Grocery shopping is one of my least favorite things to do. It is also one of the budget categories where I’m most likely to go over budget. Since food is something we all have to buy regularly, I thought I’d share my tips to help you save money on groceries!
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1. Plan Your Meals
Meal planning can make your life so much easier when it comes to cooking and grocery shopping. It takes some planning ahead of time, but it definitely cuts down on time thinking about your meals during your busy week. It also helps make sure you buy everything you need and avoid buying things you don’t! I use the Erin Condren meal planner to look ahead for my weeks and create my grocery lists and it helps keep me on track when I’m at Aldi.
Something I’ve been trying out recently that has made meal planning even easier is $5 Meal Plan. With this program, you sign up and get a full meal plan for each week, with an included grocery list, for only $5 a month! There is a wide variety of meals in the plans and they are pretty inexpensive to make. I’m currently testing out the program and will be doing a full review of my thoughts soon – but it’s definitely worth checking out!
2. Know What You Have
If you have no idea what food you have at home, you’re going to end up rebuying things you already have. This will also end up causing a lot more food waste because things will go back if you don’t know they’re there! Before you head to the grocery store, check what you already have and make sure you don’t have those items on your list. You don’t want to be continually buying things you don’t need!
3. Choose Simple Recipes
I tend to make the same recipes on a regular basis. Things like burritos, spaghetti, and grilled chicken are relatively cheap and simple to make and are on our table a lot. Why? Because they don’t take many ingredients! The more ingredients a recipe takes, the more you’re going to have to buy to pull it together. You also don’t want to be buying ingredients for a recipe that you aren’t going to use up. I tend to avoid recipes with spices or ingredients that I’m not going to be using for anything else.
4. Use Coupons or Cash Back Apps
Couponing is probably the most common method people think of when it comes to saving money on groceries. Coupons can be great as long as you were already going to buy the items. A lot of coupons are “buy two and get $5 off” or some variation of that. If you don’t need two of the item, is it actually worth buying two to get $5 off?
I prefer to use a cashback app to save some money. My favorite is Ibotta. If you’ve never heard of Ibotta, it’s an app that basically has digital coupons. It’s really simple and quick to use. You go through the offers for the store you’re shopping at and select the ones for the products you are buying. Once you’re done shopping, you submit photos of your receipt and scan the barcodes of some of the items. The app then adds your cashback to your account. Once you hit the $20 limit you get your cash direct deposited to your account!
5. Avoid “Convenience” Foods
What the heck is a convenience food? This is something like a prepackaged salad, a fruit tray, or a pre-made meal. These are quick and easy to grab when you’re in a hurry, but they are usually overpriced. I’ve bought a $10 chicken alfredo dinner from a grocery store before that was only big enough to feed me. For $10 I could make my own that would feed my boyfriend and me for several days.
If you’re only feeding yourself and really do need quick meals on the go then these convenience meals might be a good choice for you. But if you have the time and ability to cook on a regular basis, then taking the time to put together your own salad can save you money over time.
6. Use Grocery Pick-Up Services
You might think I’m crazy with this one because you have to pay extra for these services. Hear me out… Ordering your groceries online is not only more convenient, but it can also keep you within your budget. When I go to the store, I get what I need but I generally have no idea how much it’s going to cost until I checkout. When you order online, you can add and remove things from your cart as you shop to keep you on budget, because you’re able to see your total the entire time. It might cost a few extra dollars, but this is incredibly helpful for me because it makes shopping quick and easy and takes the stress out of checking out.
7. Stock Up During Sales
The main food that comes to mind for me with this point is meat. I will stock up on ground beef and chicken breast when it’s on sale and just freeze what I’m not going to use for the next week. Meat is one of the most expensive things I buy on a regular basis, so not having to worry about it every time I grocery shop enables me to spend money on other things we want. There are a lot of other items you could stock up on during a sale, just make sure it’s something you can freeze or that won’t go bad quickly. You definitely don’t want to stock up just to throw half of it away!