7 Secrets for Saving Money on Groceries

7  Secrets for Saving Money on Groceries

Did you know that Americans spend more than 6% of their annual income on food every year? The grocery bill average for one person is about $3,000 per year, or almost $250 per month. The grocery bill average for family of four is between $712 and $1,106 per month.

You can find the grocery bill average for your area here.

But you can do better than that!

Grocery shopping on a tight budget may not be fun! But it doesn’t have to be difficult!

Unless you have eight kiddos, like me. I fill two or three carts — to the brim — every time I shop for groceries. So those carts are pretty heavy. And my helpers are mere kids. Ideally, I take one or two older children with me and leave everyone else at home.

However, life is rarely ideal, and occasionally I end up helping a 5-year-old push a cart with a wailing entourage trailing behind us. 

We’ve had our share of accidents. Like the time the watermelon rolled off the bottom shelf of the cart in the parking lot. Splat! 

Not only does feeding our families consume a lot of time and energy, but it can take up a huge portion of a budget!

I can’t help you with your heavy carts or your crying entourage, unfortunately. But I can help you with your budget.

I’m kind of a pro at grocery shopping on a tight budget, having had so much practice over the last 15 years of motherhood. I thought I’d share my secrets for how to cut food costs with you.

 

How to save money on groceries (you’ll love these tips for grocery shopping on a budget):

 

1. Shop as infrequently as possible in order to save money on groceries.

Grocery stores conduct extensive research into how to get people to buy things they don’t need. They are pros at subconscious manipulation!

Grocery stores play slow music because most people slow the pace of their walking to match the music’s tempo, without even thinking about it.  They place the cheapest and least processed food at the back of the store, making shoppers work to find it.

The highest priced (and least nutritious) items are near the checkout and on the endcaps — the most visible and easily accessible places in the store.

You subject yourself to temptation every time you visit, and how often do you make it out with just the items on your list? Never? Same here.

Make a game out of seeing how long you can wait between grocery store visits. It actually feels very rewarding to be able to stretch it past two weeks so that on occasional billing cycles you only have one grocery trip to pay for and you can divert the extra funds to savings or a more ‘fun’ expenditure.

Avoid those attempts to subconsciously manipulate you by shopping as infrequently as possible!

 

2. Purchase grocery shopping staples instead of convenience foods to cut your grocery bill.

Purchase staples instead of prepared foods. They last longer, since you will be shopping less frequently, and they cost much less. A box of pancake mix is only going to make 2 breakfasts for my family, but a 25lb sack of flour will probably make weeks of breakfasts. 

You can purchase a 10 lb bag of potatoes for roughly the same price as a 4-serving box of processed scalloped potatoes that you still need to add milk and butter to. Buy the bag of potatoes, wash and slice them into a pan, layered with milk and butter, and you’ll have (chemical-free) scalloped potatoes for weeks.

It’s wise to keep a several-week supply of non-perishable staples on hand, kind of like a little convenience store in your pantry. Your stored staples will come in handy if ever you are subjected to a natural disaster or financial emergency, but they also decrease your overall food budget because you can buy in bulk when the item is on sale and rarely pay full price for groceries.

 

3. Plan your meals around the sales and buy loss leaders in bulk when grocery shopping on a budget.

Loss leaders are the sale items, usually highlighted on the front page of each circular. A loss leader is a pricing strategy where a product is sold at a price below its market cost to stimulate other sales of more profitable goods or services. You can take advantage of that pricing strategy to keep your own food budget lower. 

Grocery stores send out mailers each week, usually highlighting all of the sales on the first page. Look through the circulars and think up as many meals featuring them as possible. For example, when chicken breasts are on sale for $1.49 per pound or less, you can bet several chicken dishes will be on our weekly menu. 

Meats and shredded cheese freeze well, too. So when they are on sale, stock up as much as you can for future weeks. I like to plan about two weeks of menus at a time (to keep me out of the grocery store) but I’m usually flexible about which days to serve them so that I can incorporate ‘leftover’ meals as we go.

Be sure to plan ‘leftover’ meals into your menu plans in order to use up leftovers and not waste them. Speaking of wasting…

 

4. One of the best ways to save money on groceries is by not wasting food.

When you throw food out, you might as well have just crumpled up your money and thrown it away. My husband likes to take leftovers to work for his lunch each day, which I figure saves us upwards of $2k dollars per year. The rest of us frequently eat leftovers for lunch at home, too.

