There are lots of ways to save money on groceries, like opting for generic products, shopping multiple stores, using a cash rewards credit card, and many others. But for this post, I’m just focusing on those related to meal planning.
I think the most common method of saving money on food is using coupons. So I’ll start there. You can use coupons along with meal planning to save money.
I mentioned in The Two Basic Types of Meal Planning that you can do this with Forward Meal Planning by looking at coupons while you plan your meals, and with Backward Meal Planning by shopping based on available coupons before meal planning.
To maximize you coupons, try to wait until the item is on sale. That way you’re getting the discount on top of the sale price. You can also sign up for your store’s loyalty program to get in-store discounts and personalized coupons, many of which you can use with manufacturer coupons. I often get coupons for milk this way!
Just a Couponing 101 tidbit, A manufacturer coupon is a discount the actual brand is offering. A store coupon is a discount the store is offering. You can use a manufacturer coupon at any store and a store coupon only at the store that offered it. Also, you can usually use a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon on the same product for even bigger savings.
Another good way to save money on groceries is by keeping a price list of your most purchased items. Prices fluctuate without sales just depending on supply and demand. So you can save more by knowing when you see a good price.
You can take this a step further by keeping a price journal where you write down prices for your most purchased items. The benefit of a price journal is that you can eventually recognize patterns and know when to anticipate lower prices and base your meal plans around that.
Make More From Scratch
The more prepared a food is, the more expensive it is. Prime example: you can buy a small box of rice with a seasoning packet for more than it costs to buy an entire pound of just rice. The more you can make yourself, the more you can save.
You’ll have to decide for yourself the best balance between savings and convenience because everyone’s lifestyle and needs are different. And this might take some creativity and a learning curve. But the savings can add up, and it can be a fun way to try new dishes.
(I will say, couponing AND cooking mostly from scratch can be hard since the vast majority of coupons are for processed foods. It might take some practice and calculations to figure out the best balance.)
Meat is expensive. You can start cutting your grocery bill by cutting out meat for one day a week. And it can be a Tuesday, or Wednesday, or whatever. 😉
I hate throwing food away. HATE it. It’s the same thing as throwing money away. That’s why I’m shocked when people tell me they won’t eat leftovers. Using leftovers in your meal plan is a great way to save money by cutting out a meal you have to buy food for. I usually have a ‘leftovers night’ in my meal plan, and it’s often just a buffet style dinner of the leftovers from the previous couple of nights.
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I’m sure there are many more ways to save money on groceries! Share your secrets (or questions!) below!