Buying food can be a huge strain on a family’s budget, and it’s one of those line items that just can’t be avoided. As much as we’d love to not have to spend the money, we’ll always need to eat. However, there are many ways to save money on your food budget with a little work and creativity.
8 Ways to Save Money on Your Food Budget
Check Grocery Ads Before Planning Your Menu
Most grocery stores will feature loss leaders each week that are worth stocking up on or at least featuring in your meals that week. A loss leader is a product that is sold at below cost as a way to entice shoppers to come into the store. Without knowing about these deals before you head to the store, you can risk missing out on some of these deals.
Typically grocery stores will include a sale flyer in the paper or even mail it to you. If you don’t get the weekly sale flyer they can always be found online on your grocery store’s website.
Each week specific meats, produce, and dairy products will be on sale. Stock up on those items when they are at their lowest price to save money on your food budget.
Clip and Use Coupons
While I have never gotten into a good habit with coupons, I know that people are able to save a considerable amount of money by clipping/printing and using coupons.
Coupons are best when paired up with store sales. My favorite coupons to use are the ones that I receive in a mailer from my favorite grocery store, as they are targeted to items that I typically buy.
Even if you don’t want to clip coupons, most grocery stores now have apps that allow you to virtually clip coupons. If the store doesn’t have an app it probably has a rewards or loyalty program (see below). All you need to do it enter your phone number at check out for bigger savings on groceries.
You can also use an app like iBotta. You can earn cash back for items you purchase. It isn’t affiliated with the grocery store or specific brands so it’s a great way to save overall. Check it out here.
Use Coupons Wisely
It can be easy to look for great deals with coupons and lose sight of what your family will actually benefit from you buying. Don’t buy items just for the sake of using a coupon that you have found.
Also, keep your family’s health in mind while using coupons, as many coupons are available for convenience foods.
Sign Up for a Store’s Reward Program
Some of the stores that I have rewards cards for don’t impress me very much. However, my favorite grocery store’s reward card is necessary for getting sale prices, but also earns me things like the targeted coupons that I mentioned earlier.
We also earn points to save on gasoline, which is a fabulous benefit since we have to buy the groceries anyway. Sometimes your credit card will have deals where you get extra cash back on items like groceries. Make sure you sign up for any program that gives you little bonuses for shopping.
Don’t Go to the Store While You’re Hungry
It would often be better to spend a few dollars to buy a quick snack at a drive through, if you aren’t able to eat a snack or meal at home first, rather than to go to a grocery store while you’re hungry.
I find that I’m much more likely to pick up things not on my list, as well as lots of snack, if I’m hungry when I arrive at the store. The same goes for your kids! I like to shop alone, but I often find myself at the store with my kids.
Keep a few small snacks in your bag to feed the kids while you shop. This will help keep them from grabbing everything on the shelves. (They’ll still grab a lot, but every little thing helps save money on the food budget!)
Watch the Prices on the Same Item in Different Sizes
Pay attention to prices on various sizes of the same item, especially when one size is on sale and another is not. It is not uncommon to plan to buy the smaller size of an item, only to see that it is cheaper to buy a larger size because of a sale. I’m not only speaking of it being cheaper per unit price, but actually having a lower final cost.
For example: You might find that the smaller box of cereal is $2.89 and the larger box of the same type is on sale for $2.50. While this seems like an obvious choice to purchase the larger box for less money, it can be easy to not notice if you’re in a hurry or just not looking for it.
Shop From Your Freezer, Fridge, and Pantry First
It can save you a large portion of money to just check what you can make from things you already have in your home. This can also save you from buying duplicates of items.
Anyone else have 3 jars of opened spaghetti sauce in their fridge? Just me? Ok.
Buy Produce in Season
Plan your meals around produce that is currently in season. Your produce bill will be cheaper if you purchase produce that doesn’t have to be shipped half way across the world. Summer and early fall are also a wonderful time to preserve produce that is currently in season in order to enjoy it at the cheaper price while it is out of season.
Another produce option can be to grow as much of your own fruits and vegetables as you are able to in a backyard garden or to stock up at a local farmers market, if gardening for yourself isn’t possible.
What are some of the things you do to save money on your food and grocery budget?