23 Simple Ways to Save Money On Groceries and Stay Under Budget

Groceries are often the second largest expense in every household. The average American household spends about 11% of their annual salary on food, and it’s just about 50/50 on groceries and dining out.

When it comes to cutting costs, most people look at decreasing the amount they spend on food, because it’s almost always possible to spend less. So when it comes to spending less on groceries, these tips will have you saving money on food every month!

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Take pictures before you go shopping

Be sure to snap a picture of your pantry and your fridge before you go. This way, if you can’t remember if you’re stocked up on something or not, you can just check your photos, and you’ll know!

Take a calculator

It’s always frustrating when you get to the cash register and you’re hoping for under a hundred bucks and you end up way over budget. By taking a calculator, you can add it up as you go, and be more cautious about how much you’re spending, and whether or not you really need those cookies.

Grocery Shop Online

Another amazing way to avoid overspending on groceries is to shop online and go pick up your groceries. This is seriously life-changing for a lot of people, for quite a few reasons! It helps you save money in a couple different ways.

First, you can see your total adding up on the right of the screen, so you will know exactly how much you’re spending. Also, by not going into the store, you won’t be adding a bunch of extra things to the cart just because they’re eying you from the shelf. Alongside from saving money, it saves you time and sanity. For anyone who has small children, a trip to the grocery store can be so much work. (You’ll also save money because you won’t have to give in and buy them that candy you bribed them with the entire time to try to get them to sit in the cart and be good.)

But wait, there’s more. Later on in this article, you’ll read about cashback apps, but I’m going to tell you about one of them right now: Ebates! Ebates gives you cash back on all your online purchases, so if you shop for groceries online, you’ll get cash back! Not just from grocery shopping online, but this will work on all online purchases, as long as the company is partnered with Ebates, and so many of them are!

Here’s a link for Walmart Grocery Pick-up (free $10 credit for signing up) and for Ebates.

Always make a list

Never shop without a list. It’s dangerous. Keep an ongoing list on your phone that you can add to everytime you think about something you need. This way you won’t forget anything, and risk having to go back and spend even more money on unnecessary things.

Give yourself a limit on items you can buy that aren’t on your list. For instance, maybe you allow yourself five items that aren’t on your list, or maybe you give yourself an extra $20 to spend on extras. This way you’re not going overboard.

Make meals to freeze

There are a lot of meals out there that you can make and freeze for later. This helps to use up extra ingredients so that your food isn’t going to waste, and it’s saving you from having to make dinner another night. This also helps save money on eating out, because on busy days the last thing you want to do is cook a big meal. Having one prepared and ready to throw in the oven will help you avoid going out to dinner.

Try to stay under budget

A common issue people have with budgeting for groceries, is that they underestimate how much they need, and how often. For example, say you budget out $400 a month for groceries, that’s $200 every two weeks. So you head to the grocery store and spend $200 for two weeks worth of food. That’s great. But not really. Because often times, you run out of milk after a week, or there’s a meal you find on Pinterest that you really want to try but you don’t have the ingredients for. So you head to the store and end up spending $40.

So, what do you do instead? If you only want to spend $400 a month on groceries, give yourself $175 every two weeks. That leaves a $50 cushion for the extra things.

But the goal is to stay under budget. Try not to use that $50 cushion. Don’t stretch your grocery budget out to the max, make it even less than it absolutely has to be, so you’re not setting yourself up for failure.

Use credit cards

Trying to save money? Use credit cards! Sounds silly, right?

By using a credit card that offers a rewards program, you get points for all of the purchases you make on it. Use your credit cards for all your spending, if you can trust yourself to pay it off each month. There are a lot of different rewards programs out there. A lot of them offer cash back or gift cards.

We let all of our points add up, and cash them out just before Christmas and use it to buy presents with. We haven’t spent any out of pocket money on Christmas presents in four years!

Use cash

For anyone who doesn’t trust themselves to use a credit card, cash is the answer! By using cash, you get to physically see your money being spent. This will make you more cautious about your spending.

Also, you will be forced to stay within your budget, because once you’re out, you’re out! Get yourself an envelope, label it groceries. That is all the money you get for groceries for that pay period.

