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When times get tight, consider drawing a line between your necessities and luxuries.
If the ever-increasing cost of food and gas is taking a toll on you, why not improvise ways of saving money on your groceries?
From your budget, you can attest to the fact that your groceries are taking up a huge chunk of money you allocated for food.
Things get even worse, especially when you have more than four mouths to feed and you rely on a single source of income.
Your weekly shopping adventures not only puts a strain on your finances but your time and patience as well.
Then comes the big question: is it possible to save money on groceries?
Yes, it certainly is.
When it comes to grocery saving, there are a couple of ways to plan your grocery shopping and stash away something substantial while doing so.
To achieve that, you may need to embrace a couple of changes in your spending habits.
If you already have a set of financial goals in place, achieving them won’t be as hard as you thought.
Excessive spending isn’t something you should get used to each time you hit the checkout register.
Lucky for you, this post will take you through a few grocery thriftiness rules you can incorporate into your weekly shopping.
If you do it right, you can drop your weekly grocery bill by up to 30%.
Here’s how to go about it.
1. Install The Best Legitimate Grocery Apps
Gone are the days when you need to spend hours and hours cutting and organizing newspaper coupons at the kitchen counter. Then again, if it works for you, no need to quit any time soon.
Time-crunched and frugal shoppers should try out one (or all) of these smartphone grocery apps. With each trip you make to the grocery store, you won’t have to worry about spending more than you have to.
Instead, you’ll be assured of spending less, shopping hassle-free and putting the rest of your precious time into good use.
This free smartphone app gives you the opportunity to get your cash back both online and in-store. It takes a fraction of a second to download and install the ibotta app.
As you keep using ibotta, you raise your chances of saving up to $400 in a span of 18 months or even less. To start using ibotta, you first need to create a free account. Next, browse the available stores for items you may be interested in.
Add them to your grocery list, then make your way to your local grocery store. The moment you get your receipt from your purchases, take a photo of it and send it to the ibotta team. You’ll get your cash back in no time.
Once you accumulate an excess of $20, withdraw it to your Venmo or PayPal account.
For an app with incredible offers like Swagbucks, it’s rather easy to question its legitimacy. Trying it out for yourself will make it clear as day that the Swagbucks app is as real as it gets. Aside from saving money, you can also make something extra.
Creating a free Swagbucks account is literally a no-brainer. Plus, it comes with a sign-up bonus of $10. This app offers one of the highest cashback rates of 20% and over.
With the plenty of ways to make money with Swagbucks, reaching the $25 minimum payout may come across as child’s play. Each point you earn (known as SBs), can be exchanged for cash or gift cards.
You can accumulate points by using the Swagbucks search engine, watching videos and shopping online.
Fetch Rewards is a receipt scanning app that’s worth adding to your list of smartphone cash back apps.
A distinctive feature about Fetch Rewards is that you don’t need to pick out any item offers before scanning your receipt. Also, you won’t need to answer any questions, watch videos or scan barcodes (as is the norm with other receipt scanning apps).
It’s SUPER EASY to get started with Fetch Rewards. After downloading the app, sign up using your Facebook account, Google account or email address. You’ll also need to provide your state of residence and phone number.
For each grocery receipt you scan, Fetch Rewards will reward you with extra points if you shop with any of their partner brands. They include Breyers, Oscar Mayer, Kraft, etc.
When you purchase eco-friendly and healthy products at a retailer of your choice, you get free money with Makeena. It basically pays you to shop. Makeena also rewards you for embracing a healthy diet.
You can earn cashback rebates on various types of healthy products such as organic produce. This app pretty much works in a similar way to Ibotta. After installing Makeena on your smartphone, go ahead and select your purchases. Makeena features everything from Health-Ade Kombucha to organic spinach.
Use the app’s barcode reader to scan the barcodes. Take a photo of your receipt via the app’s built-in camera. Once your balance hits $20 or more, you can cash out to either Venmo or PayPal.
CoinOut is available in both Android and Apple smartphone devices. This app gives you the unique opportunity to earn extra pocket change from your everyday/weekly shopping purchases.
In a way, CoinOut could be considered a digital wallet where you store loose change from Starbucks, fast food restaurants, gas stations, and of course, the grocery store.
Since its revolutionary introduction to the world of ABC’s Shark Tank, CoinOut has grown in popularity – and for a good reason too. All you need to get started with CoinOut is a smartphone and a phone number.
