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So there I was…standing at the check out counter with my kids in the cart. Struck with a sense of panic and shock at how much this load of groceries was costing me.
I held out my card to pay for it with a pit in my stomach. And honestly, I felt guilty about spending that much money, and at the same time I didn’t feel there was another option. I mean…I want to provide healthy, wholesome, and real food for my family.
But does it HAVE to be this expensive? Well, no. It doesn’t.
And thankfully I don’t feel like that in the grocery store anymore.
Because that was before.
That was before I decided to take control of my grocery spending and find ways to save money on the groceries I’m already buying.
Because opting for cheaper processed food is not gonna happen. Not in this house!
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How do I Balance Price and HEalthy Food?
Sometimes it feels like you have to choose between eating something healthy and getting a good deal. Am I right? But we KNOW that a diet of the cheap noodle packages every day will not provide all the nutrients you need, but it would be really cheap.
On the other hand, buying the most expensive “healthy” food isn’t always the way to go either. It’s a balancing act, and the trick is finding the balance that works for YOU.
This list of tips, tricks, and tools to save money on healthy, wholesome, real food will help you find ways to eat healthy food for less money.
Before we get into the list, I highly recommend signing up for the free 5 day workshop from Erin at Grocery Budget Makeover. I took the free 5 day course (then signed up for the full course) and it seriously changed things for me. (Annnddd you can use STB20 to get 20% off of the course).
Alright…let’s get into it.
How Can I Spend Less Money on Groceries?
While there are TONS of ways to save money, when it comes to groceries sometimes it’s harder to find a way to save money and continue to eat the healthy, wholesome food we’re used to. Below you’ll find apps & services, planning tips, and shopping tips & tricks to help you save money every single trip to the store.
Apps & Services to help you save money on groceries
There are so many apps, services, and websites out there dedicated to help you spend less. Here are a few that can save you money on groceries, and other household items as well.
- Imperfect Foods takes “ugly” produce & imperfect foods and sells them at a discount (around 30% off from grocery stores) and then they deliver it all to your door every week. I’ve been using them off and on for a couple years and LOVE the convenience of it AND you get to customize your box so if you’re not in the mood to try something new, you don’t have to. Read my full review here. If you typically spend $50 on produce each week, that’s $15/month in savings.
- Ibotta – Sign up for free here and download their app to get digital coupons to the stores you’re already shopping at. My favorite coupon is the $0.25 off coupon on anything at any store. You scan your receipt and the item barcode (all with your phone), and the discounts just keep adding up in your account. This could potentially save you $20/month.
- Honey – Sign up for free here to get their browser extension that automatically tells you if there’s a lower price on the item you’re looking at on a different website (or if there are coupons available). All you have to do is click a button on the checkout page and it tests every coupon in its database to get you the best deal. This is super helpful and can save you lots of money. Depending on how much online shopping you do, this could save you $30-$50 each month.
- Ebates/Rakuten– This free service gives you cash back for shopping online at your favorite stores. Sign up here for free! You could potentially earn $20/month or more if you do a lot of online shopping!
Make a Plan & Stick to It
Have you heard this quote?
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”Bejamin Franklin
Isn’t it the truth? If you just wander into the grocery store with no plan, you’re going to end up buying whatever “sounds good” at the moment, with no regard to HOW you’re going to use the food to make meals later in the week. And making a plan, then following the plan can really help you save money on food.
- Meal plan & grocery shop with a list. Use a meal planning template to help you save money! Meal planning has been a huge help for my family! It probably saves us $50/month by only buying food I know we’ll eat, and planning to buy food when it’s on sale.
- Set a realistic grocery budget, and stick to it. This course was awesome for me and helped me change my grocery bill mindset. Now I don’t feel guilt at the check-out counter. Instead, I feel confident in my decisions and I actually have a strategy!
- Make a list and stick to it. Don’t make impulse purchases. Stay focused! This could save you a lot of money, but if you make just one $5-$10 impulse purchase each trip to the store, that’s $20-$40/month. I find that it’s easier to stick to my list when I use online grocery shopping.
