5 Grocery shopping tips that will save you money

5 Grocery shopping tips that will save you money

I like to keep things simple. The second anything in my life gets complicated my anxiety starts to flare up and I abandon ship. So, when it came to finding a grocery shopping strategy that would help us save money and have enough food to sustain us all week I had to come up with something that was easy, efficient and produced results.

With a little experimentation and tweaking I’ve come up with a 5 part system that allows us to keep our grocery bill under 100$ each week with enough food to feed our family of three, 3 meals per day with snacks for an entire week with no take out or last minute pizza deliveries thrown in!

Before approaching our grocery shopping this way, we were totally the family that spent over 200$ a week and still ended up ordering take out because there appeared to be no food in the fridge.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times we had to order emergency takeout despite having a stocked fridge and pantry full of food. Wasteful right?

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Build meals around what you already have.  The first thing I do is look through my fridge and pantry because I’ve always got something in there that needs to be used up and would make a great base for a meal for the following week. I take a mental inventory of what I have and create meals around it. Got cans of beans? Make pasta con fagioli, baked rice and beans or Mediterranean chicken. The options are really endless. If I’m in a recipe rut I’ll often head to allrecipes or pinterest and try to find something that will help me use up what I have laying around.

Make a list. Once I’ve got a good idea of what we’re planning to eat that week I make a list of what’s missing. Our goal is always the same : healthy balanced meals that use up what we already have. Therefore, my shopping list is usually a mixture of staples (eggs, milk, bread) and odds and ends that I need to put meals together.

Don’t be loyal to any one store. Once I’ve got a completed list I look at my local grocery stores online flyers to see who is having the best sales. Some weeks I even split my grocery: buying certain items at one store and the balance elsewhere. I’m never loyal to any one grocery store. My loyalty is to my bank card and I’m always on the hunt to spend the least amount of money possible. If I know it’ll be a relatively “cheap” week grocery wise I make it a point to stock up on meats that are on sale. Recently, whole chickens were about 6$ each so I loaded up my freezer.

Make substitutions when possible. Got meat stocked in your freezer? Well, substitute it into recipes where you can. Some weeks we’ll have a beef stew with chicken substituted for the beef. Most recipes are very easily adapted and often taste just as good. Also, anytime I head into a grocery store my first stop is the reduced to sell section. I’ll often find a bunch of fresh produce, meat and other grocery items that are reduced significantly because they are nearing their best before date. Bruised apples and ripe bananas are great to make cakes and muffins at a fraction of the cost. If I find veggies then I’ll modify our meal plan on the spot to accommodate my finds. This is another great way to stock up on meats that you can freeze until you need to use them!

Shop only once per week. This was the most important change we made and it has probably saved us the most amount of money. We used to be notorious for popping into the grocery store to pick up things we were missing and walk out with a 30$ or more bill. The problem was that we were never truly aware of what we had stocked in our home, we didn’t meal plan and would run to the store whenever we felt we needed something. There were many weeks that we’d go to the store an extra 2-3 times per week. Now, we shop once. No exceptions. It forces us to be savvy with our shopping, prepare ahead of time and make do if we’ve forgotten to buy something or it didn’t fit into our budget. It’s truly quite amazing how well you can feed yourself when you know buying more food is not an option.

Bonus: Use coupons sparingly. Quite honestly, I believe that coupons can end up costing you more money if you’re not careful. I rarely come across coupons for things we regularly buy outside of maybe personal hygiene items and diapers. As a result, I’m really really careful with couponing and often times I don’t use them at all.

QOD

Any tips to add to this list?

 

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32 Comments

  1. April 17, 2017 / 7:34 am

    I use the “FLIP” App, which is fantastic. Most grocery stores accept them. (Except Sobey’s) You can create your grocery list before you leave the house, and include items that are cheaper at other stores. They will match all flyer items on sale, (using your postal code). If you are lucky, you will get a cashier that rarely takes the time to read the item on your phone which makes check-out a breeze… Happy Easter Monday!

    • April 17, 2017 / 7:43 am

      I haven’t heard of the Flip app! Thank you for sharing! Happy Easter Monday to you as well!

  2. April 17, 2017 / 7:56 am

    I also use IBotta and I know there are a few other like it. Not sure if they work where you live. I don’t buy things just because they are on the list and I’ve still received over $40 back on things I typically buy anyway. I just shop as normal and look it up afterward to see if I’ve bought anything they are giving money for. It’s simple and worth the time.

    • April 17, 2017 / 8:47 am

      I would love to use IBotta but it’s not available to us here! What a great tip Sara! Thank you for sharing!

  3. April 17, 2017 / 7:58 am

    Lentils and dried beans are good to keep on hand and are very economical. Lentils do not take long to cook into soup or with spinach or kale or chard into a stew. Dried beans take up less space than canned. They take longer to prepare as they need to soak awhile, although there are some shortcuts- will post about that soon. Lentils and beans are very nutritious as well.

  4. April 17, 2017 / 10:13 am

    This is an actual topic for a young family. I create on weekend menu for the whole week. This helps to control the quantity of products and don’t to buy extra.

    • April 19, 2017 / 9:19 am

      Thank you for reading!

