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When you look at your monthly spending, are you blown away by how much went to food?! Me too! Have you seen the extreme couponing shows that buy $100 worth of groceries for $2?! Me too! But who has time for all that couponing? Not me! And I don’t the time or the patience for making multiple trips schlepping two kids to various stores to maximize the benefits. Before you start feeding your family Beanie Weenies (anyone else eat cut up hot dogs in baked beans as a kid?) here are a some tips to help cut your grocery bill in half.
- Shop the sales! Check out the weekly ad for your favorite grocery store. Here in South Florida, Publix is my go-to. Honestly, Publix sale prices are often better than Walmart’s “everyday low price”. Stock up on the Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) items that you know your family will use. Paper items like plates, napkins, tissues, and toilet paper have a forever shelf life so they won’t go bad and need to be thrown out. Laundry detergent is another item that is a BOGO frequently and there will ALWAYS be dirty clothes that need washed! But don’t buy things just because they are on sale. Eventually, almost everything goes on sale. So if you don’t have to have it, wait it out.
- Eat in instead of out! Pizza night is such a fun family bonding experience! Grab the dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings from the grocery store and everyone gets to make their own pizza at home! You will end up spending less money than buying pies from your local pizza joint. There are also so many copy cat recipes online for your favorite menu items at restaurants. Get your kids in the kitchen! It encourages them to explore their cooking creativity and saves you money!
- Don’t be brand specific. If you are flexible in the brands you buy, your dollar will stretch much farther at the grocery store. And when brand name items aren’t on sale, the store brand items are very comparable and much cheaper. Almost every week, a different laundry detergent is on sale. I always wait for a BOGO, and I find that generally, they all clean clothes the same.
- Make friends with your freezer. When meat is on super sale, that is the time to stock up! Every so often, my grocery store will have their organic chicken on BOGO. I fill up my cart! Don’t forget the freezer bags!
- Leftovers. Spaghetti is one of those foods that is even better the second night! Also, making bigger batches of food and freezing them for later not only saves money but time, too! Even if you just make enough for lunch the next day, that’s one less mean to plan, make, and buy.
- Stockpile! Generally, different items go on sale every 6-8 weeks so buy enough to get your family through until the next sale. If you don’t buy enough, you will be forced to buy that item at full price when you run out. This might seem backwards to buy MORE than you normally would instead of less. However, because you are shopping the sales and buying items that you know your family will use or eat, your grocery bill will go down. You will end up shopping from your own pantry, rather than having to run to the grocery store for one or two items. It will take 6-8 weeks to stockpile your pantry, and realistically that long to really see a big decrease in your overall grocery bill. I made a special section in my laundry room to hold extra items that I don’t have room for in my kitchen.
- On that note, try not to go to the grocery store for just a few items. More often than not, you will end up buying extra things that you don’t even need. And DEFINITELY never go to the grocery store when you’re hungry!
- Know your sales. Just because an item is “on sale” doesn’t mean it’s a great deal. 2/$5 isn’t a big sale when the original price is $2.65. (That’s a $0.30 savings if you’re doing the math.) Ideally, you should be looking for sales of 30-50% off the regular price. I have a hard time getting my husband to understand this! He will come home with so many things that were “on sale”. For that reason, I usually do the majority of the grocery shopping! As a mom of two baby girls, sometimes going to the grocery store seems like a vacation!
- Take out that Crock Pot! Not only does it save you time cooking, but it can take cheaper, tougher meats and turn them into yummy tender goodness! Walk in the house after a long day at work and smell a delicious dinner that’s ready for you and your family to eat! The Crock Pot is also an easy way to make extra meals to freeze for later. This is the crock pot I have and it’s just awesome! It has a timer to set for while you’re out of the house and high, low, and warm settings. Plus the lid seals tight for transporting to a potluck or family get together!
- Eat less meat. There are so many recipes on Pinterest for meatless dinners! And when you do buy meat, make sure it’s on sale! NEVER ever pay full price for meat. This is hard for my family, but we make a meatless chili and all kinds of soups that call for less meat than your average dinner. You can also make these in your crock pot! Win/win!
