The grocery store can always be one of the largest pain points of any budget. Sure, you think to yourself, “I wrote a list, and I’m sticking to it!” Inevitably though, grocers often get the leg up on consumers with enticing deals and offers that you weren’t planning on spending money on. However, with a little forethought and planning, you can still come in under budget the next time you run out for “just a bag of chips.”
While we’ve written before about saving time, money and patience at the grocery store as well as more ways to save on food – sometimes it can help hearing from fellow consumers on how they save money when going grocery shopping as well.
Recently Dave Ramsey’s team collected responses from their Facebook page on how to save money at the store, so we wanted to share these with the hopes that they could help you too!
1. Crunch some numbers while you shop.
“Stick to your list and use a calculator as you shop to stay under budget. We’re under $50 a week for our family (two adults and a toddler). No junk food either. It’s doable!” — Amanda N.
2. Get creative with the food you have on hand.
“Don’t feel like you need to buy something just because you’re out of it. Raid your pantry and fridge for substitutes first. Make your meal plans around what you already have.” — Carla A.
3. Start freezing and storing meals now.
“Cook big meals and divide leftovers into portions and freeze them. Freeze as much as you can from your shopping. Nothing beats already having it.” — Anthony R.
4. Round up your grocery store cost estimates.
“I use tally marks to keep track of what I’m spending, and I always round up every item. Even if the item is $1.29, it gets two tally marks. That way, by the time I check out, I’m both aware of approximately what to expect and surprised to still be under what I wanted to spend.” — Jilian H.
5. Use the envelope system.
“Use the envelope system and put unnecessary items at the end of the counter. I would tell the cashier I only had a certain amount of money to spend and to stop when I got to that point. Instead of it being an embarrassment, it was a bonding moment for me and the cashier when I made my goal, or even if it didn’t work out.” — Jan B.
6. Don’t allow for budget-breaking surprises.
“Our grocery store offers ‘scan it.’ You can walk around with a scanner and scan your items as you shop. It keeps a total for you so you’re never surprised at the register—and you can decide if you really need certain things.” — Jamie M.
7. Stick to a meal plan.
“Meal plan ahead of time with your favorite store’s ad in hand. Buy larger quantities of what’s on sale and freeze it. Stick to your list. And never grocery shop hungry!” — Nikki G.
8. Don’t buy more than you need.
“Just because something is marked two for $5, four for $10, etc., doesn’t mean you have to buy that many items. You get the same discounted price if you buy just one.” — Stacy H.
9. Test out your green thumb.
“Try growing a garden. There’s an initial investment, but it pays off in terms of produce for the year.” — Ash B.
10. Shop online and pick up at the store.
“My wife makes a list and then orders all the groceries online. We pull up at the store and they bring them out to the car and help load them in. It is convenient, saves time, and there is no impulse buying inside the store while walking around with the kids.” — Matthew G.
11. Try going meatless for a meal.
“We do a meatless meal one to two times a week. We budget $500 for a family of five. Sometimes it’s too much, sometimes it’s the perfect amount. If we don’t spend it, we put it toward our debt snowball.” — Holly M.
12. Eat leftovers for lunch.
“We almost always have a nice dinner every night and are really good about taking the leftovers for lunch. I think it’s important to have a family dinner every night. Yes, sometimes we go cheap. But no matter what you cook, if you consistently eat at home, it’s way cheaper than going out all the time.” — Cindy N.
13. Buy generic.
“We shop at a great grocery store known for their low prices, and most stuff we buy is generic. We no longer buy desserts or junk food, which cut probably $200 from our budget.” — Erin A.
14. Only buy meat when it’s on sale.
“Choose different cuts of meat. For example, we love boneless skinless chicken thighs, and they are so much cheaper than chicken breasts. They taste better too.” — Colleen M.
15. Leave the over-spenders at home.
“My #1 [grocery store hack] is banning my husband from going to the grocery store! We saved at least $300 a month by him not going.” — Melissa W.
Granted a lot of the above tips may SEEM like common sense. However, sometimes those can be the best advice as well!