How to Save Money on Groceries and Cut Your Family’s Expenses by $1,000 a MonthSaving Money
We may receive a commission if you sign up or purchase through links on this page. Here's more information.
Food is one of the largest expenses for many American households, right after housing and transportation. Food accounts for around 12.5% of their spending.
The good news is that your food bill is one of the easiest to reduce. Housing and transportation tend to require longer-term planning.
However, when you learn how to save money on groceries, you can implement the strategies almost immediately.
One of the simplest things you can do to reduce your grocery budget is to plan.
You can also try to create as many meals from scratch as possible. Pre-cooked or ready-to-cook foods are rarely the best deals.
For example, veggie or fruit trays may seem convenient but they are usually costlier that if you buy whole produce and do your own cutting.
Of course, you will have to set aside the time for meal prep. However, this is a trade-off for saving money and reducing your grocery budget.
The tips below include everything from comparison shopping to using coupons and planning meals around what’s on sale.
It may be difficult to adjust to this new way grocery shopping in the beginning. However, it will get easier with time.
Get ready to shrink your grocery budget with this comprehensive collection of tactics.
Table of Contents
Plan Ahead to Save on Groceries
Start by eating before you go grocery shopping. Yes, really.
When you shop on a full stomach, you’re less likely to buy snacks and things you don’t need.
When you’re hungry, you have less self-control and may purchase not just snacks, but household items and other things you don’t need.
Make sure you make a list before you leave home and stick to it.
The list should include the ingredients you need for the week. Buy only what you need to make your menu a reality.
If it seems difficult to plan meals for an entire week, start with a four-day plan. You can gradually increase the days as you get more comfortable.
Shopping only once per week can help you save money and stay focused on sticking to your grocery budget.
You should also shop when you have lots of energy. If you’re tired and worn out, it will be difficult to focus and make sensible choices.
If you need to shop when you’re tired, do so in familiar grocery stores.
When considering how to save money on groceries, think about you can find exactly what you need quickly in stores you know well.
Your local stores may publish weekly ads in the paper or on social media. You can look for these and plan to incorporate sale items in your shopping.
You can then plan your meals around items that are on sale or ingredients you can buy in bulk quantities. This is a relatively simple method since all you need to do is look for the ads.
Rotate Where You Shop
Different stores will offer different sales each week. By rotating where you shop, you can get a wide variety of items.
You will be able to eat a range of foods at discounted prices. When you use your grocery budget calculator, you will realize you can save quite a lot.
Additionally, when you buy large amounts, you can freeze food items for use at a later date.
When you are first planning your grocery budget, you should do a price comparison at the stores you frequent.
Use Your Purchases in Ways That Save Money
After you have bought your food following careful planning, you need to ensure it does not go to waste.
Try to cook enough food that you have leftovers for the next day or you can freeze leftovers for a meal another day.
You can also package your own snacks if you’ve bought an economical large package. You can grab a small baggie when you have to run instead of buying snacks while you’re out.
Also, you can try to buy fewer pre-packaged snacks and make your own combos.
Take some time at the start of the week to cut up fruit and vegetables. You can grab these for snacks as well.
Keep basics like rice, legumes, spices, canned meats, and flour in stock. You can make a quick meal if you’re pressed for time or can’t be bothered to do a lot of work.
Use What You Have First
Be sure to check your fridge and cupboards each month and use what you already have before buying more.
It helps if your food is well organized and you can clearly see what you have. If you can’t see your items, you may end up buying things you already have.
If you choose to buy food in bulk, make sure to keep an eye on the expiration dates. Package foods so they will last as long as possible.
For meats, pre-cook or marinate them and then freeze them. When you have food almost prepared at home, you’re less likely to spend money eating out.
Don’t forget to take back your bottles and cans so you can get the deposit you paid. This will put some extra cash in your grocery budget.
Additional Ways to Stay Within Your Grocery Budget
Try some new foods if the price is right. It is easy to purchase the same cereals, vegetables, and juices every week.
However, if you try a cheaper alternative, you may realize you like it just as much or even more. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
Take your calculator with you when you go shopping and add up your purchases as you put things in the cart.
You should also do the math to see if 3-for-1 offers or larger packages are really the better deal. This will typically vary by product.
If you have children or other young relatives, you can give them this task. This will help you save money on groceries.
