Food is one of the most basic essentials we need in our lives but that doesn’t mean we need to spend a ton of money to feed ourselves right. Whether you’re looking to save up for a downpayment, pay down outstanding debt, or you just moved out on your own for the first time, there are so many ways you can save money on food even if you’re on a tight budget AND still eat happily and healthily. In my post today, I’ll be talking about 13 simple tips and tricks you can use to save money on groceries and lower your food cost each month by hundreds of dollars.
1. Be intentional and plan your shopping trips
Sometimes going into a grocery store as an adult can feel awfully similar to a kid in a candy store. You go in for one thing and you end up coming out with a whole lot more than you came for! It can be hard to resist when you see something delicious on sale but this is one habit that you should try to kick to the curb if you want to save money on groceries each month.
So how do you avoid feeling like a kid in a candy store?
The very first thing you want to do to ensure you keep your food costs low is to be intentional with your shopping.
So before you even go to the grocery store, determine the meals you will be making over the next few days or weeks (I recommend checking out Pinterest for great recipes and delicious meals). Then, make a detailed list of exactly which ingredients you need to bring home to make each meal. And when you get to the store, be sure to focus in on what you came for and stick to only buying what you need that’s on your list. Don’t tempt yourself by venturing off to certain aisles of the supermarket that you can’t resist. And lastly, don’t add any unnecessary impulse items to your cart, even if that gossip magazine sitting on the newsstand looks enticing or that savory chocolate bar near the cash register is calling you!
Although intentional shopping is definitely easier said than done, it’s definitely a good habit to form because it will save you hundreds in the long run.
2. Avoid the grocery store when you’re hungry
My next tip is kind of funny sounding but it really does make a huge difference in how much you purchase at a grocery store.
If you’ve ever ventured off into the grocery store when you were really hungry, I think you’ll understand what I mean when I say you should avoid the store at all costs! When you’re hungry and have an empty stomach, everything just seems extra delicious and tasty. I know when I’m hungry, I’m definitely more inclined to add unnecessary items to my cart that I normally wouldn’t buy if I went to the store on a less empty stomach.
And so the lesson of the day is to not let your mind play tricks on you! Be prepared by only going into a grocery store when you’re fully satisfied. You’ll avoid buying food you don’t need and it’ll save you hundreds.
3. Use shopping and flyer apps
Once you start being more intentional with your grocery shopping, the next thing you should do to maximize your savings per month is to get real acquainted with your local store flyers. Flyers always come in handy and they’ll give you a rough idea of where to plan your shopping trips depending on where certain items are on sale. I have a whole list of grocery stores that I like to shuffle through and alternate between and I’ll go to different stores every week depending on which supermarket has the best deals.
If you’re looking for a great shopping app that shows all of the local flyers around your area and allows you to search for specific items on your grocery list, I highly recommend checking out and downloadingReebee. You can read more about Reebee in my post here.
4. Couponing & Cashback
This list wouldn’t be completed without a mention of couponing! Consistent couponing each time you go shopping with a saving of a few dollars here and there can help you save a decent amount each month. And nowadays, it’s super simple and convenient to get rebates and discounts applied to your shopping trips without having to manually bring physical coupons with you. All you need is your phone. But of course, if you’re more old school and you like manually clipping out coupons, that’s cool too!
Some of my favorite phone apps that I use to save money each month include:
- Checkout51 – Scan your receipts and get instant cashback for purchasing groceries, household and toiletry items, alcohol, pet food, and so much more.Learn more about Checkout 51 here.
- Ibotta – Earn cashback for shopping at all of your favorite stores when you scan your receipts and get a free $10 welcome bonus just for signing up! You can alsoread my full review on Ibotta here where I also include some tips and tricks on how to maximize your savings.
- Drop – Get points when you purchase at your favorite stores using your linked debit or credit cards and redeem your points for gift cards and rewards. Read more about Drop here.
5. Sign up for reward programs
Another great way to save money on groceries each month is to join your local grocery reward programs. Getting points for purchasing on promotional days and redeeming them for free groceries or other products when you reach enough points is super easy. And why not? It’s free money! This is definitely one of my favorite ways to save money just for being loyal to certain stores.
6. Be smart with where you shop and what you shop for
More often than not, a more expensive and luxurious grocery store carries the same products and brands as a discount grocery store. A lot of times, I see people buying a packaged product at a higher end grocery store (for example, a package of granola bars) that can be bought for two to three times cheaper at a discount store! Don’t make the mistake of purchasing identical products that can be bought at a discount grocery store or dollar store for much cheaper because you’re really just throwing money down the drain.
Of course, you should still be smart with what you pick and choose from these discount grocery stores. These places often carry produce that isn’t as fresh for a cheaper price or about to expire so choose what you buy with thought. If you’re looking to purchase fresh produce that you know isn’t going to go bad within the next few days, you’ll want to go to a higher end grocery store that you trust will have what you’re looking for. It’s all about being smart with what you pick and choose and where!
7. Ditch packaged foods
Another great way to save money on groceries is to avoid packaged foods and stay within the outer perimeters of the grocery store. Generally, packaged foods located in the middle aisles of the store will cost more compared to whole foods found on the outside perimeter. If you stick with purchasing whole ingredients and make most of your food from scratch, not only will you spend less but you’ll also be more in control of what you put in your body.
8. Purchase in-season produce
If you’re looking to save a few dollars during each shopping trip, an easy way to do that is to adapt your taste buds to whatever season it currently is. For example, if you love eating strawberries or cherries but they’re not in season, they’re going to cost you a lot more to purchase compared to another fruit that is cheaper because it’s in-season. Be adaptable and smart by buying things that are currently in-season and don’t cost an arm and a leg and you’ll be well on your way to reducing your grocery bill each month.
