Looking for some quick and easy ways to cut your grocery bill? Here are five ideas…
I wrote a post a few weeks back with 10 simple ways to cut your grocery bill by $50 this week. I had so much fun putting that together, but I didn’t have room to share all of my ideas. So here are five more simple way to cut your grocery bill today:
1. Plan a Menu
Do you dread 5 p.m. because it’s when you have to try to pull something together for dinner or feel guilty about ordering takeout yet again? Do you often find yourself running to the store at the last-minute in a frazzled state rushing through the aisles and throwing random things into your cart in hopes it will magically create a five-course dinner?
The truth is, you could throw away the 5 p.m. dread and almost completely eradicate the frazzled last-minute grocery store trips if you sat down at the beginning of the week and made a menu plan.
I can’t even begin to calculate how much we’ve saved over the years through the simple act of menu planning. By planning ahead and buying all the groceries we’ll need for the week in one shopping trip, we save numerous trips to the store throughout the week. In addition, when you have a plan in place for what you’re supposed to be eating each meal and you’ve already purchased the ingredients for those recipes, it’s a lot harder to justify chucking the plan for takeout.
2. Go to More Than One Store
When I mention how I save a lot of money by shopping at more than one store, I’m often met with resistance:
“But I don’t have time to go to more than one store! I can barely make it into Walmart once a week.”
“That’s not saving money! You’re wasting all sorts of time and gas running around to fifteen different stores in one day. Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective and efficient to just do all your shopping at one store each week?”
“I’m glad that works for you, but I don’t have near the patience or organization to even attempt something like that!”
Let me be clear: I am not advocating going to 15 different stores that are 45 minutes away from your home in order to save $2 at each store. That’s not saving money, in my definition. Instead, that’s wasting enormous amounts of time and effort and producing little to show for it but wear and tear on your vehicle and an exorbitant gas bill.
What I am advocating is taking a little bit of time to scout at your nearby stores each week and pick a few which have the best sales and deals. Then base your grocery trip planning on shopping only at those stores.
3. Shop the Markdowns
The very first thing I do when I walk into a grocery store is to go around the perimeter of the store and look for the orange markdown stickers on items. I hit the produce section first. Then the meat, dairy, and bread items.
By starting with looking for markdowns, I then can rework my grocery list if I hit on a great deal. For example, if I was planning to buy carrots and cucumbers to use as raw veggies during the week, but I found a big bag of marked-down colored peppers and a marked-down head of cauliflower, if they were less expensive than the carrots and cucumbers I was planning to buy, I’d likely swap them and save a dollar or two.
My favorite thing about buying markdowns is that they add some variety to our menu. While I might not pay full price for a roast or salmon, I’ll snatch it up if it’s marked down by 50%.
I often receive the question, “How do you find out when a store marks down groceries?” I wish I had some super-secret answer to tell you so that you could just magically find markdowns at your store. However, each store is different and often the policies vary widely even in the same store chain in the same town. Sometimes, a store doesn’t even have policies for markdowns and it is based upon whatever mood the produce manager is in as to what kind of deals you’ll find.
Some store chains have a policy against marking items down. The best way to find out is to just ask. Usually, the produce manager is the person to start with.
Inquire what they do with produce that is going bad or milk that is almost to its expiration date and see if they have a policy on marking these items down. If they don’t, ask if you could get a discount if you found a gallon of milk which was expiring in a few days or produce which was going bad.
Find out more of my tips for saving money by shopping the markdowns at this post here.
4. Buy in Bulk
You can save at least 20% off the price of many staple products by buying them in bulk. If you’re going to be using the bulk amount of something over the course of a year and it can be stored for a long period of time, you might as well purchase it in quantity at a discount, right?
I save around $27 per year by buying yeast from Sam’s Club instead of at the grocery store. However, I don’t find it is worth it to pay for the membership. Instead, I just go in on the get in free days that they have a few times per year.
Be aware that not all warehouse packages are a good deal. In fact, many times, you’ll pay more per ounce for buying the large package than you’d pay if you bought multiple smaller packages when they are on a great sale at the grocery store.
You can often purchase large quantities of produce seconds for great prices from local farms (check LocalHarvest.org to see if there are farms near you that sell to the public). And if you like high-quality meat, you’re almost always going to save at least $1 per pound by buying it in bulk.
If you don’t have freezer space for large amounts of meat or products, consider splitting a bulk order with a few friends. That way, you all get the discount, but none of you have to buy a new freezer to store it in!
If don’t find great sources for buying in bulk from health food co-ops and Azure Standard doesn’t deliver to your area, check and see if your health food stores or grocery stores would give you a discount for buying in bulk. It never hurts to ask!
You might also just buy in bulk by practicing the Buy Ahead principle — buying multiples of items at your grocery store when they are at their rock-bottom prices!
For more tips and ideas for how to save by buying in bulk, read my post here.
5. Use Cashback Apps
Each app works a little differently, but the cool thing is that you can use all of them at one time! Here’s the basic gist: Scan your grocery receipts every time you shop and then request cashback for any items you bought that qualify.
These apps often have offers for milk, bread, eggs, fruit, and so on. Even if you only earn $0.50 each week for taking a minute to scan your receipt, that adds up over time!
Also, if you shop at Walmart regularly, you’ll want to check out their Savings Catcher Program. Here’s how it works:
- Enter or scan your Walmart receipt. You can either enter your receipt number on the Walmart Savings Catcher website, or scan the receipt’s barcode with the Walmart App. Your purchase must have been made within the last 7 days.
- Walmart compares prices for you. Walmart will match the price of any local competitor’s printed ad for an identical product.
- You get refunded the difference. If the Savings Catcher finds a lower advertised price, you get the difference.
To learn all about my favorite cash back apps, sign up for my free 5-day series on how to make and save money with your smartphone.
Do you want to take better control of your grocery budget? If so, you’ll want to read my newest eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget!
This eBook will give you all the tips, tricks, and practical advice you need to create a grocery budget tailored to your family’s needs that you can actually STICK to (because that’s the key!)
In this eBook, you’ll learn:
- How to create a grocery budget that fits your family’s needs and your finances!
- New systems to help you keep track of what you spend at the store!
- How to actually stick with your new budget and save money for years to come!
- Ways to save up to $50 off your grocery bill THIS WEEK by using the 10 simple strategies outlined in this eBook!