You can eliminate lattes and your cable bill, but what cannot be cut from your budget? Food. Food is prohibitively pricey. Every year, the average American spends roughly $7,500 on food. Grocery spending might consume anywhere from 14 to 34 percent of your household income. We could all use some ideas on managing our grocery budgets effectively so we can save more money, whether you're a student on a tight budget or a parent trying to keep the food expenses at bay. Shopping for groceries on a budget does not have to mean sacrificing your health.
It's all about shopping intelligently to maximize your monthly grocery budget. It's also quite simple if you make the time. You'd be shocked how easy it is to halve your shopping spending!
15 Ways to start grocery shopping on a budget
So, what can you do right now to save money on your next shopping trip? Here are 15 strategies to stretch your monthly shopping budget further. (Don't forget to look at our budget meal plan ideas!)
1. Learn how to cook
It's no secret that eating at home is less expensive than eating out. Cooking, on the other hand, can be intimidating to individuals who aren't used to it. Everyone can cook. You simply need to begin with easy recipes and ingredients.
Cooking at home allows you to control exactly what you put into your body. Also, if you get your goods on sale, the cost of your meals will undoubtedly be less than what you pay at restaurants, which is approximately $20.37 for each meal. Learn a new skill and save money at the same time.
2. Use leftovers to make grocery shopping on a budget easier
Using leftovers is one of the simplest ways to save money on groceries. Repurposing supper from the night before into lunch or another dinner option can help you get more out of your food. If you have leftover beans from the night before, for example, you can use them in another main dish, such as tacos.
Rather than wasting food, get creative and prepare more inexpensive meals. Set a goal of using everything you cook. Look on Pinterest for inspiration on how to repurpose your leftovers.
3. Plan your meals
Meal planning is an important element of grocery shopping on a budget. Meal preparation is critical for saving money and time. Begin by planning your meals for the entire day.
Once you've accomplished that, plan your meals for the entire week in advance and add them on to a monthly meal planner. Meal preparation is simple, and everyone can do it! Cook in excess and freeze leftovers for later in the week.
This procedure not only ensures that you save money by distributing your components evenly over numerous meals, but it also ensures that you can conveniently heat up your food and consume it right away. By the way, there are other inventive and inexpensive dinners to try!
4. Use a budget grocery list
When we go grocery shopping, we frequently spend more than we need to. We buy more than we can consume, and we frequently lose track of what we wanted to buy in the first place. A budget grocery list, similar to how a to-do list keeps us on track with our tasks, is essential for keeping us on track with what we need to buy.
While it may seem obvious, this factor should not be neglected. How many times have you gone shopping for one item only to end up purchasing a slew of other goods you didn't actually need?
Before you leave for the supermarket, make a fast budget grocery list — or use your phone if pen and paper are a little too 'old school' for you — to keep you on track and avoid buying unneeded items.
5. Use store rewards cards when grocery shopping on a budget
Most supermarkets provide a free discount card, points card, or rewards card. When you shop, you can use these cards to earn points and enjoy sale pricing and other savings. In many cases, you won't be able to acquire the things you want at a discount price unless you have the shop card.
Having said that, it's incredibly simple to miss out on the sale discounts. Items are scanned rapidly during checkout, and you may not realize it until you get home and look at your receipt – this has certainly happened to me many times.
Put your rewards card adjacent to your method of payment to guarantee that you always get the savings. If you were not asked for it or forgot to use it for some reason, contact customer care for a pricing adjustment. Remember that you can use your rewards card online as well. You can use rewards cards to help you stay on your monthly grocery budget moe accurately.
6. Sign up for your store emails
Sign up for your store's email newsletters in addition to signing up for the store points card or rewards card. Stores will frequently email additional discounts, such as printable coupons or free groceries delivery or pick-up offers.
They may also notify you of in-store sales based on your buying patterns or items you generally buy or have purchased in the past (using information from your points card).
Be careful not to become engrossed in shopping for every store sale alert you receive via email unless you truly require the items and they fit into your monthly grocery budget.
7. Search online for manufacturer coupons
Many of your favorite grocery stores will occasionally offer manufacturer coupons on their websites or on coupon websites (such as coupons.com or redplum.com) that you can use in-store or online. Before you go grocery shopping, perform a quick Google search to see what you can find. (See our list of the greatest coupon websites!)
