Whether you are a business professional who works outside the home or a stay-at-home mom who not only has little ones but is a taxi service for your teenagers, these must-have tips will help you save money at the grocery store.
Many moons ago my go-to tip to save money at the grocery store would have been clipping coupons. I’m grateful for the money we saved using coupons but I’ve since stopped collecting the weekly coupon inserts. Clipping coupons is a great way to save but rest assured that it won’t be one of the tips that I share with you today.
Each household has different needs and what works for me may not necessarily work for you. It is my hope that a few of these tips will stand out to you and will help you save money at the grocery store each and every time you go!
1. Make a weekly menu.
For some of you the thought of making a menu is very daunting. I want you to think of a menu as more of a guide for your family and not something that’s set in stone. You don’t have to have tacos on Tuesday or meatloaf on Friday.
A menu is you giving yourself a plan for the week that will keep you from running to the store every night. And hopefully you’ll be excited when dinnertime rolls around because you already have a plan in place for yourself.
2. Plan your menu around what’s on sale at the store.
When I first started menu planning I would look through my cookbooks to see what sounded good. This was a great idea except for the fact that I might want to have roast only to find out that it’s a horribly expensive price when I got to the store.
Glance through the sale ads that come in your mailbox (or look at them online) to see what’s on sale that your family will eat and plan your menu accordingly. I promise it won’t take as long as you think!
3. Shop your cupboards.
As you are planning your menu, look through your cupboards to see what items you already have on hand. You may be hankering manicotti and already have most of the ingredients in your cupboard.
Shopping your cupboards will keep you from buying multiples of one item and this will in turn cut down on your grocery bill.
4. Make a grocery list.
It’s imperative that you know what items you’re going to buy before you head into the grocery store.
Hopefully you made a list of the items you’ll need for your recipes when you made your weekly meal plan. If you didn’t and you don’t have a plan when you walk in the grocery store you’re going to fail. You’ll be aimlessly meandering through the aisles trying to figure out what sounds good to eat and you’ll head home with items you don’t really need or already have on-hand.
Even if you have to make a list in your car, always make a list before heading into the store.
Tip: I like to keep my grocery list on the notes on my phone. This ensures that I’ll always have my list with me whenever I go to the store.
5. Stock up when it’s on sale.
You’ve planned your menu around the sale items and now it’s time to glance through the sale ad and see what’s on sale that your family always buys. Perhaps your children love a certain kind of crackers and they are on sale buy one get one free this week, or your husband’s favorite ice cream is on sale. If you know your family will eat it, this is a great time to stock-up when it’s at a rock bottom price and you won’t need to buy it for a few weeks.
6. Set a grocery budget.
A grocery budget is yet another way to set yourself up for success. You need to know how much money you have to spend before you walk in those doors. If you don’t know how much you’re able to spend you’ll likely spend more than you intended to and that will throw off your family budget.
If you’ve never set a grocery budget before, start high and work your way down to where you would like to be. (Head over here to learn how to start a budget.)
Setting a budget may mean you have to put a few items back on the shelf (my hand is raised because I’ve been there) but in the end you’ll be glad you stuck with your budget.
7. Learn to say no.
My friend’s kids always told her, “There’s nothing to eat in the house.” I quickly realized that she had plenty of snacks at her house but none that they wanted to eat. You see, they had trained her to run to the store when they were out of their favorite snacks. She’s now stopped doing this and taught them to eat what they have on-hand first.
Maybe your problem is at the grocery store. If it is, you’re not alone. I understand just how hard it is to say no to that special treat that’s staring me in the face and practically begging me to put it in my cart.
Or maybe, just maybe, your kids “have to have” that special treat at the grocery store. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with your kids getting a special treat, but maybe you can teach them to buy an item that’s on sale or even wait until the item they want is on sale. (Yes, I’ve overheard mothers having this conversation with their children. Not only does this teach them to be wise with money, it also helps them to look forward to having that treat more.)
8. Don’t shop more than twice a week.
I had a friend who would go to the grocery store every day. It wasn’t necessarily something she enjoyed, she just didn’t plan ahead for what she was going to have for dinner. If this is you, making a weekly meal plan will be huge.
If you decide to have something that’s not on your meal plan you’ll either have to wait until next week to have that particular dish or get creative and use what you have on-hand. And I’d be willing to be that if you have to wait you’ll enjoy that special meal even more because you’ve been looking forward to it for so long.
9. Don’t shop when you’re hungry!
This one is pretty self explanatory because if you’re human you’ve shopped on an empty stomach. Do you remember how many extra items you came home with? Do you remember how high your grocery bill was? Enough said!
As you’ve seen, the trick is to be intentional when heading to the store. When you do this you’ll find that you’ll have more money in your pocketbook!