Wednesday, January 14, 2015

10 stupid simple ways to save money on groceries.

ive been meaning to go deeper into the whole "saving money on groceries" business, but since its such a multifaceted, complex issue that i could probably talk about nonstop for a few days, i never got started. because, well, i didnt know where to start. but then i realized that it doesnt need to be that complicated. most budget-living type blogs make it way to complicated. 

and it doesnt have to be like that. 

in fact, it can be simple. stupid simple even. 

so today, im going to share a few stupid simple ways to shave a few bucks off your grocery budget. small things. easy things. things you might not even notice or miss. now, im going to have to disclaimer here that not all of these tips will necessarily work in every family/situation, and no one thing in particular will magically solve your grocery budget problems (not saying you have grocery budget problems, but i mean, you are reading this blog), BUT every small change adds up, and in my experience, several small changes can get you way farther than one big step. 

here we go: 

1. only buy what you need to get to your next shopping trip. whether you go to the store once a week, once a month, or every three days, do not buy more than you know you are going to use up between now and that next trip. i know what youre thinking "but what about sales? what about stocking up?". well, with very few exceptions, those are lies that stores tell you to get you to buy more things. you will save way more money by just buying what you need when you need it than trying to play the price-cycle game. (now, pardon me while the entire saving-money-on-groceries community on the internet starts throwing things at me)

2. eat your leftovers. wasted food = wasted money. if you find yourself with (a reasonable quantity of) leftovers, for crying out loud, eat them before the go bad. im not saying save the bag of chip crumbs or the three green beans nobody ate, but if youre regularly throwing away half a lasagna because you forgot to eat it in time, then maybe you need to get better at eating leftovers. 

3. if you dont actually eat it, stop buying it. whatever it is that you have crowding your pantry or freezer not getting eaten, or keeps going bad before you get to it, no matter how healthy it is or how much you should be eating it, just stop. there is absolutely no reason to buy food out of guilt or obligation. if youre not going to eat it this week, you dont need it. 

4. drink water. this was one that really hit home for us, see, i used to drink a ton of soda, and james would drink milk or juice all the livelong day if i let him. at some point i actually looked at how much money we spent each week on beverages, and it was a good 10-20% of our total grocery bill. ON BEVERAGES. you know how water is free? yeah...

5. cut back on snacks/processed/packaged foods. i dont know where this idea came from that poor people have to eat crap food out of boxes because thats whats most affordable. this is a lie. if you take a closer look, youll actually see that per ounce/per calorie, processed/packaged foods are actually some of the most expensive foods there are. now dont get me wrong, treats totally have their place, but as treats. 

6. plan your meals. im not saying you have to make a detailed, elaborate meal plan or spend your entire day making a month of freezer meals, but i am saying that if you go to the store knowing what youre going there to buy, youre going to have an easier time resisting the endcap sales and impulse purchases. 

7. pack your lunch. i shouldnt have to tell you that throwing together a quick lunch is way cheaper than buying a prepackaged (or takeout) meal. you might spend $4-5 on an individual salad, but for the same amount of money, you could buy enough lettuce, toppings, and dressing for a few salads. or even better, if your work/school situation allows for it bring leftovers for lunch. kill two birds with one stone. thats always cool. 

8. check prices on fresh vs. frozen produce. generally speaking, youre going to get significantly more produce for your money by choosing fresh over canned or frozen. but depending on the season, frozen might be way cheaper. this one is always worth a quick check (especially where berries are concerned). 

9. stick to your list. you know what the biggest grocery budget killer is? impulse purchases. you know, "lets get some chips!" "oooh! cake mix is on clearance!" or if youre shopping with my husband, "can we get bacon?". if you want your spending to get out of control fast, start adding some fun little extras as you shop. or just stick to your list and bask in the glory of not overspending. 

10. when in doubt, go without. almost every time im at the store, no matter how watertight i think my plan and list are, ill have these little doubts, like, "are we out of x? am i sure we have enough of y", with x or y being some kind of pantry staple, usually under $5, so it never seems like a big deal. but after about a million times of buying another dozen eggs "just in case" and coming home to find ten eggs in the fridge, ive learned to just go on with my list and keep shopping. if i indulge all of those little doubts, the grocery budget is blown on extra food we dont need, if i wait it out, nine times out of ten were just fine. (the rest of the time i can send james over to dollar tree...)

see, saving money on groceries is NOT complicated. its NOT hard. and you dont even have to change where or how you shop to see a difference. 

obviously, these little tricks just barely scratch the surface of how you can take control of your grocery spending and keep all that extra money in your pockets. hopefully this post has opened up a pandoras box for this topic.

now these are just my favorite grocery hacks, whats your go-to tip for saving money on groceries? 


  1. I am the queen of "Do we have x." There was one point where we had 4 bags of shredded cheese in our fridge...

  2. I somewhat agree with the first point. I find that when I stock up on sales, we tend to eat more than we need to, particularly things we enjoy indulging on like ice cream. It sounds weird, but it's true. Also, stocking up on fresh food never works out. It just goes bad.