Save Money On groceries: 3 steps to follow
Save money on groceries! There are many ways to save money on grocery bills. I’ll show break it down to 3 – before, while and after the shopping.
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Save Money On groceries
Save money on groceries! Average people spend $250+ on groceries (without dining out) per month. If you could cut 20% of the cost, you would be able to save $600 per year! The numbers grow quickly if you have 4 people in the family.
If you cook at home and start clean eating, you could save money on groceries and get better and healthier food than eating out.
I’ll show you how to save money on groceries – break it down to “before”, “while”, and “after” grocery shopping. You can also find a bit more ways to save money on groceries here.
Before You Go Grocery Shopping
1. Clean & organize your kitchen
Americans waste 40% of the entire food production. Not only the foods are wasted, the resources to produce and transfer them to your kitchen are also wasted. It doesn’t end this. The food and its package materials create huge waste management issues.
In order to avoid food waste, you need to clean your kitchen first. This also helps to build the basics of how to save money on groceries – you must be able to know and see what you have exactly.
1) Take out everything you have
It’s like “Kon-Mari” organizing method. It’s good to see what you have by taking them out all. I do it by section – pantry, shelf, fridge, freezer, etc. for easier management.
You will realize how much you have. Knowing what you have so that you can plan grocery shopping better. It’s the first step to plan out how you can save money on groceries.
2) Sort out what you have
Grouping similar things together – seasonings, canned goods, instant foods etc.
3) Discard what you can’t eat anymore
Why do you waste your space for something you don’t need? Discard what you don’t need, but this should be the last time to do so. Once you set up a good system, you could easily avoid the food waste for the future. Keep it minimal so you don’t need extra space. Buy only if you used up the package.
4) Set a section for each category of food
Once you sorted things out, decide a specific section for each food category. You might put sugar at the pantry and at the counter: you must stop that. You must decide the location of each item and stick to it. Only one spot for sugar. Seasonings are all at one spot. Canned goods at the bottom of shelves, and you can even sort them out by kinds (fruits, vegetables, stock, ready-to-eat food etc.).
Things you frequently use – ex. seasonings: close to the cooking area, within your reach
Things you don’t use often – canned foods: should be in the pantry, in the shelves: low (something heavy to carry) or high (something light)
Grouping – breakfast items, snacks, canned (I even separate veggie and fruits)
Perishable – in the fridge or freezer
5) Put labels
It’s easier to see the content with a label. If all the containers are the same/similar, it’s easier to make it neater. Just make it easier for you.
6) Stick to the system
Once you sorted things out, decide a specific section for each food category, and stick to it!
Once you use it, put it back and keep it that way. This makes your kitchen much more functional and convenient – easy to see what you have and easy to find stuff you need.
You could avoid shopping as well just because you realized you don’t need shopping by just looking at them.
Once you set it up, you just need to maintain it. Then you can focus on what you have and what you need. But setting this system up will help you a lot to save money on groceries.
2. Use What You Have
Instead of wasting, why not use what you have? You’ll be amazed how much you can cook with what you have. Check out supercook.com, input your ingredients, and it will give you a ton of recipe options based on what you have.
We tend to buy a lot more than we need. You’ll easily save money on groceries if you go shopping once every 2 weeks, instead of every week.
3. Plan Your Meals
You could come up with a meal plan yourself or check out the recipes online – for free. Cooking can be simple and tasty.
Think of multi-usage, too. When you cook taco beef for tacos, it could also be used to make fried rice or omelet. You don’t want the same food every day, but you can easily turn it into something different using the same ingredients you already have. Be creative.
4. Make a List of what you need to buy
Make a list of what you need and STICK to it. When you go to the grocery store without a list, you wander around, end up buying things you don’t need, forget several things you needed and waste your time. Buy ONLY what you need!
5. Use apps for cashback and coupons
Find ways to save some money for the list you made. I’m not into coupons, yet you could save some $$ if you had the time and patience to do so.
Apps to earn cashback on groceries:
- iBotta: (free $10 if you sign up)
- Checkout 51: ($5 sign up bonus) (Available in US and Canada)
6. Find the places to grocery shopping
Pick 10-15 items that you buy most often (ex. bread, chicken breast, eggs, etc.) and put them on a list.
As you do your next grocery shops, try to visit different stores in your area and write down the prices of these everyday items. You may find that you could save more money by going to a different store.
Or you can use grocery store apps/websites for price comparison. Check out their deals (Whole Foods, ALDI, Wegmans etc.) or Flipp (app that collects flyers) for what you need.
- Fresh produce: farmers’ markets, Asian/middle eastern/Mexican grocery markets, ALDI (I recently discovered ALDI and am an ALDI fan now!)
- Dairy products, nuts, sauces, some canned items: Trader Joe’s (surprisingly!), ALDI (Everything is cheap – especially canned items!)
