Groceries are a necessity. You don’t need us to tell you that you need food to survive and keep healthy. However, we often are sinking a ton of money into this “necessity” without even realizing it. We may be overlooking how much of our money is going towards groceries because it’s a “need” not a “want”, when we could be saving money on our grocery bill to help us save and get money fast for other things in our lives that are also important.
We’re here to tell you how you can be saving money on your next grocery bill, as well as on your overall food spending.
How to cut your grocery bill in half
Yep, you heard us correctly. Who wouldn’t want to spend half the amount of money on groceries than they currently are? There are some simple tips that can help you do just that:
Use a list
How many times have you gone to the grocery store without even really thinking about what you needed? Maybe when you got there you forgot if you had things like milk at home or not, picked some up, only to get home and realize you already had two cartons in your fridge? We’ve all been guilty of it and it not only causes us to spend more, but also waste more food because we can’t consume it before it goes bad. This is where a list is your best friend when grocery shopping.
Keeping a list is simple. Just have a pen and paper in your kitchen at all times that you can add to throughout the week leading up to your grocery shop. If you find it too hard to remember that list when you leave to go to the grocery store, keep the list in your phone. You can even use your Google Home to tell it what to add to your list and it’ll add it directly into your phone so your whole family can contribute. Alternatively, use a shared note in your phone with your spouse or family that you can all add to.
One thing to think about with a list, is often people will add things they need, and they get home with their groceries only to realize that they don’t even have items to make a full meal. If you want to take your list making to the next level, and really save, start meal planning and deciding what meals you’ll eat that week. Build your list off the ingredients you’ll need for each of those meals so you end up with groceries that go further.
According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, people who can avoid impulse spending when they shop with a list and save up to 23% on their grocery bills.
Believe it or not, eating healthier has more benefits than just on your body and overall health, but also your grocery bill. Why? Fresh produce and food is often cheaper than the processed stuff. It’s as simple as that. If you try to shift your diet to be more fresh and less processed, you’ll begin to see a big change in your grocery bill right away.
Shop at the right grocery store
Every grocery store is different and it’s important to not just go to the one closest to you, but the one that has the best deals. The same set of groceries can cost twice as much at one store versus another. Some grocery stores have sales and great deals all the time on essential items, where some don’t.
If it’s too inconvenient for you to travel to another grocery store, take a look at if yours price matches. This means that if you see a better price in a flyer at another store, you can show the cashier at check-out and they will give you that better price at their store. Flipp is an app that easily lets you browse flyers from a ton of different stores in one place and pin deals you want to take action on. So you don’t have to wait for those flyers to come in the mail like they did in the olden days.
Opt for generic brands
Generic brands are the no name brands in your store, or the non-brand names. These can specifically be cheaper for essentially the exact same product. There are some products that may not taste the exact same, however, there are a ton that are identical. Walmart’s Great Value products, for example, are usually produced by a major brand name food company who might have their own version of these products sitting right beside the identical product with a different label. Not sure? Check the ingredient list of the product you’re buying.
Buying pre-made meals at the grocery store is definitely convenient, but not only do you not really know what’s going into that food, you also are spending way more than what it would cost you to make the food at home yourself. We are going to talk more about meal prepping later in this article but this is a great reminder to keep in mind when grocery shopping.
We don’t mean you need to start being an extreme couponer, but if there is a good sale on non-perishable necessities, stock up on the item. Whether it’s toilet paper, or your kids favourite soup, if it’s an item that you know you’ll use, there’s no shame in buying more of it.
Meal prepping to save you money
Like we said earlier, meal prepping and planning can save you a ton of money. Not only are you likely to eat healthier because you are no longer picking up fast food for lunch, or eating at restaurants, but you are also saving money.
A lot of people think they just don’t have the time to meal prep, but when you start to get in the habit of doing it before grocery shops, and on a specific day of the week, you’ll realize it can actually save you time. Plus, save you from the worry of what to eat or make every day of the week for three meals a day.
To get started, build a meal planning strategy which will make meal prepping less daunting and a lot easier for you to stick to. Here are some steps to follow when building out your strategy:
Draw a two column template that leaves room for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day of the week on the left, and a grocery list on the right.
Fill in any meals that have already been accounted for such as birthday dinner that you’re eating out for, or a lunch meeting at work.
Take stock of what’s in your fridge and pantry and fill in as many meals that can be made from the ingredients you already have. If you have leftovers from the previous week, include those as meals too.
You may also have some ingredients that you can’t make a full meal out of, that’s okay. Add them to your list and add on your grocery list the new items you’ll need to make it a complete meal. For example, you already have burgers but are missing the toppings and buns.
Lastly, to fill in any blank spots for meals, add in any all-new meals if you need to. Need inspiration? Check out Pinterest for some super easy recipes. This can also be a good spot for finding inspiration for meals to make with ingredients you already have too.
Tips to optimize your meal plan
To help get you on track with meal planning, here are some additional tips that can set you off on the right foot:
Stock your pantry, fridge & freezer
Stockpile staples in your pantry, fridge and freezer. Think long-lasting flavorful or nutrient-dense items like rice, pasta, beans, canned tomatoes and sauce, soups, frozen veggies, etc. These are staples that can easily be incorporated into a lot of recipes, and when you catch them on sale or buy in bulk, you can save.
Simplify your planning process with themes
To keep things easy, assign a category based off days of the week like Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Crockpot Wednesday, etc. and mix the recipes up each week to keep things exciting.
Plan a weekly cleanout
Plan one night of your week to just have a cleanout to eat any leftovers you have, a frozen meal you made, or get creative and use up some ingredients you have leftover. Easy and less food waste.
Order groceries online
This can help you from going off your list in store, you’re only buying the things you need, and you’ll reduce overspending.
Double recipes when possible
This way you can eat the leftovers, pack them for lunch, or freeze them so you can have a quick and easy meal in a few weeks.
As you can see, there are a bunch of ways you can save money on your grocery bill and food expenses. This area of your budget can be an easy place to save, and put that money towards something else you are saving up for. What are your biggest tips for saving money on your grocery and food expenses? Share them with us!