Learn How to Save Money on Groceries and Get Cheap Groceries on a Budget! I’ve got The Best Grocery Savings Apps and More to help you Save Hundreds of Dollars a Year on your Grocery Bill.
How to Save Money on Grocery Shopping
One of the questions I get asked all the time is on How to Save Money on Groceries without spending a lot of time or using coupons. So many people Want to Save Save Money on Grocery Shopping because they are trying to Buy Groceries on a Budget, but it’s often overwhelming and if you don’t want to use coupons, or don’t have time to use coupons it can often be challenging.
Before I dive into my 18 ways to save money on grocery shopping without using coupons I want to give you some quick and easy rules to follow. These rules are things I still do to this day and things that have been proven to reduce your grocery budget if you stick to them!
5 Best Ways to Save Money on Groceries
- Shop with a List – This seems simple but most people don’t do it. Shopping with a list (And sticking to it) reduces the amount of items you buy which cuts your grocery budget almost immediately.
- Plan Your Meals Around Your Pantry & Freezer – Take a quick inventory before you do a meal plan for the week. Try to use up as many items that you already have on hand first. This will once again reduce what you need to spend and help you avoid wasting food or throwing out food that’s expired.
- Stockpile Sale Items – Most items in a grocery store go on sale every few weeks, Stock Up when you find an awesome deal especially if it’s an item you buy all the time, that way you won’t be paying full price next week when the sale is gone.
- Find a Cheap Grocery Store – Did you know the same store in 2 different parts of town might have different prices? Also, some discount grocery store chains like Aldi or Trader Joes have great prices on high quality foods and just switching where you shop can be a quick and easy option for saving money on your groceries.
- Buy In Season – It doesn’t matter if you are shopping at Whole Foods, or your local Farmer’s Market. In Season Produce will always be cheaper than out of season items. You can save a lot of money on fresh, natural foods just by sticking to what’s in season and on sale.
How to Get Cheap Groceries
Stop Paying More for Convenience
I think one of the mis-conceptions when it comes to grocery shopping is that to get Cheap Groceries you have to buy a lot of processed foods and that whole foods or fresh foods are more expensive. I actually think this can be some what of a myth. I find that buying Processed and Pre-Packaged, Pre-Made Meals is the most expensive. If you are buying Pre-Packaged Pretzels to send in your kids lunch, buy a big bag and package your own. If you are buying Pre-Made Meals at Whole Foods with Grilled Chicken, and Green Beans. Buy the items separately and cook your own. You’ll save a LOT of money really fast!
I have friends that buy pre-washed and cut veggies! Yes, that’s healthy but it’s also really expensive! You can buy the same vegetables at Aldi or Sam’s Club and Cut and Wash them yourself :) So the first thing I would encourage you to look at is where are you paying for convenience because Grocery Stores Make a Lot of money selling convenience these days!
Here’s a quick example: My kids love these Cinnamon Strudel Breakfast Cakes they are like $3 a box, one day I realized I was buying 2 Boxes a Week. That was $6! I figured it out and it only cost me $2-$3 to make an entire pan of basically the same thing from scratch and without all the chemicals in the pre-packaged ones! It’s a little more work but it’s so worth it and I cut my budget on that one item in HALF!!!
Shop at Wholesale Stores
Comparing Unit Pricing and Shopping at Wholesale Clubs is one of my favorite ways to save. You can also buy in bulk on Amazon now. The trick is Comparing the prices before you buy! Some things aren’t really a good deal, but once you’ve done the math as long as you know you’re getting a good deal it’s an Easy Way to get Cheap Groceries without a lot of crazy couponing skills :)
Here’s an Example: We buy Turkey Bacon for breakfast and it’s priced at $3.49 at Walmart, but I can get a 3 Pack of the SAME THING for just $5.98 at Sam’s Club. So I pretty much NEVER pay full price at the grocery store because I know I can get the same thing for less than $2, that’s over a 30% Savings on that one item, just by switching stores!
Switch Your Grocery Store
Another Easy Way to Save Money on Grocery Shopping is to switch your grocery store. I often do most of my Grocery Shopping at Aldi because they have great prices on staples like Milk, Eggs, Sour Cream, Cheese, and Yogurt. They also have incredible prices on Canned Goods, Flour, Baking Supplies and tons and tons of deals on Produce every week! I typically save at least 30% instantly by going to Aldi over my local Walmart which means simply by changing stores I’m saving a lot of money on my grocery budget!
Cheap Grocery Stores
- Trader Joes
- Save a Lot
- 10Box Cost-Plus
- Grocery Outlet
- Bottom Dollar Food
How to Build Your Stockpile of Groceries
Almost every item in the grocery store goes on sale at some point or another. If you Buy ahead when items you know you’ll use are on sale then you won’t be stuck paying full price. I typically like to stock up for 8-10 weeks when I find something we use frequently at a really great price! One of the best ways to do this is by following the sale ads and looking for those “loss leader” items that are on the front and back pages. Grocery stores use these items to get you in the stores knowing you will buy extra stuff while you’re there.
