If you are trying to fill your travel fund, one of the questions to ask is: How can I spend less money on groceries? Here are 16 smart tips for saving money on groceries.
You may be overwhelmed trying to decide where to start saving for a vacation. Saving money is part of my powerful 4 step approach to filling your travel fund but you may need some fuel to launch you into a full plan.
An easy area of your budget to reduce quickly and easily is food and specifically groceries.
The first step is to figure out how much you are currently spending on groceries. Since that money is already in your budget to spend on groceries, challenge yourself to save as much of that grocery money as possible.
After each trip to the grocery store, transfer that money straight to your travel fund.
Go ahead, do a little happy dance, high five each other and watch your savings grow.
Finally, fill in the thermometer in your SMART money saving printable that comes with the money-saving course below.
Is it possible to save money on groceries?
Imagine if you are at the high end spending $1279 a month on groceries. You would save $640 a month by moving to the frugal category! Just in groceries! That’s like an airplane ticket – or two depending on where you are going.
We eat mostly organic, natural and still able to keep my budget to under $150 a week. So you can too.
Previously how we slashed our budget and we reduced our grocery spending by $499 a month for our family of 6. That’s almost $3,000 in 6 months or $6,000 in a year.
If the average cost of a family vacation is $4,580, that’s enough to fill your travel fund each year. Just in groceries!
These are the ways that I employ to save money on groceries. Start by picking a couple of tips and trying those first.
Save the money you save on groceries that week and celebrate your success. Fill in your next mark on the thermometer.
Then the next week try another tip for saving money on groceries. And repeat success!
1. Go in with a list.
Think of it like going in for a battle. You must be prepared and have a winning strategy!
Write a list at home for your trip and stick to it. Therefore, no impulse buys!
You can handwrite a list, use a simple spreadsheet or an app like Out of Milk.
I have a master grocery list that I saved on the computer. I keep printouts handy and check off what I need.
This takes a little bit to create but you will find it save so much time. Since you generally use the same ingredients over and over. Especially with kids my list always includes bananas, apples, milk, cheese.
2. Shop once a week.
I started shopping once a week out of necessity. I just didn’t have time. I figured out just how money I saved on groceries this way.
Yes, this does take a little planning and will require a list so you are sure to get the necessities. But you will see that it saves so much money. Less impulse buys less wasted food, less gas.
Some people even shop every other week or just once a month.
I shop once a week and when the fruit and snacks are out – that’s it till next week. Out of milk – its water till shopping day. Out of bananas will restock on Wednesday. Eat the melons or frozen fruit.
3. Fill the Freezer
A chest freezer goes hand in hadn’t with buying in bulk. So many different types of food can be frozen.
You can freeze meat, fruit, vegetables, bread. My grandmother loved her freezer so much that she kept the masking tape and batteries frozen – I’m not sure that really helps though.
We have a chest freezer and buy a half cow every year. We not only save money but get to eat much better meat and cuts than we could afford individually.
As a result, we are able to eat grass-fed roasts and steaks for the cost of grocery store hamburger. Yum! We would never, ever, eat T-bones at $15 to $20 a pound!
Also, I take free meat and veggies from our hunting and farming friends when they offer. Need to cull the roosters and old hens? Sure I’ll take it and make soup!
Make sure to ask around for extra meat and veggies.
If you see a tree or vine full of fruit, ask the owners if they mind if you pick some. Fruit trees can be so messy and they might be really happy for you to help keep the mess off the ground.
4. Double and triple recipes and freeze
Back to the chest freezer. Cooking more than one recipe at once saves time, food and dirty dishes.
Once you cook extra, freeze it for another day. And by all means, Freeze leftovers before they are bad and go in the trash.
When I bake in the oven I load the oven up. As long as I am using the energy to heat an entire oven, I should make efficient use of that heating cost. Hence saving money.
Meat and bacon go on one shelf and make squash or potatoes go on another. Until the whole thing is full.
5. Shop Online
Online stores can be used for nonperishable items and save you money.
I use amazon, thrive market and vita cost. I check the prices between each because Amazon’s prices can fluctuate.
You can even create recurring delivery lists at amazon.com subscribe and save. When I first started shopping online, I couldn’t believe how convenient it was. You can set up a grocery list and have delivered. Seriously, groceries eating on the doorstep when your get home?
The firs thing I ordered was dog food and saved 30%. I didn’t even go to the store and lug that heavy bag home. I was hooked and keep up a subscribe and save list and save an additional 15%.
6. Coupons Save Money
Coupons come from many different sources. The newspaper, the store website, in the mail, on food for free or discounted items.