When you pay with either cash or credit/debit, you can provide your number during the at the store. Alternatively, you can scan your receipts at home while ensuring the following is fully legible:
- The name of the store
- Time/date of the transaction
- The total amount of your purchases
Grow Your Own Veggies At Home
Who said you need to have a mammoth-sized garden to grow your own fresh produce? You can cut your grocery costs by half even with a 50 square-foot garden.
Even if you’ve never had your own garden before, there are tons of gardening-related information online.
How much you stand to save will depend on how much you spend on growing the crops, the types of vegetables you choose to grow, the number of vegetables that will occupy your garden, how much yield you gain, and so on.
A simple trick worth trying out is to limit your costs as you maximize your yield. Aside from saving money, there are numerous benefits of growing your own vegetable garden. For one, you’ll be less concerned with the levels of chemicals used in the genetic modification process (cause there is obviously none).
Second, you won’t have to worry about what your food is exposed to in the transportation chain. Finally, gardening is a nice form of physical exercise that you can take part in every day. It is a family-friendly activity that your kids will find fun and engaging.
Regardless of how much you stand to save, growing vegetables in your backyard can be very rewarding. Get to know the basics of growing cool/warm season vegetables and what you’ll need.
These types of vegetables are what attract you to the grocery store on a weekly basis. Wouldn’t it be nice if you got them straight out of your backyard instead of parting with a substantial amount of money every week?
3. Draft Out The Best Time To Go Grocery Shopping
When you don’t have time to shop, no need to go shopping. While it may come across as nonsensical, we all do it more times than we can remember. There’s nothing as hectic as being an adult.
Staying without a to-do list means that you’re not as busy as you should be. If you have one, grocery shopping should be part of it. Allocate an appropriate amount of time to spend without going overboard by even a minute.
Not only do you need to plan the right amount of time to shop, but you also need to consider the day in which you do it. A bustling grocery store only means one thing: its a sales day.
If possible, make sure to do your shopping at non-peak times. There’s no point in sticking your hand through a crowd to grab a bottle of salad dressing. That’s how most people end up at home with limited-edition, overpriced or low-quality items.
A clear aisle and clear mind promote the ability to compare brands and prices to avoid wasting a fortune on substandard goods.
4. Learn How To Bake
Most homes consider bread a staple source of carbohydrates, hence the need to buy it in bulk at the grocery store.
Though most people know how to bake bread and other pastries at home, they’re not ready to go through the whole hectic process.
If you give it a shot, it will be worth your while – and money too. Here are a few benefits of baking bread, buns, tortillas, etc. at home:
- You get to choose which ingredients to use
- You can limit the amount of each ingredient
- If you have a large family, you can bake something substantial
- You get better at it as you go on
Best of all, you won’t get to spend a dime on grocery pastries or restaurant deliveries. Did you know that, on average, its five times costlier to pay for delivered baked goods than it is to prepare at home?
Baking at home helps you keep a substantial amount of cash on all carb-based dishes such as pizza or pasta.
Everyone has their own preferences in ingredients and portion sizes and that’s what makes baking a fun experience. One thing that we all stand to benefit from is the fact that you save money on groceries.
Purchasing baked goods from the store will eventually weigh you down financially at one point or another. You don’t have to wait for it to get to that. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy anything and everything from your local grocery store.
Whenever you can, purchase all the ingredients you need to make your desired pastry.
Look up easy baking tutorials on YouTube and follow each step as instructed. The more often you do that, the more your chances of spending less every week on bread at the grocery store.
5. Make Use Of A Price Book
It can be quite stressful to go grocery shopping especially when you’re on a tight budget. For size-able items such as computers or kitchen appliances, you can save money by doing price comparisons way ahead of time.
By going from store to store, you can land yourself a cost-effective offer that can save you hundreds or thousands.
Shopping for groceries, on the other hand, doesn’t give you the time nor the inclination to get the best price on every single item on your list.
What with the ever-growing number of local grocery stores, how possible is it to track which store offers the best prices? It’s simple: keep a price book.
Although it may take some time before you set it up and get the hang of it, it provides you with the prices of all you need at your fingertips.
This will allow you to take advantage of all the best deals at nearby stores by planning your shopping trips well beforehand. Comparison shopping has been known to be a big money saver for shoppers worldwide.
You don’t really need a lot to make a price book. An A4 size or pocket-sized notebook will do just fine. On a single page, create five sections for the Product Type, Store Name, Brand Name, Price and Size and the Unit Price.
These are just the basic stuff you need to have on your price book. You could opt to include an extra column for additional notes such as ‘best sale price’ and ‘organic’.
6. Don’t Step Into A Grocery Store Without A List
You stand to save a lot on groceries if you have a shopping list. Shopping lists should not be mistaken for price books.
