Saving on food and still eating well can be done! These 5 fail-proof ways to reduce grocery spending can help you get the most bang for your buck month after month.
As a busy mom of two kids, I know how easy it is for grocery spending to get out of control.
The grocery budget is the most flexible expense that I have in my home. I can always run around the house to turn off lights and unplug appliances, but I won’t save nearly as much on electricity as I do when I manage my food spending well and reduce grocery spending!
Currently, our food budget for our family of 4 is under $400 a month. This is just food, not cleaning supplies or toiletries.
Since I’ve been helping families with saving on food and reducing grocery spending since 2012, I have found the average family overspends on food so much that they could buy a cruise ticket every month!
Some could buy 2.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Eating a real food diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is very important to me, so I shop for it differently than most…
SAVING ON FOOD
For example, I once had a freezer-cooking day with friends. We all had the same recipes, same shopping list and went home with the same amount of food. The others spent between $200-$350, but I spent $85.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON GROCERIES AND STILL EAT HEALTHY
When I’m shopping, I spend a few seconds on every item looking for the best value without compromising on my real food priorities. For the freezer cooking day, I made a couple of substitutions that didn’t change the final outcome of the recipes. For example:
- Prepared pesto sauce was $1.50, but the ingredients to make my own pesto were more than $10.
- One of the recipes called for a block of provolone cheese. Aldi only carried provolone slices, but they were half the price of buying a block of cheese anywhere else.
- I bought the slices and tore them into pieces instead of grating cheese from a block. My final recipes turned out just as delicious as the others!
My goal is to eat real food. Before buying anything prepared, I make sure there aren’t any preservatives or questionable ingredients listed on the labels.
But my goal is also to spend less! You can start saving on food too. Here are five fail-proof ways to start.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY AT THE GROCERY STORE
1. REDUCE GROCERY SPENDING BY PAYING WITH CASH.
We budget a certain amount every month, and when the money is used up, I’m done for the month.
If you find yourself running out of grocery cash too early in the month, start using a calculator as you shop so you can add as you go. You can even round each item up to the next dollar, so you know you’ve more than got it covered!
But here’s an insider tip – I like to save a bit of cash in a separate envelope for the last week of the month. This helps me make sure we can still buy what we might need if something comes up and we need to make a last-minute trip to the store.
2. KNOW HOW MUCH THINGS COST BY USING A PRICE BOOK
Is that “sale item” actually on sale for a good price?
I have a head for numbers and pay attention to food prices. But even still, numbers can get jumbled in my head. I write prices and discounts down in a pocket notebook (also known as making a price book). Then when prices drop significantly, I recognize the deal, even without coupons.
This also helps if your family prefers specific brands for certain items. In general, store brands will be cheaper than name brands, but occasionally those name brands go on sale for lower prices than the generic ones. By keeping track of the prices, you’ll know when your favorites are at the best price so you can really get saving on food!
A price book helps you keep track of prices at multiple stores too. You can compare prices between favorites like Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and Sam’s Club. Don’t forget to crunch numbers using online subscriptions too! Amazon subscribe and save is a GREAT way to get low prices on healthy food.
3. STOCK UP ON GROCERY ITEMS WHEN THE PRICES ARE AT THEIR LOWEST.
Speaking of the best prices, when I see a good deal, I like to buy enough so that I won’t have to buy again until the next sales cycle. For example, if pasture-raised chicken breasts are on sale, I take advantage and buy in bulk so I can use them in chicken meal prep plans like this one.
Utilize grocery store rewards programs and rebate apps to get great low prices too.
4. MEAL PLAN WITH THE FOOD I ALREADY HAVE ON HAND TO REDUCE GROCERY SPENDING.
Try a technique called reverse meal planning: Instead of shopping from a list of recipes, shop your pantry inventory first. Then look for the best deals you can find at the supermarket. And then meal plan around those foods. It can be a fun challenge to see what you can come up with using what you already have.
The Harvard School of Health says that meal planning and prep is a helpful and healthy eating strategy that reduces stress, helps with saving on food, and saves time. Good news!
Here are 25+ Cheap Healthy Meals (for under $10) to give you some great tasting, money-saving ideas.
5. BUY NECESSITIES FIRST, TREATS LAST.
Everyone likes a treat now and then, but it’s easy to go to the store and spend too much on cookies, chips, and soda and not have enough money for nourishing foods.
I buy essential foods first. Then, and only then, I pick a treat for one or two times a week. These treats can be homemade or store-bought depending on your budget and health priorities.
If you find yourself (or your shopping partners) adding too many impulse purchases to the cart, you may want to consider curbside pickup or grocery delivery. Yes, you’ll pay extra in shopper and delivery fees, but if it helps you stick to your list, you may still come out ahead.
SAVING ON FOOD FAQS
How do I save money on groceries online?
Consider your budget, as well as your real food priorities, and do some research! See if the prices can beat what you normally find in the store. Read more about online shopping, as well as my suggestions for which sites to start with, here.
How can I save money on food each month?
There are so many strategies for saving on food! Even the littlest steps can add up. Check out my list of Saving on Food Year-Round for some ideas!
How much money should I save for food?
Many factors are going to affect your grocery budget. To figure out how much your family might need, read all about how to make a frugal grocery budget here.
MORE TIPS FOR SAVING ON FOOD
For more help saving on food, check out the FREE Fight Inflation Workshop. Inside you’ll get access to three AMAZING video sessions focused on saving money on groceries RIGHT NOW – despite the rising cost of food. Check it out here.
Once we get used to thinking about grocery shopping in a new way, it becomes second nature to spend less without sacrificing nutrition. If you’d like to learn more about saving on food, read these posts:
- How to Make a Frugal Grocery Budget
- 38 Ways to Save Money on Food Year-Round
- How to Budget for Bulk Purchases
- Best Foods to Make From Scratch