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13 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
In the US alone, every single year $165 billion dollars worth of food is thrown out. That is billion, with a b. The average American family throws out about $2200 worth of food a year.
#1 Use Cash to Buy Groceries
The BEST way to save money on groceries is to use cash and not your cards. When I am working with my one-on-one financial coaching clients, I have them take out cash every two weeks to use for purchasing their groceries and for eating out. When you take out cash for groceries and eating out, you make very different choices because you are physically seeing that money go down in your wallet, versus your debit or credit card that the awareness is not there and you don’t feel as connected to. We tend to spend 12-20% more when we use our debit and credit cards, versus using cash.
I find it so fascinating how you can be struggling to try and reduce grocery costs when you are using cards, but then switch to cash and how easy it is for your brain to say no to the “extras” that end up in your cart normally. Using this one tip alone, I have had clients save $400+ a month in groceries and eating out costs. This one tip alone has helped some of my clients go from struggling paycheck to paycheck each month, to finally being able to breathe more and to get ahead financially. Don’t underestimate the power of using cash! Yes, there will be an adjustment period, but the benefits of using cash far outweigh any cons that you may have. After I introduce my financial coaching clients to this concept and they start to see the difference in their finances, they LOVE using this strategy to save them hundreds of dollars a month, which results in savings thousands a year!
#2 Clean Out Your Fridge Regularly
Make sure you clean out your fridge regularly so that you actually know what you have in it! It will prevent you from buying doubles and you’ll know if food is still good or not. Plan when you are going out for meals so you don’t overbuy groceries. Make a list of what you will be eating that week so you only buy what you need. Make a list of what you have in your fridge for food items. this way, you can plan your meals based on what you already have.
#3 Order Groceries Online
A fantastic option and something that a lot of people don’t take advantage of is to order groceries ahead of time online. Choose only what you need and then pick it up at the store. This is helpful because you aren’t putting additional items in your cart or grocery shopping when you are hungry. Many stores offer this feature now.
Or if you are really busy and want to save the time of going to the grocery store, some grocery stores will deliver your groceries for a small fee. Now, you might be thinking to yourself that you will be increasing your grocery costs because of this fee. Look at it from this perspective: want you to see it from this perspective: you will only be purchasing the items that you need because you aren’t wandering around other aisles and getting bored and grabbing snack foods that are higher in carbs or sugar. When you order from home when you aren’t starving or grumpy, there will be a significant difference in what you order and how many items you order.
#4 Limit the Amount You Eat Out
Eating out can be one of the biggest areas where we have a “financial leak” that can easily be reduced. I’ve had clients I work with who were barely making it from month to month and we looked at their spending. In the last month, they had spent $800 in eating out and they had no idea. It can range greatly, but cutting down on the amount that you are eating out, grabbing snacks away from home, buying coffees or teas, can really make a difference in your bank account balance.
Now with this, I suggest you work in 1-week intervals. Pick a day to plan out your meals for the week. Sit down and write down 7 meal ideas. Think of 7 things you can have for supper for the following week and then write down a grocery list of those items and purchase enough of them, to be able to have double portions of each of those meals. So you cook supper and then have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Then you only have to think about breakfast foods after that. It is all in the intention that you set.
Tell yourself on Sunday what you are intending to do that week before the week gets busy and you feel overwhelmed and just let your day take you over. Decide that you aren’t going to eat out this week, or that you are only going to eat out once or twice, depending on how often you currently are eating out. Now I know this sounds pretty basic, but honestly, every day this is one of the most common ways that people’s bank accounts are being drained and it makes their financial struggle worse.
#5 Stick to Your List
When you are grocery shopping, have a list with the items that you need. This is so important. Actually say to yourself that you will only purchase the items that you need before you walk into the grocery store. This is a habit that will serve you so well, if you start implementing it.
Otherwise, you may go in for 6 items and come out with 27. The best example of this I can think of is going to Costco. Costco is where I find you can do the most damage. I shop at Costco and I make sure to know exactly what I need when I am there. I only go down those aisles and I don’t just wander over to check something out because I am more likely to end up with more items that I don’t need at this exact time. This will help to keep your grocery costs so much more reasonable.
#6 Make Planning Meals Easier
The planning of what you are going to eat, especially when it comes to supper is one of the toughest parts about saving money on food! That’s why using a service like Your Dinner is Planned, is so helpful! They handle all of the planning and the headaches so you can focus on the cooking and spending time with your family. It is a membership site that has daily recipe plans, weekly grocery lists and nutritional education. What I really love about this is how much the creator Jasmine has simplified it to make it as easy as possible for you to save money on groceries and eating out AND to be eating healthier meals! A real win-win!