When there is extra pot roast after Sunday dinner, I’ll make stew. When there is leftover chili, we have taco salad. You get the point. 

As you menu plan and shop and prepare meals, try to arrange the meals with the most perishable ingredients early in the week so your produce doesn’t go bad and have to be thrown out.

You will find that you need to buy less as you start wasting less, which means big savings.  

 

5. Eat at home to save money on groceries.

Blah, I know! But there are so many ways to keep homecooked meals varied and fun.

The key for me is to stay ahead of the 5 pm doldrums through menu planning and advanced preparation. How often do you decide to go out to eat when you’ve been smelling the fragrant, spicy-sweet pulled pork you put in the crockpot that morning? Never, right? 

Keep meals exciting and fun by having breakfast for dinner, dessert for breakfast (peach cobbler with freshly whipped cream, anyone?) or just setting out a large veggie tray.

Break out the BBQ, the crockpot or the fondue set. Fondue at the Melting Pot is almost $100 for just my husband and me, but I can make Easy Crockpot Swiss Fondue and Easy Crockpot Chocolate Fondue at home for my entire family, all ten of us, for less than $20. 

Here is another example of restaurant markup. It costs over $100 to take our family of ten to KFC, even when we buy combo meals and just drink water. 

I can make the same meal at home — crispy fried chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, tangy coleslaw and flaky biscuits; enough to amply serve 12 — for under $12. Check out this post, Fried Chicken with all the fixins: Under $1 per serving, for recipes and a detailed cost breakdown.

Related Reading:

15 Easy Meals for Pennies

33 Cheap and Easy Soup Recipes

9 Frugal Breakfast Ideas that Will Make You Excited to Wake Up

If you like going out to eat, then by all means budget for it. But make it special; a date for mom and dad. The less frequently you go out, the more special it will be. 

 

6. Use a list to reduce your grocery bill.

Never go into the grocery store without a list. That’s like going on a trip without GPS or a map or any planning — just driving in the general direction of where you want to go and hoping you’ll get there.

Keep a running list of things you’ve run out of or need to purchase. I keep mine on my phone so it’s always handy. It saves me from having to make extra trips to the grocery store.

Be sure to check your local grocery store flyers for the best deals (tip #3!) on the items you need! If you’ll plan your meals around the sales, then stick to the list you’ve made, you will really save money on groceries! 

Sticking to the list is key. Surprises can ruin your well-planned budget in a hurry!

 

7. Learn skills to save money on groceries and eat healthy.

Would you rather pay $10 for one dozen chocolate chip cookies at the bakery, or make six dozen tastier, more-nutritious cookies for $5? My family goes through six dozen cookies in the blink of an eye. $60 or $5? Hmmm…

Same story with bread, bagels, and pretty much all baked goods. I figured out once that just making homemade bread saved us around $500 per year, I’ll bet all the other baked products I make would save us twice that. 

Learn to make freezer meals and batch cook for busy days. Learn to can and preserve foods that are much cheaper in season.

You can save several hundred dollars a year (and save yourself a whole lot of time) by learning how to can chicken in your pressure cooker at home. You can purchase in bulk when you find a great sale price and can what you won’t use right away. I use my home-canned chicken in all of my recipes, from soups and salads to enchiladas, right out of the jar. Not only does it save me money, but it makes dinner a snap!

A dollar saved is truly a dollar earned, and though it feels menial at times, it does add up!

A wise friend once told me to ‘shop the perimeter of the store for better nutrition’. I thought about it and realized I already was, because that was where the best prices were.

Isn’t it interesting that cheaper=better nutrition for the most part? Apply these tips and both your wallet and your waistline will thank you!

 

 

Related Reading: 37 Frugal Tips From an Extreme Cheapskate

 

What other ways can you think of to save money on your grocery shopping?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Pin these great tips for how to save money on groceries!

 

 

 

 

Let’s keep in touch! For more homeschooling inspiration and fun freebies, you can find Orison Orchards on FacebookPinterestInstagram and Twitter, or subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter!

 

 


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27 thoughts on “7 Secrets for Saving Money on Groceries”

  • Money management is very necessary for all of us and mostly our all expenses are cover by grocery. I just like these all ideas about grocery budget. Great information!

