Do you need to save more money? Maybe you are behind on bills or want to save for an emergency fund. One easy way to save money on your monthly budget is to cut your food bill.
If you are on a tight budget and need to cut corners, the food bill should be the first place to look. Why? Because it is so easy and there are so many ways you can save on food. Yes, food is a need and you can never cut the “food” category from a budget like a gym membership or a mani/pedi, but you can certainly find ways to cut your food bill and this post will showcase some ideas you may not have thought about.
According to Credit Donkey, if you are a four-person family on a moderate budget with two toddlers you will spend around $712 per month on your grocery bill. If you have toddlers and are spending this much, you can be sure your bill will increase as your kids grow.
USA Today breaks it down even further by totaling out how much you should allow for your food bill per family member. According to their post, you should allow $236.30 for a boy and $190.10 for your daughter, $238.30 for Dad and $206.30 for Mom. In total, you will spend $217.75 per week or $871.00 per month to feed your family of four. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see, that is a HUGE portion of your budget.
As you can see, both figures are pretty close and both are a HUGE chunk of change if you are low on cash or trying to pay off debt.
Yet, whether you are saving for an emergency fund or you are spending more than you bring in, there are always ways to save more!
Your goal may be to pay off debt or save for a down payment!
These clever ways to cut your grocery bill will save you hundreds each month!
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41 Clever Ways to Cut Your Food Bill
1. Sale cycles – Is there a grocery store you frequent? Ask the manager how often they run sales cycles. For most stores, it is every 3-6 weeks. Start by stocking up on your staples. These are items you use often like bread (you can freeze) or cereal. Buy enough to last until the next store cycle.
For example, we eat cereal daily. We will go through 2 boxes per week. We buy enough on sale to last us four weeks. So yep, eight boxes in the cart. We never pay more than $2 per box. If I bought my cereal weekly and did not shop sales, I would be paying around $3.50 per box. For eight boxes that totals $28 as opposed to $16 if bought while on sale. That is a total savings of $12 every month, but keep reading – it gets better!
2. Stockpile – Just like the cereal example, when something goes on sale, stock up! Section off a space in your home for a stockpile. If you are tight in space, use a portion of your closet or garage. We currently use our downstairs closet as a stockpile area because we do not have a pantry.
3. Coupon wisely – Do not! I repeat, DO NOT buy something just because you have a coupon! However, after making your shopping list, check sites like coupons.com for things you were going to buy anyway. Coupons are a fabulous way to help cut your food bill, but you have to know how to use them. If you cut every coupons you see and become over-zealous, you may end up with a bunch of junk you really don’t need.
4. Take stock – Check your own cupboards before starting your grocery list and make a meal plan. This will eliminate waste and help you use the food you already have before buying more.
5. Meal plan – Create a meal plan before you shop and make a list using your plan. Don’t know how to meal plan? Check here for my most popular plan: Two Week Budget-Friendly meal plan under $75.
6. Make a list – I live by the quote “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin. If you have no list you will randomly throw items in your cart and for sure overspend. Make a list by category and skip going down every isle. You will save time and a money with this method.
7. Don’t be loyal (store brand) – Don’t be brand name loyal. Buy store brand. Some of my favorite foods are store brand. I LOVE Market pantry from Target and Kroger brand.
8. Shop after eating – Research shows you spend more if you shop when you are hungry. Make sure you are well fed before hitting the store.
9. Leave your kids behind – When you take your kids shopping do they ask for every new thing they see or want the more expensive cereal or snack? Yep! Mine too and sometimes the mom guilt wins! So it is best to leave the kids with your spouse when shopping!
10. Check your receipt – After checking out, doublecheck your receipt. Once a cashier double scanned me for five items because her register scanner wasn’t working well. It was a pain but I was refunded for the money after waiting for 15 minutes at the service counter. Another time I was double charged for a frozen pizza. Yet, I forgot to check my receipt until I got home and ate the cost because I didn’t want to drive back to the store!
