Are you fed up with how much it costs to grocery shop? I know I used to be, until I learned how to save a ton of money on groceries. I discovered that grocery shopping is a skill. In fact, you should get better at saving money every time you grocery shop if you are consciously looking for ways to reduce the amount of money you spend. You can learn to hone your grocery shopping skills by applying new techniques to your daily life and to your shopping strategy.
The Cash Cow Couple strongly believes in eating healthy food. Our diet consists of some meat, lots of vegetables, and a moderate amount of fresh fruit.
Our favorite veggies are avocados, red and green bell peppers, spinach, kale, onions, green beans, asparagus, carrots, and sweet potatoes. For fruit we consume mostly berries and bananas. We eat a ton of eggs, lots of extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and butter. We love dark chocolate, raw apple cider vinegar, and raw honey. We ferment foods as much as possible. We limit our intake of beans, dairy, and empty carbs, and we have removed gluten from our diet.
This being said, we obviously don’t have the cheapest diet. Most people would consider it top shelf living. And because we don’t eat processed foods, coupons are very rarely an option. However, we bet that if you looked at the cost of our monthly grocery bill, you’d never be able to tell. We have grocery shopping down to a science and we are constantly on the lookout for a great deal. Check out our top 25 tips!
How to Save Money on Groceries:
How to Save Money on Groceries at the Store:
1. Don’t shop hungry:
I know you’ve heard this rule before, but it is true. You will have less patience and less self control, leaving you powerless against impulse buying if you are hungry. So do yourself a financial favor and eat a snack or a meal before you shop. Trust me. Last time we shopped hungry we ended up with a bucket of ice cream!
2. Know average prices so you can spot a good deal:
How will you know a good deal from a terrible deal or even a mediocre deal if you don’t know how much items normally cost. The more you shop for groceries, the more familiar you will become. For beginners, call grandma, a friend, or a trusted loved one who may have more grocery experience to find out an average price of an item. For me, I had a hard time knowing what was a good deal on meat. After a few weeks of ad watching and price matching, things became natural.
3. Make a list.
It’s important to go into a grocery store with a plan. Take a look at the ads for your local grocery stores before you leave the house. Make a list of the best deals and where they come from. Having a list of items that are on sale and the items you want to price match (see #5) is imperative. Not only will it help you avoid impulse buying, it will also help you get in and out of the grocery store faster so you can get on with the rest of your life! The less time you spend in the grocery store, the less you will buy and the more money you’ll save.
4.Only put sale items on your list.
The Cash Cow Couple only writes down sale items on the grocery list. We then plan our weekly meals around what items are on sale. We write down only the sale items and stick to them. Deviations are rarely acceptable! Then, when we get home, I research fun new meals to prepare with the items we bought on sale.
5. Price match:
I cannot emphasize this enough. Price matching is looking at ads from your local grocery stores, making a list of the best deals and taking that list to Walmart (or other stores that advertise their price matching program). When you get to the register, tell the cashier that you will be price matching your items. Then, when they ring up each item, tell the cashier the price you saw the item for and at what store. Price matching local ads at Walmart is easy, saves time, and dare I say, FUN. It is fun to watch the cashier give you a discount for every item you purchase! For some reason, a lot of people think they are doing something sketchy when they try to match a competitor’s price at Walmart. This is silly! Walmart has commercials about how to price match at their stores and the workers are fully informed about the practice. Why pay more for an item when it is perfectly acceptable to price match?
6. Check Unit Prices:
A unit price is the price for one unit of the item you are buying. For instance, when you are buying items in a multi-pack, there are usually a few options for size or brand. The way unit price works is that the bigger the bulk of the item, the less you will have to pay. Knowing the unit price will help you determine how much you will save per unit when you do buy in bulk. It will also assist you when trying to determine between two brands.
For instance, you are trying to buy a package of tortillas. A 27 ounce package will cost you 1.50 and a 66 ounce package will cost you 3.15. The first package will cost you $0.06 per ounce where the second option will cost you $0.05 per ounce. You can see in this situation, you would be paying about one cent less per ounce with option 2. However, if you didn’t want to have 66 ounces of tortillas, you wouldn’t be losing too much money to buy a smaller portion. If this was a one time purchase of tortillas, then the smaller option might be better. However, if tortillas are part of your weekly grocery list, you would be throwing away $0.45 to buy the smaller packages, not to mention the extra time it takes you to repurchase the tortillas every week.
This example displays the fact that when you know the unit price of an item, it becomes easier to compare brands based on price. Some stores, like Walmart, kindly do the work for you. Other times you have to do the math yourself. Look to the left of the price tag at grocery store to see if they display the unit price.
7. If it’s on sale, stock up!
Stocking up on items that go on sale is always a good idea. You can even stock up on produce by picking out items that are not ripe yet. This will give you a few days leeway before you have to consume them. The Cash Cow Couple usually does this on limes and avocados. Our favorite buy is avocados for 19 cents! In that situation, we buy about 20 avocados or more.
8. Buy generic:
Generally, generic is of equal value to name brand. Occasionally, it is the EXACT same product in a different package. So, save money by going for the more reasonable, generic choice.
9. Limit your use of coupons:
Coupons are great when you are looking for a deal on nonperishable or hygiene items. However, they can also pose as a temptation for you to buy items that are less than nutritional for yourself or your family. It’s great to look at the coupons to see if they have any stellar deals, but if the temptation to buy processed or refined foods is too great, then skip the coupons and follow the other 24 tips in this article.
