10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries Today

10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries Today

It can be difficult to save money in all areas of life, even for the most budget-minded person. Some people can cut back on food spending without issue, while it’s the most troublesome area for others like me.

I’ve tried different ways to save money on food over the past few years. The biggest money saver has been cooking meals at home. Another way to save is to money is to cut back on groceries costs, which is what I want to cover today.

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1 | Plan your meals & snacks

Plan your meals around cheaper foods, foods that are in season, foods that are on sale.

The other day I wanted to make a shrimp burrito bowl with avocado. Avocados in my area have gone up in price recently. They were $1.99 each on a recent visit to the supermarket, whereas they’re usually $0.99. I shelved the idea of making that meal, which required a few avocados and chose to make a cheaper meal instead.

When you plan your meals, you also know exactly what you need to buy at the grocery store. You might be tempted to buy things that aren’t on your list that will add to your overall grocery costs. If you stick to your list based on planned meals and snacks, you’ll find yourself spending less at checkout.

2 | Use what you have in your pantry and fridge first

Shop your pantry and fridge first. Do you have anything open but still good to eat, like a half jar of pasta sauce? Go ahead and make a plan to use it up. Use your leftovers and finish your open items, leaving as little waste as possible.

One way to encourage yourself to use up leftovers is to evaluate the cost of them. Do a quick estimation of how much the ingredients cost. A few dollars here and a few dollars there add up. If you throw that food away, think of it as throwing dollars away.

If you make meals with items you already have, you can also delay a trip to the supermarket and save money that way.

3 | Price comparison shop

Some grocery price tags show their cost per unit. For example, laundry detergent might be $0.10 per oz. It’s easy to compare prices when all the options are shown this way.

Sometimes they’re not and you have to do some quick math. Don’t be afraid to pull out your cell phone and calculate the cost per unit if isn’t listed. Then pick the cheaper option.

4 | Substitute items

An easy way to save money is to substitute cheaper ingredients for more expensive ones. You can make meals healthier this way too.

Some common substitutions:

  • Ground turkey for ground beef

  • A cheaper whitefish like tilapia for fish dishes

  • Yogurt for sour cream

  • Better than Bouillon broth base for pre-boxed broth

  • Cabbage for lettuce

  • Canned tomatoes for fresh ones

  • Frozen berries and veggies for fresh ones

  • Pecorino cheese for parmesan

Sometimes it’s worth it to skip certain ingredients altogether. Pass on the ingredients that don’t make a big difference to your meal like some herb garnishes. Skip the spices that you know you’ll only use once, especially since spices can be expensive.

5 | Make more expensive items a treat

You already practice self-control in other areas of your life, so extend that to the food you eat too. If you enjoy finer foods and sweets, make those a treat instead of an everyday item.

I love scallops, and they tempt me every time I pass by them in the frozen seafood section. I just keep walking by reminding myself that I’ll buy them when I make a fancy meal for a special occasion.

6 | Make freezer meals that are easy to reheat

Freezer meals are meals made with ingredients that freeze and reheat well. They (mostly) keep the flavor and texture of a freshly cooked meal even if they’ve been packed away for weeks.

Lots of dishes and items work well for this:

  • Chili

  • Mac & cheese

  • Lasagna

  • Beef stew

  • Meatballs

  • Many soups and stews

  • Sauces and marinades

Most freezer dishes last anywhere from 1-6 months frozen. That means you can cook a whole month of meals in one weekend and not have to cook again for weeks!

Just take out what you need when you need it. You might want to defrost the dish a day or two ahead. The Instant Pot can reheat frozen food for you too if you don’t defrost the food ahead of time.

So when you’re home from work late and you need to get dinner on the table, pull out a frozen meal rather than grabbing takeout or from the pre-made food bar at the grocery store. You have more control over what you eat this way too.

7 | Use online coupons

Some people frown on using coupons because they don’t save you that much money individually. It might be $.25 here or $.75 there. It’s easy to not want to put in the effort to find coupon deal with such small savings.

The key is to make finding coupons fast and easy. Nowadays you can do that on the apps for your favorite stores and through cashback sites like Ebates and Ibotta.

The savings add up. A few dollars a month add up to double-digit dollars over the year. I don’t know about you, but I hate spending more money than I have to on anything. Even a little bit of savings helps the bottom line.

8 | Have a set budget for groceries

Having a set budget for groceries helps to rein in spending. First, it gives me an idea of where to start meal planning.

I may decide to have a nice seafood dinner one evening next week. Then I counter that with a chickpea or rice-based meal the other nights of the week. I always have a few cheap and easy-to-make meal options that I can fall back on when things get expensive or busy at home.

Some cheap meal options, substitutes, and snacks:

  • Spaghetti

  • Vegetable curry with rice

  • Adding lentils to hamburgers

  • Using eggs instead of meat in some dishes

  • Using ground turkey instead of ground beef

  • Eating meatless meals

  • Choosing apples and oranges instead of cherries

  • Apple or celery with peanut butter

I also keep my budget in mind when walking through the supermarket and estimate roughly how much the total is while I’m shopping. If I’m thinking of picking up some pricier items that I don’t need (dessert!), I’ll put it back and think about getting it next time.

Some people combine eating out and groceries under one budget category for food. Eating out makes can make or break your budget. If you eat out frequently and then cut back to once a week or once a month, you can keep some of that money in the food category and roll the rest into savings.

9 | Buy generic brand items

Generic brand items are offered at cheaper prices than brand-name items. Some examples of this are the Kirkland brand at Costco, up & up at Target, Trader Joe’s namesake brand, and Great Value at Walmart.

They’re offered cheaper because the company doesn’t have to pay for research, marketing, and other things that add to the overall cost of items. The savings cross categories too, so it’s not just food where you can save. Many household items are cheaper from generic brands too.

The items often have the same or similar ingredients. Give them a try and you’ll see the savings add up.

10 | Shop only on set days of the week

Do you find that every time you go to the grocery store for one item, you end up bringing home a few more? This has happened to me. Now I visit the grocery store once a week or twice at maximum. I shop on Saturday or Sunday and then sometimes once during the week.

Figure out what days work best for you to shop and then purchase enough to last until your next trip. Don’t let yourself visit again to get another item or two. You’ll save yourself both time and money.

Saving money on groceries doesn’t have to be hard. Using the tips above, you’ll see noticeable savings in no time!

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