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Your food cost is arguably one of the biggest monthly expenses you incur.
Food is a necessity. It nourishes you and you need it to live.
This non-negotiable is a cost you’ll have every month, forever. As one of your biggest budget categories, how can you save money on food? Are you struggling to make room in your budget?
Not sure how to get your food costs down?
There are actually several ways to lower your food expenses. These genius budget hacks may surprise you. Here are 26 frugal grocery shopping tips to save you the most money!
How Can I Make Money Go Further When Grocery Shopping?
When it comes to making your money go further, it’s all about stretching your money. There are two ways to accomplish this:
- Stretch your meals
- Stretch your budget
With meal stretching, this means making changes to your lifestyle to make groceries last longer in your household. This could include:
- Eating free lunch Mondays at work
- Sunday brunch at church
- Batch cooking
- Freezer cooking
- Meal prep and meal planning
- Saturday night dinner at a family member’s house
- Using more affordable ingredients like pasta and beans to stretch meals
The idea is to make your groceries last longer until you need to replenish them again with the next food shop.
For stretching your budget, it’s about taking advantage of opportunities to lower your grocery bill with the abundant offers all around you. Not sure where to get started? Take a look!
Couponing is one of the top ways to save money grocery shopping. Some people even take on couponing like a full-time job, succeeding at saving their families thousands of dollars every year. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to save a lot of money with coupons.
To get started, try these tips:
- Clip coupons from your Sunday newspaper
- Keep your grocery store-provided coupons you get on the end of your receipt
- Join rewards programs from your local stores
- Get organized and get a coupon binder
Starting with these easy tactics can help you be on your way to couponing and saving tons of money off your grocery bill. For more help on getting started with couponing, take a look at these 15 couponing tips for beginners that will save you money.
2. Grocery Store Sales
Store sales are going to be your bread and butter when it comes to saving money on groceries. Check the store website, pay attention to commercials on TV or radio, or check your local newspaper for sales announcements.
Pro Tip: Join Ibotta
One of the key features of Ibotta is alerting you about local sales. You will never miss a sale and be able to get other perks, like scanning your receipts for cashback, with Ibotta!
3. Shopping at Multiple Stores
This is shopping tactic that I personally use. Up until recently, I’d shop one store for groceries. It seems like a no-brainer, right?
You save more money shopping multiple stores because every store is not created the same. Different deals, different products.
Here’s how I do it:
I shop twice a month for groceries. I have two stores that I shop from. One store is a local “mom and pop” type of grocer although, it’s a national chain. It’s a small, bare bones kind of grocery store.
Most of their products are store brand and they are missing a lot of products that you would find at a bigger store like:
- Specialty foods (dairy free, gluten free, etc.)
- Frozen (like frozen juice, frozen pancakes, etc.)
The staples can be found like eggs, milk, yogurt, even ice cream, coffee, cereal, it’s all there. So, I start by shopping at this store and can get 80% of my shopping done here. Because most of the items are not name brand and it’s a discount store, my grocery bill always comes out low.
Then, for those handful of products that are missing, I go to my big box grocer.
Shopping this way saves me about 30% off my grocery bill, compared to the way I was shopping before.
Think about it, if you have Store A with tomatoes for $.50 and oranges for $1.00 and Store B with tomatoes for $1 and oranges at $.50, what are you going to choose? Choose both!
If you aren’t shopping at multiple stores, give it a try.
4. Use Cashback Apps
Cashback apps give you cashback for your purchases. You shop like you normally would and earn cash back. Here are some apps to get you started:
These apps aren’t limited to just groceries, either. You can save on everyday purchases on electronics, apparel, household goods, etc.
I’ve racked up over $300 in cashback with TopCashback, alone!
5. Go Meatless
Try Meatless Mondays in your household. Not only is it a fun way to reduce your meat intake but, it also saves you money, because meat is expensive.
If you’re up for it, scrap meat from your grocery list period.
We did this for 3 months and saved about $50/month. There are a ton of delicious, vegetarian meals you can embrace and a bunch of meat-filled meals that you can turn vegetarian with ease:
- Stir fry
- Slow cooker meals
Learn more about how you can save money by going vegetarian.