Grocery Shopping on a Budget
What’s the Average Grocery Bill?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the Average Food Cost in a U.S. Household (of 2.5 people, lol) Was $6,602, that’s about $220 a month Per Person. So if you have 5 People in your family that works out to over $1,000 a month – OUCH!
How Much Should You Spend on Groceries?
I often get asked “How much should you spend on Groceries” and the answer is generally it depends! There are so many factors like your diet, allergies, area of the country in which you live. But in general I think $25-$30 per person, per week is a good goal to aim for. That means if you have 2 people, $50 a week. If you have a family of 5 $125-150 a week. If you have 5 people, you would spend about $500 per month on Groceries which is LESS than HALF the National Average!
Now, can you spend less, Sure! But you’ll want to adjust your expectations as far as the quality and quantity of items you can buy depending on your personal budget!
Saving Money on a Grocery Budget Without Coupons
1. Use money saving apps
Apps such as Checkout 51 and Ibotta offer you coupons right in the palm of your hand. These free apps will alert you of sales on items you buy and give you cash back when you make purchases of those items. Download these and other money saving apps so you can ditch the coupons and just use your smart phone instead.
2. Use a store loyalty card.
Always be sure you have a loyalty card for the stores you regularly shop at. These will offer you additional sale prices, rebates, and even freebies. They only take a few minutes to sign up for one, and the savings are easy and massive!
Stores like Walgreens & CVS require you to have the store loyalty card to get the sale prices, so you could be paying more than you should if you’re not using a store loyalty card you can also earn points just for shopping and redeem those points for free products.
3. Price match.
Never start your shopping before price matching. Stores such as Harps and Target honor price matching, saving you time as well as money. Take a few minutes to compare ads so you can be sure you get the lowest price possible on the items you need.
4. Use Walmart Savings Catcher.
The Walmart savings catcher is perfect for people who are tight on time. You can easily scan your receipt with your smart phone and if something you bought is priced lower at a competitor’s store, Walmart puts the difference on an e-gift card for you!This is perfect if you aren’t going to spend the time price matching, or you don’t want to shop at Multiple Stores. Just download the app and you can quickly scan your receipts every time you shop, you might be surprised at how fast the savings add up.
5. Always ask for a better deal.
If an item is flawed or damaged, never be afraid to ask if there is a better price. Ask for a manager who often times is happy to take at least 10% off the item for you.
6. Buy in bulk.
Some items are a bargain when purchased in bulk. Stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club are a great place to buy snacks, paper products, and toiletries in bulk which can really save you some cash in the long run. If there is an item you use often, compare prices to see if buying in bulk isn’t a better deal.
You can download the Stockpile Price List here to get my stock up prices on hundreds of items including unit prices that make it easy to compare.
7. Take advantage of shopping rewards.
Stores such as Kmart and Kohl’s offer gift card rewards for how much you shop or spend. Be sure you keep track of your spending and keep an eye on your email for when these offers arrive. You want to be sure you take advantage of the savings you have coming to you.Download the Apps for your favorite rewards programs and stores. Most Store Apps now allow you to track your rewards within the app so downloading the app is one of the easiest ways to track your rewards.
8. Sample generics.
Generics will always cost less, so it is worth experimenting with them. Give generics a try and see if you wouldn’t mind the switch. If you don’t care for the item, most stores will give you a refund on the generic variety. So basically, you have nothing to lose.
9. Shop at Aldi
One of my favorite stores to shop when I don’t have a lot of time to spend organizing and clipping coupons is Aldi. I can get almost everything my family needs for 30-50% less than the grocery store! Check out my list of 46 Items that We Love at Aldi!
10. Shop Less Frequently
Some of the most expensive items you buy at the Grocery store are the impulse items you add to your cart as you go through the aisles. You can save money by shopping less frequently and shopping with a list. If you typically shop once a week, try menu planning for 2 weeks and cutting down the number of times you go to the store, this will by default cut down the amount of impulse items you add to your cart. Menu Planning and using a list to shop will also help you reduce what you buy each time you go to the store.
Saving money without coupons is entirely possible. Give these tips a try and you are sure to see some significant savings.
11. Be Willing to Substitute
This is the first place most people get stuck. Just because you have always bought Tide, or Bounty or another brand does not mean you have to continue to buy those items in the future. Being willing to try new products that are on sale will help you save so much money!
12. Start a Stockpile
When you find an item on sale, especially an item you buy a lot make sure you buy enough to last you to the next sale. Typically that’s 8-10 weeks in most areas. So plan on having enough to last you for 3 months.
