One of the BEST ways to properly learn how to manage your money is to save money on groceries. Okay, let me back up. You must first learn to track your spending. Seriously, do this before you make a single change! I know you’re feeling super motivated after reading all those blog posts telling you how to get your finances together. But doing this simple step FIRST will decide the outcome for your entire financial journey! Not to sound dramatic or anything, but this will dictate the life or death of your financial freedom!
It truly helps to put your financial situation in perspective when you take a step back. This way, you can look at your behaviors from a distance. For some reason, it’s so hard to look at your spending habits when you’re in your daily life. For example, if you’re feeling drained, it can be simple to say, “I’ll eat out today because it’ll make life easier.” Or maybe even, “I’ve had a tough week, so I’ll go browse Target.” But those are terrible spending habits that need to change if you want to find financial freedom!
Trust me, I get it. I’ve done it a million times over myself. But once I sat down and looked at every penny that I spent over the course of a month… Well, let’s just say I almost cried. No joke, if I could have punched my past self in the face, I would have done it. Sometimes I still wish I could go back, but I’ve considered it lessons learned! Now, I simply refuse to allow myself to repeat those same behaviors as I continue on my financial journey.
How Does This Help Me Save Money on Groceries?
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After truly studying my spending habits last Spring, I learned that I spent way too much money on food! It was shocking that I’ve spent $110 on groceries one week, only to end up eating out every day. It’s wasteful and embarrassing. So, one of my biggest goals was to cut back on how much money I spend on food. I came up with a fool-proof plan to help me cut my grocery budget in half. This will help you, too if you follow the steps below!
1. Stop Eating Out to Save Money on Groceries
I know you’ve heard this a million times over and you’re sick of it, but seriously quit eating every meal from a drive-thru or take away box! For just one person, you could easily spend anywhere from $10-$30 just for a single meal. For my family of three, it costs at least $30-$50 every time we eat out and that’s not even taking into account the nice restaurants that would cost around $70-$90. Plus, you’re supposed to eat three times per day (minimum), so you’re looking at roughly $900-$2,700 that you’re spending on food for just yourself. You could save hundreds of dollars every month just by cooking more and eating out less!
2. Ditch the Fancy Coffees
While we’re on the subject, stop going to all those trendy coffee shops and ordering beverages that cost $7. Doing that only once per day every single day for a month is going to equal over $200! I don’t know about you, but that’s my student loan payment for the month. Just take into consideration that you don’t have to study at Starbucks. Or even grab breakfast on the way to work from Dunkin. Study at the library or somewhere else that offers quiet space. Also, try to make your coffee before you leave the house in the morning. Life hack: this will also save you time on your commute to work each day!
3. Make a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
Okay, now that I’ve made you feel bad for eating out, let’s get to the actual groceries. One of the best ways to save money on your groceries is by making a meal plan! Do it weekly while you sit in your kitchen. Then, you can glance at the food you already have available. This way, you can use items that are close to expiring to prevent being wasteful. You may also find you had something in your pantry you forgot about that you won’t have to repurchase. A great meal planner to use is this Weekly Meal Planning Bundle by momAgenda. It is a really pretty set that comes with a weekly meal planner pad and a grocery list pad. That way, you have everything you need right there in front of you!
4. Use Simple Meals
Chances are, if you’re used to eating out all the time, then you probably are not used to doing a lot of cooking. You may not be skilled in the kitchen or you could be a little rusty. So don’t plan every single meal to be extravagant. Find a few good meals you truly know how to cook and love to eat regularly. Then, occassionally add in a fancy, new recipe you found on Pinterest. Plus, you’re probably going to be exhausted from running around and working all day. By the time 6 or 7 pm rolls around, you’re not going to want to stand on your feet for an hour cooking dinner. Finding quick, easy meals helps keep you on track. Mainly because you’re less likely to talk yourself out of cooking!