11. Don’t coupon – Well, yes use your coupons for what you are going to buy but if you don’t have time to clip coupons, use rebate apps such as Ibotta and Checkout 51. Here is my full review on Ibotta. Last year I got over $100 back from Ibotta!
Sign up for Ibotta and receive a $10 sign-up bonus.
12. Avoid free samples – Seriously, places like Costco hire great salespeople to tell you about the product. In fact, they are SO good, you often end up buying the “free” sample! It is best to avoid them altogether unless you are really good at walking away! Nonetheless, I do like to try new things once in a while, but make sure you plan for this in your budget to avoid going over.
13. Do the math (compare prices) – Pull out your phone calculator and check if the box of six applesauce pouches is a better value than the pack of twelve. Usually, the bigger box is a better deal per serving.
14. Buy in bulk – Buying in bulk can save you a ton of money. Be sure to ration your stuff for the next few weeks and don’t eat WAY more just because you have it! Seriously – Sometimes I have to hide the large bag of veggie straws on my kids.
15. Stay in the zone – By this I mean when you see the dollar bin section at Target, just keep in walkin’! I mean how many times have you grabbed one or two or three items from this bin? GUILTY!
16. Double check before you check-out – Do a once over of your cart and make sure you really NEED everything you put in it. If there a few add-ons, it is best to put them back on the shelf. If you shop at Target – I do a lot of grocery shopping at their Super Stores – this is a good time to check the cartwheel app. You can even scan your products on your smartphone using the barcode to see if they have a discount offered.
17. Use Cash – Use the cash envelope system to make sure you are sticking to your budget. This method really, truly works!
18. Eat produce and freeze anything that will spoil – Once you get how me from the store, make sure to use up produce and meat first and freeze anything you will save for the next week.
19. Buy gift cards on discount (cardpool) – You can buy grocery or department store gift cards on cardpool at a discount. This is great because you will have a discount before you shop. Discount rates vary but a typical gift card goes for 3-5% off but they often have sales and you can get up to 10% off your favorite stores so stock up! Check out Cardpool and save!
20. Avoid advertising tactics – If you study the psychology of advertising, it is interesting how much money is poured into research from companies to try to get you to buy something. Take an exercise break during commercials.
21. Shop at the same store (know where everything is) – If you shop at the same store each week, you know exactly where your items are and you need not be swayed to buy more by searching around the store and viewing more advertising ploys.
22. Know the store policy – Some stores like Kroger have a ten for ten sales but you really can just buy one for a dollar; however other stores such as Walgreens only allow the sale if you buy the amount specified. Make sure you know the policy so you don’t end up paying more.
23. Rewards card – Some stores only give you a sale price if you have the rewards card so it literally pays to sign up. I definitely recommend signing up for a rewards card if you shop at Kroger because you will not get any of their sales without it. Meijer has M-Perk awards and often gives amazing coupons. I also recommend using Target’s RedCard if you grocery shop there because you will get 5% off you bill (only use credit cards if you pay them off monthly). They also offer a debit card and still give the 5% off.
24. Shop less frequently – I got a comment on another post kind of mocking this tip. I know, I know. It sounds SO obvious. However, you would be surprised how many people stop at the store 3-4 times a week and buy 4-5 items they really don’t need just because they were in the store. These little things add up over time. I suggest grocery shopping bi-weekly and using meal planning to help you stay organized.
25. Order online – Ordering groceries online can save you a ton. Think about it…You are not in the store adding extra items to your cart. You are only shopping the items you need. Amazon grocery and Kroger click list are good for this tip.
26. Use paribus – Seeing an item go on sale a week after I bought it is one of my pet peeves because you all know I LOVE saving money! Paribus is a site that tracks your purchases and finds items that went on sale after you bought them and then credits you with a refund. Yes, it is true you could technically do this yourself, but who really thinks about doing this and has time to research everything they bought after the fact? Let Paribus do the work for you. Sign up for Paribus and start getting the money back you deserve.
