How to Save Money on Groceries in 18 Easy Steps
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Buying groceries is inevitable. We need food to survive, so this weekly expense isn’t going anywhere.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save money on groceries. The majority of these tips on how to save money on groceries don’t even require coupons. However, there are a few that do, but incorporating them into your life is much easier than you may think. So if you’re ready to start learning how to save money on groceries, here are my top 18 tips for doing so.
How to Save Money on Groceries with Minimal Effort
1. Join Store Loyalty Rewards Programs
I have to say this is the ultimate tip on how to save money on groceries. Store rewards programs are probably one of the easiest ways you can save money. Spoiler alert: they’re free to join! Signing up is super quick and painless, so there’s really no reason not to.
We regularly shop at Kroger and Meijer so we have accounts with them. So far this year, we’ve saved $225.68 with the Kroger Plus Card and $283.97 with our Meijer Mperks account. That’s over $500 in savings just for being (free) rewards members!
On the Kroger and Meijer apps (any probably many other store rewards apps), you can view weekly ads, browse for coupons to clip, and even create shopping lists. When you clip coupons, all you do is click the button to add that coupon to your rewards account. When you input your credentials at checkout, those coupons are automatically added to your order. How awesome is that?
A lot of stores have “loyalty member only” sale prices. That means only shoppers part of the stores loyalty rewards program can get certain items at discounted prices. This is yet another reason to join.
What I love about Meijer: If you fill 5 prescriptions and have to pay for them, you will receive a reward. My favorite is the $10 off coupon that can be applied to purchases. They also offer rewards back on fuel or a percentage off your next grocery purchase.
What I love about Kroger: Their fuel points! When you make a purchase and use your rewards account at checkout, you are rewarded fuel points. Each dollar spent equates to a fuel point. Currently I have over 400 fuel points, meaning I can get $0.40 off per gallon when I purchase fuel at a Kroger Fuel Station. Using my Kroger Fuel Points, I was able to fill up my car for $14.12 and drive 600 miles before my next fill up. Talk about savings upon savings!
Some notable store rewards programs:
2. Use Coupons
Couponing doesn’t have to be extreme like what you see on TV.
I use coupons every time I get groceries and it costs me little to no time to find and use them. I’m either sent them through the mail from Kroger, get them after checkout, or quickly browse the Kroger and Meijer apps to see if what I’m buying has a coupon. Each time I checkout, I save an average of $10 just by using coupons.
A lot of store rewards programs offer coupons through their website / app, as well as printed store coupons after checkout. Like I mentioned above, all you have to do is browse the available coupons on the store rewards program website or app and add them to your account. In addition to store coupons, you can usually apply retailer coupons as well.
You can find free coupons at Coupons.com. Here you can find a collection of coupons for name brand products, such as Huggies, Bob Evans, Pillsbury, Pepsi-Cola, + tons more. All you need is a printer and you’re good to go.
In addition to Coupons.com, you can get more coupons from P&G Everyday. I just signed up for an account and it took less than a minute. You can either download coupons to existing loyalty cards (like Meijer) or print coupons directly from the site.
In order to maximize savings, combine your coupons with store sales. It’s possible to get things for free or next to nothing.
3. Shop the Sales
Almost, if not every, product usually goes on sale every 6 weeks (6-week sale cycle). If something you use regularly is on sale, you should try and buy enough to last you until the next sale.
Say for example your family eats cereal every day for breakfast and it’s on sale for $2.49 (regular $3.49). If you go through a box a week, stock up and buy 6. You’ll be saving $6.00 and you won’t have to buy it for another 6 weeks.
When you do this for multiple products you use regularly that have a good shelf life (i.e. canned & packaged goods), the savings will add up. If you add coupons to the mix, you’re going to save even more money.
However, do not buy something just because it’s on sale. The same goes for buying things because you have a coupon for it. You should only purchase things you actually use, otherwise you’re wasting money. And make sure what you’re buying won’t go bad before you can use it.
4. Buy in Bulk
There are so many great deals you can find shopping at Costco that you can’t find elsewhere. My Costco membership has already paid for itself this year just from shopping there once. It’s saved me so much money over the past 2 years and it can save you money, too.
Here are the types of things I personally buy at Costco:
• Toilet paper: I got 45 rolls of Cottenelle toilet paper for about $16 (we normally pay $10 for 8-12 rolls). This will last us well into the new year.
• Dishwasher packs: These were on sale so I got a 90 pack of Cascade Complete Action Packs for $12. Before I bought them, I looked to see what price they were at Meijer – they were about $12 for 45.
• Bread: We eat Brownberry Oat Nut Bread. They’re usually about $4 at Meijer or Kroger. We get 2 for about $6 at Costco and buy a bunch to freeze for later.
