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4 Reasons Why You Can’t Save Money on Groceries

Why You Can't Stick to Your Grocery Budget

On Monday, I am launching a brand-new eBook called Slash Your Grocery Bill: 25 Tried and True Strategies. In it, I’m going to share my best tricks and secrets for sticking with a low grocery bill. (Psst! You won’t want to miss out on the really special launch price! Be sure to check my blog on Monday for all the details!)

In the mean time, I wanted to make sure that my eBook really covered your greatest budgeting struggles and stresses, so I polled all of my Facebook followers and Instagram followers to share their number one struggle when it comes to saving money on groceries.

I picked the top 4 struggles that were shared over and over again and I want to address each of these and give you some creative ideas and encouragement. You probably won’t be able to relate to all of these, but hopefully some of the tips I share will help you in your unique situation.

Struggle #1: I find it hard to menu plan consistently. This leads to extra trips to the store and overspending.

A few of my tips & suggestions:

  • I’d start by asking yourself what your biggest hang up is to menu-planning. Is it that you can’t find the time, don’t enjoy it, don’t like sticking with a plan? Or is it something else? Often when we ask why and try to get to the root of the issue, it allows us to come up with creative alternatives.
  • One simple solution might be coming up with four or six weeks’ worth of menu plans with grocery lists. Yes, this would take some time to put together, but then all you’d need to do would be to rotate through these lists again and again! One time effort could lead to months or years of benefit! (Need some inspiration? Read this post on creating an Annual Menu Plan.)
  • Have you tried using a menu plan service like Eat at Home? They do all the menu-planning for you and even make a color-coded grocery list so all you need to do is print, check your cupboard/fridge, and then go shopping or use grocery pick up.


Struggle #2: I feel like I never have enough time to shop strategically or cook much food from scratch.

A few of my tips & suggestions:

  • I’m going to stick my neck out here a little bit (and risk stepping on a few toes!), but the truth is: if you tell yourself you can’t do something, you probably won’t be able to do it. Start by deciding to change your language around this. We almost always have somewhat of a choice in how we spend our time. Instead of saying, “I don’t have time,” try saying, “I’m choosing to spend my time differently.” This simple switch reminds you that calendar is not the boss of you!
  • Instead of trying to shop at a bunch of different stores or use coupons or cook everything from scratch, I recommend starting out by just sticking with a budget and menu plan. Those two simple practices might be all you need to cut your grocery bill down to a realistic and doable figure.
  • If you are consistently sticking with a grocery budget and a menu plan and it’s not feeling overwhelming, then try challenging yourself to change one small thing to shave 1-3% off your grocery budget that month. That’s all. If that one small thing works, stick with it. When it becomes a habit and feels easy, then add on another small thing. And so on. This is a slow but surefire way to steadily begin to overhaul your grocery budget.

Struggle #3: We don’t have many grocery store options where we live. It’s frustrating to see all the good deals other people get.

A few of my tips & suggestions:

  • If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, I bet you can guess what I’m going to say: stop comparing. Seriously, just stop! It does no good and it only serves to steal your joy and make you feel frustrated and/or inadequate.
  • Instead, focus on what you CAN do. Can you have a budget? Yes, you can. Can you create a menu plan? Yes, you can! Can you stick with simple and inexpensive meals? Yes, you can!
  • Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. And be content with that! In addition, look for creative ways to save. Maybe that’s through a company like Azure Standard, or ordering online, or a local farm, or starting a garden, or cooking more things from scratch. When there is a will, there is usually a way!

Struggle #4: We have food allergies so I have to buy certain brands. There are not a lot of sales and coupons on the brands I have to buy.

A few of my tips & suggestions:

  • First off, read my suggestions above in response to the other struggles. I think some of those will encourage you.
  • Secondly, look for outside-the-box ways to save. Sometimes, Amazon will have great prices on allergen-friendly foods (you can set up price alerts on CamelCamelCamel.com!) What about asking your local stores if they will give you a discount if you buy in bulk? Does Azure Standard deliver to your area? If so, check on the prices they offer.
  • In addition, if there are brands you regularly use, try contacting them and letting them know how much you love their brand. They will often send you coupons! And be sure to sign up for their emails and social media to be alerted of special deals and coupons, too!
  • Lastly, you might not be able to lower your grocery bill as much as some can. That is entirely okay! I bet you can find other ways to save in your budget in order to free up the extra money you need to spend more on groceries!

