One way to stretch your money is to find savings wherever you can. I want to give you 5 simple ways to show you how to spend less on groceries.
Before we go into the different ideas, let me review why I have created this website. Everyone wants to earn more and live more comfortably, but being in the middle class means you are already stretching your dollar as far as you can. I have covered how affiliate marketing can help you earn some additional income. You can even read how Wealthy Affiliate can teach you how to become an affiliate marketer.
The problem with most income generation ideas is they need the one thing we all do not have…money. So how do we get the money we need?
Why Save On Groceries? – A Large Part Of Your Budget
Food is one of the few things that we must have. There are plenty of things that we need, but if you are stretching your money, you may be able to go without for a bit. Food on the other hand, is something that you must have. So if it something we must have, why would I pick this as a good way to save? Simple, here is some data:
- On average, a single person will spend $3,000 per year ($250 per month) on groceries
- A family of four will spend about $1,000 per month
If you read my review of Wealthy Affiliate, you will see that it costs $49 per month to become an affiliate marketer. So, let’s assume that we are trying to free up $50 per month to put towards something to help us generate some additional income. How can we free it up?
#1 – Become A Grocery List Maker
We have all been at the store and seen something that we wanted to try or sounded good. Those tend to add up over time and can cause you to spend more than you need. Let’s say, your guilty pleasure is the $5 package of cookies you get every trip to the store.
So at $5 per package, you buy one each week. That is about $20 per month ($260 per year) right there! Think about what else you buy that “sounds good” and let me know in the comments. You may be surprised at the savings you can realize by skipping them.
This is where a grocery list and some discipline come in handy. Let’s say you write down what you want to buy before you go to the store. You ONLY buy what is on that list so you skip the temptations you normally go after (unless you have them on your list.
To some, writing down your list is a great solution. Personally, I don’t want to carry a pen in the store so a written list doesn’t help me. However, I always have my phone with me. Did you know there are plenty of free apps that you can use to make a grocery list?
OurGroceries – My App Of Choice
My family currently uses the OurGroceries app for our list. I tolerate the ads so I can still use the free version. Here are some things I appreciate about the app:
- Saves Recipes – I save all the ingredients for a recipe where it goes in the app. If I want to make that recipe then I just open it and I can add it to my shopping list.
- Standard List – One recipe I have made is “Typical List”. This is things that my family and I eat every week. I open the recipe and add it to the list. Then I go to the fridge / pantry and take the things off the list that I do not need to buy.
- Linked To Everyone – This app is also web based. If I am at the store and my wife adds to the list then I see it immediately. This way we don’t miss anything.
All-in-all, this has helped me limit the amount of extras I tended to buy when I went to the store. I did not keep track of my grocery spending before and after, but I would safely assume this app has saved me about $40 per month for my family of 3.
So what else can we do? That doesn’t get me to the $50 I am shooting for.
#2 – Develop A Meal Plan
Have you ever gone to the grocery store and though about what you wanted for dinner? Everything can sound good and simple when you are staring at endless options.
Try coming up with a meal plan for the family (or yourself). Then it is easier to make your shopping list and stay on track at the store.
You don’t have to have each day planned, but come up with a list of 7 dinners to cover the week. Buy what you need for each meal and make them when the timing seems right.
For example, at my house I know I am having pasta and veggies 4 times, chicken nuggets and veggies 1 time, and on the weekends something more involved since I have time to cook after work.
This step (meal planning) goes along with making a grocery list. So we are still stuck at $40.
#3 – Coupons… Time Tested
Remember the times you helped your parents cut out coupons? I did, but I never appreciated what it meant. Never in a million years did I understand why I needed to cut out the coupon that saved a quarter. So I didn’t do this… until I did some math.
If I use coupons to save $1 every trip to the store then I would save about $50 per year ($4 per month). That doesn’t seem like a lot, but added to the $40 we are already saving then I am up to $44. Closer to the $50, but there is more.
#4 – Memberships… Only If They Are Free
One of the local stores has a membership option where you earn points for the spending that you do. These will also add up over time and really depend on what you can earn.
My local store will send me coupons based on my spending (super creepy since they seem to get it correct and mail them to my house). That saves me a little on top of their random $5 off bonuses I earn.
Sidenote: Some of the really big stores where you purchase bulk items offer paid memberships. I currently don’t shop at these stores because I will come home with a bunch of stuff I don’t need. Even with a list, my will power has limitations. If you can convince yourself you are saving more than you are spending on your membership then go for it. I found I didn’t save because I bought too much “sounds good” stuff.
So, let’s say we get a $5 per month bonus savings by using our membership. We now have $49 so we can afford Wealthy Affiliate, but that may be cutting it a little close. How else can we save?
#5 – Embrace Generics And Value Stores
The biggest savings I have seen are when I switched from buying brand names and went to the generic products. This can be done many ways, but here are the two I have tried
- Buy the cheapest version at the local grocery store
- Switch grocery stores to the lowest option
You can always track how much something costs at all the local stores, but it would take a lot of time. The gas you would use to go between the different stores would probably offset most of the savings. So how much has this helped me?
Before Changing Stores
I would go to the local chain grocery store (Jewel Osco) or multipurpose store (Walmart) to do my grocery shopping. My thought was I could get anything I needed for the house at one place. Well, this turned in to around $200 per trip or $800 per month. Right in line with the average I had at the beginning…
After Changing Stores
So I switched to the local value store (Aldi). I was hesitant because the store had 4 aisles… how could it possibly have what I needed? Turns out it has everything my family needs to eat and then much more that I don’t even buy.
First, I had to mentally get past the fact that I was no longer getting brand names. That was pretty simple when I tried the food and didn’t taste a difference. In some cases, I even liked it more.
Second, we had to figure out if our meal plans had to change. Turns out, it didn’t change one bit. Everything we were used to eating we could get there.
So, how did it work out? I go on my weekly shopping trip and I spend around $80. That turns out to be $320 per month. Over 50% savings by changing to a cheaper store!
Your savings may not be as big, but if you aren’t shopping at a value food store then I highly recommend changing. Using my 5 hacks above, I have saved around $369 per month.
Your Turn To Save
My savings may be more than most will achieve, but some may also realize more. If you aren’t already doing the 5 things I have outlined then you are probably spending more than you need. Even if you only save $10 per month, you are well on your way to stretching your dollar a little farther.
Let me know in the comments or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other ideas that help save money at the grocery store and we will update the list. Also, if you start doing anything I have listed, please let me know how much it helped by commenting below.