Keyword: Saving Money on Groceries
Saving money on groceries is the one method that gives us the most control over our budgets.
But for many of us, that means changing major things about our diet and cooking habits.
It can seem impossible to cut out any excess while still preparing healthy, balanced meals.
Make a Plan
Always start by tracking your grocery spending for a cycle before trying to make any changes. Evaluating your spending will help you figure out what you can cut out easily. In addition, it will give you a better idea of what you absolutely have to have to preserve your sanity (like morning coffee).
Save all your receipts for a month and then go through them and divide your purchases by type. Eliminate overspending, brainstorm alternatives like buying generic or making your own, and come up with a plan before you get to the grocery store.
Saving Money on Groceries: Don’t Over Do It
Remember that you aren’t saving money if what you buy just rots in the fridge. Also, don’t buy whole veggies if you know you will be intimidated or stressed by chopping them.
Buy premade biscuit dough for breakfast if you know that you won’t be able to mix them up ahead of time.
The bottom line is: keep your plan realistic and don’t try too hard.
My Best Tips for Saving Money on Groceries
This is a comprehensive list of every method I know for saving money on groceries. You will probably not use everyone listed here, but please let me know if you find one that will be useful for your family in the comments below.
Opt for Cheaper Proteins
Legumes, (beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts) are wonderful sources of protein. They can often replace or stretch out servings of meat.
For example, when you make chili, try adding 2 different types of beans to get similar amounts of nutrition while still enjoying a rich and hearty flavor.
Another option is adding black beans to burger patties to help the meat create more servings.
Want recipes that replace meat with legumes? Leave me a comment below!
Oats, Rice, and Pasta for Meal Bases
Carbohydrates are the sugars that fuel our bodies. The recommended amount of daily carbs is about 220 grams. We can get the complex carbohydrates we need through whole oats (called old fashioned where I am from) or steel-cut oats, whole grain rice, and whole-grain pasta.
These 3 particular foods are just a few dollars for large amounts, and they are incredibly versatile in cooking.
Plan meals around these staples, adding in veggies to make an easy, balanced meal.
For example, you can cook Mexican-style rice, add some ground meat and beans, and top it off with veggies like lettuce, tomato, peppers, onions, and cheese. This is an easy and balanced meal.
Make Baked Goods at Home
Pancakes are a favorite at my house. And I can buy frozen ones for about $4 for 12. Or I can make 2x that for $1.50 by cooking them at home using a just add water box mix. Or I can make them even cheaper by mixing them up myself.
Baked goods like muffins are great ways to get fruits, veggies, and legumes into kids. You can find all kinds of recipes for mashing or grating veggies like carrots and squashes and adding them to baked goods.
Chop Veggies and Fruits at Home
Buying whole fruits and veggies can save you a lot when compared to purchasing all pre-cut. You avoid paying for the time and effort of others to cut them. I can get almost 2x the number of carrots at my local grocery store by buying them whole.
Avoid Meat and Dairy
Meat and dairy are the most expensive general food products to produce. By avoiding these types of products, you can save a ton on your groceries.
Buy in Bulk
By buying staples like rice, flour, and beans, you can save so much money. And the same goes for non-essentials, like chocolate chips, that round out your food experience.
This is also a critical saving method for things that you have to buy in individually packaged snacks for things like lunches or road trip food.
Shop in Season
Fruits and veggies aren’t harvested all year long. For example, rhubarb and strawberries are spring harvested foods, which apples are strictly autumn harvested foods. This is why pumpkins are only offered fresh in stores during October and November.
Foods out of season are more expensive because they must be shipped from somewhere they are in season, or they have been stored since the last time they were in season. Keep this in mind when you are creating your lists.
Eat more strawberries in the spring. Eat more apples in the fall. And, if you are adventurous, you could buy fruits in bulk while they are in season and store them by freezing or canning to enjoy all year long.
The Store Matters in Saving Money on Groceries
Where you shop matters very much. Not only do certain stores have reputations for rock bottom prices, but some stores have different prices practices. For example, I have a local grocery store that sells everything for cost, adding 10% at checkout to profit.
And chain stores like Walmart will charge higher prices in more affluent neighborhoods, so watch out for that!
People can save a ton of money with coupons, but you have to have a plan to really benefit. Severe couponers wait until the item they have a coupon for goes on sale. Then they get the coupon value off of the sale price. This is called stacking.
So let’s say you have a $1 off coupon for pizza that is regularly $5. When it’s not on sale, using the coupon will save $1, getting you a pizza for $4. But if you wait until the pizza goes on sale for $4, you can get the pizza for $3! Effectively doubling your savings.
There are so many tricks for using coupons to save money. If you want to learn more about couponing, The Krazy Coupon Lady has you covered.
Generic or store brands are great ways to save money. And most of the time, the products come off the same manufacturing lines as the name-brand products. So I always suggest trying the generic before committing yourself to the name-brand, aka the more expensive option.
Food banks and charity pantries are beautiful examples of people helping people. And there is no shame in using them to feed your family. They often hand out staples like rice, canned veggies, and beans, and some even provide meat and dairy.
Saving money on groceries can be overwhelming, especially when you are already stressed out. So please let me know if these tips are helpful to you in a comment below! And let me know if I missed any great suggestions.