Watch out – sometimes using a coupon is not cheaper than a sale or another brand. So make sure to look a the options in the store.
Combine coupons with local sales to get an even better deal. Weekly sales are published in the newspaper, on the store website, and displayed at the front of the store.
7. Buy Generic
The generic or store brand can save so much money. Seems like every store, even natural and organic stores, have their own labels. Costco has an high quality store brand Kirkland. I find that Walmart and grocery store brand organic has a lower quality in the organic food. I can tell the difference in the eggs (see ## for tips for fancy organic brands) But in staples, plastic bags and toilet paper – its all the same.
8. Check unit prices
Some store make this easier than others. Generally if you look closely at the tag you can see the price and in tiny box something like $ /oz.
I’ve caught the store tricking me to buying bigger boxes and were actually more expensive! Arghh!
This also get a little trickier with sale items and coupons. You will have to be up on your mental math or have a calculator handy.
9. Make cheap recipes with staples
Cooking from scratch with staples is very cheap. Rice, oatmeal, dried beans and other staples to keep on your list.
Use staples to make cheap recipes will save even more money.
I think of food in terms of the amount of nutrition per calorie of food and per dollar. Look out for staples that pack a punch in terms of calories and nutrition.
10. Shop discount warehouses
I love Costco and I keep a running a list of the best deals so I don’t get sucked into all the shiny things on the end of the isles. You can easily spend way more than you save in there. Another reason to follow tip #1.
I save my Costco membership fee in just in butter for the family!
11. Grow a garden
Or make friends with someone that grows one. A packet of seeds is much cheaper than fancy lettuce or tomatoes.
Make sure to take advantage of the harvest and properly store bumper crops.
You can freeze, can, or dehydrate extra produce. None of those options take too many skills or time. Especially the freeze option.
We love, love frozen grapes!
12. Meal plan
Create a weekly meal plan and then stick to it. You can write down meals that are your families favorites or use an app or service. These are 11 ideas for meal planning services.
I take a shortcut to a full year of meal planning. I have 6 weeks of meals in a spreadsheet. I have them printed and I rotate through for the year. I hang it on my cabinet door and base my shopping list on the meals. Again #1 – go in with a list.
13. Shop rested, fed and alone
Remember the grocery store as a battle theme? You must go in armed and with a winning strategy. No one should go into battle tired, hungry, with kids in tow.
Be prepared – rested, well fed and alone – so you can concentrate.
Even the most frugal and focused people walk out with those cookies that were calling their name and extra treats that just appeared in the cart.
I know that ditching the kids is not always possible.
I admit – I am frequently that frantic, crazy lady in the grocery store with all the unruly children. (No its not a daycare – they are all mine). Both my sanity and budget suffer.
14. Special and discounted items
I buy fruits and veggies and many snacks this way.
This has become my go to strategy for the saving money at the grocery store.
The stores generally have shelf with markdown produce that is a little off. I check there first. Sometime you can figure out the stocking times and know when they will be changing the fruits and vegetables.
There is also a general discount rack in the side or back of the store. Things are at least half off and you can get some treats you wouldn’t otherwise afford.
The last place to look is at the tags right the shelves. On sale and discontinues items will be marked with a different sticker. Eggs are a great deal. I get organic free range on sale because eggs last like forever. The photo below is my last trip to the store I paid $35 and saved $38 without cutting coupons or studying the store sales.
15. Drink water
You will frequently see people talking about the unnecessary cost of alcohol. Wine and beer are expensive but so are fancy rootbeer and organic juices. And those juice box things – yikes. I get those for picnics sometimes and cringe at the price.
If you really want to save money at the grocery store – stick to water and stay away from the drink isle.
16. Watch for mistakes at checkout
Finally you have carefully picked all the best deals in the store and loaded everything to the conveyor.
Don’t forget to watch the cashier and scanner for mistakes. This actually happens all the time. If the kids are with me I’ll be focused on them and pay too much – back to tip #13.
Some stores will reduce the cost further or give you the item for free if you catch the mistake. Just make sure your paying attention and ask the clerk about any errors you see.
Follow these ways to save money on groceries and travel sooner.
Now, you are ready for a good ol’ showdown with grocery store prices! You are armed with 16 ways to save money on groceries.
You will be successful and watch your travel fund fill up. Yes, record the money you save on groceries and actually watch your goal getting closer.
Now that you know you can save enough for a family vacation this year – its time to start planning. Here is the ultimate guide to travel planning that will launch you into your next adventure.
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