16 Smart Ways To Save Money On Groceries

If you want to learn how to save money on groceries, then you’ve come to the right place! Figuring out how to save money on groceries is one of the best ways to learn how to save money. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average family of four spends around $700 to…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: December 28, 2023

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Are you looking for ways to learn how to save money on groceries? Here are several ways to save money on groceries so that you can keep more money in your pocket.If you want to learn how to save money on groceries, then you’ve come to the right place! Figuring out how to save money on groceries is one of the best ways to learn how to save money.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average family of four spends around $700 to $1,000 a month on food. That’s a lot of money, especially considering that most families waste around 40% of food each month!

Considering that the average family is wasting so much food, and most probably aren’t taking part in the many ways to save money on groceries I list below, there is a lot of room for people to cut down on their grocery bill.

Just think about it: If you’re currently spending $750 a month on food and you’re wasting an average of 40% (yes, this seems high, but this is the average!), that’s $300 that you are throwing away each month. In addition to no longer wasting food, the tips below may be able to save you even more money on groceries. That could be a nice chunk of change to keep in your pocket each month.

That’s a couple thousand dollars that you may be able to save each year!

Grocery spending is an area that nearly everyone can work to improve on, including myself, which is why I’ve created today’s post.

And yes, you can eat well on an affordable grocery budget.

Related posts on how to save money on groceries:

Below are several ways to save money on your next trip to the grocery store.

How to save money on groceries:

 

Plan your grocery trips.

Before you head to the grocery store, you should plan your trip. By doing so, you’ll be able to save money on groceries because your trip will be better planned for finding sales, deals, buying exactly what you need, and so on.

Some of the things that you should plan include (these will all be discussed further below):

  • Plan what meals you will have
  • Always shop with a grocery list
  • See if anything you are buying is on sale
  • Bring any coupons that you need
  • Know your stores

And more!

 

Meal plan to save money on groceries.

Meal planning is something that has completely changed our lives. We eat healthier than ever, we are saving money, and we have less food waste.

Meal planning is great for many reasons, as it helps you save money as well as prevent food waste. By purchasing only what you need to make a meal, you will have less food waste.

If you have trouble eating at home, then try out $5 Meal Plan. They send meal plans directly to your email and it is my favorite meal planning service.

It’s only $5 a month (the first two weeks are free), and you get meal plans sent straight to you along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well! If you are interested in joining for free, click here.

 

Always shop with a grocery list.

Shopping without a grocery list is a bad idea because you generally won’t know what you need, how much you need, or anything like that. This may lead to you buying items that you then end up throwing away because you don’t use them before they spoil.

Shopping with a grocery list can also prevent you from purchasing unecessary items because you’ll only go to the aisles and areas that are on your list, rather than scanning every single aisle and shelf in the grocery store.

This will also help prevent impulse purchases.

 

See if there are any sales for the items you are buying.

Grocery stores have sales that cycle on a regular basis, and you can usually find what’s on sale online, in a newspaper insert, or in the mail.

By knowing what’s on sale, you may be able to stock up on an item or plan your meals around the sales that grocery stores are having.

For example, if there is a sale on chicken, then you may want to have more meals that revolve around chicken that week. If strawberries are on sale, then you may want to purchase many containers of them to freeze, can, or store them in some other way.

 

Use coupons when grocery shopping.

Surprisingly, most people don’t use coupons, even if there’s one right in front of them. Well I’m here to tell you, if you have a coupon for something that you’re going to buy, use it! This is such an easy way to save money on groceries, yet so many people skip it.

Coupons can be found everywhere these days, in places such as:

  • Newspapers or weekly ad inserts
  • Online
  • In cell phone apps for the grocery store
  • At the grocery store

And more!

Even if you believe that the small amount isn’t worth it to bring a coupon, it is. Coupons can add up quickly, which means you may be able to take a good percentage off your grocery bill each time you go to the store.

Now, you do want to be careful when grocery shopping with coupons. You shouldn’t buy something just because you have a coupon for it, as this may lead to wasting money and food if the items are never used.

 

Know your stores to learn how to save money on groceries.

Different stores have different prices, values, and sales. By knowing which sale does what, you may be able to plan your grocery trips around different stores so that you can save money on groceries.

 

Don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry.

Shopping when you’re hungry may lead to you spending much more money than you originally planned.

