Save Money On Groceries – 13 Easy Ways To Save On Food
I think you’ll agree with me when I say that the overall grocery shopping experience can be a stressful nuisance at times. It can cause a drain on our bank accounts, free time and patience. You might be often asking yourself how can I save money groceries? How can I make the process easier or better planned?
Thankfully there are a number of ways to save on your food shopping needs. Plus reduce the stress along the way. With a few changes in your routine and spending habits, you can cut those grocery costs back and start to use those savings to better reach your financial goals.
Previously I would just do a quick peak in my cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what I might need and would scribble down a quick list before meandering through the aisles hoping some deals would catch me eyes.
But after being continually frustrated at the final amount owing each week when I hit the checkout register, I started to search out some solutions on grocery thriftiness and better budgeting practices. Lucky for me I was able to rectify the problem and quickly start to put in place some new processes.
I have broken down the tips and recommendations on how to save money on groceries into 3 sections:
- How To Save Money On Groceries Before You Get To The Store
- Saving On Food Costs At The Grocery Store
- Making The Most Of Your Money After The Grocery Store
Since implementing these 13 easy ways to save money on groceries, I have dropped my weekly grocery bill by roughly 30% and will save a total of $1,700 – $2,100 on groceries this year alone.
1.) Save Money On Groceries With Apps: Source Flyers & Coupons
Long gone are the days of needing to spend hours cutting coupons at the kitchen table and organizing them into envelopes (however if you do this and have a system that works for you, good!).
Checkout 51 is a cash back app available in both Canada and the Unites States. It’s free and super easy to use, it takes me 1-3 minutes to scroll the savings offerings available from various brands in different grocery and home categories.
Similar to other cash back apps, the process of receiving your FREE cash is easy.
- Load up the offers that interests you in the app
- Purchase those items and once home “redeem” them within the app
- Upload a photo of the receipt (sometimes you have to scan the UPC bar code)
- Once you’ve collected $20 or more in cash back, you will get your free money
Sign up for Checkout 51 today and start earning free cash on the items you’re already buying.
I also use Flipp.com. What is Flipp? In their words: “Flipp makes weekly shopping easy with the most digital circulars and coupons from the brands you love”.
Using Flipp is super easy:
- Get the App, put in your postal (or zip) code and it will aggregate all the flyers in your area – from grocery stores, major retailers, electronics, etc.
- Favourite your key grocery stores to automatically receive those stores new flyers in your Favourites tab
- Tap the deals that peak your interest and Flipp circles and saves the deal to your Clipping tab
If you want to test other providers, here are some grocery coupon aggregating services you may be able to take advantage of:
You could probably invest more time to tactically navigate around your city to multiple stores in order to take advantage of all the deals…but optimizing life for me is about saving money and time.
So I stick to Flipp in order to accomplish that with the 1-2 grocery stores I find most effective for my needs.
2.) Get On The Store’s Rewards Program Or Loyalty Card To Get Rewards
How many times have we all been be asked “do you have our [X] card?”. Basically every product or service provider has a rewards program or loyalty card. Sure, we all have a plethora of loyalty cards, but it’s free money and benefits for a basic exchange of information to your grocer on your shopping habits.
According to Global News, the average family of four spends $11,440 on groceries every year ($220 a week). If you’re investing that much time and money in a grocery store, shouldn’t you reap some of the rewards just by scanning your loyalty card each week at the checkout?
From price discounts, cash back, in-store point redemption, 3rd party rewards integration (ex. Air Miles) and so on, there are benefits and savings to be had.
In due time your grocer will become tactical with their offers to you based on your shopping habits, so you’ll have to be dutiful and stick to your grocery list…don’t spend more money just to get more benefits.
3.) Develop A Routine To Save Money On Food: Same Store(s), Same Time
Using the same store(s) will help you save time and money – you know the layout and usual route from entry to aisle to exit plus you’ll get familiar with the different savings or offers available. And as we mentioned above you get the advantages of the rewards and/or loyalty program by concentrating on the 1-2 key stores that work for you.
My suppler list consists of: 1 grocery store (the weekly haul), 1 bulk supplier (visiting once a month) and the local farmers market (when seasons make it available).
In terms of the time, I usually try to accomplish everything I need between 8:30AM – 9:30AM on Saturday morning. Why?
- I will likely already have been up for an hour or two and that will give me time to have a coffee, eat breakfast, check my Flipp App and make my meal plan and list (next up #4 on our list)
- It’s less busy than peak times like 6:00PM on a Thursday evening – no waiting in lines and no annoying people blocking a whole aisle with their cart
- I know I can tackle my grocery shopping quickly and it’s done for the week, with the rest of my Saturday to concentrate on other things
- …that time slot just works for me – if something work’s better for you, do it!
