Do you know how much of your money is going straight to your stomach?
When we first started budgeting, we were shocked to realize we were wasting almost $600 per month on food and restaurants-for basically a family of 2! (The baby didn’t really eat much at the time.)
Everything else in the budget felt pretty tight, so it became my mission to find a way for us to eat well while spending much less. We decided to cut out restaurants completely and then began experimenting with different ways to keep our grocery budget it check. Within a month, we managed to cut our food budget in half.
Now we spend between $300-$350 per month on food for our family of three. We still eat fruits, vegetables and meat. In fact, I would say we eat healthier now than we did when we were spending $600 per month. Thanks to these 13 tricks, we can eat well and spend less.
At the end of this post you can get your own FREE Super Market Survival Kit with a printable cheat sheet of this list, meal planning templates, grocery list templates, a modified plan for beginners and extra tips to help set you up for money saving success.
For my beginners and creative minds: This post may include all of your least favorite things-planning, adding, limits, maybe even cooking. Being organized with your food isn’t fun, but it’s necessary. Think of all the other things you could do with the money you are currently wasting on food. Use your dreams to push you through the boring. Skim through this post and then focus on the schedule for beginners included in the Supermarket Survival Kit. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. Remember our goal setting principles– little changes make all the difference. You can do this! Don’t forget to sign up for the Supermarket Survival Kit to get a simplified, step by step plan just for you!
How to Save 100’s on Food Each Month
Before you go to the store:
1. Find the cheapest option.
Where you shop can make a huge difference in your bill. Yesterday, I went to Costco and saw an item was $5 less than the same item I had purchased on impulse at another grocery store. Ouch. I try to do all of my shopping at Aldi and Costco. If those options aren’t available in your area, do some research and ask around for the cheap store nearby.
2. Look at sales flyers.
I hate coupons. All that paper floating around in my wallet stresses me out. I do, however, look at sales flyers. You can always incorporate on sale items into your menu to take advantage of the savings.
Some people look at sales flyers and then go to several stores to get the best deals. You can save money that way, but it takes up a lot more time and patience than I have. For me, saving time and staying sane is worth more than a few extra dollars. You have to find a system that works for you and makes sense with your life.
3. Plan your meals.
I know this takes time but one of the biggest money saving hacks for the grocery store is to plan ahead. Plan what everyone is going to eat for the week- don’t forget breakfast and lunch!
To help make meal planning even easier, you can download a meal planning template in the Super Market Survival Kit. There is also a great service called $5 Meal Plan that does all the planning for you for only $5 a month. You can click here to get a FREE 14 Day Trial (affiliate link).
4. Make a shopping list.
As you are meal planning, write down everything that you will need to purchase in order to make your meals. Be sure to look through your cupboards and fridge for things you already have so that you aren’t overbuying or letting things go to waste. Guess what?! There is an awesome template for that too in the Super Market Survival Kit.
5. Plan to buy everything at once.
The less you go to the store, the more you save. Every time you walk into the store you are putting yourself in front of temptations. If you are able to plan for a whole month-do it! You will save yourself a ton of time and money. I recommend planning for at least a week at a time but the further you can push yourself, the better.
6. Have a budget in mind
In addition to your grocery list, you need to have a budget or a cut-off point in mind. For example, let’s say you plan to spend $50 on groceries this week. Once you hit that $50 mark, you stop putting things in the cart and head for the checkout. You may need to make adjustments to your meal plan (or your budget) if you notice you are going to go over. Weigh the pros and cons of both options and decide what is best for you.
7. Use Ibotta
I love Ibotta. The power of coupons without all the paper. It is a super easy to use cash back app. Before I go to the store, I look through the app for any rebates that match items already on my list. After I go shopping, I scan my receipt and boom! Cash back comes rolling in. Once you earn $20, you can request for the money to be deposited in your account. It’s that easy. If you’ve never tried Ibotta, you should click here (affiliate link) and try it out. It is 100% free and they give you $10 just for signing up.
At the store:
8. Add as you go.
How will you know when you get to that $50 mark (or whatever your budget may be)? You are that nerd adding with your phone or calculator as you go. It’s a pain, yes, but it makes a huuuuuge difference. There are never surprises at the register because you know ahead of time exactly how much you spent. Adding also gives you super willpower that propels you past those temptations. Seeing your spending add up is a game changer! You pay more attention to prices, look for the cheapest option, and think through and extra purchases. It sounds crazy, I know, but it works. You have to try it to believe it.
9. Stick to your list.
Unless you end up under budget, don’t buy anything that isn’t on your list. What you need to get through the week has to come first. If there is extra money, then you can add extra purchases.
10. Use cash/your limit.
I feel the same way about cash as I do coupons. It feels messy and stressful to me. However, having a finite limit and handing bills to the cashier does make me much more conscious of how much I am spending. If we have cash on hand, I always use it at the grocery store. If not, I make sure to stick to my limit and add as I go.
During the week:
11. Follow your meal plan.
This part is always hard. In order for this to work, you have to actually follow the plan you made. (Loosely, you can switch around when you cook what. But, you need to cook.) Find a system that works for you. Maybe it’s Sunday meal prep and then putting everything in the freezer. If you know you get home late on Tuesdays, do a crock pot meal. Whatever you do, DON’T let “I’m too tired to cook” derail your efforts. Convenience items and meals out are a quick way to destroy your budget. Stay focused. You are living this life because you have a goal. Be disciplined, stick to the plan. Your goal is more important than how you feel today.
12. Use leftovers
Have you ever thought about the fact that every time you throw food away that’s money you’re putting in the trash? Don’t let food go to waste! Take leftovers for lunch, re-purpose them into a new meal, feed them to the dog, whatever you do, don’t send them to the trash!!
13. Stay away from the store
Remember how I said less is more? Unless you ran out of a life staple, like milk in our house, don’t go back to the store. Be creative with what you have and push yourself until your next scheduled shopping trip. Quick trips to the store often mean you quickly ruin your budget with extra purchases and overspending.
That’s it! Now that you have these 13 super helpful tricks under your belt, you are ready to tackle that grocery budget and start saving some money. Don’t forget to sign up for your Super Market Survival Kit before you go!
For Beginners/Creative Minds
You made it to the end! If you have never done any of this before, it may sound like a lot of work and you probably feel overwhelmed. Stop. Take a deep breath.
Like we talk about in the goal setting principles, if you want to succeed, you have to tackle this monster little by little. If you add your email below, I will send you a step by step plan to help you take control of your grocery budget and start using that money for more exciting adventures.
Come on, give it a try! What have you got to lose? Add your email below to get your Supermarket Survival Kit!
Mom. Writer. Lover of all things DIY. My mission is to empower my fellow creatives to show money who’s boss, ditch debt and follow their dreams. Achieving debt freedom isn’t easy but our dreams are worth it!