Are you stressed about the cost of living? I am. Thanks, inflation. It's getting to the point where all of us will have our dream bodies solely because we can't afford groceries anymore.
Of course, the amount you spend on groceries depends on where you shop, what you buy, and the number of people in your household.
Regardless of how much you earn, there are simple actions you can take to save money, even at an impossible time, like saving during the holidays. Take the time to implement these changes, keep track of your spending, and you'll be amazed at how much you save.
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Before we get into it, to know if you're saving on groceries, you need to know how much you generally spend on groceries.
If you keep your receipts, now's the time to go through them and calculate your monthly grocery bill.
Alternatively, go onto your banking app and use your prior transactions to calculate your grocery cost.
If you have none of the above, choose the start of next month and keep track of your spending, then calculate your grocery costs at the end of the month.
Now you need to know how to budget and allocate your income to your wants and needs. Check out the easy ways to budget if you're new to budgeting and need guidance.
17 Tips For Saving Money On Groceries
1. Sign Up for the Loyalty Program
Most grocery stores offer loyalty programs that are free to join. By signing up, you can benefit from member-only discounts that automatically deduct at checkout — without the need to clip coupons.
From experience, these are usually worth it, but be careful not to buy things you don't need just because you'll get a discount.
2. Clip Coupons
Have you ever heard of extreme couponing? You won't need to go that far but maximize your savings by clipping coupons for additional discounts.
Look out for the weekly circular in the mail and sift through the pages for deals that matter to you. Then, cut out any coupons and save them for your next grocery run.
There are also digital options that are just as easy to use. For example, download your favorite grocery store's mobile app, browse available discounts, and click to load coupons onto your digital loyalty card. Then when you checkout in-store, the discounts will automatically be applied.
3. Make a List and Stick to it
One of the best ways to save money is to go to the store with a list.
While grabbing a snack at home (because, let's be honest, going to the store hungry is just as bad), check your pantry, cupboards, and fridge, and write a list of things you need.
Make it pleasant, and use a preprinted grocery list or a notes app on your phone.
Now, when you get to the store, you're less likely to grab things on impulse because you're hungry or unsure if you need them.
4. Buy Items on Sale
Sales are the best times to buy items that are usually a bit more expensive.
That special coffee you like, buy on sale. Your favorite chocolate, buy on sale.
Check when stores have promotions, and treat yourself to a bit of luxury every once in a while.
5. Don't Buy More Than You Need
I used to do this.
I'd see a deal or discount and add it to my cart; it's discounted, for crying out loud! But then, a few days/ weeks/ months later, I'd discover this item, unused and expired, at the back of a cupboard somewhere.
Then it goes into the trash = money wasted = it wasn't such a good deal after all.
That's why having a list and sticking to it is so important.
The same goes for buying in bulk. It's incredible. . . when it saves you money. As tempting as it is to stock up, don't buy more than you need - especially when it comes to items that go bad.
6. Shop in Season
Fruits and vegetables are much cheaper when they are in season. Stores easily charge double or more than the average price for fruit displayed out of season.
Do you need that avocado that desperately? Learn when your favorites are in season and only buy them during that time.
7. Grow your Produce
This is an ambitious one, but you can grow your produce. For example, you can grow tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, herbs, etc., in your garden.
Don't have space for a garden? There are plenty of indoor garden kits out there. You can start small by planting herbs on your kitchen windowsill.
And if you discover you have a green thumb and now have too much produce - you can freeze these to use later.
8. Avoid Pre-Packaged Items
It's convenient, okay?! Not having to cut that melon - a dream. But it's also a lot more expensive.
You'll save a ton of money buying the items and then cutting them up at home.
Are you telling me you can afford to pay (millions) more for precut pineapple and watermelon? Put on some music, pour a drink, and cut and package yourself!
9. Compare Prices between Stores
Your favorite store might not always offer the best prices.
If you live near various grocery stores, consider shopping at a few and comparing prices. If the differences are significant enough, note where buying certain items is cheaper and make that part of your shopping route.
10. Buy Generic Brands
Supermarkets put the costly, name-brand items at eye level. Sneaky-sneaky.
If you look at the top or bottom of the shelves, you'll often find generic brands, like the store's own brand, that are cheaper and often taste just as good.
11. Round Up your Grocery Cost Estimates
Let's bring in a psychological trick. Round up each item's price.
The $12.49 product becomes $13, and $4.75 becomes $5.
If you keep a running tally of how much money is in your cart, you'll save yourself from nasty surprises when you get to the checkout counter.
And since you've been rounding up, you'll be pleasantly surprised when your final total appears on the screen.
12. Meatless Mondays
Let's not beat around the bush - meat is expensive. If you live alone, you might be able to afford to have meat daily, but providing for a whole family? Yikes.
Luckily many filling dishes don't require meat. However, if you have no clue how to fill up without meat, check out these recipe books for ideas.
Tip: If you cannot live without eating meat every day, add it as a side dish, so you'll eat less but still get your fix.
13. Smaller Dinners
Dinner doesn't have to be a massive meal with a main, many side dishes, and dessert. Sure, it's a time to get together as a family, but you can do that over a bowl of popcorn.
Eggs, a sandwich, a salad, or leftovers are perfect for dinner, and your wallet will thank you.
14. Start Freezing and Storing Meals
Meal prep like a pro. Set aside a Sunday to make a bunch of freezer meals. You'll save money and time, and your future self will thank you for being so prepared.
Another tip is to learn to store food properly. Food lasts way longer in glass containers, and I'm pretty sure you've been keeping some of your fruits and vegetables the wrong way, making them go bad quicker.
Did you know carrots should be stored submerged in the water?! The same for lemons!
15. Pay with Cash
Draw a weekly cash balance for groceries. Then, when you go to the store with cash in hand, you know exactly how much you can spend—because once the cash runs out, that's it.
This will keep you in check when choosing between salad ingredients or ice cream; who wants to get to the register and not have enough cash to pay? Not me!
If you have cash left over, add it to next week's budget or put it in a piggy bank for a rainy day.
16. Bring your Own Bag
Reusable shopping bags are here to stay, and bringing them to the store can often give you a discount on your order total.
If you keep forgetting your bags, do yourself a favor and grab a few now - put some in your car, your handbag, or your gym bag, and hang a few by your front door.
Now you'll always have one handy when you need it.
17. Leave the Overspenders at Home
Most of the time, it's better to go shopping alone - there's no one to stare at you with puppy eyes wanting candy, or secretly adding items to your cart.
When you go alone, with your list, you're more likely to only buy what's needed...and maybe one treat for yourself...
The Bottom Line
Grocery shopping on a budget doesn't have to be complicated. Luckily, a few new habits can help you lower your monthly grocery bill, stick to your budget, and meet your money goals faster. That means you'll have more cash to pay off debt, invest for the future, or save for something fun. Follow these tips, and you might be surprised by how much money stays in your pocket.