How To Save Big Money On Groceries and Cut Costs

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Are you looking for tricks how to save money on groceries?  Look no further. This is a 4 part series that covers every aspect of how you can save substantial amounts of money on groceries.  It just takes a bit of planning and upfront work.

The cost of food is one of the largest hits to our budget. Imagine if you could shave off a couple hundred dollars each month from your grocery bill.  You could invest that money for your retirement, add that to a vacation fund, pay off debt quicker, whatever you chose. 

For a family of 4 we are now spending on average $21.50 a day on food.  That works out to about $1.80 per meal per person.  However, we were not always so thrifty when it came to grocery shopping or about not wasting food. 

Between the food we threw out and the extra money we spent on groceries not on sale, we probably spent at least $5 more per day; $3 on our protein for dinner and $2 for food we tossed.  That’s $150 a month or $1,800 a year!  It’s amazing how quickly a few dollars a day adds up over a year.

Simple Steps to Save Money on Groceries

tips how to save money on groceries
  1. An introduction to the savings potential smart grocery shopping can have on your budget.  My family is easily saving $1,800 a year with a few simple changes.
  2. Learn where and when to buy your household’s must havesEarly on, this will take some exploration but exploring can be fun!
  3. Substitute, substitute, substitue!  Only buy groceries on sale.
  4. Check out cashback apps that have great grocery offers.  After a short while you’ll know which apps have the best deals.

Save Money on Every Day Food Essentials

Consider the items you buy the most for your household.  Learning to stock up on these items in bulk or when they are on sale or just by buying them at the “right” grocery store can make a profound impact on your bottom line. 

For example:  chicken thighs are a staple in our home.  Chicken thighs sell for $3.49 per pound at the well-known grocery store down the street.  Occasionally, they go on sale for $2.49 per pound.  For that grocery store, $2.49 is the stock up price.  However, if I go to the lesser known grocery store in the opposite direction, I can usually buy the same brand of chicken thighs for only $1.99 per pound (not even on sale). 

For our family of 4, we need 3 pounds of chicken thighs each time we cook.  This makes dinner for 4 people and lunch leftovers for 2 people.  This means we could save $4.50 per lunch/dinner combo by shopping at the cheaper grocery store. 

We cook a lunch/dinner combo with chicken thighs at least twice a week, so we usually buy 6 pounds of chicken thighs per week.  This means in one year we could save $468 ($4.50 per lunch/dinner combo x 2 days x 52 weeks). 

Chicken thighs are only one item of multiple grocery items my family buys per week.  Imagine the savings possibilities if you applied this to all your groceries.  While staples across households may vary, the cost savings from shopping wisely is clear. 

Save Money on Those Non-Essential Food Items in Your Home

Sure, you could clip coupons from the newspaper or print them out from coupons.com but let’s be real, that is time consuming.  I’m trying to save time, not just money. 

I’m not saying there isn’t value in coupons as I do use them from time to time myself.  However, I’m not going to invest too much effort into using them.  The cost saving to time spent ratio isn’t worth it for me. 

Fruits and Veggies

One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries is through buying fresh fruits and veggies, when they’re in season.  Alternatively, you could shop at a lesser known grocery store who sells cheap produce in general.  For some reason, the larger grocery stores often have higher prices on their produce. 

how to save money on groceries

Off season, I can usually get a small carton of strawberries for $2.50.  When they’re on sale they sell for as little as $1.00. 

A 5-pound bag of potatoes at the larger grocery store sells for $5.  However, around the corner, at the lesser known grocery store that same bag only sells for $3. 

Fruits and veggies can add up quick if you aren’t making smart decisions when you buy them.  Try not to buy them unless you’re getting a good deal. 

In most cases, it’s pretty easy to plan meals around the produce you buy.  Swapping out baked potatoes for sauteed asparagus as a side for dinner one night should be fairly seamless.

Weekly Ads for Groceries

A little bit of planning goes a long way.  You can save serious money by flipping through the weekly sales ad before heading to the store. 

You could make yourself crazy by going to every grocery store near you each week.  Ironically though, the extra $5 savings you might get by going to all of them isn’t worth the extra gas or time.  I try to limit my trips to the grocery store to two per week and go to where the deals are the best that week. 

I always start by looking at what proteins and beer are on sale as those items seem to cost us the most.  We like to make chili (in the winter) or tacos using ground turkey.  1 pound of ground turkey can cost $5.29, but on sale it’s $3.50. 

In the winter months, we also like cooking chuck roast in the crock pot.  A pound of chuck roast goes for $4.99, but on sale it can be as low as $2.49/pound.  This is the stock up price.

Shopping Warehouse Stores for Groceries

For those with large families, buying in bulk at a warehouse grocery store is a great idea.  We save time and money by stocking up on staples there. 

The ground turkey we use for our chili or tacos can be bought for slightly less than $7 for 2 pounds.  We just have to buy 4 pounds at a time instead of 2.  This is great, as I don’t have to check the sales ad each week at the local grocery store to get a good deal on ground turkey. 

We can consistently buy milk and eggs at the warehouse grocery store for the sale price our local grocery store sells them at.  Once in a blue moon, the local grocery store does have a better price than the warehouse grocery store.  So, it can’t hurt to do the math and figure out what that price is. 

In general, knowing what my break even price is between the warehouse grocery store and the local grocery store saves me time when flipping through the weekly sales ads.  I don’t look at the items I buy at the warehouse grocery store unless they are front and center in the ad for the local grocery store.

Grocery stores often significantly mark down a few household staples to lure you into their store.  They’re hoping you stay and buy regular price items too.  These great savings are always on the front page of a sales ad.

If there’s not a warehouse grocery store in your area Amazon sells items in bulk like this garlic powder or rice.

Cash Back Apps on Groceries

There are some cool apps you can put on your phone that help save you money on groceries.  There are many to choose from, but the general idea is each app has a list of items you can find at most grocery stores.  You can then earn cash back on these items to redeem for gift cards or possibly a check. 

Cashback apps are the modern day version of coupon clipping, without the paper! 

I have tried many of these apps and my all time personal favorite is Ibotta.  I have used it the longest and it works the best for me. 

They have a large variety of rebate options that expand beyond food and they have some great bonus rewards when you redeem “X” number of rebates in a certain period of time. 

I’ve saved about $600 on items I’d buy with or without a rebate in the last 2.5 years I’ve used it.

Final Thought

When you start evaluating how much money you spend on groceries, it will take some time to figure out where you can save.  It doesn’t happen over night and will continually evolve. 

The key is to take one day at a time and continue educating yourself.  Use the simple steps at the beginning of the article to get started (you’ve already read the first one).  Don’t delay! 

Subscribe here to continue learning new ways to save money and time.  We can all use more of both.

simple groceries shopping tips and saving money hacks on a budget for a family

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