How to save money on groceries

Cut your monthly grocery bill with these tips.

If you’re trying to cut costs and save money, food spending is a great place to do it. Unlike fixed expenses, what you spend on groceries can differ month to month (even week to week), which means you have more chances to save money without making a major lifestyle change.

Whether you’re single or raising a family, there are ways to save money on groceries that don’t involve a diet of ramen noodles.

How to save money on food as a family

If you’re shopping for a family versus living on your own, your monthly grocery budget may require a bit more creativity (especially when it comes to picky eaters). The first step in taking control of your grocery budget is to understand what you currently spend. Look at past receipts or your banking app to see if you can tally up how much you’ve spent in the past few months.

Once you know how much you spend on food, you can start budgeting more realistically. Do you want to cut back on food you don’t need? Do you have room in your budget to buy those snacks you usually skip? Checking out your typical monthly spend can help you make those types of choices. No matter where food spending nets out, here are some ways to cut your average grocery bill.

  • Shop your kitchen first: Take stock of what you have on hand. There’s no need to buy Adobo sauce for Tuesday’s chipotle chicken recipe if you have some stashed in your pantry. Look at items you have and find recipes based on those ingredients.

If you use what you buy, you can lower your monthly grocery budget and have more money to put into savings. It’s estimated that 30-40% of the United States food supply is wasted every year.1 Another study found that the average person throws away about 250 pounds of food a year.2 Here are some tips to stopping food waste before it happens.

  • Make a list: There are apps that can sync shopping lists between people, which can prevent family members from accidentally buying the same item on different trips to the store.
  • Buy at a superstore or wholesale club: Toiletries and personal items, like body wash or razors, are often marked up at supermarkets. Those products might be cheaper to buy in bulk at a superstore or wholesale chain. A membership to a wholesale chain might cost you some up front, but may provide big savings in the long run.
  • Join a loyalty program: If you tend to shop at a particular chain, sign up for their loyalty program. You’ll rack up points that may be used toward future purchases. And because the retailers may track your buying history, they’ll often email coupons for items you actually need.
  • Order online: Although some online grocery retailers charge hefty delivery fees or mark up their prices, there are cheaper options than going to a physical store.

Here’s how to grocery shop for 1 and cut costs

Whether you think you’re overspending or just want to scale back, here’s how to cut your monthly grocery bill:

  • Make a meal plan: Look at your calendar for the week and account for nights you won’t be home so you don’t buy food that’ll go to waste.
  • Take stock of what you have: Before you finish your list, look in your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you have that you can make into a meal.
  • Cook for two: Even if you live alone, cook recipes for two. You could save money and have leftovers to eat later in the week. In fact, bringing your own lunch, coffee or snacks to work can actually save you money than buying out.3
  • Subscribe to a meal delivery service: If you tend to get takeout for dinner or just don’t have much time to grocery shop, a meal service could help you save time and money. All the ingredients you need to make recipes are delivered to your door. Typically, each meal serves 2, so lunch or dinner the next day can be covered, too.
  • Split a wholesale membership: If buying a membership to a wholesale store seems excessive, why not split the yearly membership with a roommate or friend? When it comes to essentials like toilet paper or bottled water, you could rack up big savings buying in bulk.

Grocery shopping tips for everyone!

Whether your grocery list is for one or a bunch, here are more ways to cut back your spending:

  • Use self-checkout or curbside pick up: You may be less likely to make an impulse purchase if you use self-checkout or purchase groceries online.4
  • Buy in-season produce: Buying fruits and veggies when they’re out of season adds hefty travel and shipping fees, which increases their cost.5
  • Decide when prepared foods are worth it: Foods prepped for you, like bagged salad or sliced pineapple are more expensive. If the convenience makes it easier to pack a lunch or give your kids a healthy snack, then go for it. But if you don’t mind chopping or cleaning these foods yourself, you can lower your average cost of food per month.
  • Keep coupon matching in mind: Shop at places that accept competitor’s coupons. This way, you can use all of the coupons you clip at one store, saving you time and money.
  • Go digital: Use store-specific apps to save money on groceries to virtually “clip” coupons. You can even do it while you’re waiting in line at the checkout.

Food shopping will always be on the to-do list, but using small money-saving strategies consistently can help save money on groceries. No matter how big or small that list is, try these tips to cut down on your grocery costs. Best of all, you can make room in the budget for more exciting financial goals.

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