Shop once a week

Yes, by shopping more often you CAN save money! How, do you say? By shopping once a week, you’re less likely to run out of things like milk, bread or produce and have to go back for an unplanned grocery trip to replenish the things you go through quickly.

Meal plan

You’ve got to have a plan when it comes to grocery shopping. Meal planning is so great for saving money. By planning out your meals for the week, you know exactly what you need from the store. You’re not sitting in the store trying to decide what you’re going to make for dinner for the rest of the week.

By only buying what’s on your meal plan, you’re forced to eat it. This will also help with not letting food go to waste! (Especially produce, since it goes bad so fast!)

This meal planning notebook is awesome! It also comes with grocery lists and recipe cards!

Meal prep

Meal prepping goes hand in hand with meal planning. But with meal prepping you actually prepare your meals ahead of time. It’s genius. By spending a day preparing your meals, you’re saving so much time throughout the week.

This saves money groceries by making sure you’re eating what you bought or the week, and not letting anything go to waste. Oh, and you’ll have no reason to go out because you’re foods already ready to eat!

Reusable meal prep containers make meal prep SO much easier!

Cut down on meat

I never realized how much meat costs! It’s insane. For one pound of lean ground beef, it’s over $5. That’s a lot when you’re going through one or two pounds a week.

Try to cut down on meals that contain meat. A lot of people do “Meatless Monday’s”.

If you are buying meat, try to stick to the cheaper meats. Instead of ground beef and steak, go for pork chops and chicken. They’re SO much cheaper, especially frozen chicken breasts!

Shop around and shop sales

While going to multiple stores can be a hassle, it can also save you a ton, if you’re smart about it! People usually assume Walmart is always the cheapest. This is true sometimes. But certain stores, even health food stores, have HUGE sales that are sometimes unbelievable.

Sprouts, for example, is a health food store where I live. It has WAY better deals on produce. They also offer such great sale prices. I went last week and got buy one get one free on almond milk, and the gluten-free oatmeal I usually buy at Walmart for $8 a bag was $3.99. You better believe I stocked up! But, other items at the same health food store are way overpriced. So if you’re smart about it, and shop sales, you can really get the most out of your money!

Places you would never suspect to be somewhere you shop for food, have amazing deals on food! Like Dollar Tree… you can get a huge package of corn tortillas for $1. Same with Big Lots. So many great deals out there that nobody knows about!

From someone who never used to go anywhere but Walmart, the more I shop around, the more I find that there are some insanely good deals at the smaller grocery stores.

Use coupons

Along with shopping sales, use coupons! A lot of the smaller grocery stores offer tons of really great coupons! And, when there is a coupon or a great sale, stock up! Especially if it’s something you are always using, fill the cart!

Often, the grocery store will have a paper with coupons in it when you walk in. But couponing apps are the new thing! Here are some good ones:

  • Snip Snap– This app is really cool because it allows you to download coupons from various stores, and and it stores them all inside the app in an organized fashion, sorting them by expiration date! So cool, right?! 
  • Coupon Sherpa– Perfect for retail stores and grocery stores! Most retail stores offer discounts on an entire purchase, while grocery stores are product specific. This app helps to find savings for grocery stores that are product specific AND discounts on an entire purchase! 
  • Kellogs Family Rewards– Although it’s not necessarily an app, it does offer digital or printable coupons! Not only do they offer coupons, but also a rewards system. And they offer coupons for a huge variety of products including food, personal care product, and diapers! 

Use cashback apps

Cashback apps are similar to coupons, but instead of getting a dollar off of an item, you scan your receipt and get a dollar back! While these apps won’t make you rich by any means, they can make a difference.

You can let the money on your app add up until you have enough to pay for a trip to the store, and then you’re saving a whole chunk of money! Some of the most popular apps are:

Ibotta

Check out 51

Ebates

Stay in season

Pricing on produce is based on availability. Supply and demand! Plus, the produce that is going out of season doesn’t taste all that great anyway! So try to buy produce that is in season! Here’s a cheat sheet to help you know what’s in-season when! (Don’t forget to pin it to Pinterest for later!)save money on groceries by shopping for produce when its in season

Make enough for leftovers

Some people out there don’t like leftovers. Crazy, I know. But for those that do, you never have to buy lunch again! If you make extra for dinner, then you have lunch the next day, ready to go! No need to eat out, or cook.

