Updated May 3, 2020 . AmFam Team
Simple ideas like building a budget and squeezing every dollar to its fullest potential make good sense when you’re looking for ways to save on groceries. As you probably know, one of the best ways to save money on groceries is to have a thorough plan and stick to it.
When you get serious and start to limit your spending at the grocery store, you may feel like you’ve got to compromise on food quality or quantity — but nothing could be further from the truth. From leveraging smartphone apps to preserving garden-fresh veggies, we’ve put together some great ways to stretch your food budget without sacrificing on taste.
One surefire way to save the most on your grocery budget is by tracking cost trends between various stores. Don’t worry — there’s an app for that. But what’s the best app for tracking grocery prices?
How much should you budget for groceries? Get your finances in order with powerful banking and budgeting apps like these:
By dedicating to using these deal-finding and budgeting apps each time you shop, you’ll need to invest some time in order to ramp up and get familiar with the app. These ideas to save on groceries can translate into real savings. Remember to search online for rebates that are being offered by food manufacturers. And keep a close eye on coupons posted online and in grocery store entryways.
By placing a cap on the number of times you go shopping — either online or in-store — you’ll also be limiting opportunities for impulse purchases. With restrictions like these in place, you’ll prevent some extra spending on smaller purchases.
In order to save on groceries, you can invest more time in the kitchen and build your meals from scratch. You’ll find purchasing items in bulk can save you money. But with so much more food around, you may need to invest in a food storage system to keep your food lasting longer. You can save more in the long run because you’ll be wasting less through planning and preparation of meals before you even start shopping.
Although you may find canned foods convenient, the truth is they may not last as long as dried foods. Bulk purchases of dried beans can last longer and because there’s no preservatives or added salt, they’re better for you. The same goes for other dry goods in the bulk aisle. Lean into savings and nutrition by getting out of your comfort zone — your family will notice the homemade difference at the dinner table.
Even though you may have a favorite brand of crackers, there are other options available to you. And some of those options are cheaper, too. Purchasing off-brand or generic counterparts to mainstream products is a great way to save on groceries.
Products like Food Saver and GERYON vacuum sealer machines are great ways to break down bulk purchases into portions. From marinating and freezing meat to breaking down five pounds of frozen veggies into meal-sized segments, you can parcel out bulk purchases you’ll use well into the future.
In addition to leveraging price-finding apps, do your own homework and take notes on where you’ve found the best deals. Shopping in-store with a calculator handy can also help you stay on track and under budget.
Start in the spring by ordering seeds and work on building an area to start a vegetable garden. After you start harvesting, you’ll be able to store, preserve and can your crops for use into the fall and winter.
Now’s a great time to buy your veggies locally. With more farmers making their way into more city centers every week than ever before, you can get super fresh food on your table and help out your local economy, too. Be sure to explore all that the farmer’s market has to offer. You’ll find everything from honey to smoked meats to handmade artisan products.
One key takeaway on in-store shopping is being aware of end cap and eye-level impulse purchases. Food marketers will often put their most profitable and marked-up products up front and center. Take a look at bottom shelf items or those that are a bit more difficult to reach.
Dig deep into savings by collecting coupons. All that junk mail you’ve been tossing might finally be worth something, so look carefully through Sunday paper ads and online coupon consolidators, and pick up your favorite foods for less.
Do your best to purchase only the items on your grocery list. In addition to avoiding impulse buying, you’ll be able to build purchasing discipline that can extend across all your finances. Another good idea is to shop with a pen and paper and make a list of items that you find while shopping that can be add to your purchase another time. That way you can pick these items up soon and you’ll do so by budgeting for them.
Even though avocados might be great in February, you’ll probably be paying a premium for them at that time. Instead, shop for in-season fruits and veggies in order to save money.
By cutting back on food waste and taking advantage of a vacuum bag food storage system, you’ll be able to do more than just save leftovers. You’ll be able to safely freeze them for weeks and eat those tasty treats for another meal down the road. Be sure to label and date everything you store and make a list of items like these that can be converted into side dishes for future meals.
Eating healthy can also help you go green. By dedicating to eating just one meatless meal per week, you and your community can really help to reduce demand for meat. And that can greatly reduce the amount of animal-based greenhouse gas emissions. Your cholesterol levels can be better managed with a meatless diet, too.
Pulling everything out of your pantry and inventorying it all can pay off in several key ways. First, you’ll have a chance to toss any spoiled or expired items. Second, you’ll have a real understanding of what staples you need and which ones you can hold on buying for a while. And lastly, you’ll be more organized with your foodstuffs upon putting it back.
At the end of this exercise, it’s also important to acknowledge that you know yourself best. If all of these ideas sound great in theory but you know you won’t be able to follow through, do your best to eat more economically when you can. If purchasing canned goods helps you from dining out a few times a week, start there.
Big box grocery stores are popular for a reason. People have seen real savings by limiting their purchases to large quantities. Although the price for groceries can be less expensive at stores like these, they typically cost you to enroll. So be sure that you’re going to be able to justify the annual fee in savings before you dive in.
If you do have a favorite place to shop, check in with the store manager the next time you’re there and find out what their sale cycle looks like. Do they run specials every two weeks? Are there holiday sales coming up that can help you save even more? Get those details so you know when to shop and what to pick up ahead of the event.
Lastly, some age-old advice that still holds true: Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. Be sure you’ve had a good meal before shopping, and you’re statistically less likely to make impulse buys or hunger-inspired choices.
If you’re looking at making major purchases in the coming year or two, getting into the rhythm of a predictable budget every month is a great first step. So, whether you’re upgrading appliances, or planning on building your dream home, we’ve got resources to help you out every step of the way. Remember to check in with your agent (Opens in a new tab), and learn about all the ways we can help you save on insurance and help you tackle your goals.
This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available. This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. You should contact a professional for advice specific to your situation.