Consider learning to make more of your favorite food. You can take a cooking or baking class or ask a friend for help in expanding your skills.
Buy non-food items like sandwich bags or paper towels at the discount store or get the house brand from the supermarket. Many are made by the same company but simply carry different names.
Be careful with sales. Don’t be tricked into buying items you don’t need.
Consider using a smaller shopping cart. This will reduce the amount you are able to pick up and there limit wasteful spending.
When you don’t have a lot of room to place groceries, you will have to think carefully about if you really need each item.
Ask store staff for a rain check if they run out of an advertised deal. This will allow you to get the item at the sale price when it is in stock again.
Just make sure you take careful note of when the rain check expires.
Be sure to keep an eye on the cashier as your items are scanned. Sometimes items are mispriced.
If you don’t pay attention, you may end up being overcharged.
How to Save Money on Groceries: Even More Ways to Reduce Your Expenses
Seek Out Loyalty Rewards and Cashback
Popular grocery stores like Winn-Dixie, Publix and Safeway have loyalty programs. These can help you to get significant bargains.
Retailers also offer email newsletters that may include digital coupons or other ways to save. You will also find grocery store coupons in your local newspaper.
Coupons can result in massive savings so take the time to look for them.
Many credit cards also offer incentives for grocery shopping. Just make sure you understand when grocery rewards are being offered so you can do most of your shopping at this time.
Some credit cards offer 5% cash back on categories which rotate quarterly. You may have a maximum quarterly spend of up to $1,500.
If you don’t want that much in groceries, you can use the card to buy that amount in gift cards.
There are several legitimate options for getting cash back on your purchases. One of them is Ibotta, an app that will reimburse you if you submit a copy of your receipt.
All you have to do it sign up, select the cash back offers that interest you, and start shopping! When done, simply upload your receipt to redeem your offers.
Ibotta will pay you back in 48 hours tops. After that, you’ll be able to withdraw your funds to PayPal or Venmo.
Another great cashback option is Affinityy, which allows users to get money back on their online purchases, including groceries, every day.
Affinityy has partnered with hundreds of top companies worldwide to bring shoppers multiple discounts and cashback options.
Payments are made directly via PayPal once you get a minimum of $50 in your account.
With Inbox Dollars, you’ll be able to earn cash back by shopping for groceries online, but also by completing many other tasks.
Cash rewards are available for taking surveys, playing games online, surfing the web, and more.
Users can withdraw the earned funds to PayPal or can opt for a check or an electronic payment.
Learn the Tricks Stores Use on Shoppers
Grocery stores really want you to part with your hard-earned cash. They use a number of strategies to get you to buy more.
For example, some food manufacturers pay to have their products placed at eye levels or specific point around the store. For the best deals, look above or below these items.
Your grocery store is also tricking you into buying candy in the checkout line. While you’re waiting for your items to be scanned, your eyes start to wander.
Before you know it, you’ve picked up a bunch of snacks you don’t need. If you always get tempted at this point, consider using the self-checkout lane.
A study conducted by the IHL Consulting Group found that impulse purchases drop by 32 percent in women and 16.7 percent in men when they used the self-checkout lane. This is because shoppers are faced with fewer temptations.
Consider Some Frozen Foods Instead of Fresh Produce
Produce marketed as fresh isn’t always safer and healthier than frozen food.
Unless you can verify how it was grown, it may have pesticides or have traveled a long distance. This would cause the produce to lose nutrients.
You would be better off buying berries and spinach in their frozen form.
When it comes to meat, ask if it gets discounted at a particular time of the day. That should be the time you head to the store.
Check Out Alternatives to Chain Stores
If you want fresh produce that’s also affordable, you should check out local farmers.
Try your local Community Supported Agriculture association, especially during the summer months.
You would usually pay an upfront fee and then collect produce throughout the season.
You may be able to purchase additional shares bread, eggs, cheese, and other items.
Another option is to get together with neighbors or friends and start a bulk-buying co-op.
Lots of other markets will have cheaper produce and high-quality spices and herbs.
Do Some Shopping Online
You’ll need to buy perishable items locally. However, it is likely that many of the things you eat don’t need to be frozen or chilled.
You can purchase them online at lower prices and have them delivered. Many health foods are best bought this way.