- Frozen food, non-perishable items: Costco, ALDI
- Salsa, chips, tortilla: Mexican markets (big places, not small ones), ALDI
- Meats and everything else: Walmart
- Toiletries: Pharmacy (not supermarket)
7. Eat Something before shopping
When you are hungry, you tend to buy more than you need. Eat something BEFORE you go shopping.
While Grocery Shopping
1. Go shopping alone
When you go shopping with your kids or significant other, you’re more likely to buy items that aren’t on your list. It’ll be less fun, but go solo to save money and time.
2. Stick to your grocery list!
When you go to the grocery store without a list, you wander around, end up buying things you don’t need, forget several things you needed and waste your time. Buy only what you need! Here are more grocery saving tips on 12 items you could save money on.
Use a small cart or basket
Use a small cart or a basket at the store and stick to only what you need on the grocery list.
Avoid bargain shopping
Don’t buy the stuff just because it’s on sale. If something you don’t need is a good deal, it’s actually not a deal at all.
Avoid certain aisles
Deli, bakery, snacks… Avoid those tempting aisles to avoid unexpected purchases.
Use a Calculator
Add every item on your calculator as you shop and stay within the budget.
3. Check Expiration dates
Get the freshest ones
Don’t buy food past “Sell-By,” “Use-By,” or other expiration dates. Check the products near the back of the shelves because they’re usually the freshest. Never choose meat or poultry in packaging that is torn or leaking.
Buy produce that’s in season
Stick to what’s in season since it’s a lot cheaper. You should budget ¼ of your grocery budget on fresh produce. If it’s not in season, you could buy it at the frozen aisle.
4. Buy in Bulk
You can save money buying certain things in bulk especially during sales. Meats are something you should buy only for sales since they could be expensive.
For food, buy from the bulk bins. Try various types of dried beans, dried fruits, grains, cereals, nuts, or spices instead of the packaged bags. Plan on how or where you’re going to store whatever you buy.
Household goods like toilet paper and cleaning supplies are one of those you should take advantage of. Also, use pharmacy for those items instead of supermarkets. You could get them cheaper.
*Buy in bulk – online*
Buy in bulk online without buying a membership to a warehouse store like Costco and Sam’s club – use Amazon, Boxed, Jet, or Instacart (although there’re some markups than the original prices, they shop and deliver for you on the flip side without any warehouse store memberships).
5. Take advantage of certain frozen items
Buy frozen shrimp
Most “fresh” shrimp at stores is previously frozen. Frozen shrimps are a bit cheaper than fresh ones.
Buy some frozen vegetables and fruits
Take advantage of frozen vegetables and fruits. Frozen vegetables (artichoke hearts, peas, and cooked spinach) and fruits (berries) are packed with nutrition, easy to use, available all year long, and cheaper than fresh ones.
6. Don’t be fooled by marketing tricks
Grocery companies use all kinds of tactics to get you to buy more. Be a wise shopper. Know what you eat using my blog!
Get non-brand or house brand
If you’re trying to save money on groceries, try the no-name and store brands. Especially something genetic like sugar etc., you wouldn’t find any difference in brand names.
Look high and low
Grocery stores typically place the most expensive items on the middle shelves because it’s where most people look. Check the top and bottom shelves so you could save some money.
Stay away from the inner aisles
Grocery stores are strategically designed to place essential ingredients, such as dairy and produce, on opposite ends of the store. This forces most shoppers to pass through all the aisles, oftentimes picking up items they don’t need.
Read the food labels
It’s so tricky to read the food labels, but you must learn how to read it. Food manufactures are very sneaky and deceptive. Reading the food labels for ingredients is only way for you to recognize what you’ll get in your body.
That’s why it’s better and easier to eat whole foods. You know exactly what you get, unlike processed foods.
7. Don’t use shopping bags
It costs from 5-10 cents per bag. If you bought 5 bags, you’d spend 25-50 cents per shopping. Bring your own bag. Not only do you save your money, but you also stop creating wastes for the environment. Save money and be eco-friendly.
After Grocery Shopping
1. Store food properly
Since you’ve already organized your kitchen, you know where to put things away. If you aren’t sure where and how to put fresh produce away, check out “Food Storage” posts. You could learn so much useful information about food storage.
When buy in bulk, use vacuum seal and freeze
Break them down to a smaller/one-time usage portion. Then use a vacuum sealer and freeze them if you don’t use them right away.
2. Scan those receipts
3. Watch for price drops
Just like how some grocery stores offer price matching, some also offer a price drop policy: if you buy something for $20 and then a week later it’s selling for $10, you can go back to the store and get a refund for the difference. If you don’t have time to constantly check for price drops, Paribus can do it for you automatically.
4. If you buy it, use it!
Try your best to actually use what you buy at the grocery store. Put a list on the front side of your refrigerator. If you can’t use it, freeze it! Whatever you do, just don’t let the items go to waste.
Conclusion: Follow these things before shopping so that you can be on top of saving money! Planning and setting up good systems help you to save money on food.