My family love to eat.
And while there are a few items, we will indulge in regularly, if I’m not careful our grocery bill quickly gets out of hand.
While recently doing a spending analysis I was shocked at how much our grocery bill had crept up. We were easily spending over $1000 a month on groceries for a family of five. Food was by far our most significant variable expense and paying less on our grocery bill was essential if we were to stick to our budget.
Fortunately, it’s easy to save money on groceries, waste less food, cut your food bill and still eat healthy, tasty meals.
Here are my top tips (they’re super simple).
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Learn how to save money on groceries
1. Use a meal plan
If you don’t follow any other of my tips, follow this one. No other action will make as much of an impact on your grocery budget than planning out your meals.
Without a weekly meal plan you won’t have the correct ingredients at hand when trying to cook, your food waste will be much higher, and there will be many nights where you resort to take-out rather than trying to figure out what to cook at the end of a long day.
Having a meal plan also makes my life so much easier as it makes much of the last minute decision making away from mealtimes.
I’ve created a master list of around 30 meals my family likes to eat. Every weekend I sit down and plan out the next week’s menu and because I’m only choosing from those 30 meals I never need to spend hours combing through cookbooks or the internet looking for ideas.
My meal plan process has saved me so much time and energy. Our recipe master list evolves as my kids’ taste grow and the seasons change, but meal planning is no longer such an overwhelming task.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated. Essentially it means thinking about what you would like to cook beforehand and only buying what you need to use.
It’s a great way to reduce your food waste, save money on groceries and has the bonus of healthier eating.
If you’ve never tried meal planning before (or tried and failed), you need to check out the $5 Meal Plan.
Try It Today For Free!
For just $5 per month will receive a tasty (and healthy) meal plan. And, every meal will cost about $2 per person to make. It’s a great way to get started with meal planning, plus they offer gluten-free and vegetarian options.
2. Use a grocery list
You will not save money on your food bill if you do make a grocery list.
It’s as simple as that.
So, once I’ve figured out our meal plan for the week my next step is to create my grocery list. I check the items on my list against what I have in the pantry to make sure I’m only buying what we need. I aim to only do 1-2 grocery shops per week.
The goal is to do only a single shop but sometimes I need something fresh midweek and I end up going to the store twice.
I plan my list in conjunction with the store sales flyer to take advantage of the sales. This might mean altering my meal plan to take into account what meat or fish items are on sale that week.
Once we’re in the store, we stick to the list. If I can’t make it to the store without the kids, I will consider getting my groceries delivered (a free service our local store offers). I find that taking two small children to the store results in unintended purchases and missed items.
3. Stick to the outside of the store
Once you’re at the grocery store be strategic about the aisles you visit.
Try to stick to the outside of the store and only visit the centre aisles you need to. The outside of the store will have your fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy and bakery.
The centre aisles contain everything else and that’s where impulse purchases are most likely to take place.
An added health benefit to the strategy will be that you will find yourself buying less processed food.
4. Plan to shop the sales
Every store has a sale cycle. This means that almost every item in the store will come on sale once every 6-8 weeks.
If you’re able to know that sale cycle as well as how much your family will consume of the product between sales, then you’re able to stock up strategically.
Related post: 10 Things I’ve Stopped Buying To Save Money
5. For massive savings cut the branded items
When you buy a brand name, you’re paying for the label.
Unless you can find your preferred branded item on sale for cheaper than the generic store brand lose the brand. The store brand product will be of similar quality (if not better) than it’s branded equivalent at a much-reduced price.
Don’t believe me?
Check out the BBC program Eat Well for Less. They take families whose food budgets are out of control. In a test, they then remove all the branding from their food with some items swapped out for cheaper ones and some remaining the same.
The end result is that overwhelmingly the family cannot tell the difference between the branded product they used to buy and the cheaper generic item that it has been swapped for.
Learn to save money on groceries with a free workshop
If you’re in the mood to learn more about spending less on groceries, you need to check out this workshop.
It’s from Erin at $5 Dinners, I took her paid course (the Grocery Budget Makeover) and it was so worth every penny.