8. Don't limit yourself to one grocery store
Sales do not occur solely in one location. Every store is unique, and each one is continuously vying to offer the best pricing to customers. Take advantage of this and shop around for the greatest deals.
You are not limited to purchasing your food at a single store, so take the time to compare costs and stick to the lowest pricing. One of the simplest methods to save money on food is to shop at different supermarkets.
9. When you walk in, ask for the store flyer
Have you ever seen the stack of papers as you go into your neighborhood grocery store? Grab one the next time you pass by!
You might discover a few cutout coupons in there, which are a terrific way to obtain a summary of what's on offer at the store. This allows you to determine which goods on your list are on sale.
10. Shop for store brand goods
Store-brand things are undeniably less expensive than commercial goods, and except for the packaging, you can't tell the difference. Because store-brand goods are made and packaged independently by the retailer, it's no surprise that they're less expensive.
While not all foods have a store-brand counterpart, canned foods, sauces, and other processed foods are almost always available in store-brand forms.
11. When grocery shopping on a budget, look for bargains
Bargain hunting is an important part of grocery shopping on a budget. All of your preparations save money and be on budget can be for naught if the one head of lettuce you require costs $6.99. Take notice of what fruits and veggies are on sale in the supermarket. Most likely, it will be items that are in season and in abundance.
If you see anything on sale, take advantage of it. Have you noticed that 2 lbs of pumpkin costs only $0.50? Why not pick up a couple? Vegetables are extremely versatile and can be used in so many different ways.
You can prepare pumpkin soup alone, or you can get creative and make pumpkin cornbread, pumpkin beef, black bean chili, or pumpkin cannelloni. There may also be an abundance of cabbage or grain. These meals can be preserved and enjoyed at a later date, saving you a lot of money in the long run.
12. Learn how to store your groceries
Your best friend is the refrigerator. While canned products, seasonings, and noodles aren't generally a concern in terms of shelf life, other foods are a completely different story. Vegetables and fresh fruits should be refilled every one to two weeks because they don't stay long, even when refrigerated.
Foods' shelf life, on the other hand, can be significantly extended by storing them correctly in the fridge and freezer. Make sure to put all meats in the freezer as soon as you come home from the store. Freezing meats will surely extend their shelf life, so buy them when they're on sale, and don't be afraid to stock up. The same can be done for bread.
13. Buy your groceries online
Online grocery shopping is a terrific method to save money because you aren't distracted by delicious fragrances or product placements; instead, you can just search for and buy what you need. Furthermore, because you are shopping online, you have more time to consider whether or not the products you have put in your cart are truly necessary.
Yes, shipping fees can be expensive – usual rates range from $10 to $20. However, if you try a different service, you may be able to uncover specials that give free or low-cost delivery. And how many times have you spent significantly more in-store after succumbing to the lure of impulse purchases than the delivery cost?
You may be able to save money on shipping costs if you choose to pick up your online purchases in-store. You place your order online, and then your shop schedules a pickup time for you to come to pick up your pre-packed foods.
Pickup is frequently cheaper than delivery by up to 50 or 75 percent. If you have access to online shopping, you should absolutely consider taking advantage of it! Grocery shopping on a budget is considerably easier when you shop online.
14. Pay with cash
When people use credit and debit cards, they tend to spend more money. Using cash can make it easier to keep to your monthly grocery budget. The cash envelope budgeting approach is an excellent way to transition from cards to cash.
This is where you place specific quantities of cash to pay your bills in designated envelopes. For example, you might keep a separate envelope for your monthly grocery. This allows you to stick to your budget and avoid overspending.
15. Prioritize your needs
Defining your needs vs. your wants isn't simply for purchasing goods. This method can also be used to create a budget grocery list. It's all too simple to stock up on stuff we don't need just because it sounds good.
For example, do you NEED to buy steak every week, or is it possible for you to find a cheaper meal option? Finding strategies to save money on groceries by determining what you truly require can result in significant monthly savings.
You can save money grocery shopping on a budget
It is simple to cut your food spending in half. It takes time and a little effort and discipline, but the savings are well worth it! Finding strategies to save money on groceries might help you save for other purposes as well. Let's imagine that you start saving $50 on groceries every month; that's $600 in a year!
Learning how to be thrifty in all parts of your finances will help you avoid squandering money and increase the size of your bank account!