4.) Use Discount Stores & Bulk Suppliers To Save On Specific Products
Contrary to #3 above on developing a routine, there are certain products I will deviate from my usual grocery store to other locations in order to maximize my bang for the buck.
I generally only visit these stores 1-2 times per month:
- Bulk Barn: selectively for LOW quantity items NOT necessities – spices, herbs, special recipe needs, etc. Note: Bulk Barn is also in Flipp so favourite their store and keep an eye on prices.
- Costco: high usage spices and seasonings (black pepper, sea salt, etc), bulk meat, olive oil, frozen fruit and veggies, Kirkland brand. Note: check the Costco Savings page.
- Dollar Store: household products, cleaning products, kitchen supplies, storage containers and Holiday needs (Christmas, Halloween, etc.)
I am lucky that all of these are in close proximity to me so I don’t spend all Saturday cutting across the city to hunt down deals.
If you’re Canadian and have a Real Canadian Superstore or No Frills close by, that’s another option to help drive additional savings. For Americans, I’ve read that Aldi is a strong cost savings store in comparison to others.
5.) Take Advantage Of Farmers Markets To Save On Food
It’s not only healthier to eat more fruits and vegetables, overall in life, and specifically those that are locally sourced, it can be a cost-effective way to cut down your grocery bill too. Plus it puts money back in the hands of local farmers, suppliers and entrepreneurs.
Do a quick Google search or check the flyers posted around your community that call out when and where the local farmers markets will be.
Three quick tips for farmers markets:
- Shop what fruits and vegetables are in season at that time. As great as a strawberry in the colds of Winter can be, it’s not cost-effective. Have a quick read here on what fruits and vegetables are in season.
- Make friends and build relationships with your local farmers and suppliers. It’s a lot easier to barter and eventually get better deals (4 for 3, bulk discount, etc.) if you’re a familiar face.
- Go at the end of the day or in bad weather. These farmers are here to sell and move their products. Coming at the end of the day can help get some last minute rush sale discounts on the inventory they need to move. Bad weather will likely mean it’s been less busy and sales are of the essence.
6.) Cut Costs By Meal Planning Your Week Then Make A List & Stick To It
Okay, we’ve got our coupon and flyer supplier, our loyalty card and have developed a routine. So next up on our 13 Easy Ways To Save Money On Groceries is to create a meal plan for the week then make a list & stick to it.
Your flyers and coupons from step #1 will help provide a framework on your meal plan and list. Plus you should do a quick inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what items you still have around the house.
Map out your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for all the different meals you (and/or your family) will need for the week. There are a ton of free printable templates available for meal planning and grocery lists.
Being prepared by understanding what you need will help you save time and save money.
7.) Use Private Label Or Store Brand Names To Save On Groceries
Depending on your tastes and preferred foods, you can save quite a lot by buying the private label\no-name\store brand products when available.
This can take a little testing and learning to figure out which items meet your taste standards. For the most part these private label and store brand items are on par with the big brand name producers, but there are definitely some hits and misses taste-wise.
Cereals, granola bars, oatmeal, rice, frozen vegetables and fruits are pretty easy places to start. I’ve found you can save 15% – 25% on costs when buying the private/store brand.
8.) Capitalize On Sales For Regularly Used Foods & Products
Too often in the past I didn’t capitalize on sales. Whether it was a volume-based sale (buy 2 or more for “$X.XX” per unit) or just a standalone sale (25% off), I overlooked them.
Since becoming more regimented with my spending, that has shifted.
I look to capitalize whenever possible, especially on non-perishables or items that can be frozen. This also helps with step #12 of 13 easy ways to save money on groceries – using everything once a month! Those stocked up sales items will help fill in those meal gaps.
I don’t buy things on sale just for the sake of buying things on sale – I know there are specific items that I can stock up and will 100% use.
Soups, beans, lentils, rice, granola bars, frozen fruit and vegetables, toilet paper, etc.
9.) Don’t Grocery Shop When Hungry & Avoid The Snack Items
It’s an old saying but it’s true; don’t shop when hungry.
You will be much more inclined to get those unnecessary unhealthy and costly items or over shop on what you actually need. It’s also easy to succumb to the tricks of the grocery store merchandisers who selectively place those oh-so tasty treats right by the checkout.
We don’t need to live like prisoners, we deserve some tasty food and rewards throughout the week. However, the according to the Journal of American Dietetic Association, eating healthier and eliminating those lesser nutritional value items can help us save not only our health but budgets too.