6. Planning Ahead
Planning ahead means getting all your coupons in order, having a plan in mind, and making a list! If you don’t make a grocery list, you will likely overspend.
I have always dreaded grocery shopping, since I was a child. I remember walking the store with my mom. It would take around an hour to shop and I hated every moment. The store was cold. I hated the meat section, it grossed me out and it was the most boring activity of the week.
That feeling must have stuck because as an adult, I disliked every moment of grocery shopping from making a list, to preparing for the shop, dragging my body through the store pushing a cart, I really hated it all, until a few years ago.
What helps me get through grocery shopping now?
I realized that if I plan my shop, I will spend the least amount of time in the store. I actually used to go shopping listless. Yikes. And, I would waste tons of money.
My planning process involves the tasks I shared above:
- Organizing coupons
- Picking what stores I’ll visit
- Making my list
With this done, I start my shop and spend minimal time in the store, which I absolutely love. Planning will save you money.
7. Taking Your Time
Once you’re ready to shop, take your time. Rushing through the store means more mistakes are likely to happen.
What kind of mistakes can you make grocery shopping?
- Missing out on sales
- Grabbing the wrong products to match your coupons
Make fewer mistakes and stay on target by taking your time.
8. Buy In Season
In season produce is the name of the game. Purchase fresh, delicious fruits and veggies for the season. Produce can be one of the more expensive food categories on your shopping list.
Keep costs down by shopping seasonally. Take a look at these 10 ways to save money buying fresh produce.
Save even more by heading to your local farmer’s market. You can get great deals on more than just fruits and veggies. I recently watched a budget video about shopping farmer’s markets.
The host saved over 50% on her favorite brand of black rice, spending just $3, as opposed to $10+ in grocery stores!
9. Try Dollar Stores
Don’t miss out on dollar stores, you can save a lot!
The dollar store is actually a hidden gem for a ton of household necessities, including other items like party supplies, beauty products, cleaning supplies and more.
What grocery staples can you snap up?
- Baked goods
- Sandwich bags
Perfect for lifestyle events like camping, moving, vacationing, and more. The savings in in dollar stores!
10. Time Your Trip Right
There are optimal times to hit the grocery store. This can be based on a number of factors including seasonality, time of day, weekday versus weekend, and more.
The bottom line is, you want to visit the store during a low-stress time while you can take your time shopping and take advantage of all the store sales and deals happening.
You also want to shop at a time when your stomach is grumbling. More on this below.
Here are some things to say “no” to, that will totally save your budget:
11. No Grocery Delivery
Grocery delivery is a lovely convenience and available in abundance in most major cities. It’s a necessity for many people but if you have the ability to go to your grocery store easily, do this over getting groceries delivered.
It’s a budget buster.
I actually tried a grocery delivery service about a year ago. I gave it a solid effort for around 3 or 4 months. It had some pros and cons:
- No in-person shopping required
- A lot of products in store are not shown online or in app
- It can be hard sometimes to find a time slot that you want, if you don’t plan well
In the end, the cons outweighed the pros for me. More expense while not being able to get all the groceries I wanted didn’t make sense so I stopped grocery delivery and I actually transitioned to the next item, grocery pickup.
12. No Grocery Pickup
Grocery pickup, like grocery delivery is a total budget buster. With delivery and pickup, there are hidden fees that you may not be aware of.
With delivery, there are delivery fees, of course plus, each store items is usually marked up. So, a $1 yogurt in store might be $1.20 with grocery delivery.
A $.20 markup may not seem like a big deal but if you multiply that by 100 items, that’s an extra $20 added to your bill for the convenience of delivery.
Pickup works the same way. You order your groceries online or in app then arrange a time to pickup. You drive to the store and get your car loaded up with your goods. There is usually a pickup fee that the store charges, in addition to marking up each item.
I’ve tried both, delivery and pickup. Pickup is cheaper but both are an added expense that you can save if you just shop in person.
