My household only consists of two people I feed everyday. My husband and myself. While it might only be two people, I am home most days now and eat every meal at home. When I first stayed home I found myself eating out, not having enough food for a decent meal, or not wanting to eat the same things over and over again. This cost me many $$$.
So what did I do….. went to the grocery store. Bought ALL OF THE THINGS! Spent $180 on that food. We don’t have money for $180 to be spent on food each week so I can fulfill my cravings, not to mention that most of what I got was absolutely terrible for me. With that experience, I search for ways I saved on groceries in the past and new ones I could use going forward. I went from $180 in crap food to $50-$60 in groceries each week that made real meals, fed me and my husband 3 times a day + snacks (21 meals for two people), and it wasn’t complete garbage food. I think that is pretty darn good, so I am sharing my favorite and easiest ways to save on groceries!
- Keep your staples stocked. In my pantry I almost always keep rice, quinoa, and lentils. They are all pretty cheap and add bulk to meals. They are also healthy! I also keep things like flour, sugar, a few spices we use on everything stocked all the time. If the store is having a sale, or I happen to have a coupon (Although I almost never have coupons) I might buy an extra. A few other things I try to stock: dried pasta, baking soda/powder, Beans, oil, vinegar, oatmeal, pasta sauce, and broth. By keeping these things stocked you can round out meals, add extra flavor, and cook from scratch which is $$$ saving!
- Look in your Fridge. When I go to the store and do not check out my fridge or pantry before I go, I usually end up with something I didn’t need or forget something I did actually need. It is so easy to open my fridge and see we are out of almond milk, but still have eggs. Except when I don’t do that I forget almond milk and bring home more eggs. This is also how I make my grocery list which I the MOST IMPORTANT thing I do to save money.
- Make a LIST. This goes hand in hand with checking out your pantry and fridge before you go. Making a list helps me to stay on track, and not buy the yummy looking pizza rolls when I don’t really need them in the first place. (But honestly, I love pizza rolls.) Also, this helps me to make sure I have complete and nutritious meals for the week. Otherwise I end up with odds and ends. I am then running back to the store for chicken for stir fry, tomato juice for chili, and cheese for tacos because I didn’t think about any of that before I went to the store. Which adds up in various ways. From gas back and forth, to the other stuff I bought instead of the things I actually needed that will probably go bad before I use them.
- AlDI. I know this is a particular store, and not everyone may be close to one. If by chance you have one in your area, PLEASE GO! I once many years ago thought Aldi had poor quality, or expired food. That isn’t the case. Aldi has amazing food! Lots of organic and gluten free options, and usually has everything I need. Plus, the prices will blow you away! I get eggs for .99 cents. Avocados on special for .59 cents. Not to mention great meat prices. I bought meat from Aldi and from a big chain grocery store same day ( I forgot my list….), and my Aldi meat was fresher longer. I went to use the big chain meat, it looked slimy and wasn’t to expire in 4 days. Not my Aldi stuff! I exclusively shop at Aldi for all of my groceries. I always get great product and save tons of money!
- Plan Ahead. This has been hard since becoming pregnant. On the day I plan all of the meals I chose sounded great, but come Thursday those meals don’t sound good because I have this major craving for Chinese take out or Mexican food. With that said, if plan for the meals I am going to eat I am less likely to end up eating out normally. I don’t end up with take out because I have meals I am looking forward to, or because I know I have what I need to make a yummy meal at home. Notice a trend?!?!? Planning is key! Makes all the difference.
- Skip the coupons. I am not against coupons. I use them. I especially love them when they are for clothes or shoes, but not at the grocery store usually. They usually take a good bit of time to cut, find, or print. They are also usually for a certain brand, a specific product, and I find that it isn’t usually on the things I keep stocked or use all of the time. Which is okay, because I could plan for a meal with X particular item, but I don’t know that the time and effort spent finding a coupon is worth the savings. I will say, if you are super savy with coupons and know how to get 10 jars of pasta sauce for a penny that is amazing! I just do not know how to do that, and don’t find coupons helpful items like produce and meat which is where the bulk of my money is going for groceries.
- Apps. Something I use in place of coupons is rebate apps. My favorite one is Checkout 51. I like Checkout 51 because they usually list brands and products I buy anyway, and they also have a general section where you can redeem rebates on products that aren’t a specific brand. For example, there might be a rebate for milk and it doesn’t matter the brand, if it is nut milk, cow’s milk, or some other kind of milk. It is easier than coupons for me because everything is in one place and you get money by just uploading your receipt. Also if you don’t redeem anything else, every week they have uploaded receipts for $60 or more are entered in $500 giveaway.
- Rewards. If the grocery store you shop at offers a rewards program join it. Especially if it is free! I don’t plan my shopping trips around coupons, rebates, or rewards, but rewards are great because it is usually as simple as swiping your “rewards card” or putting in a phone number. Like I said, I don’t plan my groceries around sales. I just don’t take the time to do that, but at checkout it is so easy to swipe my rewards card and usually I save a few cents to a couple dollars. Every bit helps, especially when it couldn’t be more easy!
- Make meals go farther. This kind of goes with planning, but it is worth sharing! If you can take one meal and use leftovers, or save something from the meal to complete another it saves money and usually time too! My favorite way to do this is to make a whole roasted chicken one night for dinner. Save the bones/meat and make soup. Or we eat all the meat and just make broth because it is a kitchen staple. Either way, if I can take something we were going to throw away and make it purposeful for a second meal, its like free food! I have a recipe here for making broth from bones.
- Farmers Market. This is my favorite way to save money! Going to the Farmers Market is fun, supports local families and farmers, and saves money. If you frequently shop at the farmers market, you will probably get to know the people you always buy from. It is not just a great way to make a friend, but it is also good for saving money because they can tell you which is the best deal, some might cut you a deal, or they can guide you to items in season which tend to be easier to find and cheap. I also like the farmers market for special items that can be really costly t the grocery store. Fancy goat cheese spread, speciality breads, and organic products are plentiful at the farmers market and are much cheaper because you are buying straight from the source!
- BONUS!!!!! I hated this when I heard it because in my mind ALL of the good stuff is in the middle, but shop the priemeter of the store! It is usually much much much healthier, gives opportunity to make meals from scratch, and it is usually where you save money. Boxed and prepackaged meals are not good you and usually cost extra for the packaging, prepared product, and chemicals that keep its shelf life. I once had someone say you could take care of your body now with healthy food, or pay the cost of healthcare and medicine later. While it might not be right now specific savings on groceries today, I know one medical bill could buy me groceries for a month or years depending on the cost. Healthy is ultimately money saving!