Groceries will probably form a large part of your weekly expenditure so if you want to save money, it’s important to keep that grocery bill down. It’s so easy to walk down the aisles and pile your shopping cart with things you don’t really need and before you know it, your bill is much more than you anticipated spending. But if you’re savvy, you can save money on groceries AND still eat healthy. You don’t have to live off carbs and processed food to spend less at the supermarket!
Here are 23 ways to save money on groceries:
Shop at cheaper stores
A fairly obvious one but if you’re shopping at Whole Foods then it’s going to cost you a heck of a lot more than if you shop at Trader Joes, Aldi or Walmart. Try to chop at cheaper supermarkets to get the best deals. Gourmet supermarkets and local stores may have better produce but they’re also far more expensive. Save those for emergency items and stick to your larger stores for the weekly shop.
Sign up for a cash back credit card
Want to get some money off your food shop? Sign up for a cash back credit card. These cards will often let you choose your category of spending to get the most cash back, so if you do a lot of grocery shopping, it would be wise to select this as your chosen category.
Buy frozen fruit and veggies
Nothing beats fresh vegetables but they can go rotten pretty quickly and if you live in a big city, sometimes an unexpected meal out means your groceries go to waste. Frozen veggies are just as nutritious and since they’re frozen, you can keep them for much much longer. Plus, they’re much cheaper.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry
Shopping when hungry leads you to buy things that you wouldn’t usually buy. Before you know it you’ve filled your cart with things you don’t really need because you’re so damn hangry! Shop after you’ve eaten a meal and you’ll be much less likely to buy stuff.
Calculate as you go along
If you need to stick to a budget, try to calculate your grocery bill as you shop. Use the calculator app on your cell phone to calculate as you go along. Alternatively you can round up the approximate value of each item and then add it up in your head. For example, if a can of soup is $2.75, round it up to $3.
Look out for offers
Stores will often publish their weekly deals on the website, so you know exactly what’s going to be on sale before you go to the store. For example, Whole Foods publishes its weekly sales online here every Wednesday. You can then plan your meals around what’s on sale that week.
Batch cook meals and freeze them
Certain meals like curries, stews or pasta sauces are great for batch cooking. Cook a large quantity and then either eat it for a few consecutive days or portion it out and put it in the freezer so you can eat it another time. This is usually much more affordable than cooking different individual meals.
If you make too much food then instead of over-eating or throwing it away, save it for the next day’s main meal. Don’t indulge at lunch time – save it for dinner time and eat something light for lunch like a sandwich or salad.
Choose recipes with fewer ingredients
Some chefs or food bloggers list recipes that have dozens of ingredients, which can get quite expensive to make. I always try to choose recipes that are simple with just a few ingredients. Jamie Oliver and Joe Wicks both offer very simple and quick recipes that don’t require a long list of items.
Compare the unit price
Whenever I’m buying an item I always scan the shelves to see which is the cheapest. Take soy sauce for example. If Kikkoman is more expensive than La Choy then maybe I’ll go for La Choy instead. When comparing items, make sure you look at the unit price instead of just looking at the overral price. The bottle might be cheaper but it also might have a smaller volume.
Buy own-brand products
Do you really need Hellman’s mayonnaise or Heinz ketchup? Or would you survive with something similar without the brand name? Many supermarkets have their own-brand items which are much cheaper than the brand names.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat
Pork is the cheapest meat, usually followed by chicken. Beef, lamb and fish tend to be the most expensive, so save things like steaks or sea bass fillets for a special occasion. If you eat pork you can get large family packs of loin chops that will feed you for several meals. Ground beef/chicken is also fairly affordable. When it comes to chicken, the wings, thighs and drumsticks are usually cheaper than chicken breasts. Also check the frozen section – you can often find bags of chicken or salmon fillets for much cheaper than the refrigerator section.
Choose recipe ideas with similar ingredients
Say you buy a pack of red bell peppers. You could use those to make a stir fry but then also use them to make fajitas or put them in a salad. Try to choose recipes based on the same ingredients – that way you’re not putting too many things in your shopping cart. If you buy a family pack of ground beef you could make spaghetti bolognese one night and then burgers the next. Get creative!
Avoid expensive items where possible
There are some things in the supermarket that seem to be expensive in general. Cheese is often $7 or $8. Nuts, fruit, smoked salmon and ice cream can also be very expensive. Ask yourself if you really need them, or can you do without them this week.
Avoid bagged vegetables
In the fresh produce section you’ll often notice that they sell things like green beans, carrots, mushrooms and green beans in bags but they also sell them loose. Usually it’s cheaper to bag your own than to buy pre-packaged stuff. Avoid things like packaged salads or ready cut carrots – they may be quicker but they cost more. Is it really that much effort to chop your own carrots?
Certain items like sparkling water, toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies are often better bought in bulk because you’ll get a lot more for your money. They can be rather heavy though, so buy them online from places like Walmart or Amazon.
Challenge yourself to eat what’s left in your pantry
Every so often if I’m feeling ultra frugal I’ll challenge myself to last as long as possible without going to the supermarket. That means eating cans of beans that have been sitting in the cupboard or raiding my freezer and finishing off the frozen vegetables. Only when I’ve finished it all do I then go to the supermarket to replenish my cupboards. Sometimes it results in some very interesting meals but it saves me money for the week.
Shop in the reduced section
Some supermarkets will mark down their meat or vegetables if they’re approaching their sell by date. I always check the reduced section to see what bargains I can find. I’ll then either eat them quickly before they go off, or put them in the freezer.
Grate your own cheese
It may be much more convenient to buy grated cheese but it’s also often more expensive. If you grate a block of cheese you’ll get more bang for your buck. Invest in a cheese grater and grate your own at home.
Buy family packs of meat and freeze it
Meat is often cheaper if you buy large family packs as opposed to one or two pieces. You might worry that you won’t be able to eat it all before it goes past its “use by” date but you can separate it all out and freeze it in freezer bags when you get home. When you need to cook, either thaw it out overnight or defrost it in the microwave or a bowl of water before cooking.
Avoid items placed near the checkout
Supermarkets will often place candy and chocolate near the checkout because they know you’ll make an impulse buy. Try to avoid buying unnecessary items – they’ll only pile on the calories and add to your grocery bill.
Sometimes stores will send you coupons in the mail which you can take into the store and use at the checkout to receive money off your purchase. Don’t forget to take them with you when you go shopping. You can also often find coupon codes online – every little helps!
Sign up for member cards
Many supermarkets have their own member’s clubs you can sign up for to get member’s only pricing on certain goods. If you go to this particular store regularly, make sure you sign up to get a card and put it on your keychain so you can get those discounts! Yes I know it can be annoying filling out a form or having to go to the customer service desk to sign up but it’s worth it in the long run!
Drink tap water
Instead of buying bottled water, get a water filter, fill it up with tap water and put it in the fridge. Not only is it better for the environment but it also saves you a few $.