Not everyone is willing to spend time clipping coupons to save on their grocery bill. There are others ways to cut expenses at the grocery store. However, clipping coupons is certainly a great way to achieve this goal. I’ve found that there are easier ways to stop overspending and start saving.
As a food blogger, I buy a lot of groceries every week for recipe creation and to feed my hungry husband. I wanted to share some of the things I do and tools I use to help stay on a budget and spend my money wisely.
Tip #1 – Weekly Meal Prep
A meal plan is crucial to staying on track with your grocery purchases before you even get to the store. When you plan out what you will be cooking and eating for the week, it becomes much easier to stick to a ingredient list. Not only that, it relieves the stress of of what to cook when your asked “What’s for dinner?”
Organize a binder of favorite recipes. I print a lot of go-to recipes and compile them into a special binder. I also like to scan through my Pinterest boards and visually decide what I will make for the week.
I know we all may end up with a few impulse items from time to time. By writing down a meal plan and a budget before the week starts, your setting yourself up for success.
Don’t go to the store hungry. It is almost certain that you will buy more than you intended if your stomach is rumbling when you spot those Oreo’s.
Tip #2 – Use Grocery Cost Saving Apps
Ibotta App: This is a really useful app, I use all the time. With this particular app, you get CASH BACK from your receipts. You simply download the app, complete the steps to unlock the cash rewards to the products. When you buy those items at a store that supports the app (retail chains, restaurants, movie theaters, etc.), and submit a photo of your receipt you get real cash deposited into your PayPal account in 48 hours. You can also choose to receive gift cards as an alternative to cash. How cool is that?
There are also rebates you can activate and when you redeem them, you get even more cash in your pocket.
You can get $10 when you download the app with my referral and redeem a rebate within 7 days. (and then once you do that, you start unlocking other bonuses like $2 for redeeming 5 rebates)
Target’s Cartwheel App: It is just me or does the Target cashier always ask you to sign up for their Red card? I already have one. So their next question is, “Do you use Cartwheel?” I just signed up for this app, and I love it! They have hundreds of offers in various categories. You search deals online ahead of time or scan the barcode of an item in the store to see if an offer is available. If there isn’t one, but another similar product is offering a discount, then it will alert you. The Target brand usually offers a minimum 5% off savings. The savings can really add up if you do the bulk of your shopping (grocery or not) at Target.
Checkout 51 App: This is similar to Ibotta where you submit a photo of your receipt into the app and you earn cash back on your purchases. Once you reach the $20 threshold, you’ll get a check!
Whole Foods Coupon App: Whole Foods is the best! However, the one closest to my house just relocated. So I haven’t used this app yet, but a lot of my friends do and love it. After you download and set up the app it will display current sales at your nearest store, recipes to try and digital coupons.
Tip #3 – Grocery Delivery/Curbside
More and more consumers are starting to take advantage of grocery delivery services. This is smart because it helps you to stick with your list and minimize impulse buys at the store. My busy neighbors tell me they feel too overwhelmed with the in store and prefer to pick out the products online and either pick it up at the store or have it delivered. Many big chain grocery stores now offer these type of services.
As long the delivery fees in your area, fit into your budget it is a great way to save money.
PeaPod by Giant Food: is available mostly on the east coast of the US. Their online site is chalk full of coupon codes and special deals to get discounted delivery with their service. Depending on where you live and the quantity of groceries you order, the fee structure will be different. The larger the order the smaller the delivery fee. These fees are also based upon the time of day you schedule your delivery. Your fee may be cut in half, if you choose the pick up option instead of delivery.
Instacart: This app is growing in popularity and is already available in 30 national locations. The company hires shoppers to shop for you at the grocery stores they have established relationships with. Their is no markup for the customer, because the retailers share a percentage of the grocer’s markup. Depending on where your located, you can also shop at Costco, Whole Foods, Petco, Target, Safeway and Harris Teeter.
Walmart: Referral link– we will both get $10 off our order if you sign up. Walmart’s prices are hard to beat, but with some of the lowest prices in town it can be a headache to shop there. To avoid lines that will make your head spin, try out their curbside pickup service. I have tried it and was very happy with it. Over the years their organic produce selection has become more impressive and their food staples are the lowest priced anywhere around.
Tip #4 – Ditch the Meat and Booze
When your buying that small one pounder of meat at your local grocery store, your throwing money away. If you are a carnivore, like me, then meat is going to be a part of your weekly menu. You can save a lot of cash by purchasing big packages of meat, poultry or fish from a warehouse store. Everyone knows that warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s will give you more bang for your buck, because what would be the point of these stores if they didn’t give you discounts for buying in bulk.
This next tip may hurt a little. Booze. Sadly, alcohol will destroy the budget. However, if giving up alcohol is not an option, buy it at the warehouse stores at the same time you buy your meat! You will get your money’s worth.
When we hosted a pre-wedding BBQ last year, I bought all of our hamburger meat and wine from Costco. It saved me so much money!
Tip #5 – The Envelope System
Until recently, I had never heard of the envelope system. It’s an incredible system that Dave Ramsey created that keeps you on budget by placing cash in designated spending envelopes.
You determine a budget at the beginning of the month (or weekly) and put cash in each envelope. Typically, these are categories that vary in cost each month. So you may have a Grocery, Entertainment, Restaurants, Clothing, Gas, etc. I’ve also found this system useful for my Starbucks budget. If the cash ran out before the end of the month, then no more Starbucks trips! It was very effective!
Tip #6 – Buy Generic Brands
Believe it or not, the name-brand products and store-brand products are more often then not the same recipe with the same ingredients. I’ve taste tested this theory on multiple products, and found no significant differences in taste, but it’s always up to the consumer on what is preferred.
However, I would suggest always buying the generic brands of the following products:
Food Staples: Cooking and baking ingredients like butter, flour, sugar and oil.
Canned Produce: Canned fruit and vegetables will taste the same as name-brand cans.
Frozen Produce: Purchasing generic brands of your favorite frozen vegetables or frozen fruits will be cheaper and give you more per bag.
(Before you go..here are..)
Additional Tips to Think About
Grate your own cheese: a block of cheese is cheaper. Ever notice how expensive packaged shredded cheese is?
Substitute meat choices: What about ground turkey instead of ground beef or chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?
Grow your own herbs: It’s very simple to grow a variety of herbs in your kitchen in a planter box. Its more cost efficient than buying a small package of fresh basil or parsley each time you need it for a recipe.
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