The former is very easy to set up and maintain compared to the latter. It’s extremely important that you stick to the list and to double-check that you’ve bought everything that appears on it.
This will prevent you from making any impulse purchases that you won’t be accountable for later on. Also, you won’t have to make unnecessary return trips simply because you didn’t remember to buy something.
In most scenarios, when you head back to the store to buy what you forgot, you end up buying other items that weren’t on your list initially. Simply put, a shopping list can help you save time and money.
Any time before you step into the grocery store, make a comprehensive list of what you need (rather than what you want). Planning well before time will prevent you from putting the whole store into your cart.
After finding out how much the items on your list will add up to, you can confidently walk out with the exact amount and nothing more.
7. Plan Your Menu For The Entire Week Or Month
Planning a week’s or a month’s menu in advance can enable you to take advantage of buying things in bulk as you enjoy the best sales offers.
If you have a spouse or family, involve them in deciding on the recipes to make for breakfast, lunch, and supper. If you’re not sure what to put on the menu, you can get a few healthy ideas online.
The following are a few tips when planning your menu for the whole week or month:
- Check online coupon sites, newspaper inserts and store flyers for on-sale foods. Take advantage of the good prices and buy foods that you’ll use in bulk.
- When they’re in season, fruits and vegetables are more affordable.
- Do away with recipes that require a special ingredient. Most special ingredients are costly, unnecessary, and can easily go bad before you even use them.
- Incorporate inexpensive grains such as couscous, barley, pasta, and rice more often. These can be used in all kinds of recipes for stews, salads, and soups.
- For the ingredients you already have in your fridge/freezer, check out their expiry dates. For those that are almost going bad, use them for their respective foods.
- Go meatless at least once a week. Save money by buying legumes (dried peas, lentils, beans), canned fish, peanut butter, tofu, and eggs are great protein substitutes.
By having a meal plan in place, you won’t have to spend money on outside eateries anymore. Furthermore, you can hone your culinary skills by cooking similar or varying main dishes in one day.
If you cook a lot, you can store the rest for the next day. This can be a big help on those days when you’re super busy or just don’t feel like cooking.
Don’t feel like planning your own menu? Just purchase them online. Most of the plans go for approximately $5.00 every month. Putting that into perspective, that’s worth more than what you spend at the grocery store every month.
8. Buy Items That Are On Sale Every Week
Among the easiest ways of saving on groceries is to purchase items that are on sale each week. Stock up on a certain food if you know that you’re bound to use it every day.
As for meat, you can freeze most of them for at least three months without affecting its taste in any way. When bought every week, meat can be very expensive. When you stumble upon a good deal on poultry, don’t hesitate to get started on your white chicken chili.
When you find that steak is on sale in another week, light up the grill. In short, take advantage of the store ads that pop up every week. Ensure you know when those specials start and when they end.
Some stores start again on Sunday, while others opt for Wednesday. Other items such as paper products feature a longer shelf life that can work to your advantage if you buy them in bulk.
When buying on-sale items each week, you may want to consider how much produce you buy. You can, however, shop the sales by purchasing whatever’s on sale that particular week.
If you find a coupon for items on sale, good for you. More coupons, more savings. Weekly store sales can help you plan your meals even if you’re not feeling all that shopping savvy.
Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t miss out on the best BOGO (Buy One Get One free) weekly deals.
9. Don’t Focus Too Much On The Brands
Most shoppers are glued to a single brand for reasons known to them alone. If you wish to save money on groceries, you should start going generic ASAP. There’s no telling how much you can save by making the switch to store brand products.
Better yet, shop for the item that’s on sale in a particular week. Expanding your territories at the grocery can save you money as well as explore the quality of various store brand goods.
It’s worth noting that most items are grown/manufactured and packaged in similar plants and factories as name brands. What you don’t know is that the stores don’t have the high advertising cost and pass on the savings to you.
Most name-brand and off-brand products are similar in so many ways. Of course, that’s not the case for everything. If you tend to snob particular brands for one reason or another, there are so many items you shouldn’t think twice about buying generic.
Spending more because you know a name or you’re into a certain label can cost you in the long run. Sometimes you get attracted to a certain look or you hear of one brand more than others as a result of vigorous design and marketing from the company in question.
Bonus Tip: Track Your Expenses
How often do you keep track of whatever you buy? Keeping track of each of your expenses can help you budget for your next grocery trip. You can deposit the balance and use it in your next shopping adventure.
Also, as the prices change, you can make the necessary tweaks to your price list or price book to avoid carrying more than what’s required.