Save Money on Food By Cutting Your Grocery Bill
Groceries are one of those unavoidable necessities in our lives. We need food to live, but unfortunately food prices can get to outrageous heights. In fact, families often report spending hundreds of dollars a week on their food bills!
This post will help walk you through making a grocery budget that not only works for you, but also cuts our grocery spending so you can slash your grocery bill and still eat healthy.
Did you know that a low income family size of 4, in America, can qualify for up to $640 a month in food stamps?
Using that as a guide, it breaks down to about $160 per person, per month. Of course, that’s just a guide. You and your family are different than the family to your left.
You have different experiences, different jobs, different likes and dislikes, and therefore should only use an “average family price guide” as a rough estimate. That being said, you could still have some room to slash your grocery bill and still eat healthy.
While it is important to eat healthy, it’s also very important to consider your family and living situations and no one else’s.
Here’s what we will cover in this post:
- What we need to account for, before setting a grocery budget
- What questions we need to ask ourselves before making a food budget
- How to make a successful grocery shopping budget
- How to determine if your current grocery bill is too large or too small
- Tips for designing a grocery shopping list that doesn’t include impulse purchases
- How to reduce food waste and take inventory of what you already have in the house
- A brief touch on meal planning and why it’s important in helping us to save money on food
- Several great ways to slash your grocery bill and still eat healthy
To make a Successful Grocery Budget we need to first-
Determine how much money you are already spending on food. By shopping at a one-stop-shop such as Walmart, Costco, or Sam’s- you probably have other items in that cart besides your families foods.
Items such as dog food, household cleaners, paper products, etc. These items make your grocery shopping totals higher, and can make it appear that you spend more money on food than you actually are.
Remove these items and you’ll see exactly how much you spend on food for your family. But take it one step further and determine which foods are actual grocery costs. By actual groceries, I mean foods that will be converted into meals. Real honest foods, unlike snacks and impulsive purchases.
Snacks, cravings and impulse buys can bring our grocery bills up significantly. My husband LOVES Oreos peanut butter chocolate pie flavored cookies, and will throw them in the shopping cart every time we go shopping together. But at $3.50 a container, that adds up.
Once you figure out how much of your grocery bill is actually food and how much is “extras.”
Take it another step forward.
How much of that “real food” shopping is actually being used? How much of it is food waste?
What’s food waste?
Food waste is just that. It’s food going to waste. Unused, rotting, expired, etc. If you bought it months ago, and it sat in the back furthermost reaches of the pantry collecting dust only to become expired before it was ever used- it’s food waste.
Or if you bought 10lbs of potatoes and only used a few from the bag before they started to spoil- food waste. Maybe, you bought something thinking you’d like it, because the price was right. Only to hate it after first bite/sip- food waste.
Limp carrots, molding bell peppers, spoiled milk, the list goes on.
It’s hard to resist buying things at good prices, impulse buys happen. If this is an issue with you and your budget, read how you can make impulse buys a smarter choice for your family.
[Related] Impulse Buys When There Is Room In The Food Budget
By taking these questions and answers into account, you can better understand your grocery budget. And therefore set it up for better success.
Do you pay by cash or card?
How often do you eat out?
How much food is being wasted?
Do you have a meal plan in place?
How much of your grocery shopping is impulse purchases or from “incredible sales?”
When making your household budget, to account for important dates that will cause your grocery bill to climb. Setting up a sinking fund can really help to account for these food abnormalities, such as parties and holidays. Setting aside a few dollars a month, into special savings account so you don’t have to scramble to find space in the budget for a turkey or cake.
Alright, back to the Grocery Budget Tips
Food waste- If you have too much food in your house going to waste, it’s a big sign that your food budget is too large. Too much money set aside for food increases your likelihood of wasting. It also increase splurges and impulsive purchases.
If you find this to be your current situation, try slashing your grocery bill by 10% per month over the course of the next few months to try and find a healthy spot for your food budget. One that limits your food waste.
Setting up a grocery budget is easy once you take all this into consideration.
If you find yourself putting too many impulse buys in your cart, consider shopping online. With stores like Walmart offering grocery order online, you can reduce impulse buys. Only put the foods you truly need into your
Now you don’t need to worry about passing the tempting clearance stickers or fresh baked French bread calling your name. Avoiding impulse buys is one of the BEST ways to slash your grocery bill and still eat healthy.
Plus grocery pickers are trained in a several week course to pick the best of the best when it comes to meats and produce. It’s super awesome, and if you haven’t tried it already I highly recommend it.
Sign up for Walmart Grocery Pick up with this link and get $10 off your first order!
How do you know what to put in your cart? What do you buy so you don’t miss anything?
Nothing sucks more than getting your grocery shopping done, only to realize you forgot something. I almost always forget one item if I don’t have a list. Unfortunately if I’m disorganized, my list will be forgetful too.
So how can we make sure to buy everything in one trip, without wasting time, money and efforts?
Why taking inventory, and organizing can help you slash your grocery bill and still eat healthy
Making this a little easier for you, if you click on the download button above, you will receive a 3 piece inventory tracker to help you organize. Completely Free. Just print them out and use them up!
