The average American spends 6% of their budget on groceries and 5% on eating out.
Take a few seconds to calculate if you’re below average or above average. If you value taste and enjoy food, odds are your grocery budget comes in at above-average.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Are you tired of going over your monthly budget with the high cost of groceries? Keep reading to learn how to save money on food and still feast like a king or queen.
Start with Weekly or Monthly Menus
To save money on groceries, many people start by creating weekly or even monthly menus.
Start with a blank calendar, then fill in each day with a planned meal. Think about your family’s schedule and plan meals accordingly.
For example, if you have a busy day full of work followed by your children’s activities, make that day’s dinner a crockpot meal. Then, for weekends, plan for meals that take more time to create. Don’t forget to also include days for eating up any leftovers you may accumulate.
Try to include all meals, not just dinner. You can also add in a pre-planned snack for each day if that’s a priority.
Always Create a Shopping List
Once you’ve created your menu, build your shopping list around it.
Knowing what meals you plan to cook tells you exactly what items you need from the grocery store. This will prevent you from wandering around the store, trying to think of possible meals as you shop.
This will also eliminate buying ingredients you may already have at home or impulse-buying food items you don’t actually need.
Stick to a Budget
It’s important to set a budget and stick to it.
Start by evaluating your recent grocery spending habits. Go back a few months and add up all your grocery trip receipts to figure out what you’ve been spending.
Then, create a monthly dollar amount a little lower than what you’ve been spending. It’s unlikely that you’re going to drastically reduce your budget in the first month. Instead, aim for a lower and lower amount month after month as you get used to your new shopping habits.
If you want to get really specific, you can separate your budget even further. Set different amounts to spend on specific categories, such as meat, paper goods, and produce. This will pinpoint exactly where you’re spending the majority of your money.
Also, consider including a line in your budget for eating out. Odds are you aren’t going to give up eating at restaurants with your friends, and we don’t expect you to! Instead, set aside a certain amount you’re comfortable with spending on restaurants each month.
Embrace the Discount Stores
Name-brand stores are familiar and easy to shop at, but they are also often more expensive than alternatives. Instead, discover some of the discount grocery stores in your area.
Many times, these stores carry the same exact food items, just not the brand names. Buying generic items is a great money-saving tool.
Also, consider any scratch or dent stores in your area. These often carry items like canned goods that have been damaged and removed from store shelves. Often times, these items are heavily discounted, but the contents inside the package aren’t actually damaged.
Remember the days when your mom used to grocery shop with a huge coupon booklet? Gone are the days of the physical coupons, but that doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t coupon.
Instead, embrace digital coupons!
Many websites, like this site, offer coupons for your favorite stores or brands. Screenshot the coupons on your phone, or print them out if you’re old-school. Looking for coupons based on your shopping list can help bring that grocery bill down!
Also, if you frequently shop at the same stores, look into their rewards or coupon programs. Many stores use apps that combine both these aspects to bring you savings with just the click of a button.
Try Meal Prepping
Another way how to save money on groceries is through meal prepping.
After a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour cooking a meal for your family that they may or may not like. All that wasted time, and for what? For your child to tell you that they don’t like the roast.
Instead, meal prepping is a great way to save time and help you avoid ordering take out. The more you stick to your plan of home-cooked meals, the more money you save.
Start the week on Sunday by looking over your upcoming menu. Think about what you could cook ahead on your day off.
Spend the day cutting up produce, pre-cooking meats, and creating marinades. These are all time-saving activities that will start your week off on the right foot financially.
Consider Buying in Bulk
The last tip to save money on groceries is to try buying in bulk.
All price labels have two prices listed — the overall price of the item and the unit price. The unit price takes the total cost of the item and divides it by a unit of measure.
For example, a 24-ounce jar of alfredo sauce may cost $2. Then you divide the $2 by 24 to get a unit price of $0.08 per ounce.
The great thing is that the store labels automatically calculate this price for you. Then, you compare unit prices between the 24-ounce jar and the 67-ounce jar. Odds are, you’ll find that the bulk packages offer a lower unit price.
If the food item is something you use often while cooking, you’ll save money over time by buying the bigger package.
Now You Know How to Save Money on Food
Using these tips, you now know how to save money on food.
Saving money on food doesn’t mean eating ramen noodles and grilled cheese sandwiches for the rest of your life. Instead, you can save money and still eat like royalty using these tips. All it takes is a little preparation and savvy shopping!
Looking for more ways to trim your budget and increase the cash in your wallet? Head over to the money section of this site for more great tips like these.