Anyone else find themselves at the grocery store almost everyday and spending way too much on groceries? Curbing my spending and cutting back on our family’s grocery bills has been at the top of my goals list for the year. While I’m still a work in progress and challenging myself every week, here’s a few tricks that have been working for me:
I first discovered online grocery shopping as means of survival when we had our third son, but now I’m hooked. Not only is it a huge sanity saver (not dragging 3 kids to the store), but I’ve found it is a huge help in saving both time and money. I personally find that online I’m able to shop methodically and come away with the necessities vs a lot of extras.
Join Reward Programs and Coupon Apps
Many chains including my local grocery store have an app for their rewards program. Cutting coupons and looking through store flyers can be tedious, but these apps make both super simple. I don’t do a ton of paper coupons, but I do keep the ones I get at checkout in an envelope because more often than not those coupons are targeted based on what you buy.
Challenge Yourself to 2 Trips a Week or Less
This only comes with good planning and strategizing. I’ll be honest 2 trips a week is good for me, but that is what I’m striving for. I’ve noticed as I’m cutting back my trips I’m cutting back on extras and excess spending. If I’m be totally honest, less trips to the store also means less food I’ll have to buy for kids to keep them happy in the store.
This is probably one the most important pieces of the puzzle and a key starting point in the grocery savings process. Plan out your meals for the week and write them out in a spot the whole family can see. I’ve found that plotting out our family’s meals for the next week on the weekend allows us to know exactly what we need, form an organized list, avoid extra spending on takeout and avoid extra trips to the grocery store which inevitably means more time and money. In addition, meal planning for us has meant less week night confusion and stress and more of a focus on finding new recipes and healthier eating.
Create an Organized List Before You Shop
We all know going to the store without a list, especially with kiddos in tow is never a good thing. For me it without a doubt leads to way too much time spent wandering aimlessly in the store, buying items we don’t need and of course having to make return trips. Having an organized list helps keep us all focused and on track.
Plan Around Sales
Taking a few minutes before meal planning to look at your store’s weekly flyer can be hugely helpful. All stores have their flyers available online and nowadays most stores like mine, also have them available within an app. I pay particular attention to the meat and produce sales and try to incorporate into our meal plan for the week as it fits our needs and taste buds and have seen a noticeable savings.
Shop the In Season
Just like planning around sales, planning meals around what’s in season and readily available can help you save. Here’s a site that maps out the seasons for fruits and veggie; think about shopping local and picking up produce at farm stand or famers market. Also keep this in mind for the availability of local meats and seafood. It’s currently scallop season here in Maine, so we are stocking up.
Set a Day to Use Up What You Have on Hand
When making a weekly meal plan, carve out a day for leftovers and/or kitchen clean-out. Once your leftovers are gone, get creative and make it fun. Challenge yourself, and get your kiddos onboard. What can you make with what you have left in the fridge and the pantry? Sometime this means breakfast for dinner (omelets are always a go-to for us), maybe it means everything in the fridge soup or maybe mean creating a new recipe. This is such a good exercise in wasting less and being cognizant of saving.
Track It and Challenge Yourself
Look at your family’s spending history, take into account the size of your family and your diet and food preferences and create a realistic budget/spending goal. Then find a system that works for you to track your progress. Maybe its an app or maybe its an old school spreadsheet like me, but whatever method you choose, hold yourself accountable. I have a spreadsheet hanging on the fridge where I fill in everything I spend at each store on groceries as well as takeout. I now get oddly excited when I come in under budget.
Shop at a Different Store from Time to Time
Time is precious too, so shopping a different stores during the week doesn’t always make sense, but if you make two trips anyway and its convenient definitely something to think about. Also think about alternating your store each week based on stocking up on the best products and the best deals. Compare the flyers and coupons and of course proximity for the stores in your area to figure out which makes the most sense each week. For many families discount clubs can also offer a significant savings. We have a Costco membership, but the store isn’t the closest and buying in bulk for us only makes sense about once a month.
What are your best tactics for saving on your grocery bill? We’d love to hear about them!
This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.