• Peanut butter: Ian absolutely loves peanut butter so we go through it like crazy. Costco has organic, natural, no sugar added peanut butter that comes in 2-28oz packages for $12. I bought 4 of those 2 packs back in June and we still have 3 jars left. The peanut butter at Kroger only comes in small jars and it’s quite expensive. We’ve definitely saved at least 50% buying peanut butter at Costco.
• Some others are: Checkups dog treats, ibuprofen, Claritin, frozen chicken breasts, ground turkey, Hershey’s Simply 5 Chocolate Syrup, batteries, granola bars, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, Craisins (we got 2 – 4lb bags for like $10), etc. However, we do not buy things we know we won’t eat or use before the expiration date. Since there’s only 2 of us, we don’t buy fruit or salad in bulk since we just won’t eat it. Otherwise, we’d be wasting money.
The list goes on and on of what you can get at Costco. You can even get gift cards and electronics at awesome prices for much less than you’d pay at any other store.
Buying in bulk has saved us so much money and allows us to go months without having to buy those things again. If you’re looking to save some serious money, I highly suggest buying in bulk and getting a Costco membership.
Another great way to save by buying in bulk at Costco: the $5 Meal Plan has a Summer Pantry Staple & Freezer Friendly Edition Meal Plan where you can get 20 meals from Costco for $150. That’s stupid cheap. For more information on the $5 Meal Plan, you can read my review on it.
5. Use Amazon Subscribe & Save
Amazon Subsribe & Save is something I wish I’d started using sooner. Here is a snippet from Amazon about their Subscribe & Save Program:
Set up regularly scheduled deliveries and earn savings with Subscribe & Save. Unlock extra savings on eligible subscriptions when you subscribe to five or more products at one address on your monthly delivery day. From diapers to toothpaste to dog treats, you can subscribe to thousands of everyday products from Amazon and Amazon Marketplace.
Through Amazon Subscribe & Save, you can save up to 15% buying things that you’d normally buy at the grocery store. All you have to do is choose the item(s) you want, when you want them delivered, and confirm the subscription(s). They can be canceled at any time if you no longer want or need the item(s).
Something I really like about Subscribe & Save is how you can have your items automatically delivered to your home for free (unless otherwise noted) with an Amazon Prime Membership. Prime members also have the opportunity to unlock 20% savings with subscriptions to diapers and baby food if they receive 5 or more products in a month from Amazon (have to be delivered to the same address).
If you have pets, kids, or just buy specific things on a regular basis, I highly suggest trying out Amazon’s Subscribe & Save Program. It’s definitely going to save you some money. If you aren’t signed up with Amazon yet, you can use this link to get a FREE 30-Day Trial of Amazon Prime. If you’re a student, this link will get you a FREE 6-Month Trial of Amazon Prime, plus you’ll get 50% off a Prime Membership after those 6 months are up.
6. Don’t Buy Individual Packages
A lot of snacks come in individual snack size pouches. For example, you can get a pack of 20-1 ounce packages of cheezits for around $6.72 at a grocery store. That’s 33.6 cents per ounce. You can also get 2-24oz packages of Cheezits at Costco for $8.99, which is only 18.7 cents per ounce. That’s a big difference in price that adds up, especially if you buy several different snacks.
In order to make your own “snack packs,” all you need are some goodies and these food storage containers. Don’t buy plastic baggies! They’re a waste of money and are harmful to the environment! Plus, your food won’t get crushed in those Rubbermaid food storage containers. 🙂
7. Pay Attention to the Unit Price
This is something I do every time I purchase something. Generally, each item’s shelf price sticker has a unit price as well. As mentioned in the tip above, the unit price for 20-1 ounce packages of Cheezits for $6.72 is 33.6 cents per ounce. The Cheezits at Costco, however, are only 18.7 cents per ounce.
If the item does not show a unit price, all you have to do is divide the price of the item by its weight in ounces and multiply by 100. For example, $8.99/48oz=0.187(100)=18.7 cents per ounce.
Sometimes it may seem like one size or brand is a better deal than the other, but sometimes it’s not. So always check the unit price before throwing it in the cart.
8. Use Cash Back Apps / Websites
Cash back apps and websites are out of this world. They pay you to shop!! These are good for groceries or just purchasing items online. Some even offer in-store cash back when you use the card that’s linked to your account. Honestly, I could kick myself for not using these sooner.
My favorite so far is ibotta. I’ve already made $16.50 cash back and I’ve only been using it for 2 weeks! You can read my review on ibotta, Swagbucks, and Ebates here. You can get signup bonuses from all 3 of those sites.
Here are some others to checkout:
• Shopkick: Earn points for walking into stores, scanning items, visiting online stores and products, and making purchases.
• Checkout 51: Get cash back buying the groceries you love.