This is because everything will look appetizing, and you may start putting several random items in your grocery cart that you wouldn’t have bought otherwise.

 

Purchase a water filter.

According to The Water Project, the average person in the U.S. spends around $100 per year on bottled water.

Instead of spending $100 on bottled water each year, you can drink the water from your own home. You can even buy a water filter if you want to.

Note: Yes, I realize there are some towns out there where the water is not clean and that water needs to be bought, but that is not the average person.

 

Compare prices on items.

Generic items aren’t always cheaper than their name brand counterparts, but sometimes they are. Before deciding on an item, you may want to compare generic and similar items to see if you are able to save some money. If you can, be sure to compare quality, size, and so on.

There are some items that we nearly always buy generic (or whatever is cheaper) because we don’t notice a difference. These include sugar, rice, cereal and canned goods.

 

Complete an inventory check.

When was the last time you really took a look at what you have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer? You may have some items buried in there that you have completely forgotten about!

For the next few days or weeks you may want to plan your meals around what you already have. By using what you already have you can make sure nothing goes bad, and you are able to save money on your next grocery trip.

 

Don’t forget about the top and bottom shelves.

Typically, the middle shelves at grocery stores contain the most expensive items. Grocery stores do this because that’s usually where people’s eyes are drawn.

When you go shopping, be sure to scan prices and items that are on the other shelves to make sure that you’re not missing out on a better deal.

 

Skip the premade and precut items.

Premade and precut foods, such as sliced fruit or seasoned meat, are usually marked up significantly. Plus, with things such as precut fruit or prepackaged fruit, you may also be wasting materials such as plastic.

I recently saw something where a grocery store had peeled oranges for sale in plastic containers. Oranges are already in the perfect “container,” so why should they be peeled for you?!

 

Watch as things are being scanned.

I used to be a cashier at a retail store, and I know that things don’t always ring up correctly. Due to that, it is wise to watch as items are being scanned as something may ring up more than once, or they may even scan for the incorrect price.

By watching what’s being scanned, you can catch any mistakes or incorrect pricing right away.

 

Find the clearance grocery items.

Grocery stores often have clearance racks or even aisles dedicated to items discounted because they don’t think they will sell in time.

You may find meats, breads, and more for a fraction of the cost.

 

Sign up for the grocery store’s loyalty card.

Many grocery stores have loyalty cards, and simply signing up for them may save you 10% or more on your purchase each time.

Signing up usually just takes a few minutes, so even if it’s not your regular grocery store, it can be worth it to sign up.

 

Shop with cash.

One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to go shopping with only cash.

By doing this, you will watch your grocery list and spending very closely because you know exactly how much money you have to work with.

Read more at The Importance Of A Cash Budget – This May Be The “Diet” You Need!

Are you looking for ways to save money on groceries? How much do you spend on groceries each month? Hope you learned how to save money on groceries today! 🙂


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Yep, meal planning, knowing stores, buy local and seasonal help you to save money on grocery bills and you can eat well healty without spending a fortune!!!

  2. Great tips Michelle! I like your tips about going food shopping with a list, and taking inventory. We do that every week before we go shopping so that buy only what we need. Combine that with shopping at Aldi and we save a lot each week.

    Tristan

  3. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    $750 really isn’t all that bad of an average grocery bill! I think people are surprised by this number because they don’t actually track their expenses. It’s easy to think other people spend too much money when you don’t know how much money you’re spending yourself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    We’ve been able to save on groceries by following all of the steps listed here, in addition to eating seasonally and focusing on produce. We’ll try to make a menu that centers on in-season produce and cheap staples. For example, we’ll make pulled pork sweet potatoes with black beans or Asian chicken with broccoli on rice. It’s delicious, healthy, and cheap!

    1. Yes, creating a menu that focuses on what’s in season is definitely helpful.

  4. We always meal plan and we also try to use as many coupons, stacking them alongside sale prices, to save additional money. We spend a lot on groceries but our savings total (our store keeps a running total throughout the year) shows that we’re doing a pretty good job maximizing our dollar.

    1. That’s awesome that your store keeps a running total throughout the year!

  5. Amanda

    Great tips, Michelle! Thanks for sharing!