13. Use a Menu Plan
So many people run into the store and buy what they “Need” without even making a list or looking at what they have. Start by making a menu plan based on what you have on hand.
14. Always shop with a list & Use Cash
Whew, that’s 2 hard ones all at once but the reality is a list and cash set boundaries and force you to stick to a plan. This reduces the urge to walk into a store and just start adding things to your cart and research shows you can save a lot of money by using cash and shopping with a list.
15. Watch for Sales
Most if not all items go on sale at one point or another, One of the first things you need to do is determine that you aren’t going to pay full price for anything. Try to always buy when the item is on sale and purchase enough to get you to the next sale, that’s just one of the ways to ensure you aren’t ever paying full price!
16. Utilize Rewards and Gift Card Deals
I know that when people first think of “Extreme Couponing” they think of coupons, but personally I think of sales! Buying an item on a B1G1 Free Sale will save you 50% if the Item is priced at $4 you would need a $2 Coupon (Which is rare) to save that same amount. If you are a Tide Fan, buying when there is a Buy 2 Get a $5 Target Gift Card Deal going on will save you $2.50 per bottle! That’s more than most Tide Coupons.
17. Shop In Season
This goes without saying for most people, but some items are cheaper at different times of the year. If you eat a lot of Fresh Produce then try only buying the items on sale and in season each week. You will be surprised at all the creative ways you can use these items, it might even force you to try a few new recipes.
18. Buy on Clearance
You can find some great deals on clearance items. Especially at the end of the seasons so buy Christmas Baking Supplies after Thanksgiving, or stock up on Hot Dogs at the end of Summer and put them in the Freezer! Buying ahead and shopping the Clearance Sections are great ways to save!
The Best Grocery Savings Apps
These Cash Back Apps for Groceries are some of the Best Grocery Savings Apps out there! My Favorite is Ibotta, but the Coupons.com and Checkout 51 Apps are a close second! All of these apps are Free and it’s quick and easy to download them and get started!
How to Save Money on Groceries Using Your Smartphone
Saving money on groceries has never been easier than using your smartphone to help. Providing for your family can be stressful, especially when you are living on a budget, like most families nowadays. You can learn many different ways to help keep your grocery bills in check and get everything you need. Here are some tips to help you save money on groceries using your smartphone.
1.Use an app to gather and print coupons.
Passion for Savings has an app that makes it easy to save and print your coupons. We have lots of new coupons being added all the time, so you’re sure to find savings. It is a great website, especially if you’re new to couponing, to find information on collecting coupons, finding sales, and lots of tips for saving money using your smartphone.
2. Use an app to help you compare prices and price match.
The Flipp App is a great site that shows you all your local stores sales papers in one spot. It makes it easy to compare prices. It also helps you price match at stores that have a price match guarantee like Wal-Mart. They have a Flipp app that will deliver your favorite store’s sale papers right to your smartphone. I use this to pull up the Aldi Ad, CVS Ad and more at Walmart to price match while I’m in stores.
3. Use rebate apps to help recoup some of your hard-earned money.
Ibotta, Checkout51, and SavingStar are all apps that help you get rebates when you shop at certain stores. SavingStar links to your loyalty reward card from one of the approved stores. Depending on how much you spend you will get a percentage back. Ibotta is an app that gives you refunds by scanning your grocery receipt, and the barcode of the item that is eligible. Checkout51 is similar to Ibotta and you scan your grocery receipt that shows that you purchased the eligible item to get your refund.
4. Check in at your favorite grocery stores.
With apps like Shopkicks you accumulate points every time you shop at your favorite stores. All you have to do is have the app open when you go into one of the approved stores and you gather points. You can even get points while in the store, by scanning specific items, and more points if you buy the item. When you gather so many points you can get a gift card or prizes.
5. Order your groceries from Amazon Prime Pantry.
Amazon Prime Pantry is an easy way to save money on groceries, and other household items you use every day. You subscribe to get the items you need and set how often you want them to automatically be sent right to your door-step. If you add at least 5 items, to be sent every month, you will save 15% off of your total purchase. This can lead to great savings and you don’t even have to be an Amazon prime member to shop from the Amazon prime pantry.
6. Keep a grocery shopping list on your phone.
This is a great way to avoid forgetting what you need and helps keep you from having to make multiple trips, which saves money. You can keep track of what you’ve bought. You can keep track of prices or stockpile prices. It’s easy to do on your phone’s note app or Evernote app.
Having a plan to help save money on groceries is easy to do using your smartphone. Using coupons, collecting points, price matching, getting rebates, having items shipped from Amazon prime pantry, and using your phone to keep your list and data are all smart, savvy ways to help stretch your grocery dollars.