  • I’m a self taught frugal person never really had anyone to fall back on, It feels good to see I’m doing 80% the right track… The canning of meat has always had a strange effect with meat not sure what its about, suppose I never knew how it was achieved, if I read right it’s done in a slowed cooker which makes perfect sense now, I would love to know the process you use. Thankyou for sharing your ideas with us all, A few weeks ago I pinned an article 37 frugal ideas in the kitchen, was this yours as well I enjoyed that as well, My plan for 2019 is to become 70% self sufficient, I start with making my own sour dough and there is so many things you can make with the by products , Milk and water Kefir and culture vegies all have so many health benefits. my big thing to do is turn some old pallets I have collected into raised garden beds so I can grow clean organic vegetables, I already make or use natural ingrdients for cleaning around my home. I have always loved to potter in my kitchen so I have never been one to buy processed and premade foods, I do have just one processed food I do buy because it makes a the best and smoothest cheese sauce and the bestest ever toasted ham and cheese and that’s Kraft cheese in the blue box, I proably should say I am from Australia, Sorry I have rabbited on thankyou for reading and thankyou for sites like yours…

    • Self-sufficiency is a terrific goal! I’m working toward that, too. I also make homemade sourdough bread, and we raise our own meat, milk and eggs. It’s amazing how many health benefits there are to homemade and homegrown food! It sounds like you’re on the right track! Especially the pallets upcycled into garden beds. I love that idea! You should post some photos here after you’ve finished.

      I can chicken and beef in my pressure cooker. It’s really simple. If you search this site you’ll find a tutorial for canning chicken — I use the same method to can beef. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

      Sorry, that other article wasn’t by me. But it sounds like a great article — I’ll have to look it up!

      Your climate in Australia is probably much more conducive to gardening than mine here in Utah (zone 5/6). I grow enough winter squash to last us all year, because they store so well, but I still rely heavily on the grocery store for produce during the winter. Someday, when I have some extra time, I’ll have to cobble together a greenhouse and take care of that. Thanks for your fun comment! 🙂

      • Thankyou for replying to my comment, I had a lot of fun doing my research and I have no one to share my my findings with which brings me down a little so I decided 2019 was time to bring it all together and just get on with and the building of the garden beds was really the last step of my plans to be self sufficient as Much I can achieve. I will diffently look for your canned chicken, I’m not much of a meat eater, chicken and pork and seafood but that’s only for a treat cause it is so expensive, sad really when you think we export so much to asia which has pushed the price upto really crazy prices….. if you are interested in recycling pallets check out my Green thumb things and DIY Pinterest boards… We are so hot here at the moment I am having trouble keeping my sour dough starter viable, so I’m cheating and bought dried sour dough starter from Ebay and see how that goes. I will send you photos once I have Built my raised garden beds, Have a lovelly week and once again thankyou for answering my comment…..

  • These are great tips! I always have a heart attack when I go grocery shopping, and it ends with me usually not even eating what I buy. Will definitely try some of these out!

    • I’ve been there, too! I’ll feel so motivated and have the very best of intentions standing in the produce area. But 2 weeks later I realize I totally forgot as I pull the yucky produce out of the drawers and feed it to my chickens. I always console myself that at least (since the chickens eat it) it’s not a total waste! 🙂

  • I love the idea of learning new skills to save money. I have been wanting to brush up on my sewing skills to save money on clothing, and could easily translate that idea nto grocery savings!

  • I’ve tried to shop after I’ve forgotten my list at home. BIG mistake. I end up buying so many impulse purchases. I’ve also found that when I use a grocery pickup service, my overall bill is less. I’m less likely to buy stuff that I didn’t need.

    • I’ve found the same. I feel like I especially save money by using the grocery pickup service instead of sending my husband to the store! 🙂 He is the WORST at impulse buys!

    • I felt the same, so I don’t coupon anymore. But I still use Ibotta, because they have so many discounts for fresh foods (not processed) and for staples, too.

  • Oh man, I really need to work on the first tip! If I could meal plan and make fewer trips to the grocery store, it would really help! And the left overs – I struggle to get creative about ways to use them, so this needs some work too! Thanks for the great tips!

    • You’re welcome, Tiff! I live for leftover night! Everyone has to come up with their own dinner, ha, ha!

  • Great tips for saving money. I definitely can do better when it comes to not eating out, and not buying “convenience” foods. Thanks 🙂

    • I have not canned ground beef, but I have canned beef chunks (stew meat) and they turned out tender, flavorful and delicious! I also frequently can chicken breasts, whenever I find them on sale. It saves so much money, because I’m never paying full price for anything!

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