My top 10 tips for how to save money on groceries. I know we all want to be able to afford to eat whatever we want without having to budget, but eating and grocery shopping on a tight budget doesn’t have to be boring or stressful… and it can free up some extra cash for actual fun things in your life.
We’re starting to want to do more things with our money like travel Canada, take ski vacations and overall just do more fun, adventurous things and an easy way for us to save money for that is for me to cut back on food costs. Lately I’ve been spending no more than $50 a week for the two of us on groceries, but some weeks I’ve spent around $30 which sometimes even baffles me.
I’ve learned a lot over the years as I’ve navigated the world of managing money (why were we never taught any of this in school?) and when it comes to saving money on groceries, here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Get off your high horse
Yes, I’m looking at you, person who turns their nose at off-brand products and cheaper grocery store chains because you think they’re inferior.
I was once out at dinner with a few people and someone asked me how I manage to spend so little on our groceries with how well we eat, and before I could answer she said, ‘But you don’t like… buy no name things? Like the gross discount stuff, right?’
I used to be that way, too. Only buying top of the line, mega expensive, organic, grass fed, blah blah blah. I also used to spend way more money on food than we could really afford and honestly, I think it was really stupid. Since getting off my high horse about a year and a half ago, I’ve learned that the ‘discount off-brand’ products are literally just as good, and often better than the expensive brands… and they’re a hell of a lot cheaper. The only time I ever buy brand name products is when they’re on sale for cheaper than the off brand.
Get off your high horse and buy no name. Really, there’s nothing wrong with it and from my experience, the produce is just as good. I easily save $20-$35 a week buying off brand/shopping at a cheaper store. It adds up.
2. See what’s on sale, then decide what to eat that week.
While I have a general idea of what I want to buy/eat for the week before I see what’s on sale, ultimately the sales dictate most of what we’re going to eat that week. It seems obvious, but I think it gets hard in our world of food blogs/instagram and wanting to make and eat everything we see everyday. That’s all well and good, but I end up spending way too much money on food when I do that.
See what’s on sale, see what sounds good, and then peruse recipes that could be made with whatever is cheap that week. You’re inevitably going to find some things that sound good. I guarantee it.
Yeah, carbs. They’re cheap, they’re delicious, they’re essential for your body and they’re gonna fill you right up. It’s near impossible to follow strict fad diets and spend as little as possible on your groceries. This is an anti-diet website, and anti-spending all of your hard earned money on food so you can do fun things with your time, money and energy.
I’m very pro carbs for money and energy. Carbs are your body’s preferred source of fuel, and your wallet’s preferred price. We eat a lot of rice, beans, pasta, bagels, bread, potatoes etc. It bulks out your meals, keeps you full and happy and frankly, it’s delicious.
Yeah, we eat fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats, too, don’t worry.
4. Rebate/coupon apps
For Canada, I use checkout 51. Every week they have different product offers with discounts. You choose whatever offers you want that week, buy the product, scan your receipt and you get money back.
For the US, this post has links to various app options for you!
5. Buy in bulk
Whatever you can buy in bulk for a good price, buy it. Whenever things like rice/pasta/grains/beans/lentils go on sale, I buy a bunch to store in the pantry to last a few months (if the bag of rice is big enough, it’ll last us a good 8 months). For things like bread/bagels/tortillas, butter, meat etc. buy it and freeze it. I often buy several bags of bagels at a time when they go on sale for 88 cents.
If cheese is on sale, as long as the date is good for several months (which is usually is), I buy several… though we eat so much of it, it usually only lasts a few weeks or a month, tops.
6. Stop wasting food
Again, it’s obvious, but so many still do it. I used to do it a lot, too. I get not fancying your leftovers, or having random small bits of food from different meals left that aren’t large enough for a serving. I used to throw those things away… but I also used to spend double on our groceries.
Regardless of whether I feel like eating leftovers, I eat them. I don’t replace food until we’ve used what we have. Get creative with your leftovers. If there isn’t enough of something for a serving, combine it with that you have. No, it isn’t a fancy meal. Yes, it will do the job and save you a crap ton of money in the long run.
It goes without saying, don’t eat the rotten food. Just, you know, try to have it eaten before it goes bad.
7. Buy local
No, I’m not saying every single thing you buy has to be local. However, produce that is in season is almost always going to be cheaper and tastier than what’s not in season. Certain things are never going to be local, like bananas in North America, but whatever is in season in your area of the world, make it the produce you eat.
Farmer’s markets are definitely your friend, however, we don’t all have easy access to one. Mark and I used to live right beside our city’s market, so I shopped there every week, but since moving a year and a half ago, I rarely make it out there. In general, most stores will carry in season local produce. Buy whatever you can that fits your budget, tastes good to you, and you have easy access to.
It’s fall… so I just bought a big butternut squash for $1, a 5lb bag of apples for $2.50, a 10lb bag of potatoes for $1.88, a 3lb bag of carrots of 98 cents, etc. In season produce is cheap. Take advantage of it.
8. Peanut Butter
This one’s kind of a joke, but really, unless you hate peanut butter or are allergic, you don’t need to be spending $10 on a jar of almond butter that’s less than half the size of the $3 peanut butter jar. Almond butter is not better than peanut butter, both are nutritious, but almond butter will cost you an arm and a leg and peanut butter will leave you with cash to spare.
Whenever the 1kg tubs of natural peanut butter go on sale for $2.97, I buy a few. It lasts me months and months and costs basically nothing. I love Barney Butter’s almond butter and Justin’s… so much… but when it’s $10 for a 10oz jar vs. $2.97 for 1kg, the answer seems obvious.
And that’s how I save so much money on groceries! If you have anything to add, shoot me an email (comments don’t work) and let me know!