    We do all of the above (except coupons). We spend around $300/month on groceries (though we do garden). We do purchase grassfed beef in bulk each year in addition to that, bringing our total to approximately $400/month for a family of four adult sized people. Meal planning and shopping the sales are huge money savers for me. Right now, I’m working on cooking once for multiple meals to cut down on time in the kitchen. So far, so good there.

    1. Mel

      Keep up the great work!

  6. Lindsey

    We spend roughly 200-400 each month on groceries. This is a mix of utilizing our stockpile and couponing as well :).

  7. We try to clean out our cupboards once a year. I pull out all the food we have forgotten about and set it on the counter. Then we try to cook it all up in the next week or two. We end up with some fun and kind of crazy meals, but it’s so nice to get those spaces cleared out before the food just expires.

    1. Yes, we try to do this as well. It’s well worth it and a little fun to get creative, haha.

  8. We spend about $400 per month for 3 of us and I thought that was pricey. $700 – $1,000 per month would be awesome, but my kids wouldn’t have money for college.

    I do look for clearance stuff that is about to expire and then cook it right away. This is huge savings for us almost every week.

    1. Yes, the clearance section can be super helpful!

  9. Totally agree with shopping with a list! As someone who lives to plan, there are times I haven’t had a planned list and always spend so much more. A shopping list is no different than a written budget. Plus when you plan out your shopping list, you can tailor it to the sale items for that week. We love Coco Pebbles at our house but only buy it when it’s on sale ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Chelsea @ The Johnsons Plus Dog

    We recently started meal planning our entire month and trying to stick within a $300 budget. I love these tips! Thanks for sharing.

  11. I completely agree with not shopping when you are hungry! Shopping with the kids is another one, they get to an age where they sneak things into the trolley when you aren’t looking, or wear you down begging for chocolate yoghurt. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Lisa

    Yes for writing down a list and for not going to the store hungry! I know I am so much more likely to splurge on fancy deli items or snack foods if I show up with only a mental list and an empty stomach.

    A new thing we’ve discovered is the app bevRAGE, which allows us to scan receipts and get money back for certain alcohol purchases. I think there are similar ones for regular groceries though I don’t have one yet.

    1. I’ll have to check that app out!

      1. Lisa

        Definitely do! I’ve had the app about 2 weeks, and I’ve already gotten $3.50 back. If you decide to download it, feel free to use my referral code KMEBXILZ. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. My wife and I do a pretty good job writing out a list before going to the store. We know our weekly staples that we get each time and then think through some meal ideas. We also have a great trick that helps us save on gas. We have 2 large grocery store chains across the street from each other. One offers $10 off a $50 gas card if you spend $50 any day (no coupon necessary). The other store offers the same deal about every 3 weeks or so (in their circular with the coupon). If you take that coupon to the other store and spend $50 you actually get $20 off the gas card… huge save!

  14. Amanda-LivingFullyandFree

    I’ve done the grocery shopping for myself and now my husband for years now. I love being able to buy a large cart of groceries that will last us for 2 weeks or even a month and spending as little as I possibly can. I use to be an extreme couponer (like legit extreme couponer) and it’s a serious high to get something for cheap or even free. However, I found I was buying things I didn’t need so now I use more practical tips like the ones you shared. My favorite is finding meat for half price. Stores usually discount meat at the same time each day, and I found my personal store Friday and Saturday nights are gold mines for discounted meat! Thanks for sharing Michelle!

    1. Discounted meat is the best! I love that as well.

  15. I was hoping never shop when hungry would make the list. This is true. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I like the idea of the $5 meal plan, I’ll be checking that out. Thanks for the great tips. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great week.

  16. Tami @ The Inspiration Lady

    Loyalty cards really do help so much. I feel like my Kroger card saves me more money than anything else I do. And they send out amazing coupons based on what I buy too so that’s pretty awesome, haha. Great post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Kaitlynn Marie

    The hardest part for me is remembering to do all of this. And getting the motivation to meal plan with my sister. I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be better at it when I’m on my own. Thanks for the tips!

  18. Enoma Osakue

    I love all of the tips you’ve shared. Some of these, I have been using but I have a lot more tools for my arsenal now! I recently learned that I could get much cheaper prices on produce at a local mart I overlooked for months. I now tell my friends to browse through a local store when they’re just walking by or in need of one item. This way you know where the better deals are.

  19. Thanks for sharing these tips.