Does it sometimes feel like you spend all of your money on groceries? You are not alone! According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spent $4,942 in 2020 on groceries, which means a family of four spent over $410 per month on food at home. That amount is projected to have increased as families stayed home and went out to eat less during the coronavirus pandemic.
So maybe you are looking for ways to save a bit on your family’s grocery bill. It can be done! Reducing spending is about more than buying less or denying yourself food that you want to eat. With a thoughtful strategy, anyone can cut their monthly bill by as much as half. And these tips and tricks will make all the difference!
Some of these tricks are like finding money just for making your usual purchases, but much of this is just about adapting your current habits. Use these seven tips to cut your family’s grocery bill by as much as half every month.
Be smart about the grocery store.
The first — and arguably, best — advice is don’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach! When you are hungry, you tend to impulse buy or add unnecessary items to your cart that only rack up your grocery bill. The same can be said for going to the grocery store without a shopping list. Make a list and stick to it. This will help you stay on track and avoid temptations that may cause you to spend more than you want or have budgeted for your month of meals.
Buying generic or store-branded items is also a smart shopping strategy. Most of the time these store-brand products are exactly the same, just with different packaging. So instead of reaching for the label you know, look to compare the ingredients, and if they are the same, save money by buying the generic.
Using coupons and joining store loyalty programs are also ways to be smart about your trips to the grocery store. It has been well documented how coupons can save money, with some extreme couponers even getting paid to shop. But even if you don’t make couponing a full time job, you can take advantage of coupon deals. Many grocery loyalty programs also offer discounts based on your purchasing history, or you can redeem points for free or reduced items once you reach a threshold amount. It’s just smart shopping!
Plan ahead, meal planning menus for the week.
Meal planning is the simple act of planning and committing to your family’s meals for the week (or month!) ahead of time. This way, you know exactly what you’ll need for the week and can search store ads and shop around to see what’s on sale — or use coupons.
This also helps you to actually use what you have on hand so you aren’t spending money on random items or whimsical wants. This is a big money saver, because you can shop, instead, in your stock pantry and only go to the store for ingredients you really need.
Meal planning allows you to thoughtfully select options so that you can buy items that are in season to avoid production transport and effort costs.
Meal planning is gaining in popularity because it saves money, saves time, and always answers parents’ constant conundrum: “What’s for dinner?”
Find salvage grocery stores, or shop at warehouses.
You may already be aware that you can buy staples in bulk at stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s Wholesale, and even if you don’t have oodles of extra space in your home, you can still opt for some essentials that your family goes through often and quickly at these stores to snag a bulk priced discount.
When possible, try also to shop at salvage grocery stores instead of your community grocery. A salvage store, also sometimes called an outlet or discount grocery store, specializes in selling items that traditional grocery stores have determined are unfit for sale because they may have passed their coded sell-by date or have damaged packaging. At salvage stores, you can buy food at discounts of 50% or more.
Items from traditional stores end up at salvage stores like Misfits Market or Imperfect Foods not because the items are necessarily bad, and definitely not rotten, but just because they are less likely for the typical consumer to choose them in a traditional store or they have passed their sell-by date. But those sell-by dates aren’t hard and fast rules. Think of them more as “freshness suggestions.” So if you know, based on your meal plan, that you are going to use an item soon, take advantage of the savings!
Salvage grocery stores often sell more than food, too, so here you can score deals on “must go” items from pet food to party decorations.
Buy in bulk.
If you have the space and are able to take advantage of warehouse stores or even salvage stores for buying in bulk, you can use this tactic to save so much money.
The easiest items to buy in bulk are pantry staples that keep for years and often make meal planning easier. These include grains and legumes, canned fruits and vegetables, baking staples, oils, nuts, herbs and spices, and condiments.
And buying in bulk is actually saving you more than just the price of the groceries, though, if you think about it. Bulk items are usually offered at lower unit prices anyway, but obviously you should be buying your stash of an item when it is at its lowest price, which is a huge money saver. And imagine all of the gas and time that you are also saving on making multiple trips to the store because you already have spares at home!
Eat or repurpose leftovers.
When menu planning, remember that your leftovers can — and should — be incorporated into other meals. Your leftover dinner makes a delicious next-day lunch. Vegetables can be added to soup, or grilled meats can be scrumptious salad toppers. Get in the habit of repurposing even the smallest leftovers instead of throwing them out, because that would be a huge waste of money.
Another smart strategy when you are meal planning is to set aside one meal as a “refrigerator salad” spread — or a mixture of all of the things in the fridge that need to be eaten before they go off. Sure, this meal might be a little random but who doesn’t love a buffet?! (As well as spending no money on that meal!)
Use credit cards that offer rewards for grocery purchases.
You are going to spend money on groceries, so pay for them with a credit card that offers rewards at the supermarket and save hundreds of dollars with discounts or generous cash back offers on grocery purchases. You don’t even need clip coupons or activate these credits, some credit cards have specific reward categories for grocery purchases.
Some of these cards include the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns users an unlimited 3% cash back on dining, grocery stores and entertainment; The American Express Gold Card offers users 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets; The Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi also gives 1% back on grocery purchases with an additional boost, up to 2%, on anything bought at Costco. And then there’s Discover, which offers 1% cash back on any purchase, but also offers a bonus calendar in various categories, with some months scoring you 5% cash back on your grocery haul.
Take advantage of cash back apps like Fetch.
There are several shopping apps that either offer coupons and other savings on your grocery purchases, or there’s Fetch — which lets you scan and upload your receipt after purchase for cash back rewards.
It’s easy to accumulate points on Fetch, with no real strategy required — points are earned at almost every retailer on items that you are buying anyway, though special offers and product partner offers earn you even more on some receipts.
When you reach just 3,000 points, you can redeem them for gift cards to dozens of major retailers including Amazon, Target, and Walmart, saving you even more money on your grocery shopping.
That’s it! Don’t think you have to buy less or deny yourself and your family the food you want. These seven tips and habit adaptations can help your family save up to half on your monthly grocery bill.