As a busy mom, I try really hard to maximize our income the best we can. One of the most varying areas in our budget has always been groceries. So I’m often searching for smart ways to keep it as low as possible, without living on ramen noodles and pb&j sandwiches. Here’s 15+ of the BEST Grocery Budgeting Tips EVER that I’ve found, tried and loved!
Now, maybe some of these won’t work for you. Don’t overwhelm yourself and try to do all of them at once. Pick a couple that would be best for your situation, then maybe down the road implement a few more!
- Make a list, and STICK TO IT. Be strict with yourself on this, or at least plan ahead for which situations you are allowed to budge on (for example, if you see an item and you FOR SURE need that for a recipe this week, and you KNOW you don’t have any). I’ll admit, I struggle with this – thus bringing us to my saving tip number two….
- Only carry cash with you. Check sales/prices, check your list, and bring enough cash (don’t forget tax). I know that if I carry cash, I’m less likely to purchase things I don’t need because I would be horrified if I got to the register and didn’t have enough.
- Make sacrifices, or substitutions. For example, leave the cheese off your meat sandwich and use lettuce instead. Or splurge one day a week on a ‘gourmet’ sandwich with cheese, but in exchange take pb & j another day even if it isn’t your favorite.
- A name isn’t everything = be willing to try non-name brand items. Most of the time, I get generic-brand items for a lot less than popular brands, and really don’t notice a difference (other than the savings).
- Try to make fewer shopping trips. I know myself well enough to know that the more trips I make the the store, the more ‘extra’ stuff I buy. Now, I cannot bring myself to shop for the whole month in one day – although that is a goal of mine to work towards. However, Danielle @ Blissful and Domestic is amazing at this, so be sure to go check her out to see how she does a whole month at once. For now, I just do one trip per week (as best as I can) – so try what you can.
- Coupons – please know that I am Not. A. Coupon. Person. Seriously, I hate dealing with coupons, unless some kind person at the store says ‘oh, here’s a coupon for that item in your cart’ – imagine how often that happens, though. If you are then you’re my hero, and I tip my hat (not that I ever wear hats, but if I did) to you! I will note, though, that Ruth @ Living Well Spending Less says coupons aren’t where the savings are – it’s in the store sales. Go read her article for more on that – it’s GREAT!
- The biggest saving tip FOR ME – cooking from scratch as much as possible. Now, I LOVE pre-made dinners and such that make life all the less stressful and more convenient, but it does come with a higher price tag. If you can bring yourself to do a little more from scratch, it can really add up with savings.
- Learn which stores have the best prices for common foods. Checking the ads is a fantastic way to take care of this, especially since items can change each week. Sometimes, however, there are stores that just always (or mostly) have certain items cheaper. For me, I always buy milk at my local Aldi store because I’ve never gotten it more than $1.99 each. Compared to the other MAIN store I shop at, there’s is rarely down that low.
- Use what you have on-hand. Yes, I know stocking up is a great thing, but also be sure you’re utilizing things instead of letting them go bad. A good idea is seeing what you have then planning meals AROUND what is already on your shelf.
- Avoid the ‘snack packs’ and other sugary convenient kiddie snacks. I do get these sometimes, but am trying to do better. Getting on-sale produce, crackers, yogurt, etc. will not only help your budget, but also help your family be more healthy.
- Check your local bakeries later in the evening to see if they have any mark-downs for the day they’re trying to sell.
- Drink water. This is really REALLY hard for me! I love my Dr. Pepper, and juice. However, I AM trying to reduce my intake to only one Dr. Pepper per day, and doing mostly water the remainder. Still struggling, but progressing!
- Purchase produce when it’s in season (thus, on sale!) and FREEZE it for later. This way, you can stock up while it’s more cost-friendly, but enjoy those fruits and veggies year round.
- Eat at home more often. I love eating out, but my family has done really well as of late to eat at home a LOT more often, making eating out a special occasion or treat. Even then, we watch for Kids Eat Free specials, birthday deals, ‘happy hour’ dinner specials, etc.
- Eat less meat. Meat can be really expensive, so having it less often can really help the budget. Or just exchange your normally expensive cuts for a downgrade type cut – for example, instead of boneless chicken breasts do drumsticks and thighs. Or a cheaper cut of steak instead of a Ribeye.
- Go to the store WITHOUT YOUR KIDS. I have a hard time with this, since I have four little ones, but I do still try to get the shopping done when daddy is home to watch them (plus it’s a nice break for me from the mini van!). With kids, you’ll get more ‘can I get these’, whining, and be a lot more distracted.
- Go shopping AFTER you’ve eaten. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to buy more items and buy things you normally wouldn’t care about. Going on a full stomach can even help you realize that certain things just aren’t necessary.
- Find a produce co-op, such as Bountiful Baskets. I started using this when we moved to our new house (had just learned of it from my Uncle), and it’s been a HUGE help with our grocery budget. You can get produce for a lot cheaper, stock up on in-season-so-low-priced items, PLUS it helps (at least it has us) your family eat more produce, which is great for your health.
What are YOUR Best Grocery Budgeting Tips?