- Plant an herb garden. A whole potted plant costs almost the same as a small package of already cut herbs. But you will get so many more meals out of a potted plant than you will an individual package! Don’t forget to water them and observe their sunlight needs!
- Stick to the Clean 15. We eat mostly organic fruits, veggies, and especially meat and dairy. But it can get expensive! In order to stretch the budget and get more food for the money, I will buy some fruits and veggies from the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 list. Avocado, pineapple, onions, asparagus, and mangos are all on the list of foods that are sprayed with less pesticides and are safer to eat in the conventional, non-organic version. Corn is on the list, but corn is often planted with genetically modified seeds (GMOs) and I avoid those. There are frozen versions that are reasonable and taste just as good! See the full list of the Clean 15 here.
- Plan your meals from the sale ads. Find what meats are on sale that week (and stock up if they are BOGO) and base your menu around that. Instead of winging it and running to the store every night, you will save time (and money by preventing impulse purchases) by planing ahead and also pulling things out of your stockpiled pantry.
- Ibotta app. If you haven’t heard of Ibotta, you’re missing out big time! It’s basically a coupon app. Every time I go to the grocery store, I open the app and see if any items I bought are on the list of rebates. Almost every time there is a $0.25 coupon for buying ANY item, but many times items I’ve purchased are on the list. Some things are generic like any brand of bread or any brand of fruit, and others are brand specific. If you have time, you can create your grocery list by looking at the Ibotta app first, but too often I forget to look before hand and since I’m shopping the sale ad, those are usually better deals. It’s a quick process and every little bit adds up. Once you reach $20, they will automatically deposit the money to your bank account. Click this link for a $10 welcome bonus!
- Amazon Prime. I often find great deals on diapers, baby wipes, and other household items on Amazon. There is nothing like ordering something and it arriving at your door step in two days without ever having to leave the house. You can subscribe and save for an additional 5-15% off and it will ship automatically at the frequency you prefer. If you end up not needing the item as soon as you thought, you can easily change the delivery date. Also, Amazon has awesome customer service! I just bought 12 lightbulbs for $12 and two of them arrived broken. I called to have replacements sent and instead they credited me $6! And you never have to wait on hold. Tell them online that you need to speak to customer service and they call you immediately. Find other benefits to Amazon Prime here.
- Shop around! If you have the time and patience to stop at another store, it could save you quite a bit of money. Trader Joe’s has a huge selection of organic fruits and veggies, fresh and frozen that are often much cheaper than my grocery store. They also have a better deal on some meats, cheeses, chips, and canned foods. My local Trader Joe’s is about 15 minutes further from home than my local grocery store, so when I make a trip, I really stock up on the things I know my family will use! They also have their own brand of shampoo, conditioner, dog treats, and wine (among many other things) that are very reasonably priced.
- Ebates. This pertains more than just your grocery bill, but when shopping on Amazon, you can save even more money. Ebates gives you cash back to almost every online retailer that you can think of from pet food companies to Old Navy when you’re shopping for back to school clothes. It’s FREE and it’s so easy! Sign up here and get $10 just for signing up! All you have to do is go to Ebates.com before going to the retail site you want to make a purchase from. Search for the company name, click on it, and you are automatically redirected to that retailer and any purchases made gives you cash back! There’s no catch! It’s really that easy! I used to always forget to go to Ebates first until I found this link that allows Ebates to automatically pop up when you go to any retail site. Click a button to activate Ebates, and you will get cash back on your purchase.
- Coupons. If you use the tips above, you will notice a dramatic decrease in your grocery bill. And I don’t recommend going out and buying 20 Sunday papers just for the coupons. After all, the Sunday paper is $2 each! That’s not realistic to only save a couple of dollars. We get the Sunday paper (one copy) and generally it’s hit or miss if items I typically use or go on sale are in the coupon books. Also, look through your mail on Wednesdays as there is usually a Money Saver coupon book in there. My grocery store also has digital coupons which are free and no need to purchase a Sunday paper. I simply sign into their website and click coupons for items that I use. Then, at check out, I enter my phone number and it automatically applies the coupons to correlating purchases. Super simple!
I hope these tips help you lower your grocery bill! After all, the average family spends 10% of their income on food! That is just crazy! But we all have to eat! Comment below with your money-saving tips!
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