In spite of living on a homestead, there are still times that we have to go into town and visit the grocery store. As I watch prices at the grocery store soar, I have also noticed that wages aren’t keeping up with this inflation. So I sat down and devised some ways to cut my grocery bill in half.
The savings is monumental and my friends and family laughed at me at first, however, after spending a few afternoons working on my list of ways to cut my grocery store budget in half, I discovered some great tricks to use and they worked. Now, I’m the one laughing, and my friends and family are all coming to me to find out how I saved so much on my groceries.
I’ve discovered that when I combine as many of the ideas below as possible, we can eat well on a lot less money. Here is how we did it.
Step One: Determine Your Budget.
We sat down and determined our budget for groceries for each month.
Step Two: Use These 52 Tips and Tricks
These are the tips and tricks that we used to save on our grocery budget. Not every shopping trip incorporates every tip but most of them use several of the tips.
1. Plan Meals
It can really save a lot of money if you plan out a menu for at least one to two weeks in advance. Plan your meals around sales, what you already have on hand, and what you can afford for that shopping period.
2. Shop Deals
Learn to shop the “deals” at your favorite grocery stores. Incorporate these into your menu plans. Sometimes a store will overstock during a sale and give the excess away at a great deal at a later date. Watch for excess of a particular sales item and return the day after the sale to see if there are any differences.
3. Shop Sales
Yes, there is a huge difference between sales and deals.
4. Price Compare
An excellent example of this is that my family loves a particular brand of pretzels. At one store in our area these pretzels are $6.49 per bag. I walked into another store the other day and found the same sized bag for $3.49.
5. Price Match
After price comparing, you can often let a particular store know that another store in the area carries the same item for less. Sometimes they will require that you show them an ad or circular to verify this but then they will often sell you the same item at the discounted price just to get you to shop at their store.
6. Pay With Cash
This trick works wonders. I never take a credit or debit card to the grocery store, I only take cash. Why? Because if I have the credit or debit card I may be tempted to overspend. Using cash only keeps my family on track for our budget.
7. Use Coupons
I use coupons, but I only use them if something is already a good deal. Don’t just buy things because you have coupons. Too many people get caught up in using coupons for items that they either don’t use, or that they don’t like.
8. Visit The Store Less Often
You can’t spend money if you’re not at the store so try to stay out of the store unless you have several items on your shopping list.
9. Do A Pantry Challenge
One month I had a huge unexpected bill so I did a pantry challenge before I went to the grocery store. I wound up saving over $200 by shopping in my own pantry, plus I used up some things that needed to be used up in my own pantry.
10. Shop Loss Leaders
Loss leaders are designed to draw you into a grocery store. These are items, often on an end cap or in a large display, that are steeply discounted.
The goal is to draw you in to buy these items and then do the old “bait and switch” and charge more for other items that you might normally buy. Leave the “bait and switch” items at the store and bring home the loss leaders.
11. Stock Up On Promotions
Have you ever noticed that there are peak seasons that offer up sales? A good example would be Memorial or Labor day when people are doing a lot of barbequing and can save a lot on barbeque sauce.
I’ve found great brand names of barbeque sauce during this season for as little as .97 cents per bottle. I always set aside several dollars and stock up during these seasons so that we can have barbeque sauce all year long at a reasonable price.
By gently stocking up on a promotional as above, I’ve learned to stockpile things that we’ll use all year long.
13. Eat Less Meat
You can save a lot of money if you design your menu around soups, casseroles and less meat. You’ll still get plenty of healthy nutrition.
14. Eat Meatless Meals Once Or Twice Per Week
In many homesteads, Meatless Monday is a motto. Although we don’t always go Meatless on Monday, we do try to have at least one meatless meal once per week. It saves a lot on our budget.
15. Use Your Garden
Even if you don’t have a huge garden, you can grow a few things in and around your homestead and save some money on your grocery budget.
16. Match Coupons To Sales
If you can match your coupons to sales you’ll find that you save a lot of money.
17. Shop Generic
Many of the name brand companies are also the manufacturers of those generic brands that your grocery store uses. Check out the generic items and you’re likely to find some that your family likes and will eat.
18. Avoid Shopping When You’re Hungry
Have you ever been so hungry that everything looks good? Many grocery stores make sure to be baking cookies or bread or even have something delicious in the deli that wafts through the store to help make shoppers hungry, and it works.
Statistics show that if you’re shopping when you’re hungry you likely spend as much as 25 to 50 percent more on that particular shopping trip. Eat before you leave home and you’re far less likely to succumb to their techniques to part you from your hard earned money.
19. Find Out When The Prices Change On Sales At Your Favorite Stores
There is only one grocery store in our town, however, I travel about twice per week and there are grocery stores there as well. The store in town change there sales every Tuesday. In one town I travel to the sales are changed on Wednesday and another store changes their sales on Friday’s.