• Pampers Gifts to Grow: Every time you buy a Pampers product, simply scan or input the code provided with the package. Once you get enough points, they can be redeemed for coupons, gifts, plus much more!
• MobiSave: Similar to ibotta, you can earn cash back when you buy groceries.
• Flipp: Flipp provides circulars from over 800 local retailers. This way, you can find the best deals around you. On top of that, Flipp offers coupons which allow you to maximize your savings.
9. Meal Plan
I’ll admit it. Meal planning is a time consuming, horrific process. And unfortunately, it’s something that needs to be done when learning how to save money on groceries. Otherwise, you’ll end up going to the store without a clue of what to buy.
The times we don’t meal plan, we end up buying too much produce that ends up going bad or having too little food to last us the week. That means we go out to eat sometimes, which is very expensive. In order to avoid this, you have to meal prep. Now up until a few months ago, I’ve dreaded meal planning. That is, until I found the $5 Meal Plan.
The $5 Meal Plan takes all of the hassle and time out of meal planning. All you do is signup and you’ll get a weekly meal plan sent straight to your inbox. It even includes a grocery list for you, so you’ll never forget an ingredient again. All of the meals are designed to cost you $5 or less per person. You can even try the $5 Meal Plan FREE for 14 days using this link. You can read my review on how The $5 Meal Plan Will Save You TONS of Time & Money.
10. Create a Grocery List
Before going to the store, you should always know what you need to get you through the week. End of story. Otherwise, you’re going to buy whatever looks good at the moment. You might even end up forgetting things, causing you another trip to the store. This means there’s another chance for you to buy things you don’t need.
A good way to keep track of things you need on your next shopping trip is to write it down on a mini whiteboard on the fridge. We incorporated this into our daily lives a few months ago and we no longer forget things we need like milk, cereal, or toilet paper. It’s very convenient and makes creating a grocery list much easier.
11. Eat Less Meat
Meat is by far the greatest food expense there is. Typically, meat isn’t consumed by itself, but rather with potatoes, pasta, or on a sandwich. So you have the expense of the meat AND all the other ingredients to make your meal complete.
If you exclude the meat, you may need to substitute it for more veggies or a larger side salad, but produce is significantly cheaper than meat. By cutting back on the amount of meat you consume, you’ll be cutting back on your spending and hopefully eating a little healthier.
I’m really trying to reduce the amount of meat I eat to cut back on my grocery bill. If I don’t buy any meat, my grocery bill is usually pretty low for the week. When I add meat to that mix, I’m spending at least $10 more (assuming I only buy 3 chicken breasts) and over the course of a month, that really adds up.
There are tons of yummy, vegetarian recipes out there. All you have to do is a quick search on Pinterest and you’ll find tons of options. If you’re a member of the $5 Meal Plan, you can customize your weekly meal plans to have X amount of vegetarian meals and X amount of meals with meat. Or you can make them all vegetarian meals!
I know it’s difficult to eat less meat, it’s something I still struggle with (fried chicken I’m talking about you!). Try cutting back a meal each week or every other week until you’re comfortable with your grocery bill. Obviously, if this is something you just can’t do, then there are tons of other ways you can save money on your groceries. I thought I’d throw this idea out there for those that are in desperate need of money saving tips.
12. Apply for Rewards Credit Cards
I never thought of these before, but they are a great way to earn cashback and even get discounts on fuel. Many grocery stores have their own credit cards for members to signup for and they offer great rewards. Here are some of my top contenders:
If none of these sound right for you, see if the grocery store you shop at most offers a rewards credit card. To maximize savings and rewards, try and get a credit card that can be used anywhere, not just at one particular store.
13. Grow Your Own Fruits & Veggies (or just herbs)
Even though produce is typically cheaper than most things, it still adds to the cost of groceries. By growing your own fruits and veggies, you are not only saving money, but you know how they were grown. Not to mention they’ll taste fresher.
If starting a garden just seems like too much work, you can grow your own herb garden. Here are some great ideas for building an herb garden. We plan on building one this winter since we use basil all the time for pesto.
14. Make it Yourself
Not everything you make yourself will be cheaper, but the majority of it will be. You’ll also know exactly what ingredients are going into your snacks and meals, so you can feel better about what you’re putting into your body. The food also tastes a lot better.
A key to saving money when making things yourself is to buy the ingredients in bulk. You’ll be getting enough of the ingredients that they’ll last you a long time, and they’ll be at a fraction of the cost. Especially if they’re on sale. As always, check the unit price!
