What’s the one thing in your budget that you can’t completely eliminate? Food? Yup. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t stop buying food or else we’d die. This means that we’re going to spend hundreds on groceries every year and so much of that is going to go to waste! I wish I would’ve learned some of these tips to save money on groceries earlier, but better late than never!
I’ve made the mistake so many times to go grocery shopping without a plan, starving, and tired and bought about 100 things that I didn’t need, 25 of which I would never use. I will never make that mistake again.
I’ve been trying to learn different ways to save money on groceries for the past couple of months and I decided to compile a list to share with all of you! I hope you really enjoy this list because it has seriously made a difference in my budget and I know it’ll help you too. Ps. If you’re super busy and want to save this to read again later you can always save it to Pinterest!
Before You Shop
I know meal planning isn’t sexy, most of what I’m going to talk about isn’t. But meal planning is one of the absolute best things you can do when it comes to your grocery budget. Seriously. Having a weekly meal plan is the easiest way to stop yourself from impulse buying and making a lot of those “I’ll cook this even though I don’t know what we’ll make it with” kinds of decisions. If you spend some time each week trying to come up with a menu and a grocery list to go along with it, you’ll find that your cart will have so much less in it and you’ll eat so much better.
If you’re anything like me and you hate having to think up new recipes all the time, you should try out $5 Meal Plan! I can’t believe I survived meal planning before discovering this website. I used to struggle to organize all of my meals and make a grocery list because I’d forget to add key ingredients that I needed and it would fail 75% of the time. $5 Meal Plan will send you a meal plan AND a grocery list every single week for only $5 a month. That’s a great price for something that could take you over an hour to do each week.
If you’re reading this post I’m going to assume you’d like to save some money in more ways than just at the grocery store. A great way to really ensure you save money is by budgeting and I know, budgets are the worst right? Wrong. If you have a detailed zero-based budget set up for your situation, you’ll know exactly how much money you should be spending at the grocery store each week!
Having a budget set up will help you to think about what kinds of things you’re putting in your cart and will help to eliminate a lot of the impulse buys you’ve been making. A great way to force yourself to stick to a grocery budget is to bring cash and leave the cards at home.
If you’ve got a budget set up, go to the bank before you shop (there’s probably one right beside the store!) and take out the exact amount you’re allowed to spend this week. No more, no less. You can use the calculator app on your phone to keep track of how much you’re spending too! Aren’t you glad we live in a techy world where you don’t need to bring a calculator from home? I know I am!
How often you go to the grocery store is entirely a personal decision, but it can really affect how much money you spend. The less often you go, the more inclined you’ll be to overbuy because you’ll think that you won’t make it through to the next shop. The more often you go, the more opportunities you have to make impulse buying decisions that could hurt the grocery budget you just set up.
It really depends on how you shop, and on what you eat. Personally, I prefer to be able to grocery shop twice a week. This way I know my produce isn’t going to go bad by the time I go again, and I have my detailed meal plan from $5 Meal Plan to steer me away from making silly decisions.
If you’ve ever experienced a moment when you’re looking for a certain ingredient that you know you bought and you just can’t find it, chances are the panty monster has taken it to the back where it may never be seen again. This is something that can seriously kill your wallet. I’m totally guilty of losing things to the back of my fridge and cupboards too, so I don’t blame you.
There’s only really one way you can combat this one, and that’s to organize/clean out your fridge and pantry at least once a month to make sure you know exactly what you have. Here’s a silly example from my own life for you, last month I cleaned out my cupboard before going to the grocery store and found 4 boxes of gluten-free noodles in the back of my cupboard and I had just written “gluten-free noodles” on my grocery list. Saved me a few dollars and I had a lot of pasta that week, yum.
It’s always a good idea to know exactly what you have so you don’t purchase things that you don’t actually need. Plus, you can come up with some creative meals with just the things in your cupboards.
With most things, the gas you spend going to multiple stores is going to completely cancel out any savings you could get from the second trip. The only time I suggest going to more than one store is if the item is expensive. I’m a huge fan of shopping around for meat products because they can add up.
If you check the local flyers (or use flipp, the awesome flyer app), you can find out where your favourite meat will be on sale and shop there for that specific item! It might not sound like much, but sometimes you can find a $5-10 difference in just one item if you shop around.
At The Store
Okay okay, I know you love your kids. But is there anything worse than having your kids ask for food that isn’t healthy for them 100 times in 5 minutes when you’re trying to stick to a budget? If you’re a parent and you feel like your being pulled in 10 different directions when you bring your kids shopping, maybe leave them at home? If you can. Don’t just leave them alone, that would be crazy haha.
If you’re in a relationship, maybe one of you could shop without the kids, while the other one gets quality time with the kiddos. Not having your children around eliminates all the unhealthy decisions that they bring along and makes sticking to your list so much easier.
Check Expiry Dates
Sale items are awesome, but sometimes the items can expire before we even get a chance to finish them. I’ve had so many experiences where something is 50% off but it’s completely rotted by the time I get around to eating it which means I shouldn’t have purchased it in the first place.
You should always take some time to check the expiration dates on all purchases, but especially your sale/clearance items and be sure to figure out if your family will be able to completely finish the item before it goes bad. There’s nothing sadder than having to throw out something when it’s gone bad!
Look at the Price/unit
Sometimes a grocery store will put one size of an item on sale, but not the other. A lot of the time, the sale item isn’t actually a better deal than the other size!! If you look at the price label on each shelf, they have the price of the item, as well as the price/gram or price/ml of each item. When things are on sale but they are two different sizes you should really pay attention to this number the most because it’ll help you figure out if you’re getting the best price for your money.
After You Shop
If you’ve been a long time reader of not quite an adult you know how much I LOVE cashback. I’ve talked many times about my favourite online cashback retailer, Ebates, but did you know there’s an amazing grocery cashback app? It’s called Checkout 51 and it’s seriously life-changing. Okay, that may be a stretch, but it’s given me some good cash back on stuff I buy every week anyway! All you have to do is sign up, take a photo of your grocery receipt, and get cash back on some of the things you bought.
You can get a couple dollars every week, who doesn’t love free money? You should definitely give checkout 51 a try because you’re just leaving money on the table if you don’t.
Grocery shopping can be hard and so expensive if you don’t plan it properly. You can change how you shop if you just start a budget and really start meal planning effectively. Be sure to never go into a grocery store hungry, and to plan where you go before you leave the house!
Do you have any clever ways to save money at the grocery store? Let me know some of them in the comments so you can share the love with the other readers!