As with any other shopping experience, be sure to compare prices carefully. Factor in shipping and handling costs and any applicable sales taxes.
Some items are only sold in bulk. If you don’t want to stock up, you can involve friends or relatives who buy similar items.
Look for Drugstore Deals or Shop in Discount Stores
Many grocery items can be expensive in drugstores like CVS and Walgreens. However, the weekly deals can be very attractive sometimes.
You just need to sign up for the free store cards to cash in on the bargains. You can either register online or do it in-store.
Don’t dismiss discount stores like Aldi and the Dollar Tree. There may be limited supply, but the prices are very low.
When you’re looking at how to save money on groceries, pop into the discount store. Just do your calculations to ensure you’re really getting a deal.
A $1 snack may seem attractive but maybe you can get 3 packs of the same snack for $2 elsewhere.
Grow Your Own Produce
This is the best way to save on groceries like herbs and spices. If you have a small garden filled with your favorites, there’s no need to buy them.
Of course, you will need to space and time to take care of your crops. However, small jars or window boxes can be an excellent place to start.
You can grow enough mint, parsley, basil, or oregano for household use in a very small space.
These herbs would be cheaper, fresher, and more nutritious than anything you would buy in the supermarket.
Hunt Wild Game
Obviously, this is dependent on where you live and the laws governing hunting. However, if hunting for your own meat is an option, you should look into it.
It is cheaper and healthier than buying meat at the store. Of course, you need to have hunting skills and know how to handle the meat safely.
If you live in a hunting area, ask around and see what is available. You may also be able to purchase wild meat from someone else in your area.
If you can get this or any other meat in bulk, learn how to freeze and thaw meat properly. This is important, so your purchase doesn’t go to waste or your family doesn’t eat unsafe foods.
How to Save Money on Groceries and Lower Your Bills
Food shopping bills are relatively easy to reduce. If your household’s spending is getting out of control, you may want to begin here.
With just a few adjustments to the way you do your shopping and cooking, you can save up to $1 000 per month.
If you know the right strategies, you can eat healthy, affordable meals on a consistent basis.
Planning ahead and making the most of your resources is key as you try to determine how to save money on groceries.
How do you currently save money on groceries?
Which of these tactics are you most excited to try?
Here are some more grocery-saving tips.
When you’re trying to save money, you need to evaluate every part of your budget. Your grocery budget is a goldmine for savings as long as you avoid these mistakes!
Save on groceries by avoiding these common mistakes. You can save money, and have a huge impact on your monthly spending, all without starting a side hustle.
Most households spend upwards of $200 a week on groceries, even people who are only buying for one or two people can easily drop $100 every few days between groceries and fast food.
1. You Buy the Same Things All Year Round
Many people have their go-to shopping list that is a mix of comfort food and pantry staples. But this buying habit can wreak havoc on your grocery bill.
To save on groceries, buy the fresh food that is in season. Buying vegetables and fruits over pantry snacks can almost immediately have a huge impact on your grocery bill.
But when you put your focus into buying what’s in season, not only will you save money but the produce will likely last longer in your fridge too.
Vary up your shopping list and mix up what you cook at home. In January buy cabbage and potatoes. But in April choose cauliflower, and avocado.
Summer is easy to identify what’s in season as these fruits are hard to find any other time of year! When December comes around stock up on squash, broccoli, and figs.
2. Buying Packaged Meat
Packaged meat isn’t a sin, but you could unknowingly be paying a much higher price because of fat, gristle, and bone. Instead, head on over to the butcher’s counter.
The butcher can give you a much higher quality cut of meat, and you won’t get stuck paying for the weight of the bone either!
You can get everything from ground chicken to roast from your butcher’s counter. The only difference for some people is that it might mean they need to change where they shop.
If your current grocery store doesn’t have a butcher on staff, then hunt one down! Sometimes the best prices are from an exclusive butcher’s shop.
Always price out the competition when it comes to a high priced item like meat. Buying from a butcher can also open the door to purchasing meat in bulk.
3. Falling Prey to “Fresh is Best”
Okay, buying what’s in season is best, but buying fresh produce for the sake of “fresh is best” is a waste of cash.
Save on groceries buy heading over to the freezer aisle.
4. Shopping at Eye Level
Get used to standing on your tippy toes and kneeling down because that’s where all the good prices are hiding. Anytime you shop at eye level you’re playing in to superstore marketing 101.
