It seems these days that we’re all trying to save money on groceries. Things have gotten so much more expensive and there’s really no chance that it’s going to turn around.
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A Family’s Grocery Budget
For the last 21 years we have had a family of 6-8 people and have managed the last 16 of those years on only one income. I have only been able to do this by being very conscious of our grocery budget and learning some tricks along the way. I first work to make a frugal meal plan. Then, I follow the techniques below, which have really helped stretch our family’s grocery budget.
How To Save Money On Groceries
1. Buy the Loss-Leaders – Always look at the ads and see what the loss-leaders are this week. Loss-leaders are usually the items promoted on the front page of the ad. The store is willing to take a loss in order to get you into their store. Try to stock up on these things and then plan your meals around them. This will be a huge savings.
2. Save on Protein – Protein is generally the biggest grocery expense, so if you can buy your meats at a rock-bottom price, then you’ll start out ahead. Again, look at what’s on sale and what’s been marked down. Be careful here, tho, because sometimes they’re still not a good price. I don’t care if steak is marked down from $9/lb to $6/lb, it’s still not a good price for us. If you get an amazing price on chicken, beef or pork use these freezer meal plans from MyFreezEasy to prep a bunch of freezer meals. If you’re new at freezer meals, Erin at MyFreezEasy walks you right through how to make them and once you have a membership, there are even secret videos where you can watch her prep the meals.
3. Learn the Best Price on Everything You Purchase – I know that diced tomatoes will get down to $.50 per can and chicken breast can be bought for $1.79/lb., so when I see them on sale I stock up to last for a couple months. I try to have enough to last until the next sale.
4. Stay Out of the Grocery Store – The less frequently you go to the grocery store, the fewer chances you have to blow your budget on junk food, or items not on sale. You can easily save $20 per week by only going once per month for a big shop and running in quickly for eggs, produce and milk as needed. Just don’t be tempted by anything else on these quick trips.
5. Ibotta – I started using this app in December, and in the first month my account grew to $50+. I can cash it out, or let it accrue and buy gift cards for next Christmas. If you sign up through this referral link, you get a $10 bonus and I make a $5.00 commission. If you sign up directly through the app store, remember my code: vtrcart to make sure you get your welcome bonus.
6. Checkout 51 – this is another rebate app I started using, and though it doesn’t have as much to offer as Ibotta, I like that by using them together, sometimes I can get double rebates.
7. Coupons – I’m not a huge fan of coupons, just because they are hard for me to keep organized and I don’t usually have access to them. However, I do pull a coupon out of a flyer when it is for an item I plan on buying soon. It’s especially nice when I can use them along with either the Ibotta app or Checkout 51. I just got 6 packages of cheese sticks for free or $.25 by doing this. If you want some training on how to use coupons to save money, a great book to read is Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half.
8. Grocery Outlet – About once per month I go to Grocery Outlet for groceries. I can usually get great prices on cereal, yogurt, snacks for the kids, frozen food, etc. I have to be real careful, tho, because I tend to buy more junk food than needed when I go there.
9. Eat Produce In Season – You can get pretty much any kind of produce year-round now, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good price or that it tastes good at all. Strawberries in the winter just don’t taste right, so stick to getting them in the summer. I know that I can get apples, oranges, cabbage and potatoes in the fall and winter for a great price, so that’s when we eat them. I don’t dare try to eat asparagus at $5.00/lb, when I can wait a couple months and get it for $2.00. Doing this keeps our budget in check.
10. Look for Markdowns – I know at each of the grocery stores that I frequent, where to find their markdowns, or how their markdowns are labeled. I can travel the rounds at my favorite stores in just a few minutes and find the cheese, lunch meat, yogurt, ground beef, produce, hot dogs, bread, etc., that have all been marked down. If I have a good understanding of what their typical sale prices are, then I can decide quickly if the item is marked down sufficiently to make it a good deal.
You can learn even more strategies by reading Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half by Steve & Annette Economides. I’ve had my copy for years and they go over topics like: shopping, couponing, stocking-up, organizing, family dinnertime and gardening, just to name a few. It really is a great book for learning about all kinds of techniques for saving on food. And, on a funny note – Good Morning America called them America’s Cheapest Family.
I wrote an entire post on how to make a frugal meal plan that you may want to go read. And, if you’re looking for recipes that are naturally frugal, check out this article about using eggs as a budget stretcher. You can also try these Easy Chile Rellenos and this really quick and cheap recipe, too.
I’m excited for you to make a big dent in your grocery budget by using some of the above techniques. If you think about it, bringing down your grocery budget even 10% can save you $700 over the course of the year (based on a $600/month budget). If you follow this list every time you go shopping, you will definitely save money and stretch your family’s grocery budget.
See if you can add just one of these ideas to your grocery shopping routine. Have you already tried any of these ways to save? Or, do you have some special techniques of your own? What kind of great deals have you found? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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