Saving money on groceries can be such a daunting task especially when you have no idea of how or where to start.
Learning how to shop smart in order to lower your grocery bills is most definitely a skill worth mastering.
The good news is that you have absolute control over your grocery bills. I am always looking for ways to spend less at the grocery store in order to save some money.
The first and most important thing while trying to save money on groceries is coming up with a plan. The plan has to be something doable. It should also leave room for improvement.
Below are 21 frugal tips that have worked for me and will most definitely save you lots of cash while shopping for groceries.
You will be surprised at how much you can save each month by following these simple steps.
- Have a meal plan.
Meal plans are a great way to save you time and money. Planning your meals for the week ahead is a great way to start.
Recipes of the planned meals will help you come up with a list of items that you actually need to prepare the meals.
You won’t end up buying items that you don’t need. Keeping your meals simple and having certain meals in a constant rotation will help in coming up with a working meal plan.
- Always have a grocery list.
As simple as it sounds, grocery lists are a must-do if you plan on spending less money at the store. Make a list while at home keeping in mind what you already have and what needs stocking up.
The grocery list will make you spend less time at the store. You will also be able to avoid unnecessary purchases and food wastage since you won’t end up buying what you already have at home.
- Try monthly grocery shopping.
Monthly grocery shopping can save you a fair amount of cash. For one, you will not have the opportunity to impulse buy compared to when you do daily or weekly shopping. It also saves you lots of time.
Another advantage is that you get to buy in bulk which is way cheaper compared to buying things in individual units.
- Only buy the necessary ingredients.
If you’re like me, you tend to overdo it with the ingredients while trying to make a dish tastier.
Try minimizing the spices and only use the necessary ingredients while cooking. This will save you quite some cash.
- Buy generic instead of brand names.
Brand names tend to market their products in such a way that makes them seem like a better and healthier option. Generic products, however, tend to taste the same if not better.
Generic products are far much cheaper compared to well-known brands. Using generic products will save you some money and you’ll still have the same great taste in your meals.
- Take advantage of sales.
Sales can be a great opportunity to stock up on staples like grains, nuts, and frozen veggies. Keep an eye out for sales and maximize the opportunity.
You can also make use of coupons to increase your savings exponentially.
- Shop around.
Don’t just shop at the same place, walk around. You might end up discovering other places that offer the same products at an even cheaper price. Consider also shopping at the local greengrocers and you might save a few coins.
- Shop after the holidays.
Most stores tend to overstock right before the holidays begin to avoid the inconvenience of running out since most people shop around that time.
Once the holidays are over, the items left are sold at a lower price with the aim of clearing out the stock. Take advantage of this period and you’ll spend way less than what you spend on a normal day.
- Go shopping alone.
Going to shop alone means you save a lot of time and you stick to your grocery list. You are less likely to impulse buy compared to when you go shopping with your partner or the kids.
Kids are especially a great distraction and tend to demand everything they see and you sometimes cage just to keep them quiet. Shopping alone is a great way to save money.
- Shop online.
Shopping online for groceries saves you time and money. For one, you don’t have to spend money on gas for your trip to the store. You also get to compare the prices of various online stores before settling for the cheapest option.
- Avoid pre-packaged items.
Most, if not all convenience pre-packaged items cost way more compared to when you buy the fresh groceries and did the cutting or seasoning yourself.
Pre-packaged items may seem like a more convenient option since it saves one a lot of time but you end up losing a lot of cash in the long run.
- Reduce your meat intake.
Meat is usually one of the most costly items on the grocery list. Incorporate more veggies in your diet to lessen the amount of money spent on meat. Aim for simpler more nutritious meals.
Device your meal plans in such a way that meals with meat are eaten only thrice a week. This way, you get to kill two birds with one stone. You eat healthier and spend less money on shopping.
- Eat leftovers.
One of the key ways of saving money is minimizing food waste. Don’t throw out leftovers. Store them in airtight containers and save them for later.
Leftovers are also a great option for the next day’s lunch so instead of spending money buying food for lunch at the workplace, you can carry the leftovers as packed lunch.
You can also freeze leftovers to make them last longer so that you don’t have to eat them the next day.
- Avoid buying bottled water.
If you live in a city where tap water is drinkable, make use of this free water. Why buy bottled water when you can drink tap water for free? Save yourself those few coins.
- Shop at the local greengrocers.
Shopping at the local greengrocers means you get to enjoy locally grown products coming straight from the farm to the market. These products have a much higher nutritional value.
They are even more affordable compared to the pre-cut or pre-seasoned veggies you buy at the grocery store. You get to spend less and eat healthier at the same time.
One thing I’ve noticed is that if you go to the market a few minutes to closing time, you might actually get more groceries for less since most vendors prefer selling them at a lower price than letting them perish. You can use this to your advantage and maximize your savings.
- Use coupon apps.
There are several coupon apps that you can use to save even more money. All you need is a smartphone.
Most, if not all of these apps can be downloaded for free on both iPhones and Android phones.
Consider using coupon apps to your advantage. Some of the coupon apps you can try out are Shopkick, Checkout51, Cellfire among many others.
- Look out for discount bins and clearance sections.
Most people tend to have a bad impression of the discount bins and the clearance section at the store.
Contrary to common belief, the items in the clearance section are not ‘bad’.
Most have just been marked down since they are almost out of season. You’d be surprised at how many good items you can get there. Look out for them and save yourself some money.
- Shop at discounted stores.
Discounted stores are a great option for buying staple items. Dry goods and frozen fruits cost way less at discounted stores. Try out stores like Aldi, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General.
- Eat before you go shopping.
There’s something about shopping when hungry. You end up wanting everything you see. The potato chips, the juices, you name it.
They all seem pretty enticing when you are hungry. Make a point of eating at home before you go shopping to discourage yourself from impulse buying.
- Clean out your fridge once a month.
Make sure you empty your food store and fridge at least once a month and use up all you have before heading out to buy more.
This may save you some money in the long run and help prevent food wastage.
- Keep track of the numbers as you shop.
This is probably the oldest rule in the book. Always have a budget of how much money you intend to spend on the groceries either weekly or monthly.
Running a tally of how much you are spending as you shop would help you stick to your budget. Use a calculator or your phone to do the math.
Always strive to stay under your budget.