Ever wondered what the heck you spend all your money on each month? Ever added up all monthly purchases and realized time and time again that it’s groceries/dining out/coffee!? That was me. Every single month.
In fact, before I started budgeting I would waste so much money that I’m embarrassed to say how much we spent one month for a family of two (we’re talking four digits here).
So, here are sixteen ways you can save money on groceries each and every month!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means I receive a commission (at no extra cost to you!) if you click through and make a purchase. I never promote products or brands I don’t believe in.
1. Start a budget
If you haven’t already, the first step to making sure you spend appropriately on food expenses is by starting a budget. I know it’s scary. Adding up all the money you’ve spent on food in the last month can be daunting. But this step alone can save you thousands of dollars per year. The first month I started budgeting I saved over $600 dollars on food expenses alone (dining out, groceries, etc.)
If you need help starting a budget read 8 steps to building a budget
2. Only go to the grocery store once a week
Little stops at the grocery store can add up. Quick. I pass the grocery store on the way home from work, so each night I’d stop in and grab something. You know the story: you go in for one thing, but come out with three grocery bags full. These little stops added up to HUNDREDS of extra dollars per month. Plan out your meals, and only go once a week!
3. Check out Amazon
You can get almost anything on Amazon these days and often it’s cheaper than getting it at the store! For me, Amazon is ALWAYS cheaper than buying it where I live. If you have Amazon Prime you can even subscribe and have Amazon bill and send it to you on a schedule (like once a month). The best part? You save money when you subscribe for Amazon Prime! Even if it’s 5% it adds up over time.
Plus, Amazon Prime comes with a streaming service, so you can watch awesome shows, too! (My faves are 30Rock & Parks and Rec).
Here are a few things I use around the house each month:
4. Plan your meals (& bring leftovers to work!)
By planning your meals ahead of time you will save so much money. No more last minute runs to the store. No more buying lunch because you didn’t plan ahead and make enough leftovers to bring to work. Plan all your meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Plus, it’s so nice to know exactly what you’re going to have each night for dinner. You don’t need to stress about what you’re going to cook when you’re home, you already know!
5. Avoid 4/5 sales
This is particularly important if you’re on a really tight monthly food budget. Now, it might sound counter-intuitive, but hear me out. Say you go to the store and there’s a sale on canned goods. If you buy 4 cans of tomatoes you end up saving .50 cents per can. BUT, in the moment, you end up spending more than you planned and going over your food budget.
These sales can lead to overspending so easily. Buy only what you need. If it’s something you use frequently, or plan to use every single week, then it makes more sense to embrace the sale. But if you only use it once every few months don’t overspend now just to save a few cents. If you’re like me, lots of canned goods go into the pantry, I forget about them, and then I start the overspending cycle all over again the next time the sale happens.
6. Look at local flyers and coupons
This might seem obvious, but it’s an important one. Keep in mind you need to balance gas costs with grocery savings. If a grocery store in the next town over is having a sale on something, but getting there will cost you more in gas, the sale isn’t worth it.
7. Clean out your pantry once a month
Once a month dig through the fridge, freezer, pantry and cupboards and make a meal from whatever you find. Get creative, try something new. Use what you have instead of buying new.
8. Pack your lunches, coffee and snacks
This is crucial. You will save hundreds of dollars by bringing your own lunch, coffee and snacks from home. Even that $2 dollar coffee every day adds up. Let’s say you spend $10 a week on coffee. That’s $40 a month and $520 a year.
Small purchases make big dents in our grocery budget!
I bought my partner this thermos mug for Christmas and he RAVES about it! He works outdoors sometimes and in the winter it can be quite cold, so it’s nice he can bring hot coffee with him. It’s even better that he’s no longer spending $4/day on coffee.
9. Buy seasonal produce
Depending on where you live in the world, different produce will be in season at different times. Have you ever looked at the price of berries in the winter? Astronomical. Not only is it healthier to give your body a variety of nutrients by trying different fruits and veggies, but you save money, too!
Shop the in-season produce and you won’t be disappointed.
10. Buy generic
Oftentimes there is minimal difference between brand name and generic (especially for pharmaceuticals and medicine!). I know you’re probably loyal to the old tried-and-true brands, but if you’re looking to save money, switch to generic. You can always switch back if you’re unhappy.
11. Eat before shopping
This is one tip you’ll always hear: never shop on an empty stomach. It can be so hard to avoid all the snacks, treats and excess food when you’re hungry. This is detrimental to your budget! Impulse buys are much more likely to happen when you’re tired and starving.
12. Freeze what you can
If you‘re making a big batch of chili or soup, freezing it is an excellent way to save leftovers. This is great for those times you’re in a rush or you forgot to plan lunch for work. You can also freeze certain vegetables and fruit, too. I constantly freeze spinach to chuck into my smoothies.
Another tip: if you have enough freezer space and you’ve got extra money for your food budget, buy meat when it’s cheap. I love buying family packs of meat when it’s on sale and throwing half into the freezer.
Here are the containers I use to freeze soups, stews, chilli and anything else I need! The small size is great for soup because it stores enough for both my partner and myself when we are craving a little soup. The large size is better for bigger dishes.
I like these containers because they don’t crack or break, and the food is never freezer burnt. Plus, they’re blue so I never forget which containers are for the freezer and which ones aren’t!
13. Make a list & stick to it
Writing a list is easy. Sticking to it? A little harder. But, when you make out a detailed list (after planning your meals) you are less likely to overspend. You don’t wander aimlessly down isles, deciding on the fly what you want to take home. You know what you want and you get it.
Not only do you save money, but you save time, too! And saving time is just as important.
Hint: If you shop with a partner, make sure they have a copy of the list. And make sure they understand you’re just getting what’s on the list. No last-minute ideas.
14. Add carbs to meals
When you’re on a tight budget, carbs are a great way to keep your family satisfied! Try adding carbs into your meals (rice, potatoes, pasta, etc). It doesn’t have to be unhealthy, either. Try whole wheat pasta, jasmine or brown rice, quinoa, beans, and different kinds of potatoes and squash.
15. Meatless Mondays
For one meal a week, try to limit your meat intake. Meat is expensive. Eating it 7 days a week 2-3 meals a day can be outrageous.
Try a veggie burger recipe, a hearty chilli, a soup and salad. There are countless recipes out there. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
16. Breakfast for dinner
I love breakfast. No contest, it is my favourite meal of the day. I love pancakes, waffles, every variation of eggs, bacon, sausages. It’s all great. Having breakfast for dinner one night a week can really help save you some cash. Breakfast foods are inexpensive. Plus, it’s quick and easy to make.
Hint: If you make pancakes you can even freeze some for later. Place a layer of parchment paper in between the pancakes so they don’t stick together and stick them in a freezer bag or container. When you’re ready to eat, pop them into the toaster for a few minutes to warm them up.
I hope these tips help you save money on groceries each month!
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