If your goal is to lower your grocery bill, ditch the grocery delivery and pickup.
13. No Ready-Made foods
These convenience foods are tempting. They are easy to grab for easy meals, work lunches, and snacks but far more expensive than if you prepared the food yourself.
Here are some ready-made foods you might be wasting money on:
- Individually packed or bagged salads
- Meat broths (like chicken broth)
- Sliced cheese
- Sliced sandwich meat
- Packed cuts of meat (like chicken thighs, chicken breasts, etc.)
Some of these foods might not even feel ready-made, like cuts of meat for example. But, you save a lot of money if you buy the whole version of these foods.
For example, buy a whole chicken and prepare broths, sandwich meat, etc. or break it down into thighs, breasts, etc. to freeze for later.
You might need a keen eye and some practice to nail down all these foods. Eliminate them from your grocery list and watch your grocery bill shrink.
14. No Processed Foods
Say no to processed foods like hotdogs, snack cakes, cookies, and other junk food. You don’t have to say goodbye to junk food, you just have to stop buying it.
Cook those foods at home.
You might enjoy the process more and it’ll probably taste better. Here are 8 processed foods you should always make at home.
15. No Specialty Foods
If you are on an alternative diet or enjoy specialty foods, make these foods at home instead of buying prepared at the store. Here are some examples:
- Hot bar or cold bar foods
- Gluten free
- Dairy free
- Vegan prepared foods
- Nut milks
- Veggie broths
You can learn to make these foods at home. Look at video tutorials on YouTube or search food blogs for recipes.
16. No Name Brands
Name brands come with an expensive price tag. Opt for the store brand variety to save money. This isn’t the case 100% of the time. Sometimes you can find a great deal, including cash back on brand names so this one can go both ways.
17. No Shopping on an Empty Stomach
Nothing is worse than shopping on an empty stomach. If you have experienced this, you know the pain of shopping hungry. I know this one all too well, unfortunately.
When you shop hungry, you eat everything with your eyes, which results in overspending.
In my college days, I used to shop hungry all the time. I was a hungry college student, what can I say?
My shopping trips looked like this:
I would wander the aisles, grabbing my grocery list items and an extra 2-3 goods from almost every aisle, in addition to that. Not to mention, the advertised products on the aisle end caps. Those would fall into my cart too. I’d end up at the register with a bill nearly double what I had expected. All the result of shopping hungry.
Avoid this at all costs by eating before you shop or at the very least, take a snack with you.
How Can I Save Money With Groceries and Household Items?
A fun way to save money with groceries and household items is with Shopkick. There are two ways it works: in store and online.
You walk into stores, scan barcodes of select products, purchase with your linked card, and submit a receipt.
Shop online, viewing select products, making mobile purchases and earning kicks by watching videos.
You earn in the form of “kicks,” which is Shopkick’s reward system. Kicks can be exchanged for cash prizes or gift cards. There are many ways to earn, helping you make more and save more, simultaneously.
Read our Shopkick Review.
When it comes to saving on household items including cleaning supplies, here are some tips to help:
- Simple supplies
- Store cleaning supplies properly
- Store brands over name brands
- Try fluorescent bulbs for a longer lasting lightbulb
- Sub out abrasive cleaners for mild soap and warm water
- DIY house cleaners
- Go reusable with cloths and mops
When in doubt, go simple with cleaning supplies. A lot can get done with simple cleaning solutions, even DIY varieties like those shared above.
How Can I Spend Less Money on Groceries?
Spend less on groceries by following these tips above:
- Take advantage of grocery store sales
- Shop multiple stores
- Use cashback apps
- Try going meatless
- Plan ahead
- Take your time
- Buy produce in season
- Dollar stores
- Timing your trip
- Saying “no” to grocery delivery and grocery pickup
- No ready-made or specialty foods
- No name brands
- No shopping while hungry
Plus, more tips below and, embrace apps! Apps are free resources available right from your cell phone to help whittle down your grocery budget.
Coin Out pays you for pictures of your receipts.
Makeena has a health focus, helping you save money and rewarding you on healthy food purchases.