What are YOUR greatest struggles when it comes to saving money on groceries? Tell me in the comments!

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14 Comments

  • Jan Eppler says:

    We realized 50 years ago that our grocery spending was the one budget item that we could reduce significantly. I established a list of items that we keep on hand at all times. Next, I recorded on a calendar the meals we cooked for a month. Anything we had that one of us did not like was removed from the list, and on days when I had time, I tried out new recipes, and we voted on whether it was a keeper or not. We shop seasonal fruits and vegetables, check farmers’ markets, and roadside stands for locally grown produce. And I started using a large container in which to put all the little dabs of leftovers–a few green beans, a spoonful of gravy or sauce, whatever was still edible but not enough for another meal. The container was in the freezer, and when it got full, we made soup. Sometimes we needed to add broth or tomato sauce, but usually all the flavors combined to make a tasty and essentially free meal.

  • Jill says:

    These are helpful suggestions, and it’s true you have to look at your excuses and mindset too. I fall into the category of food allergies and sensitivities. I do mostly cook from scratch making simpler but healthy meals. My family doesn’t buy processed foods, I mostly perimeter shop and I’m careful cost wise with what non food items I buy. I shop mostly Whole Foods, Costco and Trader Joe’s, and have found some ways to plan carefully. One thing though is knowing I really care about the quality of the food I eat and where it’s sourced, I do budget more to buy those options and spend less in other areas as mentioned.

    • Melissa says:

      This is what I was going to say for food allergies. We are on a special diet for health reasons, not due to allergies. Yes, it means you do have to spend more for a better quality of food. But for food allergies, rather than buying expensive foods/ingredients that make the foods you used to eat “gluten free” or “dairy free,” why not get used to new foods that are naturally or normally free of the things you’re allergic to? That was our mindset. We also knew that we would continually compare the substitute foods and probably find them lacking. So we went on a mission to find new things to enjoy and we did! It is much cheaper to find totally different foods than it is to convert your diet by replacing something with alternative foods. There is such a huge market in substitutes, which in the end I’m pretty sure won’t be any healthier for you than the thing (except not making you sick if you’re allergic to that thing).

  • Sarah says:

    I boiled my biggest issue down to what I’m now coining “if you give a mouse a cookie” shopping lol! I justify so much. Because if I needed only a few things from Sam’s club, but since I’m there I might as well get everything there! Spending that extra 50-100 bucks totally saves me the extra 3 bucks on gas to go to a different store right?! And if I see we need flour but they just happen to be next to the chocolate chips because you know we haven’t had chocolate chip cookies in ages…. I mean who can blame me right?! Our family needs self control! Don’t even bring the kids and hubby to the store, then it’s game over!

    • Julia says:

      I can relate to this too! But I do consider time saved to be valuable, so I think sometimes it is worth paying a little more.

      • Sarah says:

        I think it can too and there are times for that. I know for me,and I’m sure others, that I can grossly overpay for the convenience.

    • Beth says:

      I’ve found online ordering to help with that. Often I fill my cart (actually multiple carts, Walmart, Kroger, and Sam’s), wait a day or at least a few hours and look at them again. I ask myself if we really need X items. The delay gives me a little more perspective. I do most of our shopping once a month that way. Later in the month when I stop for more milk or produce if I see a good deal I know how much money I have left over from the big shopping trip to spend on “good deals” or fun items.

    • Jordan says:

      It’s all about balancing savings, cost, and time! I have started trying to look at things in terms of how long it will take me to make the money I need to pay for it. It is eye opening when you realize how much time a product costs you! -Jordan, MSM Team

  • Cindy says:

    I finally made time every Sunday for menu planning and resolved to stick with it as much as possible throughout the week. So far, so good. I wish we had some great food buys stores like Jewel or Harris Teeter, etc. but all we have is Aldi and Walmart. They are my primary purchase places but I will do to the others (Meijer, Schnucks, Valli) if they are running great sales where I can buy a lot. I’ve been reading your make a menu suggestions for years and finally (!) just did it.

  • Rebekah Williams says:

    Vitacost is another great place to find specialty pantry items for cheaper. They frequently have 20% off food sales with free shipping, and if you go through a cash back site sometimes you can get up to 6 or 8% back that way.

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