
Gerry voykin says
Can I get this Ibbotta account in Canada too?
Sweet Frugal Life says
Ibotta is not available in Canada! I’m so sad about that!