Join me to find the best ways to Save Money on Food and slash your food bill. I’m being much more careful with my food budget at the grocery store, how about you?
Our family eats a lot of fresh fruit, fresh produce, and whole foods so we need to reduce food waste and make simple changes to the way we spend the rest of our food dollars.
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According to the USDA, the food-at-home (grocery store or supermarket food purchases) CPI was 13.1 percent higher than in July 2021.
In 2020, an average family in the US spends $4,942 annually or $412 per month for food at home according to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With the inflation rate on the rise, food prices continue to rapidly change as well.
How much money do you spend? Take a few minutes to tally this up and you will be extremely motivated to try some new ways to save money on food.
Keep trying these tips to know which ones will work best for you and your family. There are too many to try all at once but keep chipping away!
Ways to Save Money on Groceries: Meal Planning
- Make a meal plan for the week based on what is going to be on sale at your grocery store. If you only do this step, you will save money! Look at your grocery store flyer each week or look it up online. Make a grocery list and then buy and serve what is on sale that week.
- Plan theme nights for easy menu planning such as this one:
Monday is Vegetarian Night for Meatless Mondays. Here are some Plant-Based Recipes to try!
Tuesday is for Mexican food for Taco Tuesdays. Here are some of my favorite easy recipes for Taco Tuesday.
Wednesday is a Pasta meal. Try my Tortellini Antipasto Pasta Salad recipe. The leftovers are great for tomorrow’s lunch.
Thursday is a meal with Chicken. Here are some clever ways to serve Rotisserie chicken.
Friday is Pizza Night – buy pre-made pizza crusts when they are on sale and freeze them. Check to see what leftover veggies you can add or make a separate appetizer with leftover vegetables and a dip.
Saturday is a meal with Beef. Look for cheaper cuts of meat such as ribs, hamburgers, flank steak, skirt steak, or brisket. This tasty recipe for Sloppy Joe’s is perfect for the weekend.
Sunday is for leftovers. Be mindful of what you have in your refrigerator and pantry and try to use it up. It’s an easy way to cut your grocery bill and your shopping list.
Adapt this or a similar one to your family and rinse and repeat. Creating a menu plan is also going to help you save time in the long run.
- Fast 5 – Have a repertoire of 5 fast, easy, and inexpensive meals that you can serve faster than ordering a pizza. These 5 are for those extra busy nights so you won’t have to “drive through” to get dinner. Keep them handy or save them on your computer or smartphone.
- Plan one or two nights each week where you cook once and eat twice. For example, you can cook a whole chicken or a roast and make at least two meals out of it. Pasta dishes are excellent dollar stretchers. If you are washing and chopping something for a recipe, chop enough to use in one or two additional meals the next time so you can use them for the rest of the week or freeze them if you have too much.
Save Money on Food with Meal Plan Ideas
- Try making meatless meals one night a week. Get creative and plan meals using fresh vegetables or fresh fruits from your local farmers’ market. Incorporating weekly vegetable-only meals into your weekly meal prep and buying less meat is a good way to save money and try new recipes.
- Cook from your pantry and plan one or two meals a week with just the items you have on hand. The weekend is a good time to use what you have and not let anything go to waste.
- Use a calendar to plan your meals based on your family’s schedule. It doesn’t make sense to shop for elaborate meals when you will be getting home late from soccer practice and just need something quick or if you are going out of town.
- Find more slow cooker recipes and let your Instant Pot do the work. You can set it to cook your meal before you leave the house. Here are easy chicken recipes for your crockpot, slow cooker, or Instant Pot.
- If you have leftovers, search online for recipes by using the keywords: “easy recipe for (insert the name of your leftover).
- Freeze extra food for a future meal. Use up the frozen meals within the next week. Add it to your meal plan calendar so it doesn’t get buried in the freezer. This will also avoid food waste.
Ways to Save on Groceries: Organization and Planning
- Get organized at home before you go grocery shopping. Allow time to make an inventory, and a meal plan, and to think about the week ahead. The quicker you can get in and out of the store, the more money you will save. Don’t wait until you are in the grocery store to wander the aisles and figure out what you need.
- Learn the layout of your grocery store. A lot of stores have a map on their website that you can print and bring while grocery shopping. Make your master shopping list by the aisles of your store for faster and more organized shopping.
- Use technology to help you to plan your shopping trip. You can easily start a master list using the Notes app on your phone. Don’t rewrite your list every time you shop.
Improve your master list continually by adding a “buy now price when you know you should be stocking up.
- If you have a coupon, jot down the coupon details next to the item on your list so you don’t have to shuffle through your coupons while in the checkout line. This will save you a lot of time especially if you have plenty of items on your list.
- Buy the loss leaders. Grab a store flyer or check online. Those are this week’s loss leaders and biggest markdowns. Typically items are on a sales cycle of about every six weeks.