What you get from Your Dinner is Planned:
- Weekly menu with 5 brand new recipes each week, which makes it so you can feed your family healthy meals but not have the burden of planning them! (which is what most of my financial coaching clients and community say they struggle with)
- Grocery shopping made efficient and effortless! Your weekly grocery checklists include everything needed for your entire week of dinners!
- Simple & healthy recipes that provide endless variety, so even the pickiest of eaters will be satisfied & happy!
The cost of the membership very quickly pays for itself in what it saves you in wasted groceries and in eating out costs!
#7 Buying in Bulk Can Be Costing You More
Are you buying things in bulk because you feel like you are saving money, but you don’t have a family of 6 and sometimes those things expire before you even get through the first one? Yup, that was me. I worked away from home, so I would buy things in bulk so when I would have days off, I wouldn’t have to run into the city to get stuff when I could instead be enjoying my days off. What ended up happening was that my husband didn’t use very much of those items when I was gone and then some things would expire before we even got a chance to use them.
#8 Grow Your Own Food
When it comes to food items like sprouts, you can easily grow them at home. Sometimes they can be a more expensive item at the store, but you can grow them from home! They are very low-maintenance, they just need to have water rinsed through them a couple of times a day. Sprouts are also amazing for digestion and contain vitamin C (I have to share that with you because I am also Certified in Holistic Nutrition). I do use sprouting jars, but you don’t need them, they just make it super easy to wash them. You can also grow herbs in your house and they don’t take much work. I like growing my own food because often, when I have purchased these items from a grocery store, I have found that they are hard to see with the sticker on the package. Without knowing how they look, sometimes they go bad so quickly when you open them up. This way you aren’t throwing out so much and it tastes better because it is fresher.
#9 Use a Wash on Your Produce to Save Money on Organic
If buying organic is important to you but you don’t always want to spend the extra money, one thing you can do is to wash your produce really well. This is something that I recommend to every health client I have had. Everyone should be doing this and not just to save money by purchasing food items that aren’t organic. When you get home, fill a large bowl (probably the largest one you have) with water, apple cider vinegar or vinegar and either lemon essential oil (make sure it is a real essential oil and not a cheap one that is filled with chemicals) or actual lemon juice. Add in your produce and allow them to sit for about 20 minutes. Then wash your produce really well to get any of the residue off and put it in your fridge. This will help to take some of the chemicals off and it helps it to last longer so it doesn’t go bad as quickly.
#10 Know Which Foods Are Better to Purchase Organic Than Others
Also in regards to purchasing organic, what I suggest purchasing organically are the foods that have the most chemical exposure. Those with the least chemicals you can purchase conventionally. A few of the most contaminated foods are strawberries, nectarines, apples, cherries, and potatoes. Some of the least are avocados, pineapples, onions, and eggplant. So when you compare the foods that I just listed, you’ll notice that the thinned-skinned produce contains more chemicals, and thicker skinned produce is considered more “clean”. You can see a list of each of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.
#11 Download Store Sale Apps
If you don’t like looking through sales flyers that come in the mail or you don’t get them, you can download apps for the stores that you go to and easily browse the sales on your phone.
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#12 Save Money on Spices
Purchase spices from BulkBarn or other bulk stores, instead of buying them already in spice bottles. Save the spice bottle and then refill it with spices from BulkBarn, as they are SO much cheaper it’s not even funny.
#13 Buy Meat Locally
Look into purchasing meat locally. You may not need ½ an animal. However, you can split it with people from work, friends or family members. This way, you don’t have a ton of meat in your freezer but you are saving a ton of money. Cutting out the middleman allows you to save a fair amount of money and meat is a bigger ticket item so it makes a big difference.
#14 Grab a Grocery Basket Not a Cart
When you only have a few groceries that you need and not a huge list of items, grab a grocery basket instead of a cart. A cart is just too convenient to add more things to it that you didn’t originally have on your list and it more easily promotes you to go down extra aisles to “just look,” which we all know what happens when we are “just looking,” we end up buying more stuff! But if you use a grocery basket, you are feeling the weight of your items and less likely to add more items to it. When you feel that weight, you also tend to be more efficient in the grocery store and you don’t go down extra aisles to “just look,” because you don’t want to add extra weight onto your arm to carry! It’s an expected win!
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Do you have any questions or anything to add? Leave me a comment and I will respond back to you!
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