20. Shop “BOGOs” (Buy One Get One free)
Sometimes there are great “buy one get one free” deals at my local store. If I have a coupon, it’s even more savings. Always check these out. Remember, it’s not a deal if you’re not going to eat it and sometimes these are designed to look good even if they’re just another way to part you and your hard earned money.
There are also sometimes deals that say “10 for $10” deals however I’ve found that these aren’t always such a great savings so always keep a wary eye out for such sneaky tactics.
21. Take Advantage Of Rain Checks
There’s nothing worse than going into your favorite store to take advantage of a sale and finding out that the customer in front of you just bought the last one. Don’t fret, ask for a “rain check” this gives you a document to present to the cashier next time they have the item in stock and you’ll still get it at the sales price.
22. Check Out The Clearance Racks
Most markets have a “clearance rack”. Be sure to check these often for items that are steeply market down. Keep in mind that if you happen to have a coupon for these items they are even less expensive.
23. Check The Bargain Bin
For Example, at one of my grocery stores, items that are about to expire (typically meat or baked goods) are routinely placed into a “bargain bin” where they are steeply discounted from 30 to 75 percent off of their original price. Many stores have both a clearance rack and a bargain bin so check around.
24. Buy Damaged Boxes And Dented Cans
Typically these will be found on the clearance racks, however, if you happen to notice one on a shelf, be sure to ask your checker if you can have the item at a discount.
Often they’ll mark the item down on the spot. Occasionally, they will call a manager over to have the manager mark the item down. Every penny discounted is a penny saved.
25. Compare Unit Prices To One Another
Learn to read the labels on the shelves in your grocery store. Typically you’ll read a price per unit such as the price per ounce or pound. Get familiar with these and compare them for the same products to find the best deals.
26. Shop Farmer’s Markets
If you want the best and freshest produce, shop at your local Farmer’s Market. I like to do this later in the day when they are just about ready to pack up.
The farmers will often give you things for far less so that they don’t have to haul it back home. If you happen to offer to help them load up you may even get some of the produce for free in exchange for your efforts. It’s always worth a try.
27. Grow And Dry Your Own Herbs
Not only should you be growing your own garden, make sure to grow some of your favorite herbs as well. Basil, oregano, sage, and more can all be dried and saved in clean dry jars.
28. Design Your Own Seasonings
Those expensive seasonings that you find in the grocery store also contain a lot of additives. Why not invent your own personalized seasonings?
All you need is some salt and a few of your favorite seasonings (or go salt free) and you’re well on your way to having fresher and more pure seasonings to use in cooking. Just make sure to label your jars.
29. Bring Your Own Cloth Bags (some stores charge as much as ten cents per bag)
My local store charges extra for bags so I bring my own cloth bags. I find these at thrift stores, or make them and have found that some stores will actually credit you as much as .05 to .10 per bag!
30. Watch The Register And Make Sure That Discounts Are Applied
Grocery clerks aren’t infallible. Watch as they scan your groceries. Make sure that they are removing attached coupons and that the prices are ringing up correctly. It’s easy to miss attached coupons if you get busy chatting with the grocery clerk.
31. Add The Groceries Up As You’re Shopping
Since I only take cash to the grocery store, I don’t want to be embarrassed in the check out line by not having enough money. To help prevent this I try to add up the groceries as I place them in my cart. It also helps me if I find something that is on sale and not on my list to remain on budget.
32. Eat Less (there’s rarely any need of a huge meal three times per day)
My grandmother fed a huge work crew at noontime on the ranch when I was growing up. I don’t have a huge work crew and we don’t need such hearty meals. So we focus more on a meat or casserole and some form of vegetable and starch. There’s no need for such huge meals so we can save a lot by planning smaller sized meals.
33. Don’t Buy On Impulse (stick to a list)
Sure that prepared chicken smells good when you walk into the grocery store. But it’s far more expensive per pound than if you buy a chicken and prepare it at home on your own. Don’t give in to impulse buys and you’ll save a lot of money.
34. Freeze Or Can Excess
I was recently given a lot of fresh garden beets. A lot more than we can use. As I was cutting the greens off of the beets my dad walked by and asked what I was doing with the beet greens and reminded me to cook them up and freeze them.
We now have a lot of beet greens frozen in our freezer. We’ll appreciate them in the future. Always freeze or can the excess.
35. Freeze (and reuse) Leftovers
I’ve been told that I often cook enough for a small army. Instead of letting leftover sit in my refrigerator for weeks on end I now freeze and reuse our leftovers at a later date.
They are ideal for soups and casseroles. Sometimes I will even make up a double batch of things like spaghetti or lasagna and freeze a batch for a later quick dinner.
36. Avoid Items That Are At Eye Level
Another sneaky ploy by grocery stores is to put the more expensive items at eye level. Always look above and below eye level for the lower priced items.