- Stockpile the non-perishable items that you will use for the next three months. When you see a great deal, consider buying three months’ worth of toothpaste, deodorant, pasta, etc. You can keep a running list of what you have in your stockpile on your master list. Note the price you paid on your master list so you can refer back to it.
- Check the shelf-life of items in your pantry and move the oldest ones to the front. I’ve written the expiration date on cans in large print so I make sure to use them in plenty of time.
Ways to Save on Groceries: Use Your Coupons Wisely
- Check the unit price to get a better deal. Do note that sometimes, buying in large quantities is not the most economical. Buy what you need in bulk when it makes sense for you.
- Buy 10 and get the discounted price. Different store policies vary, but often you can get the sales price on just one item. Carefully read the tag and ask if you are unsure.
- Use a few coupons – You can start with one area of the shopping list like cleaning supplies or toiletries and just clip coupons for those items. See how this works for you and then add another category when you get more proficient.
If you are buying diapers, you must use coupons and buy diapers on sale! I always ask my coupon-clipping readers to be the coupon fairy. Do this by clipping and leaving coupons in the store next to the diapers as a small way to bless someone’s day!
Maximizing the use of your coupons
- When using those few coupons, find an organizing system that works for you. I use one envelope for each aisle of the store and put the matching coupons in that envelope. Some people prefer a binder or a coupon holder.
I keep my coupons in the car so the next time I make a quick stop at the grocery store, I always have them with me. I reorganize and purge them when I need to wait. This keeps the coupons that I have on hand fresh in my mind. Keep your restaurant and fast food coupons with you too, just in case.
- Put your kids in charge! If your kids are old enough, have them help you with meal planning and cost-cutting. Split the savings with them and call it their allowance. Think of all the lessons you can incorporate by including them in meal planning, price comparing, and the money-stretching needed to run a household. They aren’t teaching this at school but it is a needed life skill.
- Use e-Coupons – Many grocery stores have electronic coupons that you can load right to your store loyalty card ahead of time. Swipe your card at checkout and those coupons come right off your bill. This is a great way to start a separate fund for Christmas shopping or for a special splurge.
Ways to Money on Food: Strategize when Grocery Shopping
- Try to leave young kids at home unless they have become highly trained bargain shoppers with a vested interest in saving money. Note: Take turns watching the kids with a friend so each of you can grocery shop, focus on saving money, and get everything you need in one trip.
- Look at least five different stores that focus on the same category. Pick one drug store; CVS, RiteAid, or Walgreens and follow their sales, and use coupons to match up with a sale.
Check the Sunday flyer to see their loss leaders for the week. You can save so much money on your toiletries, beauty products, paper products, OTC medicines, and more when you shop this way. You can get items for free and items that you can donate to your local shelter by shopping smarter at the drugstores.
- Reconsider the warehouse store
If you shop at a big box wholesale club and feel like you are spending too much money, you must take the time to see if you can save more money by buying some of these items elsewhere. Not everything purchased at these warehouse stores is a bargain. Sometimes we find ourselves consuming more because we have more, or throwing out perishable items because the quantity is too large.
Selecting Stores to Shop At
- One of my favorite ways to save on groceries is to stay out of too many stores. If you are visiting several stores for just one or two specialty items, visit once a month and buy what you need for the entire month. Limit the number of stores you frequent. This can also help you avoid making impulse purchases.
- Try buying your non-perishable online. You can stock up on your beauty products, toiletries, snacks cleaning supplies, and more using Amazon. Use the Subscribe & Save feature for those items you need all the time. This way, you can save additional money and can also change this option anytime. Order enough to get free shipping if you do not have an Amazon Prime membership.
- Try the dollar store in your area. Dollar stores are really competing with grocery stores these days because of the best deals they have. It’s a great place to check frozen foods, produce, canned goods, and more. You will see many brand names now whereas a few years ago, it was mostly off-label goods.
- Try the store brands. Those can be a very good deal when you compare the ingredients and see they are the same as the name brand. This not only works for grocery shopping but also for OTC medication, beauty products, and more.
More Ways To Save on Groceries
- Start a fresh produce and herb garden. Make this a family project and share your surplus. Some people I know save a lot of money by doing this. You will be amazed at how many ways you can serve zucchini!
- Keep track of the schedule of local produce at Farmer’s Markets. The website Local Harvest will tell you what Farmers Market is in your area.
- Set a goal for saving a certain amount of money on your grocery bill and then plan a special family activity with some of the savings. I recommend getting everyone involved in the process. Make a visual prop to continually track your progress to keep everyone motivated.
If you have additional ideas on ways to save on groceries, share them in the comment section below. Together, we can find more ways to stretch our dollars!
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Try Amazon’s Subscribe & Save Feature
Have you ever tried Amazon’s Subscribe and Save feature? It will save you at least 5-15% on your reoccurring purchases. Plus you won’t run out which is especially helpful these days. I use this for our favorite snacks, dog food, vitamins, household supplies, and more. You can pause or cancel orders easily from inside your account.
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