Grocery stores and every other retail store for that matter, place the worst priced items right between shoulder and eye level. That makes these items easy to grab and easy to see.
But when you break this habit and start looking around for the best price, you’ll do some major slashing to your grocery bill.
The only way to get away from shopping at eye level is to keep reminding yourself to stop. There’s no trick or tip to make this transition easy.
Grocery stores will put the faux sale items right at this range with bright colored tags to grab your attention and distract you from the nearby prices.
Many people have turned to ordering their groceries through delivery services or even online. For people in certain areas, you can grocery shop and have it delivered to your door in just a few hours.
Shopping for groceries online has a few forums including Amazon Pantry and Amazon Fresh.
These options have people in urban areas saving an unbelievable amount on groceries because they can shop for the lowest per unit cost instead of falling into classic grocery store marketing traps.
5. Brand Loyalty
Everyone has that one thing that they refuse to get a different version of, and if it’s anything in your grocery cart then you’re missing out some huge savings.
The mistake of brand loyalty is something we’re probably all guilty of, even you. The resolution doesn’t mean only buying terrible off brands either.
Buying store brand can be very different from purchasing third party brands. Stores will often buy product from reputable companies such as Stouffers or Lays and repackage them in the store brand packaging.
Avoid third party brands such as Mother Goose, an alternative for a wide variety of chips.
The one time that brand loyalty can pay off is when you’re using coupons. Big brands will occasionally issue worthwhile coupons.
Brand Loyalty Is Excusable When Involving A Good Coupon
For the good coupons keep an eye out in your Sunday paper or try to find manufacturer’s coupons online.
Go to Coupons.com for a massive number of coupons that you can use at almost any store!
But, between coupon opportunities avoid most major brands if at all possible. It may take a while to find alternative brands that you prefer.
When looking for new brands, buy in smaller batches. Buying in bulk is almost always the best way to save on groceries.
But there isn’t any sense in buying in bulk if you’re taking a chance on a brand, you’re unfamiliar with, especially if you’re shopping at places such as Aldi.
If you feel unable to stray from the brands you know and love, then consider purchasing the recurring items in bulk when they are on sale.
6. Flying by The Seat of Your Stomach and Making Impulse Purchases
It’s the first lesson many people learn when they start grocery shopping for themselves. Then people continue to learn this lesson again and again… don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
Stopping at a fast food place or local snack shop for a small meal can end up saving you money at the grocery store.
Impulse buying is the worst way to ruin your grocery budget. Save on groceries by going in to the store with a plan and a full stomach.
Avoid Impulse Purchases
To avoid impulse buying you can try these tips on top of eating a little snack before going to the store:
- Make a list
- Allow for a treat item
- Plan out a menu for the week ahead of you
- Only go shopping once a week
Starting a shopping trip with a list can be a huge gamechanger if you’re not already in the habit. Separate your list into categories that will help you navigate the store and stay focused.
A shopping list can help you eliminate unnecessary items, or items that you know regularly go to waste.
The trick of giving yourself a treat item can help you avoid the many other temptations in the store. If you know you’re already getting a candy bar, soda, or box of frozen waffles it can be easy to put down the pizza or impulse bagel and cream cheese purchase.
Impulse purchases are often the items that are going to offer you an unhealthy option throughout the week, or they will sit in fridge untouched. A treat is something that you plan on consuming once and right away.
Planning a menu is another great way to keep yourself away from making impulse decisions. If you know what you’re going to cook you can be sure to get everything you need in one trip.
When planning out your weekly menu and writing your shopping list you can think of all the small things you might need and check your pantry before you go shopping.
Finally, only go shopping once a week. Building the good habit of only going shopping once can keep you from running to the store for things you don’t really need.
Working with a list and a menu can help reduce your shopping trips. Every time you enter the store it’s a minefield of impulse possibilities.
7. Not Using Cashback Apps
Cashback apps are quickly replacing loyalty cards, but the great thing is that you can combine them together. Shop your favorite store, use your loyalty card there in addition to any coupons you have and still get cashback!
If you are trying to figure out couponing and can’t seem to get that extra boost, then you need a cashback app.
Ibotta is easy to use and can even help you get into the habit of building a list before you go to the store.