- Don’t shop hungry. This is big for me if I want to stick to my list. If I shop when I’m hungry, I’m so much more likely to grab everything that looks good in the moment instead of focusing on my list. Umm…hello chocolate almond clusters staring at me in the checkout line…
- Use Dave Ramsey’s envelope system. This can really help you stick to your budget because you literally won’t have any money left to spend once you’ve used it all. Then you have to decide how badly you really want that candy bar for dessert. Is it worth taking money from your clothing budget? I can’t easily put a dollar amount on this, so I won’t. But the envelope system will definitely keep you from straying from your list.
- Dig deep in the cupboards and get creative. If it’s the end of the month and you don’t have money left in the budget, get creative and pull out some of those items you keep pushing to the back of the cupboard. Doing this for just one meal each month could easily save you $50/month. If you stock up while food is on sale, you could even go a whole week without going to the store! Just shop from the pantry!
- Use the dirty dozen/clean 15 list to figure out which produce you definitely need to buy Organic and which you don’t need to worry as much about. Read more about this list here. The idea is some fruits and vegetables are conventionally sprayed with pesticides a LOT. And some are more hardy (or disease/pest resistant) that they’re barely sprayed. The list tells you which sprayed a lot (dirty dozen) and which are not (clean fifteen). Be strategic and buy Organic produce on the dirty dozen, and decide if it’s really worth it for YOU to buy Organic for the produce on the clean fifteen.
Tips & Tricks for saving money on groceries
Here are some tips and tricks that every bargain shopper should know. If you’re looking to save money on your groceries, it’s sometimes as simple as switching the brand, or buying in bulk. Read these tips and tricks to learn about how you can easily save money.
- Coupons – Check your mailbox and see what stores near you are having sales this week. Make your meal plan based on what’s on sale and you’re strategically saving money! You could get super into coupons and save tons of money, but for average coupon users, you can save $10-$20/month.
- Buy frozen/canned vegetables instead of fresh. This could save you $20/month.
- Eat seasonally and shop at Farmer’s Markets. If you go to the Farmer’s Market right around closing time, they likely will be in bargain-mode and more willing to make a deal. This could save you $20/month or more.
- Buy food staples in bulk. We buy dried fruit, nuts, rice and more in bulk and save around $15/month (maybe more) compared to the pre-packaged items on the shelf.
- Buy your spices in bulk. This is an awesome way to save money AND eat flavorful food. I can refill each of my spice jars for about $.50, sometimes $.25 instead of $4.50 for a totally new jar. If you get two new spice jars per month, that’s at least $8/month savings.
- Pay attention to the unit price. You’ll find the unit price on the price tag of the item in the store. It’s usually in the bottom right corner of the tag on the shelf. If one bottle of oil is $.40/ounce and one is $.30/ounce, and they’re both the same product, maybe just a different brand. It’s a no-brainer which one to get. Often generic brands are cheaper than name brands. Sometimes I’m picky about getting the name brand, but not always. You can save at least $10/month by shopping generic and paying attention to the unit price. When you’re doing this on food, make sure the ingredient list looks the same before opting for the cheaper product.
- Check the day-old cart. Sometimes you can find avocados that are ready to be used immediately for a steep discount on the discount rack/day-old cart. You could potentially save $5-10/month or more by shopping the day-old cart.
How much do I spend a month on Groceries?
The average family of four can spend between $712 and $1106 each month on food. Of that, at least $800 is groceries. That’s according to this article. Of course, the numbers for your family will be slightly different but this gives you a baseline to see what others are spending.
How do I save money on everyday items?
If you’re looking for ways to save money in other areas, too, a quick google search of “money saving ideas” will get you in the right direction. Try not to get overwhelmed by how many ideas you see…like this article on 101 ways to save money around the house.
Are you ready to save money?
Use this list of ways to save money on groceries to cut that grocery bill down. Keep track of what you’re saving each week and set it aside. Maybe you contribute it to a savings account for emergencies that come up, or maybe you want to save up to do something special with your family.
It doesn’t matter which methods you choose, when you reach the check-out counter, stand tall with confidence knowing you followed your plan. No guilt. No shame. Because you’ve figured out your priorities for YOUR family, and you’re following your plan. Here’s to saving money!