My friends and family often ask me how they can cut their grocery bill. Food after all is one thing we all need and it can be very expensive. Believe me, I know. With a family of 10 including 5 teenagers we go through a lot of food! We also like to eat well and try to eat healthy. If my big family can save money on groceries, anyone can! If you are just starting to try to save money on groceries these steps can make a big difference:
10 Ways To Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half
- Don’t buy more than your family can eat before it goes bad. I know this sounds simple but we all do it. We see a good deal on something and we buy too much. It is really tempting, but if you throw it in the trash it was not a good deal.
- Don’t buy things your family won’t eat. Yep another simple one but I bet you have something like this in the back corner of a cupboard somewhere. Whether it’s something healthy you think you should try, or a great deal on something you know your family doesn’t like, those items do more than just take up space and cost money, they cause guilt. Ugh! Everytime you see it you feel guilty that you haven’t eaten it. You really should right? Consider this your permission slip to throw that thing away and stop feeling guilty. There are a lot of healthy food choices. If you don’t like something that’s ok. Just find something you do like. Eating healthy should not feel like a punishment! And there are plenty of good deals. You don’t have to buy things you don’t like to save money!
- Shop with a plan. This one is big! I used to shop without a purpose and buy things that sound good but don’t work together to make meals. I had a refrigerator and pantry full of random good things that went to waste because I didn’t know what to do with them. No matter how much you save, it’s not a good deal if it ends up in the trash. Plan your trip with meals in mind. Think of what you want to eat that week and buy food to make those meals. If meal planning seems overwhelming or you just don’t have time, I highly recommend a program like emeals that will do the work for you. I have used emeals for years and they save me time and money. You can get a free 30 day trial and then they are just $7 per month if you decide to stay. Check out this post to see all the things I love about emeals.
4. Plan your meals around seasonal items and what is on sale right now. A fresh fruit salad is going to be a lot more expensive in January than it is in August. If you want to save money try a frozen fruit smoothie instead or eat seasonal fruit like pomegranates. Eating what is on sale will help you save money and add variety. If this seems confusing, I highly recommend emeals. They create their weekly plans around what is fresh and on sale that week. Check out this post to see all the things I love about emeals.
5. Know what a good price is on the food you buy. Oh those stores are sneaky! They always run sales but so many of them are not good prices. I have to laugh when I see a sale on an item that is higher than the everyday price. Yes that happens and it happens all the time. My cute husband falls for this. He came home a couple of weeks ago with cereal he bought because it was on sale but the sale price of $3.50 per box (Yikes!) was a dollar higher than the regular price. Stores are in business to make money. It’s your job to know if you are getting a good deal. Sites like mine will help show you the really good deals at the stores. For example, I would never pay more than $1.75 for cereal. Once you know what you use, and you know what a good price is for those products, when you see a good price, buy enough to last you until you are likely to see that price again. Most sales cycle at least every 3 months, but some things are more rare and may only go on sale once a year. I will be writing a more detailed post on sale cycles in the future. Having a stock of the items you use means you never have to spend too much on that item. You have enough to only buy when you can get it for your price.
6. Use coupons. Yes I said it and no this is not a blog post from 2010. Coupons are still a great way to save money and they are easier than ever to use. If you don’t get a newspaper, you can get most of the coupons online and print them out. I love printable coupons because rather than having to cut out every coupon from the newspaper, you just print the ones that you will use. I will be writing a post on how to coupon without going crazy next week. For now let me just leave this caution that coupons don’t make something a good deal on their own. It goes back to knowing what a good price is. The way to save with coupons is to use them when an item is on sale.
7. Shop at Bakery Outlets. We absolutely LOVE our local Franz Bakery! They have all of our bread and baked goods for at least 1/2 the price of buying in the grocery stores. My family really likes bagels and that delicious cinnamon swirl bread. Those can be pretty expensive but at my bakery I get them for a dollar or less! I also get tortillas and quality whole grain bread for $1.00 which is amazing! Of course there are also yummy treats at great prices. The people at my bakery are super friendly and they even give you free items when you spend $10 or more. I won’t buy bread, bagels, or tortillas anywhere but at the bakery outlet.
8. Get to know your store manager. Ok I’m letting you in on one of my favorite secrets. Introduce yourself to the store manager at the stores you shop all the time. Tell them about yourself and that you love their store. Let them know you are on a budget and ask them if they can notify you when they have special saving opportunities. I have done this with Albertsons and Walgreens and it has been wonderful! Sometimes stores order more of an item that is on sale than they can sell. The stores want to move the products so they will offer dramatic discounts or take off restrictions. For example with Albertsons, I am on a phone list with the meat department. They call me and the others on the list if they have access to really good deals on meat. Last year I got 50 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts for $59! That’s $1.18 lb! At Walgreens, they called me to say that toothpaste that was free that week with Register Rewards needed to go and they had 35 tubes they needed to sell. I called my friends and they set up a special counter where we could do many transactions and buy them all. There is usually a 3-4 transaction limit at Walgreens and I try never to be a shelf clearer so when they call and ask me to get 10 free tubes of toothpaste I am thrilled! The offers are going to be different by store and you may not hear from them for months but it is very worth being on those lists. I had to talk to them and set up the lists in some of my stores. They are excited when I let them know that I am there for them if the ever over buy. It’s a win win!
9. Buy from the bulk bins. The bulk bins (I love Winco for these!) can have everything from dog food to candy, to flour or pancake mix. The bulk prices are almost always less expensive and often the exact same as the packaged product. The other real bonus of buying from the bulk bins is that you can get as much or as little as you want. I know I’m not the only one who bought a spice or other ingredient for a recipe, used 1/2 teaspoon of it and never needed it again. With the bulk bins you only have to buy what you need. It saves so much on waste which saves you money. You can also buy a small amount of something you want to try to see if you like it before you buy a lot which cuts down on wasted money and guilt.
10. Look for in store specials and managers specials. This is something I do every week! I always look for special markdowns in my stores. You can get amazing prices on meat, dairy products, and everything else. My family has made this a game. My kids know what the special mark down stickers look like and they hunt for them. You never know what is going to be discounted but the deals are seriously worth the hunt. If you know your store managers, you can ask them when they discount certain things. For example, my Albertsons discounts their meat on Wednesdays. My Rite Aid discounts anything that is expiring that month in the first week of the month. If you know when they are going to discount items you can get there before the discounted items are all gone. Just be careful Go back to rule #1 and don’t buy more than your family will eat before these items go bad. Check expiration dates.
Remember this is not a race. You don’t have to do all of these things this week or even this month. Slow and steady wins the race. Start with one or 2 tips and add more as you go and before you know it your grocery bill will be cut in half!