How to save money on groceries is one of the most common questions I get, so I’m happy that Andrea Woroch is sharing these 10 terrific grocery-saving tips with us that anyone can do!
It’s common knowledge that cooking every meal at home is a surefire way to reduce money spent on food, but finding the time is usually the biggest battle families face. Most nights, it’s just so much easier to pick-up prepared food or order take out when you’re shuttling from school to soccer practice to dance recital.
And, forget about clipping coupons or driving around town to hunt down the best grocery sales—what busy mom has time for that? Luckily, there are a few simple grocery shopping and meal prep strategies that you can follow to reduce spending on food while keeping everyone in your family healthy and satisfied, and keeping you sane.
Read on for my top grocery hacks to keep food on the table and more money in your vacation fund!
1. Browse weekly circulars- digitally.
Creating meal plans based on sales cycles featured in your grocery store circulars is the premier way to save money on meals. However, you don’t have to settle for the Sunday inserts to find out what’s on sale this week; you can also scan weekly ads digitally using Flipp. This website and mobile app features the latest circulars from grocers, drugstores and big-box stores, ranging from Albertsons to Sprouts to Walmart.
2. Print the coupons you need.
Reviewing Sunday circulars for manufacturer’s coupons is a tried-and-true method for saving on groceries, but who has the time for such a tedious task? Instead, consult your grocery list and search for specific brand coupons online through sites like CouponSherpa.com. For example, you can currently find $3 off Tide PODS from Kroger, $1 off any two boxes of Cheerios, and $1 off any one-pound package of Jennie-O turkey breast. You can even find savings for fresh produce like cucumbers using healthy offers grocery coupons.
3. Use money-saving apps.
Cash-back apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 are great tools to save money during your grocery trips. Walmart’s Savings Catcher takes the work out of comparing circulars between grocers, offering store credit whenever something you purchased is advertised for less elsewhere. And Target’s Cartwheel offers additional savings on rotating products, some of which can be applied after purchase if a coupon becomes available within a certain timeframe. In most cases, these apps only require a couple minutes of your time, which you can easily spare while waiting in line at checkout. (Bonus: using these apps will keep you from any impulse buys at checkout, too!)
4. Stock up during sale time.
You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to take advantage of sale and coupon match-ups. When you find coupons for products you typically buy that are also on sale, stock up so you can spend less on these staple items and reduce your trips to the grocery store. Since you likely don’t have time to research these match-ups, consult experts like TheKrazyCouponLady.com to find out what you can buy on the cheap each week using sales and coupons.
5. Look for manager markdowns.
Meat takes the biggest bite from your grocery budget, but it’s not exactly something you can cut out from your family’s diet. You’re growing kids need protein and energy to stay healthy for their active lives! To save on your family’s favorite meats, always search for manager markdowns to find big savings of up to 50% off on steak, chicken, pork or even fish nearing it’s expiration date. Cook what you want to eat right away then freeze the rest for later so it doesn’t spoil. You may even consider implementing “Meatless Mondays” to cut back on the cost of meat once a week. There are plenty of unique recipes that allow you to get creative with new foods without skimping on taste.
6. Don’t forget frozen.
Shopping in season for fruits and vegetables is key to saving money on fresh produce. If tonight’s dinner calls for product that’s not in season (and therefore exorbitantly priced), head to your frozen foods’ section for a less-costly alternative. Produce is flash frozen at peak ripeness and nutrient level, making it just as healthy as fresh for much less cost. March is National Frozen Food Month, so look for deep discounts on frozen produce and meals, and stock up on your family’s favorites! They key to avoiding the need to dial for pizza delivery, is keeping some healthy frozen foods in the freezer for meals on the fly!
7. Opt for boxed over baked.
Pre-made goodies from your grocer’s bakery represent some of the industry’s highest markups, with cakes, cupcakes and cookies often costing 300% more than their ingredients. Since making these items from scratch is time-consuming, consider picking up a few boxed mixes for an inexpensive alternative that yields fresh-tasting confections in a fraction of the time. You can often find boxed mixes for muffins, cakes, brownies and cookies for $1 each, and only require the addition of household staples like eggs, oil and water.
8. Try generic brands for basic ingredients.
Everyone has their favorite brand of ketchup or peanut butter, but some ingredients can easily be purchased as non-brand names without sacrificing flavor. Canned goods, dried pasta and even spices are good examples of generic or store brands that are just as good as name brands. In some cases, you may need to conduct a taste test, but typically basic ingredients that are mixed in with other flavors to prepare a meal can be purchased as store brands. This strategy can save you 30 to 50-percent!
9. Prepare more than you need.
Even if you only have a family of three, prepare meals like you’re cooking for double the amount so you can save leftovers for later. These large portions can be used as lunch for parents, an afternoon snack for teens or as a ready-made dinner for kids when you’re short on time. Not only does this strategy trim your time in the kitchen, but it also reduces the amount of food waste since many recipes designed for just a couple people only use a fraction of the ingredients you purchase.
10. Freeze leftovers for quick meals.
If your family isn’t a fan of leftovers, freeze whatever you don’t eat for use later in the month. Most meals can save for six months and are great for those evenings when you’re tempted to do takeout. For all the planners out there, this tip is especially welcome: designate one weekend day a month to prepare several meals and freeze most of what you create for later consumption. That way, you not only have meals available, but a variety of choices to boot!