37. Don’t Buy More Than You Need (unless it’s a great deal and you’re either adding to your stockpile, or freezing or canning the excess)
It’s always tempting to buy more if you find a good deal. That’s fine, as long as you can eat it quickly, freeze it or can it. If you can’t get it used up, frozen or canned, don’t buy it, it’s just a waste of money.
38. Create New Meals Around Leftovers
One time we had a huge barbeque and had a lot of baked potatoes leftover. Instead of tossing them out I created several clever meals around them.
We had stuffed baked potatoes, potato salad, and then I mashed and froze the rest. The frozen mashed potatoes were used up as either mashed potatoes or potato soup at a later date.
39. Shop Online
Try apps that charge less or allow you to pick things up at the main store location-you’ll be less tempted to see something on a shelf and over buy if you try this just stick to your budget and list.
Occasionally you can find deals online and either pick them up at your local store or have them delivered. I rarely do this but sometimes it helps to keep the budget in check.
40. Leave Those That Overspend (kids, spouse, friends) At Home When You Shopping
There’s one in every family. That person that puts things in the grocery cart when you’re not looking, or, they may ask (beg) you to buy this or that. Leave them home next time. I know it’s tempting to give in, but honestly, you’ll save a lot of money and if they don’t see it, they won’t miss it.
41. Take Advantage Of Double Coupons (not all areas will do this but for those that do it’s a great way to save money)
Some areas have double coupons. Mine doesn’t but I always love it when I visit an area that does have these. It’s a huge savings.
42. Use Store Loyalty Cards
Some grocery store chains have what are called “Loyalty Cards”. If yours has these you need to be sure that you’re using them. You can stack these with other coupons and save even more.
43. Shop Later In The day, Just Before The Store Is Closing
The deli is a great place later in the day because they often steeply want to discount the last of a salad or cooked food that could potentially spoil overnight or isn’t enough to save. Consider this as a way to save a few dollars.
44. Use Catalina’s
These are spit out of the machine beside the cash register when you pay for your food. Save these and stack them with your coupons.
45. Use Your Slow Cooker
Buy tougher cuts of meat and use your slow cooker. You’ll save a lot of money.
46. Make It From Scratch
Pre packaged foods are quick and easy, but they can also cost a lot more. Learn to make food from scratch and you’ll save a lot of money.
47. Barter (with neighbors that have gardens)
In my neighborhood we have one neighbor that always plants an over abundance of sweet corn and zucchini. I don’t even buy it anymore. I just sit tight or take over some baked goodie near harvest and my neighbor stocks me up on sweet corn and zucchini.
48. Attend Potlucks (church and neighborhood) and help with clean up, you may wind up with a lot of leftovers
Our church has a monthly potluck. I always position myself in the kitchen during this time and help cleanup. My church family is wonderful, and they often don’t want to take just a bit of leftovers home so I bring along some small sized containers and offer to take the leftovers. You can also do this for community centers or the neighborhood barbeque.
49. Eat Less (or No) Convenience Food
Stop buying convenience foods such as premade sauces and dips. Make your own and save a bundle.
50. Grow Your Own Meats
Since we’re on a homestead we try to have a few animals that we can butcher at the end of the season. While many don’t care for butchering you can also hire this out so that you don’t have to be there when it happens.
51. Raise Your Own Eggs
Our chickens give us plenty of eggs. Gather your eggs and use them in meals as well. Chickens also love a lot of the leftovers so you can help to keep your leftovers down.
52. Milk your Own Cow (or share with a neighbor)
We have a neighborhood milk cow. Several of us went in on the purchase and we take turns feeding her and milking her twice per day. We have plenty of fresh milk, cream, and butter from the milk cow. If you can get together with a neighbor and do this you can save a lot of money in the long run. Share on pasture land, milking, cleaning chores etc.
Step Three: Make It a Game
We try to make it a game to see just how much we can save. Our goal is always to save at least 50 percent (most grocery stores will show a percentage of what you saved with coupons, Catalina’s, loyalty cards, and discounts at the bottom of the receipt.
If you have to run to the store and don’t manage to save at least 50%, don’t be too hard on yourself, just set a goal to do better next time and focus on that. As time passes you’ll incorporate many of these tips into your daily life and naturally gravitate to the savings deals. It just takes some time and practice.
We’re not eating boring meals, and we’re not flat broke anymore. I’ve incorporated many great ideas into my plan and am using them as much as possible when I shop now. No, I’m not an extreme couponer, although I’ve watched a few shows on couponing and wish I could be sometimes.
These are the tips and tricks that we used to save over half of our grocery budget. Our goal is always to see at least 50 percent savings at the bottom of the grocery receipt.
We don’t always save that much and sometimes we manage to save more. It’s fun to see the percentage of savings and to focus on just how much we can save. Even the kids are in on cutting coupons or reading the sales flyer’s to help save money.