Seeing the total ring up after a big grocery haul can be anxiety inducing, especially if you have a big family. Luckily, there are ways to save that don’t include eating peanut butter sandwiches every day. Try using one (or some) of these tips the next time you’re feeling the squeeze from grocery costs.
Make meal planning a priority
I know I always end up spending way more if I don’t have a clear cut meal plan. Make it a goal to set aside one day a week to evaluate what’s already in your pantry, fridge and freezer, then write your list accordingly. Weekends are great for meal prepping, too. I would never tell you to precook a week’s worth of food because, seriously, who has time for that? But hard boiling eggs, cooking a big batch of soup in the crockpot or making freezer burritos helps us avoid lunches out during the week.
Don’t go to the grocery store hungry
It sounds like common sense, but I’m much more likely to buy snacks — like chips to snack on immediately — if I’m famished while shopping. This can easily add up to several extra bucks each trip, if not more. Fill up before hitting the store. Your wallet will thank you.
Get over your fear of generics
I know a lot of people have strong opinions about buying off brand. I was one of them, turning up my nose at the sight of Aldi, until I actually gave it a chance. As it turns out, many generics are (gasp!) made at the same factories as name brands. And the price difference is significant; for instance, I can buy generic sugar from Aldi for less than half the cost of a name brand from anywhere else and it tastes exactly the same to me. Don’t worry, no one will be able to tell the difference in your cookies, I promise.
You might have a hankering for blueberries in the dead of winter, but you’ll end up spending way less if you can wait a few months until they’re in season (seriously, I saw a small carton was priced at almost $7 the other day, as opposed to $3 in the summer). And while you’re at it, shop farmers markets May through October to find better deals on locally sourced produce.
Grow or make your own
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can save loads on herbs with by planting a few in small pots or investing in a hydroponic herb garden. Stock up on baking essentials and make fresh bread that tastes way better than store-bought. Even coffee creamer is easy and cheap to make at home, plus you’ll know exactly what’s going in it.
Stock up your freezer
Freeze food to make it last longer and to save yourself time in the future, especially if you buy in bulk. I’ll often find a killer deal on something like cheese or butter, so I’ll stock up and throw extras in the freezer. I might not need six bags of shredded cheddar right away, but I’m thankful to have it a few weeks down the line. Even better if you have a garage freezer with space to fill.
Money saving apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 give you cash back on purchases at stores like Target and Mariano’s. The apps are easy to use and, better yet, totally free. Browse the eligible items to help make your grocery list, then upload a picture of your receipt to start earning cash back.