Food. We all need it, we all want it, and we all crave it. Unfortunately, food also costs money. Indeed, grocery shopping on a budget can prove difficult. This is especially true when money comes up short.
However, there are some simple things you can do to save tons of money on your weekly grocery bill. In fact, you may even be able to cut your grocery bill in half! How cool would that be?
Keep in mind that some of these may take diligence and sacrifice, but it’s worth it! After all, you may want to use that money to get out of debt, plan for an awesome vacation, or meet other goals!
Before we get deeper into grocery shopping on a budget, I want to let you know about a couple of resources.
Let me introduce you to the King of Budgeting, Dave Ramsey! His book, The Total Money Makeover, is by far one of the best personal finance books of all time. His plan is the one I personally use, and I believe it will help you, too!
And if you’re looking for a simple step-by-step plan to help you get out of debt, check out my FREE eBook! Just enter your email address below and I’ll send you a downloadable PDF immediately!
Now, let’s take a look at grocery shopping on a budget!
Grocery Shopping on a Budget
Before we begin, I want you to start thinking through some of your financial goals. What do you want to see for both the long-term and the short-term?
For example, are you trying to knock out your debt? Or are you out of debt but just want to manage your money more wisely? Either way, your long-term and short-term goals will affect how you budget.
I encourage you to start working on a vision for the direction you want to go with your money. This will help give you an idea of what you want to do with your money.
Also, you might wonder how much you should budget. Consider a few statistics: The average monthly grocery budget for a single person ranges from $162-$372. For married couples, it’s $371-773. Finally, for families of four, it comes out to $570-$1,298. (These statistics come from the USDA)
Obviously, most of you would rather be on the lower ends of those spectrums. But if getting out of debt is a priority to you, you’ll really need to take a look at cutting back the grocery bill.
So, let’s take a look at some ways to do grocery shopping on a budget!
1. Plan your meals ahead of time
Rule number 1 for grocery shopping on a budget: Plan your meals.
So, what does that mean? It’s simple. It means you need to plan out what you eat before you begin shopping.
That can mean your family always has Taco Tuesdays, or Pizza Fridays. You’ll also want to plan lunches for yourself and your family during the week.
Either way, make a menu for the week and stick to it. Now when you go to the grocery store, you’ll only buy the ingredients you need.
2. Rethink how you do dinner
Dinner doesn’t have to be a filet mignon with a side of grilled asparagus and caviar. On the contrary, there are plenty of cheaper protein options out there.
For example, you can take a look at having omelets a couple of nights a week. You can usually get the store-brand eggs pretty cheap! Not to mention, other egg-based meals come cheap, too!
Furthermore, you can get creative with good ol’ rice and beans. There are plenty of ways to spice up rice and beans for cheap!
Just try and keep it simple. Stick to some salads, BLTs, or other low-cost food options.
I made a PDF that lists some recommended low-cost food items that won’t leave you nutritionally deprived. Enter your email below and I’ll send it to you immediately!
3. Shop at lower-cost grocery stores
When grocery shopping on a budget, you’ll need to forgo some of the high-end stores.
So, where can you shop? Check out places like Aldi, Lidl, Walmart, Shop 4 Less, WinCo Foods, and Trader Joe’s.
I will say that these stores are not available all over the country. Therefore, you’ll need to ask around and see what stores have the best prices near you.
But for real, my wife and I started primarily shopping at Aldi for our meats and veggies. Just that simple change saves us over $100 per month in groceries!
4. Use the cash rebate app Ibotta
Okay, folks. I spent a lot of time trying to find the best cash rebate app out there. And I landed on Ibotta. Sure, I’m not exactly getting rich off of Ibotta, but I do get about $4-$5 back after every trip to the grocery store!
The way it works is Ibotta posts their deals on the app. Simply plan your shopping around some of items, scan your receipt, and they’ll credit you with cold hard cash.
Best of all, this app is completely free. They make their money off deals with the stores and with advertisements, so you don’t bear the cost.
I personally use this app and wholeheartedly recommend it. Download the app today and get up to $20 in bonuses!
5. Use what you have
This one may seem obvious, but it might surprise you how often people throw out food. The average US household wastes about $1,866 worth of food per year.
Think of what you could do with that much cash!
That’s why I advocate that you use whatever is in your pantry first. Of course, this might challenge you to get creative with your meals. After all, what can you do with some frozen burgers, a can of black beans, and leftover salsa? More than you think!
Raid your pantry and see what you can come up with!