9. Buy in bulk when prices are low
If you have enough storage space in your kitchen or pantry, I highly suggest planning in advance what you need for the next few weeks or months and purchasing frozen food and non-perishable items in bulk when prices are low. By planning early, you’ll be able to take full advantage of buying items at their lowest price and never be afraid that you’ll run out of something you need. And by buying in bulk, you’ll avoid having to run to the grocery store at the last minute to purchase individual items that aren’t on sale with a huge markup.
10. Plan Your Meals & Make food in bulk
A great way to save money is to plan your meals in advance and make all of your food in bulk. Let’s first talk more about making food in bulk.
Make Food In Bulk
We’re all busy people so this next tip is extremely useful if you’re short on time or hate cooking. A great way to save both time and money is to make a few day’s or a week’s worth of food in bulk, separate them into smaller glass containers, and then save each portion in the freezer. Now, every time you need a meal, just take out a portion, heat it up in the microwave or oven, and you’re good to go.
Making food in bulk seriously saves a lot of preparation, cooking time, and helps cuts down on your utility bill because you only need to prepare and cook the food once. It prepares you for the days where you need to bring lunch to work the next day or on days where you’re too busy and don’t have time to cook. Take away the temptation of buying overpriced and unhealthy convenience food by being prepared and ready!
Plan Your Meals
But what about if you’re clueless about what to even cook, you just don’t have the patience to plan a whole week’s worth of food every single time you go grocery shopping, or you don’t like cooking in huge batches and heating up leftover food?
If just the thought of having to plan your meals each week on top of everything else that’s happening in your life stresses you out, I highly recommend joining$5 Meal Plan.
The $5 Mean Plan is an awesome meal plan subscription service that’s super affordable, a huge time saver, and can help you and your family make meals for under $2 per person! Each subscription includes a pre-made weekly meal plan and shopping list that’s sent to you every Friday or the option to use their drag and drop Meal Plan Builder. They have a free no-risk 14-day trial available so if you find it’s not really what you’re looking for, you can always just opt-out.
Definitely check out $5 Meal Plan if you want to save money and time and start simplifying your life today!
11. Limit how often you eat out
Another thing you can do to save hundreds of dollars a month but will require some willpower is to limit the number of times you eat out in a month. It’s an obvious tip but sometimes we can forget just how much eating out really costs. Or we end up doing it anyways for pleasure or because of societal pressures.
A meal these days can often cost as much as purchasing a whole week’s worth of groceries so that really puts into perspective just how much you’d really be saving by eating at home more often. Our society values convenience and saving time, and we love treating ourselves to lavish brunches with our BFFs! But if you want to truly save in your food bills each month, reducing the number of meals you eat out will really help you in the long run.
Here are some tips I suggest you can start to get into the habit of eating out less:
- Set up a budget so you only have a set amount you can spend on eating out each month. Once your budget is used up, that’s it for the month!
- If you’re used to eating out a lot, try reducing the number of times you eat out in half and get used to not spending as much money each month.
- If you often eat out with friends, host potluck dinners and invite them over to have food and wine instead!
- If you work a 9 to 5 job,make enough food in bulk and bring your lunches to work so you don’t have to spend extra money at lunchtime. It all adds up!
12. Buy food on clearance
Want to take advantage of sales? Try purchasing items on clearance that are about to expire. As long as the food is still good, hasn’t expired yet, and you’re certain they won’t go to waste, buying items on clearance is a great way to save money on groceries! So many items that are about to expire get thrown out by grocery stores, causing a lot of food waste and that really hurts the environment. So not only will you be saving money yourself by purchasing these items before they’re thrown out, but you’ll also be helping out the environment.
If you’re Canadian, a great phone app to check out that allows you to purchase items at a heavy discount before they’re thrown out by the grocery store is FlashFood. They were also featured on Dragon’s Den which is pretty cool!
13. Make your own coffee
Although making your own coffee can be considered a part of making your own food from scratch, I wanted to add this as a whole separate category because buying expensive pre-made caffeinated drinks is a such a huge expenditure in many of our lives. So many of us have no problem with spending more than $5 each day on sugary and caffeinated drinks at Starbucks or a local coffee shop and all of that adds up real quick. If you purchase 1 drink each day, you’ll end up spending about $150 a month or almost $2000 a year on caffeine. Yikes!
Although I love treating myself to the occasional latte or macchiato, I’ve learned over time to limit my spending on these sugary drinks. I’d rather save hundreds by making my daily coffee or steeped tea most days and really appreciate my store-bought drink on days that I end up splurging. If you have a 9 to 5 job and find that you’re spending a lot on caffeine each month, I encourage you to try making your drink at home before going to work each day and see how much you end up saving!
If you’re looking for a great coffee machine, I recommend either a Tassimo machine or aKeurig machine. I’ve owned both before but I personally prefer theKeurig because they have more selection of drinks and they’re relatively affordable. Or if you’re more old school, stick with a traditional drip coffee machine.
This concludes my post on 13 easy tips and tricks you can use every day that will help you save money on groceries each month. Eating right and saving money at the same time is totally doable! All it takes is a little bit of extra planning, being savvy with when and where you buy your food, and having a little bit of willpower! I hope some of these ideas were helpful to you and that they help you get closer to your financial goals.
Don’t forget to check out my other posts on how to save money and make extra cash:
- 7 Awesome Shopping Apps That Helped Me Easily Save Over $500
- 30 Amazing Side Hustles You Can Start Right Now To Earn Extra Cash
- 17 Effortless Ways To Make Extra Money In Your PJ’s
- Ibotta: The One Shopping App That Will Actually Save You Money
- Save Money Every Time You Shop Online And Get A $10 Free Giftcard
What do you like to do to save money on groceries each month? Feel free to leave a comment below!