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The number one money-saving tip people search for on Google is “how to save money on groceries.” Of course it is, food is one of the few things you need to survive and eating at home is way cheaper than eating out.
But it’s also easy to go to the grocery store unprepared and walk out with way more than you can realistically eat. That’s why saving money on groceries is an easy way to drastically cut your spending, pay off debt, and reach your financial goals faster.
If you like this topic I cover this and much more in my book The No-Spend Challenge Guide. Check it out to help you save more, spend less, and make the most of your time paying off debt.
Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries
I’ll start by mentioning I’m not a huge fan of couponing, sometimes I feel like I spend more money just trying to make use of them. So here are the tips I use to cut grocery my grocery bill without using coupons.
1. Shop at the store with the best value
I have to start with this one because it has been the ultimate money saver over the past two years. Before shopping at Aldi I was a die-hard Publix shopper. For those unfamiliar, it’s similar in price to Raley’s, Kroger, or Ingles. It’s not Whole Foods but it’s not conducive when you’re trying to pay off $78,000 in debt.
I love Aldi because the quality you get for the price is unbeatable compared to everything else in my area. If you don’t have an Aldi near you other comparably priced stores include:
The first step in saving money on groceries is making sure you’re shopping at the store with the lowest price. Sure shopping is a pleasure at Publix but if I’m cutting out pedicures to save money why would I pay to have someone offer to take my groceries to my car for me?
2. Meal plan around sales
Those fliers you get in the mail are for more than wrapping dishes in when you move. They tell you all the sales going on so you’re able to meal plan around them. Meal planning is your defense against impulse grocery shopping and planning meals around sales is next level.
I’m looking at one right now that has blueberries, strawberries, and cantaloupe on sale. It’s looking like a great week to add blueberries to my overnight oats and strawberries in my spinach salad. I can also try that no-churn cantaloupe sorbet recipe I pinned forever ago.
3. Grocery shop online
I started grocery shopping online and picking up my groceries when I had Kai. He would melt down in the grocery store before I could finish shopping and it was a total disaster.
Now in the age of coronavirus I still do all my shopping online or through the Walmart grocery app.
I mentioned it above but seriously, don’t miss out on $10 off your first Walmart Grocery Pickup.
Pick-up is free, it’s a safer way to shop, it helps me keep track of my total bill without carrying around a calculator (I have been known to do that) and I’m not tempted by impulse buys.
I’ve also shopped Aldi via the Instacart app but pick-up is $1.99 and because the prices are comparable and the variety wider, I’ve been shopping at Walmart more. (But don’t get it twisted, I deal with Walmart but I LOVE Aldi.)
Click here to get $10 off your first Instacart order!
One quick tip: When shopping Instacart, make sure the store you’re shopping says “Everyday store prices” and not “higher than in-store prices” at the top.
4. Use up your pantry
Could you go a whole month just shopping your pantry? We’re pretty minimalist and I know we could go at least a few weeks.
Emptying out your pantry can tell you a lot about your spending habits. Is your pantry full of good intentions quickly forgotten, new things you took a chance on but have been avoiding, or stuff your mother-in-law sent you home with on your last visit?
5. Buy frozen
You can save extra on produce by buying out-of-season fruit and veggies in the freezer aisle. You can usually tell what’s in season by what’s on sale.
Buying frozen also cuts time in prepping, lessens the dish load, and cuts down food waste. We’re all guilty of buying stuff that goes bad before we can eat it. With frozen fruits and veggies, unused portions can be placed in a freezer bag and come back to whenever.
6. Use Ibotta for cash back
Ibotta has a weekly $.25 cash back rebate on any item or receipt. It has a wide variety of stores you can redeem this rebate at so it’s easy to make a little extra spending cash every year.
All of the major grocery stores are on it including all the affordable stores I mentioned above. Aldi is on there occasionally but it’s only for the “any receipt” rebate and I end up using that one when I go to Target or Walmart.
When you sign up for Ibotta they’ll give you $10 for redeeming a brand-name bonus within 14 days. Definitely worth checking out if you shop at any of their partner stores because it takes virtually no time and who doesn’t need an extra $20?
7. Go generic
As I look around my house I don’t see any brand name products. When I think about my last shopping trips, I can’t remember any brand name purchases. Surely I’m preaching to the choir here but you HAVE TO stop wasting your money on name brand stuff! Most of it is the same and when it’s not, it serves it purpose just fine.
Aldi has mostly generic brands so we’ve had a few memorable snafus with generic. I once bought 20 rolls of the cheapest toilet paper and it took years (ok, 6 months) of suffering through to finish it off. Now I buy the second cheapest toilet paper, but it’s still generic.
Another time I bought trash bags that kept falling into the trash can. My husband tied a knot at the top to tighten the bag around the can. Problem solved!
Suffice to say, you don’t have to buy the cheapest of everything when you buy generic but if you choose to there’s always a solution. And whether you do everything on this list or just one or two you’ll be well on your way to making a big dent in your grocery allowance.
Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.