When you have a large family, it’s always helpful to have tips on how to save money on groceries.
I have a big family. Six kids and a cat and a dog to be exact. As you can probably guess, we go through a lot of food in my house. For this reason, groceries are one of our largest monthly expenses.
I never want us to be short on food, so I allocate as much of our budget as I can to groceries. We rarely go out to eat, so I’m happy to spend what I spend on food at home. It’s so much more affordable to eat at home than it is to eat at restaurants.
Over the years, I’ve picked up on a few tips for saving money grocery shopping. Most of these tips I’ve picked up from websites, books, and magazines. I’ve also added tips that I’ve come up with on my own.
- 12 Things I Always Buy in Bulk to Save Money
- 13 Things I Quit Buying to Save Money
- 80 Things You Should Always Buy at the Dollar Tree
How to Save Money on Groceries
I hope these tips will help you save money on groceries.
1. Always go with a list. If you go the grocery store without a list, you’ll most definitely spend more money than you were hoping to. Prepare a list of everything you need, based on your weekly meal plan and check your fridge and pantry to make sure you don’t buy something that you already have. Use this Meal Planner Notepad to plan your meals and grocery list.
2. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s true. Whenever I go to the grocery store hungry, I end up buying all types of food that I don’t need. And it’s usually the junk food that appeals to me the most. Eat a meal before you go shopping and you’ll be more likely to stick to your list.
3. Give yourself a budget. Whenever I go grocery shopping, I know exactly how much money I can spend, and I try not to go past that. Make sure you set a budget for yourself to prevent overspending.
4. Do a rough running tally. A good way to stay within your budget is to keep a running tally of how much things cost as you put them in your cart. Do quick math so that you won’t need a calculator. For example, if an items costs $1.95, round it up to $2.00.
5. Keep things stocked for quick-n-easy meals. Easy meals for us might be a quick stir-fry or mac-n-cheese. I always keep these ingredients on hand so that I can whip up something quick to eat when I’m feeling lazy. Keeping quick-n-easy meal items stocked prevents me from going out to eat when I don’t feel like cooking. I love browsing Delish for quick and easy meal ideas.
6. Buy in bulk. If you can save money over the course of a few months, buying in bulk is a great money saver. Make a list of the items you want to buy in bulk and stick to that list. You won’t be saving money if you end up buying things you didn’t need in the first place.
7. Cut back on meat. I’m sure you know how expensive it is to buy meat. I try to cook vegetarian meals a couple of times a week at my house (think pasta or chili). Cutting back on meat is a great way to reduce your grocery bill.
8. Pack your own snacks. Buying pre-made snacks is convenient, but you’ll waste a lot of money buying pre-made snacks. Packing your own snacks is a great money saver.
9. Make leftovers for lunch. Cook extra food for dinner so that you can use it for leftovers. This will save money on lunch for your family.
10. Always have batteries, tissue and light bulbs. Items that you need and always seem to run out of, should be purchased in bulk when they’re on sale.
11. Make slow cooker dinners. I’ve discovered that slow cooker meals are cheap and tasty. Add a few slow cooker meals to your arsenal, and you’ll save money on your groceries.
12. Clip coupons. I know that clipping coupons can seem like a lot of trouble. But it’s not hard to clip a few coupons here and there and take them on your grocery trip. You can find coupons at store entrances, in newspapers, online, or on grocery store apps.
13. Only use coupons for items you need to buy. Don’t buy something that’s not on your list, simply because you have a coupon for it. When you do this, you’re not really saving money.
14. Check for specials. When you go into the grocery store, keep an eye out for specials. These specials are often unadvertised and can be found on the top or bottom shelf. Remember not to buy anything unless it’s something that you will actually use.
15. Give store brands a try. From my experience, I can tell you that often, brand names are no better than generic. You’re often just paying for the advertising that has to be done for brand names.
16. Cut back on your “one-item” trips. When you go to the store to buy one item, not only are you wasting gas, but you’ll usually end up buying more than one item. If you plan ahead and make your list ahead of time, this should reduce the number of trips you make to the store for a small number of items.
17. Keep an eye on the register. As your items are being scanned, keep an eye on the register so that you can catch any mispriced items.
18. Stock up when there’s a sale. If you can find an item that you regularly use on sale, stock up on it.
19. Comparison shop. Look at the different brands for products (including store brands). Sometimes you will find a significant price difference from one brand to another.
20. Plan one big trip a month for bulk staples. You can purchase your fresh items at a different store when needed, but doing a big bulk trip will cut back on your grocery expenses. Also, make sure you avoid impulse buys at bulk stores as well. Just because you’re buying bulk doesn’t mean you’re saving if you weren’t planning to buy it in the first place.
21. Avoid trips to the corner store. Corner stores are some of the most expensive stores. Avoid trips to the corner store or gas station to save money on food.
22. Try co-ops. You can sometimes save money at these places for staple items. You can use the Find a Co-op website to find Co-ops in your area.
23. Consider shopping at two stores. Different stores have different savings. Try shopping around for the best deals.
24. Use a deep freezer. If you really want to save, it’s good to have a deep freezer. Deep freezers allow you to stock up on meat, frozen veggies, and more. You can also freeze casseroles and other dinners that you prepared ahead of time.
25. Use up everything. If you have a bunch of leftover ingredients (an onion, a tomato, a few other veggies, pasta?), combine them for a quick meal, so that they don’t go to waste. The more you can stretch your food, the less you’ll spend in the long run.
26. Don’t waste leftovers. Don’t forget about the leftovers in your fridge. You can use them for lunch the next day and save money on your lunches.
27. Don’t buy junk food (or buy as little as possible). Junk food costs a lot of money. Try to limit the amount of junk food you purchase.
28. Ask for a rain check. If an item that was on sale is no longer in stock, ask for a rain check.
29. Go when the kids are in school. When you bring kids to the grocery store, they will pester you until you buy some kind of junk food. You will likely save money when shopping without your kids.
30. Stick to your grocery list. Avoid impulse buys. They are usually a bad choice, and even if it’s just a couple dollars, the money will add up to hundreds of dollars over time. Over the course of a year, that can mean thousands of dollars. Tell yourself that you will not buy anything that’s not on your list (unless it’s necessary).
31. Use store savings cards. These cards can actually add up giving you big savings over time.
32. Don’t go out to eat. Going out to eat is never cheaper than eating at home. You’ll save so much money by preparing your meals at home.
33. Don’t buy frozen dinners While convenient, frozen meals cost a lot more than preparing dinner yourself, and they’re usually not very good for you.
34. Drink water. If you regularly drink iced coffee, soda, or other types of drinks, cut those out of your diet and only drink water. It’s cheaper, and it’s much healthier. The Cactaki Water Bottle helps you drink more water by including a timer marker.
35. Buy canvas grocery bags. This will save you tons of money (if you live in an area that charges for plastic) and it’s also better for the environment. I purchased my reusable grocery bags from Amazon.
36. Pack healthy snacks. Crackers, fruit, popcorn, raisins, and other kid-friendly snacks are a much better option than junk food like potato chips and candy. They’re also cheaper.
I hope you’ve found these tips have shown you different and helpful ways to save money on groceries.