5 Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries. Simple tips that work for any family, any budget. Use every week to trim food costs and stick to your budget. Also, learn how to make a meal plan.
Sometimes saving money on groceries is just plain ol’ hard.
One week you’ll have a plan to use up what’s in the kitchen and supplement with the great deals at the store.
Then the next week nothing is on sale AND you’ve got a bare kitchen (because you ate it all last week). All the money you saved that first week? Gone.
Have you ever felt this way before?
Oh goodness- you’re so not alone!
Spending less on your grocery bill literally happens one shopping trip at a time. It’s 50 cents here, a few bucks there. It’s choosing to eat stir-fry with millet because it’s in the pantry, and not making a trip to the store for rice. When you stick to the list and shop for competitive prices, it is truly possible to feed your family on a budget.
Seriously, the grocery budget is achieved over many months, if not years, with each menu plan you write and each item you put (or don’t put) in your cart.
So let’s get to work. I have a few tricks up my sleeve that keep our budget in check month after month. If they can help me, I know they can help you!
Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries Right Now
How can I spend less money on groceries?
(1) Stop buying salad dressings.
Salads are a GREAT way to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Most store-bought salad dressings are filled with something to make it taste good (sugar), something to make it creamy (lecithin) and something to make it taste “fresh” even though it’s been sitting on a shelf for well over a year (preservatives).
Stop spending $3-5 PER BOTTLE and start making your own instead.
Enjoy these homemade dressing recipes!
Classic Italian and Greek:
Perfect for Asian Flavors:
Amazing for Mexican Flavors:
Tip: Turn any vinaigrette dressing into a “creamy” dressing by substituting plain yogurt for the olive oil.
(2) How to Save Money on Groceries: Stop buying snacks.
Seriously, just stop. I know it’s easy to have them on hand, but you’re really buying expensive items for the packaging. And if you’re looking for some that are allergy-friendly? Fuhgeddaboutit!
Most boxed snacks, even store brands, have SOMETHING in them to keep them shelf-stable, or they’re processed in a way that prevents them from going bad.
Yikes, which is worse?!
Choose fresh fruits, veggies, and healthy proteins instead, and create a snack box in the fridge and/or the pantry. Here’s how:
1. Line a large, flat container with either a napkin or a paper towel. Add as much of the following as you have, or can fit:
For the fridge:
- Carrot slices
- Celery slices
- Zucchini slices
- Cheese slices
- Cherry tomatoes
- Homemade gummies
- Homemade fruit leather
- 2-3 spoons (for scooping and eating yogurt)
For the pantry:
- Homemade granola clusters or granola bars
- Mandarin oranges
- Bags of trail mix
- Small apples (halved for little ones)
- Bananas (halved for little ones)
- Honey roasted almonds
2. When the family is hungry, pull out the box and leave it on the counter for them to pick/choose their snack(s). Put it away when they’ve chosen and make them wait until mealtime to eat again.
If you’re willing to scoop some yogurt for those who choose it, this is a very mommy-hands-off approach and MUCH healthier than the boxes. Plus kids like being able to pick what THEY want for a snack. You just limit their options. 🙂
(3) Stop throwing food away.
But I could have also saved:
- Tomato tops
- Wilted lettuce
- Wilted spinach
- Broccoli stems
- Beet greens
- Asparagus ends
By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it helps to show how much food we throw away that is still perfectly edible!
Here’s the recipe I used to add these scraps to my minestrone soup. You can also make chicken stock with kitchen scraps as well!
(4) How to Save Money on Groceries: Don’t worry about buying everything organic…
At least not right now. If you’re really trying to save money to pay rent or utilities & etc, the cost of organic food might be out of your budget (plus organic isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be).
There’s plenty of ways to mitigate this though, especially if organic food is a priority to your family.
- First, only buy organic what you eat a lot of, and what you whole-heartedly believe is worth it.
- A food that you eat once a week doesn’t need to be organic. But the chickens or produce you’re eating at every meal? That should rank a bit higher on the list.
- Learn how to find affordable organic food in your area and shop the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.
- Find ways to enjoy the farmers market without going broke and learn what the stickers on produce mean at the grocery store.
There is a time and a place to buy organics (and grass-fed, local, raw, non-GMO, etc.), but prioritizing your budget and needs comes first. (This is the very first lesson I teach in Grocery Budget Bootcamp!)
(5) Learn to like beans to save money on groceries.
There. I said it.
With every penny at stake, there’s no room for “I don’t like beans.”
Find a couple of varieties that you can tolerate and eat them often. Garbanzo beans, white beans, and brown lentils are the friendliest types of beans for beginners. They’re even more affordable when buying in bulk.
Make bean burritos, eat them over rice, add them to burgers, make hummus, bake brownies – do what you have to do to eat them at least three times each week (including all meals, not just dinner), especially if you’re cutting back on other protein sources.
(6) Focus on your task of saving money on groceries
It is SO easy to get distracted by the pretty packaging and the different varieties of foods at the store. I found myself oohing and ahhing over cheese just last week!
- Always shop with a list and stay focused. In fact, shop as if you’re already late for an appointment.
- Shop without kids if at all possible, and definitely not hungry.
- Treat grocery shopping as an errand.
- You’re on a mission to get in, shop the list based on your meal plan, and leave. Viewing this errand as an excursion or something fun to do is a sure-fire way to ruin the budget.
- Don’t get distracted by things that are not on your grocery list and don’t even bother going down the aisles you don’t have to!
More Tips on How to Save Money on Groceries
- How to Save Money with a Pantry Challenge
- 38 Ways to Save Money on Food Year-Round
- 10 Ways to Save Money on Coffee
- How to Save Time and Money with Batch Cooking
5 days to save $75Need to save money on real food? Download my free guide to saving $75 in 5 days using easy, practical baby steps.
When the budget is super tight and you need to pinch pennies stat, what small steps do you take to save?