You know the feeling. You get to the checkout and place the groceries onto the conveyor. As you place the groceries down in some order, you wonder what on earth it’s going to cost and if you’ll even have enough money in the bank. You watch the numbers add up and then BAM! ‘That comes to $250’ thanks. Cash or card?’ says the young cashier.
You breathe in deeply, wondering how such a seemingly small amount could have come to that total and vow to start saving money on groceries.
Well, you’re at the right place. Here are 30 ideas on how to save on groceries.
30 Tried and tested tips for saving money on groceries
1. Meal plan
I believe the most important first step to figuring out how to save money on groceries is the meal plan. There’s no doubt about it; meal planning has a huge impact when you’re grocery shopping on a budget. A meal plan ensures you buy only the ingredients you need.
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Related: 15 Hacks To Save On Online Shopping
2. Buy food you can freeze
Another favourite tip for how to save money on grocery shopping involves utilising your freezer as much as possible. If you see some luscious blueberries on sale, freeze them for smoothies or use them in muffins. If you see a discounted cut of meat, buy it on sale and freeze for later.
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3. Buy products close to expiry
If you know you’ll use the products immediately, buying products that are on sale due to their looming expiry date is a great way to save money on groceries.
4. Buy generic brands
Generic brands have come a long way and often provide the same or higher quality than name brands. This article shared reports from the likes of Choice and Canstar on some of the best generic items you can buy, including chocolate, olive oil, disposable nappies, milk and frozen foods.
5. Buy what you need
When figuring out how to grocery shop on a budget, it’s about being realistic and staying within your means. At the meal planning stage, shop your pantry, fridge and freezer first. Plan your meals around the ingredients you already have to avoid buying more than you need and what you don’t need.
6. Use a shopping list
Unless you have a photographic memory, a grocery shopping list is essential for keeping on track. Not only will you stick to what’s on your shopping list, but your grocery shop will also be a lot quicker too. Check out my free printable shopping list stickers.
7. Save on foods with online shopping
The excellent advantage of shopping online is that you can always see your running total; it’s easy to stick to your budget and remove items if you’ve gone over. It also means you’re less likely to be tempted by tasty offers in the aisles.
8. Use coupons/special offers
Don’t be afraid or too proud to use coupons or special offers because, in the end, it’s you who walks away with savings to put towards your next holiday.
9. Set a budget
Give yourself a budget and try not to go beyond it. Even better, pay with cash only so you know you can’t spend more than the money you have. Here’s my family budget planner.
10. Bulk buy
If you have space, buy in bulk because it’s typically cheaper per unit to buy groceries this way. You could even consider going halves with a friend.
11. Don’t shop when you’re hungry
You’ve likely heard of this rule before, and that’s because it’s true. The University of Minnesota carried out a study and found that 64% of hungry shoppers spent more than those who were less hungry.
12. Check the price tags
How to spend less on groceries? Scrutinise the price tags! Grocery stores can be very cheeky, so it pays to look closely and make comparisons. They may have a big sign promoting 50% off a 250g pack when it’s cheaper to buy the 100g sized product. Check the cost per unit.
13. Plan for leftovers
Whenever you’re planning your meals, always plan that each meal will provide you with leftovers for the following night’s dinner or lunch.
A beginner at meal planning? Check out my Easy Guide To Meal Planning For Beginners.
14. Buy in seasons
You will always pay more for produce when it’s not in season. Select meals on your meal plan that use produce that’s in season, and you’ll spend less.
15. Learn to love junk mail
If you’ve got a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your letterbox, it might be time to remove it. Junk mail gives you access to specials and coupons that you otherwise may not see.
16. Shop without kids
I know, sometimes this is not an option, but if you can, you’ll find yourself putting fewer groceries in the trolley just to keep your kids happy and fewer surprises at the checkout.
17. Plan your shop
Avoid impulsive purchases by shopping last minute and set a routine to shop at the same time every week/fortnight.
18. Take advantage of rain checks
You know all those times you see a fantastic deal, but the products are sold out? Go to the service desk and ask for a raincheck. Most grocery chains will honour the sale price when the product comes back in stock.
19. Sign up for rewards
Rewards like Fly Buys or Woolworths Rewards can add up if you use them consistently at every shop. You can redeem your points for money off your next shop.
20. Avoid individual packaging
They may be convenient, but individual packaging is not cost-efficient, and it’s not great for the environment either. For example, instead of buying multi-packs of popcorn, pop it yourself and put it into containers.
21. Limit meat and opt for more veggies
Meat is the most expensive item in the shopping trolley so try to have meat-free meals during the week.
22. Use leftovers
Don’t let anything go to waste. Use things like bread crusts for breadcrumbs and unused vegetables for stock.
23. Frozen veggies
Don’t be afraid of buying frozen veggies. Frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh veggies because they’re snap frozen straight after being picked and this can often mean they have a higher nutrient density that vegetables that are days old.
24. Grow your herbs and vegetables
My oh my are fresh herbs expensive! Grow your own, and you only pick what you need. And there’s nothing quite like growing your produce, it gets the kids involved and interested in what they’re eating, it encourages sustainability, and it will save you money.
25. Grate your cheese
Are you guilty of buying pre-grated cheese? Don’t worry; I have too. The difference per 100grams is huge. Is it really worth the convenience? I don’t think so, just grate it yourself.
26. Adjust your meal plan
It’s tempting to create a meal plan based on what you think sounds the most delicious, but this is a quick way to a hefty grocery bill. Always adjust your meal plan according to what ingredients you already have and what’s on sale.
27. Switch stores
When it comes to grocery shopping on a budget, be prepared to throw loyalty out the window. Keep an eye on which grocery chain, butcher or greengrocer has the best deals and shop there.
28. Buy different cuts of meat
It can be so much more expensive to buy individual chicken breasts compared to a whole chicken. Buying mince is also more costly than mincing your own meat. Consider what is more economical before spending on more expensive cuts.
29. Use your calculator
Pull out your smartphone, open the calculator and keep tabs of everything you put in your trolley. It feels much better knowing if you’re over budget before you get to the checkout!
30. Keep your pantry organised
A disorganised pantry can lead to double-ups and buying groceries you don’t need. Organise your pantry so you can clearly see what’s on each shelf. Consider using a run sheet of your main ingredients and my printable pantry labels.
If you’re determined to save money on groceries, one of the best places you can start is on my How to Meal Plan system!
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If you found this valuable, you will love learning to meal plan the easy way with me!
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Do you have any tips to save money on groceries? Originally published on July 31st 2019.
Love this. I have to always budget and find shopping online is the best way to stick to it!
I’m the same – I get too tempted in the aisles! x