6. Don’t assume that buying in bulk is the best option
Indeed, it’s tempting to buy everything in bulk when grocery shopping on a budget. And it’s true that it has the potential to save you a lot of money.
However, you need to consider your circumstances. Remember in the previous point we talked about how much food Americans waste. Well, you can attribute some of that to people buying in bulk when they don’t need to.
For example, you’ll probably save a lot of money buying cereal in bulk. Why? Because it doesn’t spoil nearly as fast and can last a family of 4 for a good while.
But if it’s just you and you buy 5 pounds of strawberries, you’ll probably end up throwing those away.
Therefore, shop smart. Buy in bulk when it makes sense. Otherwise, you could end up wasting food and money.
7. Buy generic and store brands
I’ll say it. Most of the time I can’t tell the difference between the big brand and the store brand.
In fact, my mom liked to trick us quite often when we were kids. She bought these cereal containers for easy storage. Whenever she went to the grocery store, she would buy the generic cereal and pour it into the containers when she got home.
Could we tell? No, we couldn’t. But my mom knew her picky eaters wouldn’t eat the generic if they knew it was generic. But she needed to save money, so this was her tactic.
That said, generic items tend to cost 25-30% less than the brand names. Therefore, they’re a good fit for you when grocery shopping on a budget!
8. Shop around the store perimeter
Have you ever noticed that the healthiest items tend to be around the edges of the store?
Indeed, the freshest foods are the fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy. Those are all the things you really need to survive! And you’ll find them around the store perimeter rather than in the center.
In contrast, the center aisles contain a bunch of processed food that’s not good for your stomach or your budget.
So, stick to the outside and wander into the center aisles sparingly.
9. Take advantage of coupons and reward programs
Most stores offer reward programs. Additionally, they almost always send coupons in the mail just for joining! Not to mention, you’ll usually get random coupons in the mail once a week just because you live in the area.
Take advantage of these! Careful coupon shopping can save you dozens of dollars a month.
Plus, a lot of stores give you the option to load up coupons digitally. Just join their reward program, download their app, and add coupons to your reward card. You don’t even have to get the scissors out!
You can also find a lot of coupons just by looking around online. And I already mentioned the app Ibotta as a great option for couponers!
By the way, when I say rewards, I’m NOT talking about credit card rewards. I don’t believe they’re helpful, and you’ll actually end up spending more money in the long run.
10. Don’t buy more than you need
Again, this seems obvious. But marketing can have a profound effect on the mind. You see what appears to be a deal, and you buy it because it’s a deal.
However, you end up spending money you didn’t intend to spend. Therefore, you actually lost money.
The job of the supermarket is to make you spend more money. And they’re very, very good at it. Which is why you need to shop with caution when grocery shopping on a budget.
So, I’ll leave you with a few helpful tips:
- Ignore the eye-level items: brands pay to have their items at eye-level. So unless you plan to buy one of these, just look the other way.
- Leave your heavy spenders at home: I’m talking about your kids for the most part. They see something and they want it! Sometimes it’s easier just to leave them at home.
- Don’t let the checkout line tempt you: Ever notice how they line the checkout line with candy and magazines? Okay, magazines aren’t as tempting these days, but candy sure is. Stick to your guns and choose not to get that candy bar.
Grocery Shopping on a Budget is Tough, But You Can Do It!
Is grocery shopping on a budget difficult? You be it is! But can you do it? You sure can!
Just like anything else, new habits will take some time. But I want you to remember why you want to do this. Perhaps it’s so your family can take more vacations. Or maybe you want to be more generous. Either way, make some sacrifices so you can get out of debt and pursue those dreams!
Make Sure You Budget for Everything
Yes, you’re grocery shopping on a budget. But you also need to make sure you have a budget for everything.
Doing a monthly budget is the true secret to financial success. As long as you do it in light of your financial goals, you’ll find that having a budget is more freeing than restricting.
And if you have a spouse, make sure you do this together. After all, God made you to be one with each other. So act like it! Working together will be far more beneficial than working against each other.
Finally, set attainable and measurable goals! It will take you some time to figure out this whole budgeting thing. Don’t discourage yourself and stick to your plan!
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Once again, this is the best book on personal finance out there! Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover outlines the plan that I personally use, and I can’t recommend it enough! Check it out today!
And of course, if you enter your email below, I’ll send you my FREE 23-page eBook on how to get out of debt! This step-by-step guide will show you exactly what you need to do to find financial freedom. Get it for FREE today!