Did you know that second to a mortgage, the average American's next highest bill is their grocery bill? Crazy-sauce, I know. We've got some grocery shopping tips and tricks that will help you save BIG on groceries without using coupons…
I mean, don't get me wrong, we all need to eat. But… did you know that you do NOT have to pay full-price for fresh, quality, healthy, and even organic groceries? What I'm about to teach you can work for you! It doesn't matter if you have special dietary restrictions, how many teenagers you have, or even where you live in the world. This principle is universal. Let me show you how easy it is to simplify your grocery shopping and cut your grocery bill in half!
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COMMON GROCERY QUESTIONS:
- How much should I spend on groceries per month?
- How can I spend less money on food?
- What's a reasonable food budget?
- What groceries should I buy or stock up on?
- How do I budget for groceries?
- Where can I find the cheapest groceries?
There are so many questions! And we totally get why; you can easily spend $1000's of dollars on food if you don't watch your food budget. Let's dive right in and answer some of these questions for you.
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Click HERE to watch the video over how much to spend on groceries online, or keep scrolling to see my most recent grocery shopping tips and tricks:
Alright, here's a recap to discuss all things groceries, shopping, meal planning, and more! PLUS we're linking you to some of our other resources to help you become a grocery shopping PRO in no time!
First things first…
HOW TO FIND CHEAP GROCERIES WITHOUT COUPONING
We've all heard of Extreme Couponing. Where you see happy people walk into a grocery store and 45 seconds of TV magic later, come out with $800 of groceries for $0.14. It might look fine and good, but they don't paint a clear picture of the investment couponing requires. I have done lots of research on couponing, including attending classes.
Here are the reasons why I don't believe in couponing, even on a casual level:
- Takes too much time. Not only the several hours it takes collecting and clipping the coupons and comparing them to current store deals, but it can double your time in the grocery store, too.
- Limits what you're able to buy. Sure, I might be able to get 16 boxes of tampons for free this week…but what if I really need celery and Italian seasoning?
- Coupons are typically for processed pantry foods. The most expensive items in your cart food-wise are typically meat, produce, and dairy. And coupons don't typically cover many, if any, of those.
Now, let's be fair here, I know many people love couponing and consider it a hobby and well worth their time. In that case, I say go for it! But I will argue until the day I die that it's not the quickest, cheapest, nor healthiest way to shop for your family.
The truth is, you can pay half price for quality groceries without clipping a single coupon! And it's actually quite simple.
BEST GROCERY SHOPPING TIPS
So you want to up your grocery shopping game? Good news! We've got all the tips you need to help you cut your grocery bill and still provide your family with healthy and delicious meals.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU SPEND ON GROCERIES?
The very first step you need to take is to figure out how much you should be spending on groceries per month. Here's the magic principle: Set a budget per person in your household. Start with $100 per person, per month. Add it up and then you have your monthly budget.
Here's the magic: Now divide it by the number of weeks in the month! Now you have a WEEKLY grocery budget.
This includes anything you can get at a typical grocery store – food and produce, on down to basic cleaning supplies, pharmacy goods, baby items, and even pet food. I bet you still have a million questions, so check out our Grocery Budget 101 post that explains everything in detail!
Have more questions about setting up a budget? Watch this video or check out our Simplest Budgeting System EVER post.
TRACK YOUR GROCERY BUDGET
Next, you need a method to track your grocery budget. My simple no-fail trick? Track your budget weekly instead of monthly! For a family of 5, you would get $500/month. Broken down, that's $125/week on a 4-week month. See the budgeting video above for a detailed explanation of this.
I believe in buying everything with an electronic card instead of cash, so debit or credit cards are fine based on your level of self-control. Tracking cash is a nightmare for me, so I don't even attempt that. But you do you if that works for you!
Here's probably the most important rule when it comes to sticking to your grocery budget… Are you ready for it?
ONLY GO SHOPPING ONCE PER WEEK
No joke. This is the #1 single most important trick on the whole planet of grocery-ness. If you follow no other rules, follow this one. Plan ahead, make it count, and then never step foot back in the store for six more days! Period.
Use Sunday (or just pick the best day for YOU) to plan your meals for the week. Plan your meals first around what you have in your fridge, pantry, and freezer (aka shelf cooking), and second around what's on sale (more about this below). Then choose a day to go shopping.
If you run out of milk and it's an emergency, send your spouse. But if they will walk out with more than one gallon of milk only, borrow some from a neighbor instead. Keep powdered milk on-hand. Eat toast instead of cereal. But do NOT step foot back in that store! Why? Because that one gallon of milk will cost you $50 in things you suddenly “need to have”! Just trust me on this one. Six days is not that long, you can do it!
BEFORE YOU GO GROCERY SHOPPING
There are several things you can do to save money before you even hit the store.
MAKE A LIST OF GROCERIES YOU NEED
I recommend keeping a grocery list of things you need in your phone because we take our phones everywhere. I separate my list by the two stores I shop at (Walmart and Costco) and the things I typically buy there. A basic rule of smart grocery shopping – never go to the store without a list!!