Creative Ways to Save Money on Groceries
There are so many Creative Ways to Save Money on Groceries, but my favorite is by doing Surveys, Using Cash Back Sites when I shop online, and Redeeming Credit Card Points for Gift Cards! All of these help me earn Free Gift Cards for stores like Amazon, Target, Walmart and more that I can turn around and use to buy Groceries or other Household Items I need!
How to Avoid Paying too Much for Groceries
The Grocery Store Game is very sophisticated these days and while we all want to be Savvy Shoppers it is SO EASY to fall into the Grocery Store traps and end up spending more money than you really needed to. Here are some commonly used tricks that Grocery Stores use to get you to Spend More! By watching out for these traps you can save so much money.
Trick #1 – The Most Commonly Purchased Items are at the BACK of the store!
You know how you have to walk All the Way to the Back of the store to get Milk and Eggs :) That’s because they want you to walk past all the items in the store that you don’t need in order to get to what you do need.
Avoid this trap by shopping with a list and only buying what’s on your list. You’ll save a lot of money if you have the discipline not to throw extra items in your cart each time you run in for just a few things.
Trick #2 – Items in the Center Aisles and End Caps are not always on sale!
Grocery stores know that we are more likely to buy what we see so they put the most profitable items on the end caps and in the center aisles, these are not always the best deals or the lowest prices!
It’s easy to think that items on the end caps are on sale because they typically have big fancy signs and great packaging. Shopping on the aisles can often save you money so even if you see something on an end cap make sure you check the aisle to see if there are any better prices!
Trick #3 –Watch Out for Cross Promotions & Store Placement!
Cross Promotions are very common in grocery stores. They know that if you are buying Strawberries you’re more likely to buy Shortcake Cups so they stock items that are frequently used together in the same area because it lifts sales on these correlating items.
Remember, they want to make it easy for you to add additional items in your cart, if a grocery store can increase your cart purchases value they will increase their sales so they are TRYING to get you to add items to your cart so you spend more. I could say this a million times, but Shopping with a list is one of the best ways to avoid impulse purchases! If it’s not on the list don’t buy it, or at least think twice about adding items to your cart.
Trick #4 – Buying Multiple Items to get Better Prices!
Grocery stores use signs like Buy 10 for $10 or, 5 for $4 to get you to buy more! You don’t always have to buy multiple items to get sale prices! Most grocery stores do not require you to buy 10 items to get the $10 price, the majority of the time these items will ring up for $1 each at the cash register which means you really only have to buy 1 item to get the sale price.
Check the signs to see what is required for the sale price. Most states require stores to label the signs with the individual item price if it is different. So you’ll see signs that say 2/$3 or $1.99 each. For example Walgreens does this sometimes and requires you to buy 2 items to get the sale price, but if your store doesn’t have the individual price on the sign then you should be able to buy only 1 item and still get the sale price.
Trick #5 – Eye Level is Gold Level!
One of the first things you learn in Marketing is that Placement Matters! Stores know that anything at eye level is more likely to be purchased so they put the highest profit items at eye level knowing that you’re more likely to see and purchase those items.
Looking High and Low is a great way to find items that are a better value. Sometimes this means more healthy cereals, store brand items, value packages and more! Take the time to get down low, or look on the top shelf and compare pricing! You can save a lot of money by looking at the entire shelf space and the less commonly shopped sections of the shelf.
Trick #6 – Timing is everything!
Did you know that avoiding high traffic times can actually save you money? Not only will you save your sanity by shopping off peak hours but you can save money as well. Grocery stores know that popular shopping times means more people in the store buying more items so they will stock their shelves with the best meat, produce, milk and to prepare for those times they often mark down meat, produce and dairy to clear the shelves for fresh items.
I have found that Thursdays are a great day to shop because I often find meat, produce and dairy marked down, the stores are trying to clear these items off the shelf to re-stock for the weekend so they mark them down to help move them quickly. Ask your stores when they typically mark items like meat down and try to plan your shopping trip accordingly.
Trick #7 – The Front Page of the Ad!
Loss Leaders are items sold below cost in order to get you in the store. Typically these are the items shown on the front page of the ad. You can save a lot of money by purchasing these loss leader items but be careful! The goal of these items is to get you in the stores, sometimes they require a $20 minimum purchase or have a limit to the number of items you can buy at the lower price.
Make sure that if you go into a store for the loss leader items that you only purchase the items you went for. Stores are hoping you will come in for these items and buy more while you are in stores, so I’ll say it a third time. Always Shop with a List! Know what you need and only buy those items, it will save you so much money!!!
Knowing the tricks the stores use to get you to spend more money is one of the best ways to combat these practices and save money!!!
What are your favorite Ways to Save Money on Groceries? Leave a comment and let me know!