  5. Lauren
    April 17, 2017 / 5:48 pm

    I totally agree with your discount produce and meat suggestion. We have a few stores that have AMAZING selections of discount meat and we stock up and them work from our freezer stash all the time. One store even tends to have buffalo and grass fed beef regularly! Since we are on an island planning shopping trips is super crititcal otherwise we end up spending way more at our local store. Funny though, many times they will have better deals locally on organic produce. Pays to shop around!

    • April 19, 2017 / 9:18 am

      Yes, I’ve actually found organic chickens in that section before! It’s really amazing what deals you can score if you shop around!

  6. April 17, 2017 / 9:34 pm

    I’ve tried! But for the 3 of us, or 4 of us, I usually spend $250 every week. The other day, my son and I walked out with 3 big bags but that was another 120.00. I don’t spend any more than I use to, but I definitely can’t get under that, but maybe because I live in a ski resort as well?! Could be, but I buy a lot of veggies and fruit every other day since we are vegan and eat a lot of it!

    • April 19, 2017 / 9:17 am

      That’s very possible. I think the prices are higher in certain areas. Do you tend to buy what is in season?

  7. April 18, 2017 / 5:06 am

    I don’t do grocery shopping from supermarkets even when they run deals, no because I always end up buying things I don’t want. Supermarkets are designed for that purpose. I buy 3-4 times a week, fresh veggies and fruits as and when I need it. Less wastage that way, and my cupboards and fridge are not unnecessarily loaded. Yes, I do not get discounts, but it breaks my heart to see things rotting when not used. We are a family of 3 and generally eat very small portions.

    • April 19, 2017 / 9:16 am

      This is so very true. I hardly ever shop in the aisles actually. I tend to stick to the outer edges so usually I go through produce, meat and then dairy.

  8. April 18, 2017 / 9:55 am

    Great Post!
    Since we are vegan, it keeps my wallet happy not needing to buy expensive meats and dairy products. I started noticing how much money we were spending on condiments and seasonings in which were for recipes from Pinterest and cook books. lol So to fix that, we started making clean simple meals and buying seasonings in bulk to spice them up. It saves money and the seasonings last a long time!

    • April 19, 2017 / 9:15 am

      Yes, I imagine this might be a little more tricky! Do you regularly look at the discounted to sell areas? That might actually help you save quite a bit!

  9. April 18, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    This was very helpful, shopping only once a week has been helping me save lots. Thank you for sharing

    • April 19, 2017 / 9:15 am

      Thank you for sharing!

  10. Katie
    April 18, 2017 / 9:55 pm

    Great post!! We have the are habits and I’ve just recently started meal planning and shopping only once. It’s inevitable though, I’ll forget something and have to go back! Happens every time! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • April 19, 2017 / 9:15 am

      Shopping only once per week was a game changer for us. Before that, we’d head to the store anytime we wanted and it was costing us a small fortune. Sticking to the once per week mindset forces you to make do and it’s really quite amazing how well we can fare 🙂

  11. April 25, 2017 / 11:25 pm

    Being antisocial pretty much helps me only hit the grocery store when we absolutely HAVE TO… LOL! And then I can only last for about 15 minutes in the store before I start getting People OverLoad – so a list is a must and I am soooooo good about only addressing what is on the list.

    Social Anxiety is such a great asset for us frugal folks! (tee hee)

    Cooking from scratch and using basic ingredients is truly the key to saving money in the stores!

    Great post! Thanks so much for sharing…

    • April 26, 2017 / 7:27 am

      Yes, buying basic and cooking from scratch is key!

  12. April 26, 2017 / 4:58 am

    I’ve never heard of people spending more when using coupons but I see what your getting at! In the UK there not as popular. Would love to know more on your thoughts of them?! We have shows about extreme couponing, I can see the waste on that! Thanks for sharing xx

    • April 26, 2017 / 7:26 am

      It’s not all that popular in these parts either. There are some coupons to be found but generally they are for products that I don’t usually buy. I have yet to see coupons for produce or meat which is really the bulk of what I buy. I think stockpiling things is a great way to save money assuming it’s a product you’d usually buy anyway. We tend to stockpile things like laundry detergent and dish soap. When it’s on sale I take full advantage to save a little money.

  13. July 21, 2017 / 8:29 am

    I need to be better about building meals around what we have. So often I forget the one more ingredient we need to make a meal. I will have to remember to do this!

  14. July 21, 2017 / 8:47 am

    Build meals around what you already have is literally my favorite trick but so easy to forget. If I remember to make my shopping list at home I easily save $10-$30 because I already had a lot of the things.

  15. July 21, 2017 / 11:10 am

    Omg this post is perfect timing for me because I’m trying to save as much money as I can for my wedding! I’m horrible at spending a lot for grocery shopping!

  16. July 21, 2017 / 12:21 pm

    I so agree with all of these! My #1 thing is to switch up the store I shop at but also to shop once a week if possible.

  17. Whitney S.
    July 23, 2017 / 1:38 am

    We only shop once a week! I buy a huge thing of fresh chicken breasts (Six come in a pack), and I can make four meals out of them for both my husband and me. I have several different recipes, so I can switch it up. I use the ibotta app, because you get cash back!!

  18. July 24, 2017 / 11:26 am

    These are awesome tips! Shopping for a home with 6 people is never easy and learning ways to help bring our costs down is always great. I really need to learn how to shop around a bit more. I’m very store loyal and I think that may cause me to miss out on sales at times.

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