27. Join FB groups – There are so many frugal living and saving money facebook groups out there. Search for ones in your area! People often post their scored deals at different stores. These groups are full of like-minded money-savers willing to share their tips.
28. Price match – Time is money! If you can price match you won’t have to go to a bunch of different stores to shop. Target and Walmart are a few stores that will honor a price match and if you have a smartphone this becomes SO easy. You can use prices for either store or Amazon. Just take your item and your smartphone to the service counter and get your lower price.
29. Track prices – If you are really into saving money you can go undercover and start tracking your store’s sales cycles for different items. Do this for 6-8 weeks and you will be able to predict when your favorite items will go on sale. Use this information to stock up for the cycle. You can also do some research on other items you buy. For example, Target often puts clothing items on sale after around three weeks. So if you see something you like or need, just wait a few weeks for the sale.
30. Buy in-season – Your produce bill will be much cheaper if you buy fruit that is in-season. Your produce will also taste better. Check flyers because the “in-season” items often are sales items. We LOVE it when grapes go on sale for $.99 per pound.
31. Build a recipe bank of cheaper foods – When you find a frugal recipe you love, save it and make it again and again. Start adding more and more recipes to your bank and create a meal plan with your cheaper meals.
32. Eat leftovers – So many people end up throwing leftovers away. Eat them for lunch the next day and save time and money. Use up your leftovers so you are not throwing money in the trash.
33. Use perishable foods first – When I was a child, my parents LOVED to tell me about all the starving children to get me to eat my food. This may sound funny but this instilled a value of no wasting at an early age. I cringe if I have to throw away lettuce I forgot to use or an apple that is going bad. So if you are using meal planning, make sure to put your perishable foods down first on your plan to avoid waste.
34. Play the Drugstore Game for Toiletries – Buy your toiletries at CVS or Walgreens and stack coupons with their sales. You will get these items for way less than you would pay at the grocery store.
35. Use a Rain Check – When something such as coffee goes on sale, it may be sold out by the time you get to the store. Ask for a rain check and pay the sale price.
36. Drink tap Water – Skip the bottled water and if you don’t like the taste of your tap water (like me) then consider buying a water filter. Try this one from Briita (click the picture to see the price.)
37. Don’t Buy Prepared Food – We live next to a gourmet grocery store. The smell alone is enough to get you to come in and buy their perfectly made smoked meat, sushi, and salads – and don’t even get me started on their dips! YUM. However, if I were to buy the prepared food, it would add SO much to my grocery bill. A salad alone cost around $7 and that is for one person. For a family of four, forget it!
38. Cut up You Own Fruit – Buying sliced up fruit from the grocery store makes like so much easier, but it also makes it so much more expensive! Cutting your own melon can save you so much.
39. Shred your own cheese – We often buy a large pack of block cheese from Kroger for only $2.50 then cut it up or shred it ourselves! It is not hard if you do it all at once and you will then be prepared for the week.
40. Make Potatoes and Eggs staples in your House – You can buy a 5 lb. bag of potatoes for around $2.00 in my area and eggs are always on sale for $.99 per one dozen at Kroger. These are healthy foods that are cheap and easy to make. Make a list of cheap staples to keep handy while meal planning and shopping.
41. Become a Member – Buy a membership at Costco or Sams Club. These stores charge a fee to join. A Costco membership is currently $60.00. But you will save so much buying your food in bulk. They literally have bulk everything and their Kirkland brand is good quality as well. Don’t forget you can shop at Costco with gift cards even if you are not a member.
Clever Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill Conclusion…
Your grocery bill should never get in the way of saving money. There are so many ways to save on your food bill. You just have to be creative. My number one way to save is meal planning. Many of these tips are included in meal planning because you make a list, use perishables first, shop sales, use what you have, and shop with a list. Before you know it, you will have all that debt paid off and your food bill will not get in the way!
Check out my Meal Planning Series here!
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What are your favorite ways to save on groceries? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you!
Take care – Sarah
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