This post was originally posted on February 3rd, but it bears repeating as it is my Top Frugal Tip. The number one question I am asked is how I keep my grocery budget as low as I do. Implementing these following 8 tips helped me gain control of my grocery budget, which has given us more money for our debt snowball.
One of the hardest, yet easiest areas, is grocery shopping. I do consider it a negotiable, because although you have to eat, you can almost always cut your spending in the “grocery department” and still not starve!
8 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Budget In Half
Pay With Cash
I’ve already shouted all through out blog land how much I believe in cash for all grocery shopping endeavors, so I won’t get into that too much here. You can check out my story of using cash, here. It will save you tons of money, you will end up with things you actually need, and you will be in control! I beg you to try it if you haven’t already. (Those of you that have tried it, please feel free to weigh in in the comment section so everyone knows how it went!)
Use Coupons Wisely
Wait to use your coupon until the item goes on sale. It is unbelievable how much money you can save by pairing those 2 together! My rule of thumb as far as my coupons go, is if the item isn’t on sale..I will probably not use my coupon, unless I NEED that particular item.
**If you aren’t interested in coupons, just check out the ads and shop the loss leaders. Loss leaders are the items that the grocery stores mark way down to get you into the store to buy other overpriced items.**
Make a Meal Plan
Knowing what you are making for dinner and writing down all of the ingredients you need from the store will not only keep you on track at the store, but it will save you unnecessary trips back to the store inevitably ending up with more than you needed, and spending more in the process. Also, avoiding the whole “It’s 4pm and I have no idea what is for dinner!” is such a stress reliever. You will end up with more time, less stress, and saving money in the process! Doesn’t get any better!
Stick to Your List!
That is why you made it, so stick to it! My only exception to this, is if I know I need orange juice (or another actual needed item) and I forgot to put it on my list. But, I must need it (not want it) and there must be room in my budget. I try not to break budget for things I’ve forgotten to list, but didn’t. I’ve been known though, to knock something else off so that I can get that one item. It did take some getting used to, but it kind of goes hand in hand with the whole cash concept.
Watch Those Prices
Buying in bigger packages isn’t always cheaper, so make sure that you are getting the best deal. I’m that crazy lady standing in the aisle checking out every brand of product and figuring out the best deal. And a “sale” isn’t always a sale.
Shop Multiple Stores
This one obviously isn’t feasible for everybody, but it is something that you should check into and weigh. I live in a pretty small area, and in order for me to get decent grocery prices I have to drive to the “big town”. The “big town” has Super Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s on one end, and Aldi’s and a small grocery chain on the other. I go to one set, and then go to the other set since is on the way home. Shopping these multiple stores gives me a better idea of prices and in turn, I have a better idea of what a good sale price is. I don’t always shop at all of these stores, but I do usually hit 2-3. I can get all my shopping done, with my 3 year old, in no more than 2 hours.
Make a Price Book
This is something that I have just started, and I’m sure that I don’t do it like everyone else. When I come home, I input all of my grocery prices in Excel. I write the item, the price, and the price per unit. For instance, onions. Say they are $1.29, and I get 6 in the bag. That is .22 cents an onion. (Secret Revealed- This is how I know the cost breakdown of all my meals!) When I buy the item next time, if it is lower I write that in with stars letting me know that is a good deal. When I go to make my list, I write down beside the item how much it costs (based on the price book) and I tally it up at the end. This helps me stay within my budget.
Make It At Home
Making most of what we eat from scratch has really cut our costs. In return I have been able to make my family healthy foods for less than half of what I could buy them for, and I am at peace because I know exactly what is in it and where it has been. No need to worry about some 14 letter ingredient that I have never heard of and cannot pronounce! If you think of your kitchen as a grocery store, you can shop it when your family gets hungry.
I encourage you to try all of these. You do not necessarily have to do them all at once, you can ease in if you desire. But, I do think it is important to do all of them at some point to maximize your savings.