Can we all agree on two things? 1) we all love food and 2) it is EXTREMELY easy to spend hundreds of dollars at the grocery store.
About 6 months ago, when I started implementing my paycheck budgeting system, I realized that my grocery spending was out of control. That is when I got serious about my food budget and created a system to save money on groceries and only spend $70 per week.
This article will teach you how to save money on grocery spending. With a little use of technology, organization, and planning you too can cut your grocery bill in half!
Want to save money on food? Start by looking at what is already in your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
This may seem obvious to some, but I know there are people who need to hear this. It is imperative to look at what you already have on hand before you head to the store. Visit your refrigerator and make note of what you have that needs to be used up this week. Then, head to the pantry and freezer to make a note of what you have stored in there. This will help when creating a waste-free menu plan and a budget-friendly shopping trip.
Download your grocery store’s mobile app.
It’s 2020. We all have smartphones, right? Most stores have created extremely dynamic mobile apps that offer many ways to save money. Download the app, create a member loyalty account (if you don’t already have one), and browse your store’s app before heading to the store.
Here are a few of the money-saving benefits you can find on these apps:
The era of clipping paper coupons is over! Most stores now offer digital coupons that load onto the individual’s member loyalty account. Locate the coupon section of the store’s app and browse the coupons available. Look for any items that you need or are on your list. Load these coupons to your card, so at checkout when you enter your member card info these coupons automatically come off at the register. It’s so simple!
In a pinch: If you forgot to load digital coupons before your shopping trip, make sure to use the app’s barcode scanning feature (not every store offers this). This in-app tool allows you to scan a barcode of an item in your cart and it will search for any coupons for that product. Before you head to the checkout counter, scan all the items in your cart and load any digital coupon available. At least you can walk out knowing you didn’t miss any savings.
Loyalty Member Program
Most grocery stores have a loyalty program for their customers. They want to reward you for shopping with them. Let them reward you! Sign up for your store’s program and log into their app. Each store’s loyalty program is different. Some offer rewards points to redeem for free items while others offer discounts on future shopping trips, gas, or gift cards. It is worth it to take some time to learn and understand your store’s loyalty program to make sure you are maximizing your reward benefits.
Digital Sale Flyers
Almost all grocery stores have the weekly sale flyers on their app for viewing. If you don’t get the weekly preview delivered in the mail, or maybe you accidentally threw it away in a fit of paper clutter frustration, you can always browse the weekly flyer on your phone.
Save money on groceries by using the weekly grocery store sales flyer.
Understanding the layout of the weekly sales flyer is crucial. For example, one of my local stores holds a “$5 Friday” sale every week. This means that there are some REALLY good deals that week, but only available on Friday. I now know where that section of the flyer is, so I can decide if I need to do my shopping on Friday to include some of those deals. If I didn’t read that fine print, I would’ve gone on a Monday and paid full price! Take the time to learn the format of your store’s sales and flyers.
Shop the front page first
Generally speaking, the best deals are always located on the front page. When I’m planning my shopping trip, I look at the items on the front page, compare it to the items I have already at my house and write down any meal ideas that come to mind. Also, make note of any digital coupons listed on the front page and make sure to load them to your loyalty card.
Use the middle pages for fill-in items
Once I’ve got a list of meal ideas that incorporate what is on sale that week and what I have at home, I then go into the middle pages of the sales flyer. The middle pages of the sales flyer show items that are on sale, however, the percentage off is usually not as high as the items listed on the front page. Go through those pages and find any items you need to complete the meals that you decided on. If you cannot find the item in your sales flyer that means you are most likely going to be paying full price in store. We try to avoid paying full price when possible!
Shop the clearance section.
Does your grocery store have a clearance section? Mine does. Most of the time it’s near the back of the store on a special rack. Other times clearance items are just mixed in the aisles and marked with a special tag. Stores will mark items on clearance for many reasons. It could be a seasonal item, an item the manufacturer has decided to package differently, or maybe the sell by date is coming close. While in store keep your eye out for clearance items because these sales are not listed in the sales flyer.
Pro tip: Only buy things that you actually use. Just because you found a great deal on denture cleaner, doesn’t mean you should buy it.
It may be beneficial to go to multiple stores.
If you live in an area surrounded by many different grocery stores use that to your advantage and go to as many as you would like. The more stores within close distance to you, the more front page ads you can shop which will be the highest percentage of money saved. Don’t go crazy driving all around town every week or two, but if they are close enough, stop at a few stores.
When you find a great price on an item you use regularly, STOCK UP.
The way to save money on groceries is to utilize sales and coupons to maximize your savings, and (hopefully) never pay full price for an item. Start thinking about food shopping differently. Instead of getting whatever you need whenever you need it, try thinking ahead. If you come across a great deal on an item you know that you use regularly, buy more than one! If you know you go throw one dish soap bottle per month, then when you find a great deal on dish soap, buy enough for 4-6 months. You may have to figure out ways to store more items in your home. However, your wallet and budget will thank you. Try to avoid paying full price when possible.
Have a plan. Stick to your list.
Before heading to the store take the time to plan your meals and shopping list. Be organized, be prepared, and be strong willed. Stick to your list. Do not get tempted by the fabulous marketing while in store. Get in and get out. Stay on track.
If you walk away with one piece of advice from this post, make it be this one: Spending the time to plan your grocery shopping trips and learning your store’s sales and loyalty programs can save you tons of money on food!
Do you practice any other tips to save money on groceries? I would love to hear them! Leave a comment below on what you do to reduce your grocery spending.