The ultimate guide to saving thousands on groceries
It’s no secret that feeding a family can get expensive. But there are lots of ways that you can feed your family on a budget. The thing that I hear from a lot of readers is that you really want to get your grocery budgets under control but you don’t know where to start. So today, I thought I would give you long list of tips that might help. 1. Utilize some sort of grocery pickup service.Now this is not sponsored in any way, shape or form, but I am loving the Walmart grocery pickup. It is free. You do not pay any sort of fee.I like it for a number of reasons. I think that it saves me money because: I can see how much I’m spending before I actually check out, so I know how much my groceries are going to be. I can adjust accordingly so I don’t go over budget. It gives me a visual of my meal plan, so I’m grocery shopping and meal planning at the same time. I never grocery shop without a meal plan. It gives me a good visual picture of my meal plan for the week.It stops me from impulse spending because I’m just buying what I need, getting my groceries and driving home. I’m not even going in the store. So I’m not walking past the cute baby items and the lipsticks and all the shiny pretty things that my inner raccoon loves. I’m just getting my groceries.
2. Use an app to further your savings. There are SO MANY money-saving apps that offer cash back on your groceries. And I am here for it! There are two I love, Fetch and Ibotta. Ibotta is a rebate service that gives you cash back when you scan your grocery receipts to certain retailers. You can save money on fresh or frozen produce, dairy and more. And it’s not always brand specific, which I love. And you can now use Ibotta to get cashback from Walmart Grocery Pick Up. In fact, you can get $3 each time you visit! How to use Ibotta with Walmart Grocery Pick Up to get cashback.I also love Fetch rewards because it works with Walmart grocery pickup and Amazon by syncing with your email and giving you points. I’ve earned over $500 cashback from Fetch! Fetch Rewards, turns any grocery receipt into savings. Simply scan your receipt on the app and get points you can trade-in for gift cards. Enter my referral code, 6F8VW at the sign-up screen and you’ll get 2,000 Fetch Points ($2.00 in points!) when you complete one receipt. Download here
3. Go generic Fun fact about me: I used to work for a food company that supplied private label brands to grocery stores and restaurants. I worked in purchasing and part of my job was to go to the plants where products were made. I saw first-hand peanut butter being made. And I saw it go down the conveyor built as go into two different jars. A name brand label was slapped on one and a store brand label was slapped on the other. MANY (not all but many) store brand products are the exact same thing.
4. Meal plan and keep things simple. Trust me, this will save you money. Come up with a list of meals your family likes that are easy to make. You can even put it on auto-pilot. Decide to have a Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday etc. Just come up with a rotation of 21 dinners and rotate them throughout the month. Before I go shopping I will do a quick inventory of what’s in my pantry and freezer. I plan a few meals around leftovers and head to the store. Don’t complicate things by making meals that require a lot of ingredients. Keep meals simple like one-pot chicken and vegetables or rice and bean casserole.
5. Calculate your costs per unitA case of paper towels or granola bars might seem like a good deal but it’s probably not. Pull out your calculator or the calculator app on your smartphone and calculate the cost per ounce. Often times the grocery store will put the price per unit on the label on the shelf. It is usually in the upper left-hand corner.In fact, I used this just this recently when buying a box of baking soda. The big-box comes out to be just $.03 an ounce while the regular-sized box was $1.06 an ounce. The bigger box is definitely a better deal but…6. Cut convenience foodsA bag of presliced apples will cost way more than a 5-pound bag of apples that you would just slice yourself. There is an average 66% price difference between precut produce and regular produce. Or a box of minute rice will cost you $.99 per serving while brown rice will cost just $.16 per serving. Premade lunches like Lunchables are also a money pit. They are so convenient, but you can make a healthier option that also includes turkey, cheese, fruit and a snack for less than the cost and far less waste of a Lunchable. 7. Stock up smartI love stocking up on staple items when they are at rock bottom prices. I do this by tracking the sales cycles. For example, this week my local supermarket had milk on sale for just $2.50 per gallon. This is the lowest price available. Milk this cheap is rare where I live so I stocked up at this price, buying milk for this week and next week. We go through milk pretty quickly with two growing boys so I knew it would not go to waste. I know that my store also puts frozen vegetables for sale at the beginning of the month and pasta sauce and salsa are on sale in the middle of the month. By tracking the sales cycle, I know when to stock up on items my family uses.
8. Track how much you’re spending before you spend itThis is a tip I have shared before but, I like to write down how much each item is and tally it up before checking out. This serves two purposes, I won’t go over my budget and I can also compare prices week to week. 9. Don’t assume frozen produce is cheaper.A 12-ounce bag of precut frozen bell peppers is $1.99 at my supermarket. But I can get a bag with six fresh bell peppers for $2.79.Two bell peppers chopped usually equals the same as one of those precut frozen bags but will only cost me $.9310. Look for cheaper cuts of meatIf you’re meat-eaters at your house look for cheaper cuts of meats that are just as delicious. For example, chicken thighs can be purchased as low as $.79 per pound and are the perfect cut for your slow cooker. Ground turkey is far cheaper than ground beef and often leaner and healthier. We subbed ground turkey for ground beef in many dishes, chili, burgers, even meat loaf and we love it. 11. Go meatless once a weekOur family is CRAZY about rice and bean casserole. It is so delicious and costs just a few dollars to make. Honestly, we don’t miss the meat. I will also stretch meat by using lintels with meat in things like tacos and casseroles. 12. Only shop once a week.Only go to the grocery store one time a week. How many of you have had this scenario? You forget something really basic, like pasta sauce, and then you run to the grocery store and walk out with $47 worth of stuff. Stop doing that.I don’t care what the reasoning is. Stop going to the grocery store in the middle of the week or outside of your normal grocery visit. See if you can make do without it.If it’s not an emergency, do not set foot in the grocery store outside of your once a week visit.
13. Understand the loss leaders.Get to know your sales flier. When you look at the sales flier, the loss leaders — meaning, the things that the grocery store is putting at such a discount they’re not making much of a profit — those are at the front of the flier and the back of the flier.Those usually come from the cost section of the grocery store, meaning, produce, meat, dairy and bakery. That’s the outside section of the grocery store — not the middle where they keep processed foods. It’s just the outside cooler cases in the grocery store. Those are where your loss leaders are going to be.So look at your sales flier — whether it’s the physical sales flier that comes in your mail, the one that’s in front of the grocery store, or maybe you can find it online — and see when those items are on sale. And meal plan accordingly.14. Prep produce when you get homeNow, this won’t actually save you money at the store. But it will save you money, and it prevents waste, and you’re actually using your food.When you get home, wash your produce, peel it, chop it, core it — whatever it is you do to that particular piece of produce. Store it in airtight glass containers. I prefer Pyrex containers. You can put them in the dishwasher, the microwave and the oven. You can cook in them. They’re really great containers. My husband takes his lunch and breakfast in them every day. They really stand the test of time.Prepping your produce in advance is convenient and cost-effective because when it comes time to cook, everything is pre-chopped and ready to go. (In fact, I made a whole video about it.) Also, it helps you reduce the amount of food that you’re wasting. So have it ready to go.