SavingStar lets you scout out the best deals that you can automatically redeem at the register, no coupon clipping required.
Need more money saving inspiration? Check out these helpful resources:
- 15 Easy Money Saving Tips for Groceries for Tight Budgets
- 10 Best Apps to Save Money on Groceries 2019
- How to Save Money Buying Organic Groceries: 28 Simple Ways
How Can I Reduce My Grocery Spending?
On top of all these helpful ways we have shared so far to help you reduce your grocery spending, check out these additional clever savings hacks:
18. Get Rewarded for Showing Off Your Grocery Haul
How can you do that? Join Nielsen Consumer Panel and scan your grocery product barcodes to earn points that you can redeem for cool prizes like electronics and more.
19. Grab $200+ Worth of Coupons from Betty Crocker
This coupon hack is golden. Share your email address with Betty Crocker and get coupons, tons of coupons! Plus, joining their email list means you’ll get some cool perks like getting cool, new recipes emailed, giving you inspiration for preparing meals for your family.
Being a part of their members-only program boasts coupon savings of $250/year plus free samples, a free calendar and more perks!
20. Grab Hundreds in Coupons from Pillsbury
The same with Pillsbury. Share your email address and get $200+ worth of coupons sent right to your email inbox.
21. Get Even More Manufacturer Coupons
Get manufacturer coupons from these places:
Grab even more manufacturers coupons from coupon sources mentioned here.
22. Store Loyalty Programs
Always say yes to these. They are free and save you money. I get $10 to $20 in coupons every time I visit my local pharmacy.
I’m a rewards member and when I walk in, I scan my loyalty card, which prints out 3 to 4 feet of coupons that I use on my pharmacy shopping trip.
There are loyalty programs for so many retailers, today, including:
- General goods stores
- Grocery stores
- Gas stations
- Convenience stores
- Department stores
- Local shops
- Meat markets
If you’re asked, always join the program, even if you think you don’t shop there enough for it to make a difference, join anyway.
You might be pleasantly surprised when the next unexpected visit results in savings from coupon that you earned from being a loyalty rewards member.
23. Meal Prep
Often underestimated, meal prepping is a big budget saver. If you can organize your meals for the week, it means you always have something planned to feed yourself and family.
You’ll save on food on the go, take out, fast food, and more. When you’re hungry, you are more likely to make the wrong choices, spending extra money unnecessarily. Meal prepping can help you here.
24. Batch Cooking
This goes along with meal prep. When you cook large quantities of food at once, it will help you stock your fridge and have food ready on hand to grab when you’re hungry. No more cooking the “night of” when you do batch cooking right.
I’ve tried my hand at batch cooking. I’m still perfecting it here’s how my best friend does it:
Friday: Organize coupons, plan Saturday grocery shop and prepare list
Saturday: Go shopping and meal plan for the week
Sunday: Batch cook
Learn more about how to batch cook to save time and money.
25. Freezer Cooking
This is in line with meal prepping and freezer cooking. Cook a lot of food in bulk and freeze some of it and/or the extras to prepare later.
For example, on Sunday, batch cook and freeze 2 of the 5 meals for later in the week. When that time comes around, pop those freezer dishes in the oven for a quick, hot meal.
26. Track Your Spending
Last but not least, to round out this list of frugal grocery shopping tips, is tracking your grocery spending.
Tracking is so important because you need to know if you are staying on budget or not, if you are improving your spending, etc.
You can do this easily with budget apps like Mint, which actually creates budget categories for you, with ease, so you know exactly where all your money is going.
At the end of the day, you are making all these great changes to help you save money but if you aren’t monitoring your progress and measuring results, you don’t really know how you’re faring. So, it’s critical that tracking your grocery spending is something you account for.
There we have it, 26 grocery shopping tips to save you money!
What do you think?
Do these frugal grocery shopping tips inspire you? Do you feel motivated to take some or all of these tips to start using in your grocery budget journey?
Keep us on track. Are there shopping tips that we missed? Any tricks you do to save money on groceries that you’d like to share? Please comment below so we can hear from you and continue the conversation.