5. Make Large Meals to Save Money on Groceries
If you live alone or have a small family of three like I do, then cooking huge meals may sound counter productive. On the contrary, I’ve found that I prefer cooking meals that are double the size of what we would normally eat in one night. It gives us the opportunity to have an entire extra dinner for the next night that I didn’t have to cook! If you don’t think you can eat it two days in a row, put it in the freezer. Then, you can pop it in the oven one night that you don’t feel like cooking! Or, if we don’t have enough food to make it a whole meal for the family, I’ll send the leftovers to work with my hubby. Either way we’re basically getting an extra meal for free!
6. Meal Prep
This doesn’t have to be extreme, like you’ve probably seen on YouTube where they spend one day cooking meals for an entire week. But it is a good idea! I personally like to meal prep breakfast for the week, especially for my hubby! He is out the door by 3 am every morning and you are not going to catch me cooking breakfast at 2:30 in the morning. You can call me a bad wife all day, I still won’t do it. So, to alleviate my guilt for being selfish, I like to cook his breakfast on Sunday and pack it into containers, so he can grab it and go! I usually go for breakfast burritos or biscuits that are great for travel, but do what works for you. There are tons of great ideas on Pinterest!
7. Order for Curbside Pickup
One of the only good things to come out of 2020 was the normalizing of curbside pickup. I easily save $20-$30 per week on groceries – if not much more – just from not having to step foot inside the store! For some reason, I suddenly turn into an excited Chihuahua the second I walk into a store and end up browsing aisles I have no business being on. Plus, the snacks. And don’t get me started on the home decor. Oh, and we can’t forget the tiny human who wants every toy she stumbles upon. Wow, I just realized she probably gets that from me… Nobody tell my hubby! As far as he’s concerned, I am a queen for mastering how to save money on groceries!
8. Use Store Brand Items to Save Money on Groceries
This feels illegal to say, but I buy store brand items the majority of the time. I’ll give you a few examples because I know people will literally fight me on this. Eggs. I know someone who worked for an egg plant that sorted all the eggs into each brand’s cartons. He swears that those eggs come from the same place, so get the cheap ones. Canned goods. I only buy brand name canned goods if the store brand is sold out or they’re having a sale on them. Frozen veggies. I only buy a couple of frozen veggie options because fresh is better, but store brand tastes just like name brand to me. The one y’all are really going to hate? Toilet paper. I have only bought name brand toilet paper once after getting my own place and frankly it sucked.
9. Shop Sales and Coupons
This is slightly more annoying because it takes some work on your part, but buying more expensive items only when they’re on sale or if you have a coupon for them is a great way to save money on groceries. Unfortunately, you have to sit down and look at weekly sale ads to try to find the best deals, but if you have a little extra time and don’t mind putting in the work, you can truly save some money. This was a huge money saver for me when I was pregnant with my daughter. My Mom and Granny would use coupons in combination with sales on diapers at CVS over the course of about 7 months, and I genuinely did not have to buy a single diaper until after my daughter’s first birthday!
10. Get Cash Back
Sometimes there won’t be any good sales or coupons available that week. So, a great way to save money on groceries is to use apps that give you cash for buying groceries! I love Ibotta because they have new deals every time I log on, which are available at a variety of stores. For example, this week I ordered groceries from Walmart and got $9.45 back! And you can cash out through PayPal! I’ve also started using Fetch, which works a little differently because you earn points versus cash and then those points can be redeemed for gift cards. Thankfully, they have gift cards to tons of stores and restaurants we all use, like Amazon and Target. My Granny actually earned $50 on Fetch over the last few weeks and got a gift card that she gave to my cousin as a present!
Those are my top ten tips to save money on groceries each week! I’ve personally been using a lot of these over the last couple of months and have cut my monthly food spending in HALF. I plan to work even better at this next year to help save more money that can go towards my dreaded student loans!
Do you have any great tips to save money on groceries? Let us know in the comments below!