I try to stick to this formula for what might be perceived as unhealthy snack items:
- 2 Weekly Guilty Snacks: Like a pack of Skittles or Snickers bar
- 2 Weekly Not So Bad Snacks: Maybe a dark chocolate bar or a bag of Gold Fish
- 2 Weekly I Won’t Feel Bad Eating These Snacks: Like whole wheat nacho chips for guacamole or trail mix
10.) Bulk Cook & Prep Your Meals To Save Money And Time
I am sure you either already do this or have heard others make the recommendation.
Why do people recommend this?
- Helps you avoid expensive takeout after a busy day at work knowing you have a ready-made meal at home
- Reduces time during the week you’re having the prep and worry about food – focus your time on your side hustles, family or something beneficial instead.
- You built a grocery list with specific ingredients based on your plan – put it to work!
So what’s my routine? On Sunday afternoons I load up 3-4 episodes from my favourite podcasts (check my Top 75 Podcasts To Help Improve Your Life, Finances, Business, Health & More post for some of those recommendations) and get to work.
Some common bulk cooked items for me:
- Hard Boiled Eggs: easy protein-rich breakfast
- Salad: ready-made source of veggies, fruits, beans or nuts for lunches or dinners
- Rice Bowls: mixed with ground turkey or chicken breast
- Soup or Stew: throw in a ton of vegetables, herbs and spices
- Chili: ground pork or turkey, mixed beans, some mirepoix veggies, herbs and spices
- Bolognese Sauce: an easy topper for rice, lentils or standalone meal if needed
This has helped alleviate any of my meal stress after a long day of work and kept a lot of savings in my wallet as opposed to a takeout stop on the way home.
11.) Keep An Eye On Expiry Dates To Avoid Food Waste
Lucky #11 on 13 Easy Ways To Save Money On Groceries is a pretty obvious one: keep an eye on your expiry dates!
Any of the savings you’ve achieved will be all for not if you’re having to throw away a pack of chicken, head of lettuce or tub of yogurt because they’ve spoiled or passed their expiration date.
I use a “front of the line” approach – the produce, meat or perishable food items that are closest to expiring or spoiling are closer to the front of the fridge or cupboard.
If anything is able to be frozen, toss it in there and store it for future use.
12.) Use Everything In Your Cupboards, Fridge, Freezer & Pantry Once A Month
Has that can of soup been in there for 6 months? That same can of mixed beans is still in here?! These frozen vegetables have been taking up space since summer!
I try to clear out my food supplies once a month to avoid re-purchasing items I already have and it helps let my budgets stretch further. You’d be amazed at the types of meals you can make by combining a few of your remaining supplies.
- Take everything out and put it on the counter
- Go to MyFridgeFood.com
- Plug in some logical combinations of supplies you have into their ingredients tracker. Hint: use “CRTL” + “F” to search for the items you have or you could be scrolling for a while.
- It will generate some meal ideas – edit as you see fit by altering ingredients or make note of that 1 key item you’re missing that you think would take the meal to the next level and make sure you purchase at your next grocery stop
Generally it’s pretty easy to pull together some tasty rice bowls, soups, salads or chili with the leftover items you’ve accumulated.
13.) Reflect On Your Spending – Set A Weekly Grocery Savings Target
So you made all these efforts to save more and be more efficient with your grocery budget.
How much did you save? How has that varied over the last two months? What are the anomalies that are still spiking your bills? Where are you seeing the best results?
Just like anything focused on data and dollars, we need to review our numbers and see what’s happening.
I plug in my grocery bill totals in an Excel file after I get home and make note of anything I did differently or that might be shifting the numbers higher than normal (ex. specific household item for cleaning or replenishing that skews costs up, purchased “X” number of “Y” because of bulk sales, etc.).
I find it helps me not only stay engaged and evaluating my budget, it helps make it a challenge and game to get it lower and lower (while not sacrificing my health or eating needs of course).
Conclusion: Saving Money On Groceries And Food
These are 13 easy ways to save money on groceries, I am sure there are dozens more.
I hope I can keep pushing those savings further but I don’t want to sacrifice too much time or happiness doing this. I love tasty food and craft beer! You only live once so you need to enjoy the ride while you’re on it.
However, there are some easy ways to better spend your budget and master your money.
What are you doing to save money on your grocery bills?
What strategies have worked for you?
Did I miss anything important that I could add here?
Comment below and let me know what’s working for you.
Here are some other posts that might help you take control of your money and life.
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- Best Financial Podcasts – 30+ Money, Investing & Investing Show
- 89 Personal Finance Tips To Help You Budget, Save, Make & Invest
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