10. Limit your consumption of dairy:
Milk and cheese are pretty expensive by my book. Therefore, the Cash Cow Couple has reduced the consumption of each. Neither are necessary for a healthy diet, and the mass produced varieties are downright gross. Much of the dairy produced by the grain and antibiotic stuffed mega-cows is full of pus and lacks any real nutritional content. Not to mention skim is infinitely worse than whole milk. All this to say, we don’t really buy milk or cheese from the store.
We opt for almond milk once in a while. Almond milk can be sweeter and therefore, we use less of it- making it cheaper for the two of us. This tip may not work for some families, but buying almond milk instead of cow’s milk has changed our milk mindset from an every day drink to a once in a while treat- therefore reducing our usage and keeping the cost lower.
11. Keep an eye on the cashier:
When you go through the check out line, make sure you are watching as the cashier rings up your purchases. They often make mistakes and need to be corrected (kindly, of course!). If you don’t watch closely, you might be overcharged. This would negate all of your hard work of price matching the item in the first place, so pay attention!
How to Save Money on Groceries at Home:
12. Grow your own:
The best way to save money on produce and spices is to have a garden full of items you would normally buy at the store. Spending a little bit of time in your garden every day has big payoffs because you don’t have to buy marked up produce at the store.
13. Eat wild game:
Buying venison is a cheaper alternative to buying beef at the grocery store. Not only is wild game better for you, it is also better for you pocketbook. We had a relative who shot a deer, so Jacob skinned it and then paid $30 to have 40 pounds ground. We make venison burgers and chili. The best recipe so far was a venison burger with curry spice and a tzatziki sauce. Delicious!
14. Cook at home:
When you avoid eating out and instead opt for cooking at home, you will avoid sales tax in some states and tipping. You will also be able to control the quality of your food and the portion served. A Cash Cow Couple meal is generally around $5 total.
15. Learn to freeze produce properly
Freezing produce is a great thing to know for when you have bought in bulk (see #5) or grown more than you can eat (see #12) and need to save some produce for later. Click here for a comprehensive guide to freezing produce. I have been freezing produce to eat in a few weeks when we need a break from the produce we bought on sale that week.
16. Do the work yourself:
Don’t ever buy a main dish meal that is already prepared for you. For example, don’t buy a green pepper that is already stuffed for you. Pack that rice, bean, meat, and cheese in there yourself and save a wad of cash! The same goes for a veggie/fruit tray or other items that you pay to have someone else chop up produce for you. This is always a great way to waste money. You get less food for a higher price. When you buy items that come pre-cut, you are paying more for convenience. The other day I saw a rump roast packaged with pre-cut carrots and potatoes that was selling for double the price of a roast, potatoes, and carrots sold separately. Don’t be duped by convenience!
17. Make it yourself:
Some items like peanut butter, juice, and beans are better to make yourself. Not only will you cut out any harmful additives and excessive salt, but you will also save money by making it yourself. Buy peanuts, fruit and hard beans and crush, juice, and boil your way to cheaper staples.
18. Don’t throw food away:
Try to recycle the meals that you make at home. For instance, if you have grilled chicken one night, make it into fajitas the next night. There are tons of creative ways to keep your leftovers from going to waste. Also, if you choose to eat out, take your leftovers home with you, and make sure they get eaten! If you spend the extra money to eat out, don’t leave half the food on your plate. This makes an expensive meal even more expensive!
19. Use what you have:
Take stock of what is in your refrigerator and in your pantry. Make sure you are using all produce before it spoils, and use the canned foods in your pantry before buying new ones. This will ensure that you are not just building a pantry full of food that will eventually get donated.
Best Places to Shop to Save Money on Groceries:
20.Buy food online
For specialty food items such as coconut flour, arrowroot flour, coconut oil, and supplements, buy items online. Amazon is a great resource for any food item not commonly found in a grocery store. Some of these items can easily be found at health food stores, but are often much more expensive than buying online. The Cash Cow Couple eats a LOT of coconut flour and coconut oil in desserts.
21. Buy goods at the local farmer’s market:
Check your area for a local farmer’s market. Sometimes prices are better or prices are similar for higher quality food. The farmers market is also a great place to get fresh and hormone free meats and dairy.
22. Make a deal with a local farmer
When it comes to dairy, meat, and sometimes produce, search Craigslist for a farmer in your area and negotiate discounted prices if you buy from them every week. If you can’t find a farmer on Craigslist, try negotiating a deal at the farmer’s market.
23. Discount grocery stores
Don’t be afraid to shop at discount stores like the dollar store, Aldi, and Save-a-Lot. Their supply is generally limited, but their low prices make it work the trip. We especially stock up on olive oil and Stevia from Aldi, as they have the best prices around! You can also price match their ads at Walmart. However, be careful when you go into discount stores. Remember to stay sharp and to know a good deal when you see one (see #3). For instance, paying $1 for a pack of gum at the dollar store is not as good of a deal as paying $2.00 for three packs of gum at the grocery store.
24. Shop at drug stores for special buys:
I recently discovered that shopping at Walgreens and CVS is sometimes beneficial. Most of their items are wildly overpriced. However, their weekly deals are great! Last week we bought a dozen eggs for $1 at Walgreens!
25. Become a member:
Check out your local membership grocery stores. Before you sign up, do your research and find out how much a membership would cost and how long it would take you to make up the cost of the membership fees. Some stores have student and senior discounts for their memberships, so be sure to ask. Club membership stores sell in bulk and this lowers unit prices considerably.
*Because of some reader feedback, we thought we would recommend the finest cookbook available and the only one you will ever need – Nourishing Traditions
I believe this is the best list for how to save money on groceries. Do you have any other ideas to cut the cost of grocery shopping?