Here are some of the things we make from scratch:
• Pasta sauce
• Alfredo sauce
• Granola bars (since the ones without corn or rice are super expensive to buy)
• Turkey meatballs
• Turkey meatloaf
• Chicken pot pie (I make everything except the pie crust since those are tricky to perfect)
• Cream of chicken soup (super easy and super great in my pot pie)
• Cookies, brownies, cake, cupcakes, muffins
• Mashed potatoes
Needless to say, we don’t eat many processed / packaged meals you can get in the frozen aisle. At first, this wasn’t by choice, but I’ve grown to enjoy it. I have corn, rice, and coffee sensitivities, and corn and rice are in almost everything. As a result, we’ve had to resort to making pretty much everything from “scratch” but I really don’t mind it too much anymore. I think of it as my body’s way of telling me to eat healthier.
15. Don’t Always Stick with the Same Brand
The majority of the time, name brand food tastes the same as the store brand. When this is the case, you should always try and buy the store brand items unless food allergies interfere. Now sometimes name brand items come out cheaper, especially if you have coupons. When this happens, obviously choose the cheaper of the two. But buy buying whatever is the cheaper of the two and not buying one just because it’s name brand will help you save a decent amount of money on your groceries.
16. Don’t Buy Bottled Water or Other Bottled Drinks
Since you’re looking into ways on how to save money on groceries, giving up bottled drinks is definitely going to help. Whether you buy bottled water or soda on a regular basis, the cost of those significantly add up and can be avoided. And honestly, giving up unhealthy drinks like soda are going to be good for more than just your wallet.
Growing up, my family always used bottled water from Costco. Our water at home tasted just fine, but for some reason that’s what we always used. It is convenient having ice cold water to go whenever you need it. The same goes for soda or other bottled drinks. However, there are plenty of cheaper, less harmful ways around that!
For starters, I whole-heartedly recommend the Hydro Flask. It is the single greatest investment I have ever made. I used to use a Nalgene and loved it but I hate how quickly the water in it warms up. That’s when Ian introduced me to the Hydro Flask and it has changed the way I view water bottles. My Nalgene holds a special place in my heart as I got it at Miguel’s Pizza in the Red River Gorge, but it just wasn’t providing me with cold enough water. So I splurged and bought a 32oz wide mouthed Hydro Flask and haven’t looked back.
Hydro Flask’s are insulated water bottles that keep your cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and warm up to 6 hours. I have yet to drink warm water or cold tea. Even if I leave my Hydro Flask sitting in the sun for hours when doing yard work, it’s still refreshingly cold. There are times when I can still see ice cubes hours after adding them to the bottle.
By buying a Hydro Flask, you eliminate the need for plastic water bottles. Therefore, you also eliminate the routine cost of constantly buying them and the harmful effects they have on the environment.
If you buy bottled water because your water doesn’t taste good, you can buy a Brita Water Pitcher to throw in your fridge. I used one at school and when we lived in an apartment and it totally transforms the taste of the water.
If you’re just looking for a way to have ice cold water whenever you want, buy a water pitcher like this one and store it in your fridge. When you want water, simply pour the cold water from your pitcher into your water bottle, and you’re good to go. No more waste (garbage or money)!
These things are one-time costs and will last you years. I’ve had my Hydro Flask for 1.5 years and have dropped it several times from a truck. It has a few dents but it works absolutely fine. They even come in a variety of sizes, colors, and have several different lid options. I have the normal screw on top and the straw lid and find I drink 2-3x more water with the straw lid. So do yourself a favor and stop buying bottled water and buy something that will last you long term!
17. Go Reusable – Get Rid of Plastic Baggies
Another super easy way to save money at the grocery store is by ditching the plastic baggies (i.e. Ziploc bags). As with a lot of things on this list, plastic baggies are not only bad for the environment but also for your wallet. They also don’t protect your food from getting squished.
Instead, I highly suggest buying a set of reusable food storage containers. I got this set of 42 Rubbermaid Food Storage Containers for Christmas a few years ago and use them everyday. They aren’t expensive, they come in a variety of sizes, and are something you won’t have to buy again unless you want more. There are also cheaper options that you can find at your local dollar store. Those obviously aren’t as high of quality but they will do the job just fine and help you save money.
18. Bring Your Own Reusable Bags
Some stores offer discounts to people who bring their own bags. This will save you money and help save the environment, one bag at a time.
In case you haven’t noticed, plastic bags rip very easily and don’t keep groceries in place. Paper bags are a step up, and reusable bags are 10x better. Reusable bags can be used over and over and over again, and they can hold a lot more groceries than plastic bags without ripping.
Every time we go grocery shopping, we bring our reusable bags and only use 4-5 bags for all of our groceries. They are very durable and don’t allow groceries to fall all over the place as easily as with plastic bags. Trust me, they make carrying groceries so much easier and you don’t have to worry about them ripping.
So whether you’re trying to save some money or trying to reduce your negative impact on the environment, invest in a few reusable bags for your groceries. You won’t regret it!
Do you have any tips on how to save money on groceries? Leave a comment and I’ll add them to this list. And don’t forget to share this post if it was helpful. 🙂