PLAN MEALS BASED OFF YOUR INVENTORY
Making a meal plan BEFORE shopping is key, so you know what you need to pick up to complete any recipes and meals. Remember to start with what you have on hand so you only have to buy a few supplemental ingredients and you don't let anything go to waste 😉
LOOK AT WHICH GROCERIES ARE ON SALE
This is the crux of this whole operation! All you need to do is be aware of what the good deals are for the week, and buy those! How do you know?
- Check Ads – I used to do it and it takes a little time, but it works fine. Take the ads for the stores you like to shop at and focus on the front and back pages mostly. Check out the deals and prices and circle or take note of what the good deals are that week, and stock up on them.
- Plan Meals Around Seasonal Fruits and Veggies – It's that easy! Every season has different fruits and veggies that are less expensive. Shop for and cook with that produce and you will save money.
- Keep a List of Good Deals – I literally keep a running list of common food items we use with the best price I've seen those items listed for so I know if something is a good deal or not!
GROCERY SHOPPING TIPS
Now that you have your shopping budget, list, and meal plan, it's time to hit the store! Here are a few tried and true posts to give you some tips, tricks, and actually see how I grocery shop!
HOW MUCH TO SPEND ON GROCERIES
Here's the summary to the BIG question! How much should you actually be spending on groceries. We break it all down for you right here, right now.
STICK TO YOUR GROCERY BUDGET
I've got some tricks, tips, and hacks if you're grocery shopping on a budget. And you totally should be! Get some insider knowledge of the grocery store and save some serious money with some of these shopping hacks that will help you in the store!
GROCERY SHOPPING HAUL FOR MY BIG FAMILY
Here's a sneak peek into one of my most recent grocery hauls and how I used it to plan meals for the week.
TIPS FOR BUYING IN BULK & SHOPPING AT COSTCO
I have a WHOLE PAGE full of tips for grocery shopping at Costco: How to make the most of your membership, what the best deals are that will save you money, how to work it into your budget. Plus, an insider look at how I shop for my family.
THE MOST IMPORTANT SHOPPING TIPS
Just in case you haven't heard this already. NEVER SHOP HUNGRY!! Common knowledge… right?
Here's a few more tidbits:
- If Groceries Are On Sale, Stock Up – As long as you can stay in your weekly budget, stock up on meats, veggies, and kitchen staples that are on sale to stock up for your future meals. I always like to have a few back-ups on hand!
- Don't Shop At Eye-Level – This might sound a little crazy, but stores are smart. They know that if they can get something in front of us, we're more likely to grab what is convenient so they put more expensive items at eye-level. Don't fall for that trick! For more shopping hacks like this, be sure to check out my grocery shopping hacks.
- Cut Your Own Produce – You know they charge an arm and a leg for produce that is already cut up and packaged so nice. It doesn't take too long to cut your own produce. Plus, fruits and veggies that are already cut will not last as long and are far more likely to go bad before you can use them up.
PREPARE YOUR MEALS
Yes!!! Part of saving money on groceries is cooking your own meals and being super smart and strategic about it. Again, don't forget to use up what you have available in your fridge first!
- Freeze Anything and Everything– A HUGE tip for you is to store your food so it won't go bad before you can use it. Storing your food right is such a smart and easy way to make sure your food lasts longer and so you don't let anything go to waste. Here are a bunch of tips for storing food the right way. You can freeze all kinds of things so they are still fresh and delicious once you're ready to eat them. Take advantage of all our freezer hacks!
- Double Your Recipes and Freeze – If you are cooking, you might as well cook extra for another meal for a crazy night, or a night where you just don't feel like cooking. It will probably save your life… Or at least your sanity, am I right?
- Don't Waste Anything – Use every drop of what you have and always make a meal plan based on what you already have on hand. That tip right there is GOLD and is what drives my meal planning every. single. time.
Here are our best posts to help you get started on your own shelf cooking, grocery shopping, and money-saving journey.
Having a few staples on hand is the key to being able to shelf cook. Stock up on key ingredients when they are on sale. Check out my fridge, freezer, and pantry!
70+ WAYS TO REPURPOSE YOUR LEFTOVERS!
Some people HATE leftovers, but there are so many ways to repurpose them and make them BRAND NEW!! Check out how!
THE BEST STAPLES FROM YOU!
We love getting input from our Freebs! Here are a few more recommendations to help you keep the best stuff in stock so you can cook like a pro in a pinch!
10 WAY TO STRETCH A MEAL
You can feed a lot of people with these tips and tricks to bulk up your meals without spending a ton of money.
Alright! There you have it! What's worked for you? How have you saved money on your groceries? Tell us in the comments.
Have you checked out ShelfCooking.com yet? Our brand new site is dedicated to helping you cook delicious, nutritious, and budget-friendly meals for your family without spending too much time in the kitchen! Basically every parent's dream, right?
Join our Shelf Cooking Community today!
Good luck and enjoy the savings! While you're here and trying to save as much money as possible… 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 😉
**Note: I respect anyone who chooses to coupon! I think it's a great way to save money, and I understand that it's a hobby for some people. I know plenty of people who really enjoy it. My method is built to support couponers, but also to create an option for those, like myself, who choose not to coupon.
Good luck with your future grocery shopping trips!