Who LOVES throwing all of their money away at the grocery store? You don't?! Whew, good! I'm sharing some of my best hacks with you today if you're grocery shopping on a budget! Come learn how to spot the best prices and the cheapest products. You'll be feeling like the money-saving champion that you are at the end of it!
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Alright, you made it! Are you ready to read on for a recap for some great grocery shopping hacks on a budget? Let's go!
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GROCERY SHOPPING HACKS
These tips and tricks will help you to save a lot of money when you're grocery shopping on a budget. You can thank me later when your pantry and fridge are full without breaking the bank!
GENERIC BRAND VERSUS NAME BRAND
Name brand foods are often marked up to twice as much as the store brand (or off-brand, generic, whatever you call it). People assume that the price is higher because it's better quality, but that's not always the case! The price is higher because you're paying for product testing, commercials, advertising… That's a lot of extra overhead that they have to cover.
Did you know that most of the time, store brand food is made in the EXACT SAME factory as the name brand? It just gets a different packaging. This is NOT something that I'm making up! I've been on Rachael Ray four times, and each time she has verified that this is true.
Buying the store brand is a GREAT way to save money when you're grocery shopping. Don't worry about the label, worry about the product inside of it. You'll save at least half of what you would pay for most items – true story! You're welcome 😉
HOW TO SPOT A GOOD DEAL
Sometimes the name brand goes on sale. So is it a better deal than the store brand or is it still more expensive? There is a trick to always know how to find the best deals when you're grocery shopping – look at the price tag. Pretty much every grocery store will tell you what the price is for that item, but it'll also show you the price per unit or ounce.
The most important thing to do is to check that price per unit and compare it between all of the brands. This will let you know if it really is the best value!
BUY IN BULK
Most of the time, buying the larger package may cost a little bit more upfront, but will save you money in the long run. The price per unit is usually much less in the larger package versus the smaller package. Even if you won't use it all right now, you can package it in smaller amounts and freeze it to help it last longer.
With that being said, make sure that you always check the price tag. Sometimes, biggest is not always cheapest. So just double check the tag for the price per ounce before buying in bulk!
CHOP, DIVIDE, AND PACKAGE THINGS YOURSELF
When grocery shopping, it's really tempting to go to the section of the store that has all of the chopped and pre-packed fruits and veggies. The work has been done for you – those fruits and veggies are just sitting there, waiting for you to buy them without having to lift a finger to prepare them. But don't fall for it! You are going to pay AT LEAST double for those prepackaged foods!
Oh and here's a PSA for ya, when things are pre-chopped, they get chemicals put on them to keep them from going brown and mushy and gross. I don't know about you, but the last thing that I need is to put more chemicals in my body! So say no to the pre-chopped and buy it whole. Buy it, chop it, and package it yourself. Not only will you save money, but you'll stay away from the chemicals, too!
GROCERY SHOPPING AT EYE LEVEL IS A NO-NO
My next grocery shopping tip is to not shop at eye level. Because guess what? Companies pay a lot of money for their brands to be at eye level. I'll let you in on a little secret – the cheaper stuff is at the bottom. If you go down a couple of racks, you are going to save so much money!
LOOK AT THE DATES WHEN GROCERY SHOPPING
Usually the oldest product will be at the front of the shelf. If you reach to the back of the shelf, you may find a date that is up to a week fresher. Grab the freshest product that you can! It'll last way longer and will help you to not be wasteful and not have to throw food out that goes bad before you can finish it.
GROCERY SHOPPING AND SALES
Are you one of the crazies like me that runs to an item when you see that glorious sale sticker that lets you know that something is at a discounted rate? I've got a few tips on how to grocery shop the sales stickers so that you know when to buy and when to pass.
STOCK UP WHEN ITEMS ARE ON SALE
When you find a sale item that is a REALLY good deal, stock up on it! If it's something that will keep in the pantry, or you can freeze and it won't go bad before you use it, then buy as many as the budget will allow.
My “formula” is to buy at least 3 – one for now and two for later. That way, you're saving money and slowly building a stockpile. This keeps you from running to the store the next time that you need this item and paying full price. You've got your own little stockpile and you can focus on shelf cooking!
DON'T BE TRICKED BY GROCERY SALES STICKERS
Now I know that I just told you to stock up when you see a sale, but don't be tricked by a sales sticker. Just because something says that it's on sale doesn't mean that it's necessarily a GREAT deal worth impulse buying and blowing your budget.
Don't be led to buy an item, whether you need it or not, just because you're excited about the sale! If you're only saving 20 cents, then it probably isn't worth buying it unless you were already planning on it. Do the math to make sure that it's worth it!
LOOK FOR SALES STICKERS IN THE MEAT SECTION
Another great tip when you're grocery shopping on a budget – keep an eye out for the sales stickers in the meat section. I promise that they're not trying to sell you rotten meat! They don't want you to sue them, so they're not going to sell you something that has gone bad.
These sale stickers just mean that it's getting close to their “sell by” date and they want to move that product off of their shelves. Buy what your budget will allow and take it home. Then you can either plan a meal around it before it goes bad or you can freeze it with a vacuum sealer, or in freezer bags, for later.
GROCERY SHOPPING PRICE NOTEBOOK
How do you know if something is a good price if it doesn't have a big sale sticker on it? Sometimes it's really tricky to keep all of the “good prices” straight in your head. I mean, we've got more to worry about than the price of chicken, right?
My best tip for this is to keep a price notebook. It can literally be a little notebook that you carry around with you while you're grocery shopping at the store, or you can keep the notes in your phone (Hello 2019!).
Whatever it is that you use, put down the prices for your typical grocery items that you buy. This lets you know what your basepoint is for each item. Then when you're at the store and you see something that's below that amount, you know that it's a good deal and that you could probably stock up on it. The more you do this, the more you'll learn about your prices and you'll be able to snag all of the good deals!
LEARN WHAT FREEZER MEALS YOU CAN MAKE
Alright, this is it. This is the big kahuna. This is the big mother lode grocery shopping hack of all hacks. Head to the freezer section, not to buy anything, but to LEARN what you can make and freeze at home! You will pay two to three times more for the pre-made frozen meals at the store than what you would spend making it at home.
Start off by finding an item in the freezer section. Take note of what ingredients they use to make that food, buy those ingredients at the store, and take them home to make that food yourself for a fraction of the price.
This is literally how I know what I can make and freeze at home! If it's frozen at the store, then you can freeze it at home. Don't buy it, make it yourself. It's more affordable, has the chance of being healthier, and now you've got a freezer stocked with homemade food! Huge win for families everywhere!
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So there you have it! Those are some of my tips and hacks for grocery shopping on a budget. Do you have any? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!
If you need more help with your budget, don't forget about my Secret Sauce online budgeting program, Budget Boot Camp! It's a super fun video program that makes money easy to understand. All you need is a screen and you're set!
And don't forget, if you don't save AT LEAST what you paid for the program, I'll refund every dime. You've got nothing to lose! Use the code FCFBLOG to get an extra 10% off, because I love you 😉
Do you need more food and grocery ideas?
- Learn how to store groceries and other food hacks!
- Check out even more tips on how I grocery shop HERE.
- You can cut down on your grocery bill and waste by inventorying your freezer, fridge and pantry before going to the grocery store.
Peace out, Freebs!