Be careful when buying in bulk

Most people will tell you that buying in bulk will save you money. While this is true, it can also get you in trouble! Shopping at bulk stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club is great for things that you use a lot of. Things like canned goods, milk, cheese, eggs, and household products like toilet paper and paper towels.

But going in there and getting things that sound good but you’ve never actually tried, or things that god bad, like produce, can be a HUGE waste of money. Because if you don’t like it or can’t eat it fast enough, you just bought a ton of it, and it’s all going to waste!

Buy store brand

There is little to no difference between the name brand company products, and the store brand/off-brand products.

Often times, they’re made in the same place, with the same things! But the companies are smart! They now can have everyone’s business; people who only buy name brand, and people that can’t afford to buy name brand. Smart for them, sucky for us!

Don’t go shopping hungry. EVER.

Seriously, it’s a trap! People who go to the grocery store hungry will spend more than people who have recently eaten. Everything looks good when you’re hungry! Especially unhealthy, convenient foods.

Have a food storage

Having a food storage is a great practice in general, in case of an emergency! But when it comes to saving money on groceries, it’s also great for when times get hard and you really really need to save some money. By buying a few cheap things every time you go to the store, such as canned goods and boxed foods, you can add them to your food storage.

And when you’re really desperate, or you need to make dinner but don’t get paid for two days, you can always fall back on your food storage!

Skip a trip

Challenge yourself to skip a trip to the grocery store by using all that extra food that sits in your pantry and your fridge that you’ve been avoiding. So many people have a pantry full of food, but nothing ever sounds good, so you just go to the store and get stuff that does sound good. Force yourself to work through all that extra food, if you get hungry enough, you’ll eat it! (;

Bring a distraction for the kids

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to grocery shop with kids. Seriously, the entire time it’s “mom can I have this?”, “mom I want that”, or “mom, mom, mom, mom!” Eventually, you give in just so that you can breathe for a minute.

Bring a distraction, whether it’s a toy from home, some fruit snacks, or a tablet. Bring anything to keep them busy!

Make food convenient to eat

In today’s world, we can get anything we want in a short amount of time, without exerting much effort. Everyone loves convenience. And we are less likely to eat the groceries we buy before they go to waste than we are to just go eat out.

You can make food convenient by preparing it ahead of time, or even portioning it out. When you buy produce, put the carrots, the grapes, the berries… whatever it is that you buy, in snack sized bags so that they are just ready to be eaten. Wash all your produce and portion it out as soon as you get home! You can also cut up watermelons and cantaloupes and put them in Tupperware so that they are ready to snack on whenever!

Also, stop buying things because they’re convenient. Buy the cheaper alternative and make them convenient. For example, the premade applesauce pouches and gogurts. You can buy reusable pouches, and refill them.

Sidenote: To help my daughter eat healthier snacks, and to avoid having food go to waste, I have a shelf just for her with premade snack bags of grapes and carrots and reusable applesauce pouches!

We hope that by implementing these strategies, you will be able to save money on your grocery bill each month, and reduce your food bill altogether!

Other helpful articles:

7 Steps to Reduce Monthly Expenses

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12 thoughts on “23 Simple Ways to Save Money On Groceries and Stay Under Budget

  1. Jelony | Blogging to help mums – these are all very helpful tips. I’ve been doing online shopping for most of the year and I found it really helped me stay focused and buy just what I need. I’m also able to add to the list daily whenever I remember something before it’s delivered. Thanks for the additional tips. I will try the skip a trip to the grocery store or in my case delay delivery for some days.

    1. It is often one of the largest expenses for families! I hope these tips are able to help you save some money on your grocery budget next month!

  2. Great post! We have three grocery stores locally and I am always looking at their flyers to see the sales. You can find great deals if you shop around. I recently found that the Dollar Tree sells spices. I never knew that.

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  4. Great tips. I personally find having a meal plan and shopping weekly really helps with savings. This year the goal is to cook for the freezer too, as this would be a money saver and time saver.

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