- Keep a running list of things you need as they start to run out. I use a dry erase board on my fridge. This helps you save time when you are making your grocery list.
- Plan a menu. Decide whether you are going to plan your menu weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Make a list of enough meals to get you through that period of time. Start by making a list of meals you can make using at least some ingredients you already have on hand. Add whatever else you need to your grocery list. Remember you can plan leftovers or date nights out. I typically end up with more meals than I actually use but it helps to have some extra options. This way I already have a few meals for when I make my next menu.
- Use your leftovers. Many of my meals make much more than my husband and I can eat in one sitting so I do my best to think of how to use these leftovers. One thing he does is take these for his lunches. I also try to plan other ways to use them for different meals. My beans and rice that I make for fajitas for example makes great burritos or stuffed peppers. Another example, is when I make meatballs I always freeze the extras. This way, I can use them again later without the fuss of going through preparing them. I just pull them out of the freezer and throw them in a pot on the stove with some pasta sauce and allow them to heat through.
- Make your meals from scratch. I know it is tempting to buy already made meals, but you really do save money when you make it yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I do try to make from scratch as much as possible but I still sometimes pick up something easy like a frozen pasta dish or pizza so I can have a quick meal and I won’t judge you if you do this too. Just keep in mind that you can save money this way.
- Have breakfast for dinner or go meat-less. Every other week or so I plan a dinner with eggs like fritatta or omelets. Eggs are typically inexpensive and a good way to get some protein without meat. I also plan other inexpensive breakfasts like pancakes, crepes or waffles. Meat-less meals are cheaper too since meat can be the most expensive part of a lot of meals.
- Look through the sales papers (or online) to see what is on sale the week you plan to go shopping. If you find a good deal on something, figure out how you could use that ingredient as a part of your meal plan.
- Compare the prices based on size. Two similar items might cost the same, but one may have more ounces. This one would be the better deal because you are getting more per ounce.
- Stock up when you find a good price. I know my grocery store has a good sale on chicken large packs of chicken once a month. I know I won’t use it all right away, but I can easily freeze it and have enough to get me by until it goes on sale again.
- Stick to your list. Try not to buy too many ‘extra’ things when you are shopping. It is tempting to buy that cake or those cookies, but do you really need that? If you find a great deal on something you will use go for it, but just be careful of adding too many things to your cart that you had not originally planned for. I have also found that it is easier to stick to my list when it is organized by type like produce, meat, dairy etc. This way I can more easily find the items on my list as I go through the store. I use Out of Milk, an app on my tablet for my list.
- Be aware of grocery store gimmicks. Most stores place higher priced items at eye level to entice you grab what you see. You’re also more likely to see things in the middle aisles or on the end-caps that they want to you pick up. Unless it’s a great deal or you really need it, resist these temptations.
- Don’t be too picky about brands. Many store brand items are the same as their name brand counter-parts. If the store brand is cheaper, at least try it once to see if you like it.
- Find coupons for sale items. If you get a sales paper or know someone who will give you the coupons from them that’s great, but I don’t think that this is necessary. I have honestly not been using the newspaper coupons much lately and still am able to save on my groceries. I use m-perks digital coupons for Meijer. If I see a coupon for something I might need I clip it online and then just enter my code at checkout. Another way is to print coupons through websites like coupons.com. Target also has good coupons as well as the new cartwheel app, and they allow you to match them with manufacturer coupons which can add up to some great deals. My word of caution with coupons is to only use them on things you would normally buy. Sure you can get a great deal on cat food but what good is it if you don’t even own a cat!?
- Be willing to shop at more than one store. Lately, I have shopped at Aldi about once a month where I stock up on things like eggs, milk and any other staples they have. Then I go to Meijer to get produce, meat and anything that is on sale I might need. I don’t get produce and meat from Aldi because I don’t like the selection at the store near me.
- Don’t shop hungry. This seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I went shopping just before lunch and picked up a few extra things just because it sounded good.
- When buying produce, try to stick with what’s in season. During the fall you’ll get great deals on apples and squash but the strawberries might be priced higher than in the early to mid summer months. Since I use strawberries for my smoothies, I buy them frozen when they aren’t in season.
These are all tips that I use when shopping for my own groceries. I hope that you found something helpful that you can start using right away and begin seeing the savings on your grocery bills!
Which tips above have worked well for you? Which ones do you find most helpful?
What other tips do you have for saving money on grocery shopping?