Something I always do when I’m planning a trip to the grocery store is take inventory of what’s in the house already. By doing this, I’m able to create meals from within my own home and use up as much of the food waste as I can. Another idea is making small-batch cooking using odds and ends.
Being able to do this, is actually a skill worth learning, you never know when it’s going to come in handy. Shortly after leaving the Army, we found ourselves unemployed, broke and needing to survive off of $250 for 44 days, for 4 people and 5 pets. If I didn’t know how to take inventory and creatively assemble meals, we would have been starving.
Once you have taken inventory, do this-
Compare grocery ads and look at what’s on sale. Don’t be fooled by the loss leaders though. Those are items sold at deep discounts to get you in the store. They trick you into thinking that one store is cheaper or more convenient, only to be more pricey overall. To avoid falling victim to a loss leader sale ploy, I highly recommend doing price matching on multiple grocery store online pick up systems. You won’t save money on food if you opt for convenience over price.
By selecting your items and building virtual carts at each grocery store, you can truly compare the retail and sales prices in one convenient place!
Make sure to compare price per units. These can be found on store shelf label stickers (saving you from doing all the math!)
Figuring out what’s on sale helps to do this-
Meal plan. Figure out what’s on the menu for the upcoming days. What do you need to buy to make these meals? Base your meal plan around seasonal items or things currently on sale. Buying off season produce or meats can increase your grocery budget (and that’s the opposite of what we are trying to do!)
Need help meal planning? I have a past post about 10 things you should be doing to make meal planning easy. It could help to answer those frustrating questions you may already have about creating your own meal plan for your family.
Alternatively, you can join
When making your grocery list to include coupons. I know, it sounds crazy and a lot of people don’t understand why a piece of paper worth a few cents off a product is worth their time, but trust me. It adds up. This website is a great resource for free printable coupons.
If you look up your store of choice online and the weekly coupon match-ups you should find couponing websites with breakdowns of the best deals and coupons to use. Of course, they gear these sites towards other couponers and therefore use weird language to help them out. You may want to have another tab open to cross-reference the couponing lingo.
Also take into consideration, rebates. They can be stacked onto your savings since they are applied after store sales, coupons and time of purchase. See- What is a rebate? For more information.
Although if you’re going to use coupons, make sure you know this-
Don’t buy things simply because you have a coupon. Only use a coupon on something you were originally going to buy. Buying things simply because “you’re saving money with a coupon” is actually hurting your budget. Not helping it. Plus it adds to food waste.
And after you’re done saving money at the register, you can take your phone out and get back some rebates. Rebate apps such as Ibotta or Checkout 51 are great for getting some of your money back. Sign up for Ibotta here and get a FREE $20 welcome bonus!
[Related] See my full review PLUS how Ibotta works by clicking here.
You could also slash your grocery bill by:
By buying a discounted gift card prior to shopping, you save money before you ever even enter the grocery store! The Raise app is an awesome place to buy and sell discounted gift cards, plus the customer service has been great (in my experience.) I’ve personally been using them for a few years now and highly recommend it. Sign up here and you could get a $10 credit towards your first purchase.
Some other great tips to save money when grocery shopping on a budget
Do not shop when hungry. Seriously, there is a big difference between you shopping on a full stomach and you shopping while hungry. Always eat something BEFORE you go to the store.
When shopping in the store aisles, look up and down. The middle section of dry good shelves are often the higher priced items. This makes sense because they’re at eye level, and more likely for consumers to purchase. The better deals are just out of eyesight, so make sure you look for them.
Shop with a store rewards card. I’m not talking about store credit cards that save you 15% at the register- those are evil tempting pieces of plastic that should be avoided at all costs. I am talking about the free store rewards cards. The ones that just need a phone number and email address to save you money. These can really be worth it.
Buy less processed and prepared foods. By cutting produce yourself, you spend a few extra minutes in the kitchen- but you slash your grocery bill and reduce packaging waste. Which, is better for the environment too- so win win. Plus preparing your own foods helps you to eat healthy! Some stores have butchers who will cut meat for free– use them if you can. Nobody complains about free labor when it works in their favor.
Shop with cash, not a card. Research shows that people will spend more money when shopping with a credit or debit card. This is because cash gives us an emotional connection and handing it over to someone else makes us rethink our actions. Think makes us more budget conscious and allows us to save money.
Also pay attention to the scanner as you make it through the checkout line. Sometimes items will ring up incorrectly, multiples, missing, etc. Stay vigilant and question anything that looks incorrect.
If fast food, delivery or takeout after grocery shopping is an issue, consider these tips
Invest in a slow cooker or pressure cooker.
Setting up a slow cooked meal before you go shopping, makes it much easier to avoid the fast food lanes if you know that you have a hot meal waiting for you at home.
Pressure cookers are great for similar reasons. Except that they cook foods incredibly fast. So even if you forgot to take meat out of the freezer, it can still be ready at a reasonable time.
Grocery Spending is an area that almost anyone can improve upon. I hope this information has been valuable to you. Did you learn some new ways to cut or shape your grocery budget? If you have any other tips you’d like to share, post them in the comments.