To use Ibotta or similar cashback apps you select your favorite store and then go through their offerings. Usually you can find popular name brands, selections on fresh produce and frozen foods too.
After you make your selections, you scan the barcode when you get home and take a picture of the receipt as a proof of purchase.
The apps can take a day or two to process the request for cashback, but you’ll see that these little purchases add up quickly.
A great way to make money while you’re pacing through the aisles of any grocery store is with Sweatcoin. With Sweatcoin, you earn double rewards – for walking around a grocery store and getting more fit by walking!
8. Choosing the “Cheap” Stores
A grocery outlet or Aldi can save you a ton of money on your grocery budget, but that doesn’t mean that they’re always the cheapest place to shop.
Watch out for coupons and discounts as they roll out to be sure that you’re getting the most out of your grocery budget.
The cheap stores also tend to make impulse purchases even more enticing. Ever notice that people walk out of the dollar store with ten dollars worth of candy and not a single thing they needed?
Before deciding which stores to shop at consider:
- What items you need
- Whether you’re purchasing meat or not
- Available coupons
While you are already considering making a list, planning a menu and heading over to the butcher’s counter instead of buying packaged meat, you might not have thought about convenience.
If you’re driving out of your way to get to your favorite grocery store considering limiting the trips to as few a month as possible. Inconvenient trips to the grocery store can have you wandering the aisles aimlessly not wanting to drive back home.
Choose the cheap stores that deliver value, but whenever possible, chose the stores that are convenient, carry quality produce, and have great coupons or sales.
Wondering how to save on groceries at Walmart or Target? Coupons are the only way to make it work.
9. Starting in the Center
This mistake is another grocery store marketing tactic. Have you noticed that it’s easiest to start shopping in the center of the store where they hold all the sugary and packaged foods?
They do this to keep you away from the edges where you will surely need things such as fresh produce, dairy and meat.
By drawing you into the center of the store you’ll give in to the many impulse options and even tire yourself out shopping, so you grab more items from shoulder height.
Start on the edges of the store and shop inward grabbing the things you need from the center aisles as you go down the edges. This tactic will cut time off your shopping trips and help you stick to your list.
Staying at the edges will also help you stay away from over processed foods and build better eating habits.
10. Rushing for The Sale Items
Surprise, surprise, grocery stores have another trick up their sleeves and it’s the almighty sale. Keep an eye on things you regularly purchase to realize which sale is worthwhile and which ones to avoid.
Sales are the double-edged sword because the weekly ads do have some really good deals. Create a list of go-to items that always end up on your shopping list and keep tabs on what you typically pay for them.
When you know what you pay for these items you can quickly and easily decide if your weekly ad flyer has any good deals.
So, break the habit and don’t drop everything you’re doing to rush out for a grocery store sale just because the flyer says it’s a good price!
With coupons and cashback apps you might be able to get better prices on preferred items.
11. Shopping on The Weekend
This mistake is not something that most people have caught onto yet, but it can have a drastic impact on your bill at the register.
It shouldn’t surprise you that people spend more the longer they’re in the stores and weekends are the busiest time for grocery stores.
So, you’re in the grocery store with a ton of other people and you’re going through aisles trying to wait for the lines to go down all while adding to your cart.
Instead, shop during the weekdays or very early on the weekend mornings. Unlike gas stations, the prices don’t really vary day by day.
But, hitting these low points for the grocery store can get you in and out quickly with minimal impulse purchases.
There is another major section of the week to avoid and it’s all day on Thursday. Nearly every grocery store lets out their weekly ad on Wednesday with their deals starting on Thursday morning.
Every Thursday, grocery stores fill up with stay-at-home parents. Avoid this time at all costs.
If you’re looking to avoid actually going in to a grocery store at all, then consider using Instacart.
Sign up for Instacart for easy grocery delivery any day of the week. You can find your favorite stores, and everything you need from your grocery list.
Save on Groceries and More
You can save money, make money on the side and even hone your skills on creating a passive income which is one of the best ways to build wealth.
There are valuable resources available and you can make significant changes in your daily activities.
Saving money on groceries is a positive step in the right direction for anyone looking to change how they view and manage their finances. Do you have any tips or tricks that helped you save on groceries?
Comment below to share how you took control of your finances or how you made major changes to your grocery budget.
Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.