Couponing (and extreme couponing) are the most obvious way to reduce your grocery bill, but I’ve still not figured out the secrets to couponing. I rely on easier tactics to help me feed my family of four. Most speculate that it takes at least $100 in groceries to feed each person per month. I was able to get my last grocery bill down to $383 for my family of four, a significant savings compared to previous months. But even below $400 is not enough of a savings for me, so I’ll be actively trying to get that bill down.
Here are 12 ways I reduced my families grocery bill:
Shop Around… for a Store That Is.
I will drive 30-50 miles out of my way to get to a cheaper grocer. Even though there is a grocer every few miles along the way such as Safeway, their products are more expensive. Although I have to spend more in gas to get to my favorite discount grocers like FoodsCo or Grocery Outlet, I still save substantially on my grocery bill.
Pre-plan Meals for a Month.
Pre-planning will save trips to the grocery store, which cuts down on your overall bill. But pre-planning meals can be challenging—who has time to pre-plan 30 breakfasts, 30 lunches, and 30 dinners?
It’s actually much simpler than you think. For most families, breakfast usually consists of cereal and/or oatmeal, and maybe some pancakes on the weekend. Lunch is usually the same as well—sandwiches, etc. So the only real pre-planning you have to do is for dinner. I know, you can’t think of 30 meals to cook, and I can’t either. I actually only think of 12-15 and break them up into 4 categories (3 Mexican-inspired dishes, 3 pasta dishes, 3 casseroles, and 3 others). Meals in my house usually last for 2-3 days, so there is no need to plan for 30. I also pre-buy 10 bottles of juice, and only buy juices that are on sale at about $1.
Yes, I can buy those dried mangos cheaper at Grocery Outlet, but it’s a much smaller bag than those at Costco. At the same time, don’t assume bulk deals are automatically good deals. Loose fruit is often cheaper than multi-packs.
Buy Frozen Meat.
The fresh meat looks better, and makes you feel better about buying it, but it is often more expensive than the frozen. And truth be told, unless you are cooking it that night, it will probably end up in the freezer anyway.
Buy Larger Cuts of Meat and Have it Butchered For Free.
You can buy a large roast, and have the bone removed for soup, grind half for hamburger meat and cut the remaining into a pot roast, and actually save 30 percent compared to buying all of these cuts separate.
Get Additional Markdowns.
If you notice an item is due to expire in 1-2 days, ask the clerk for an additional discount.
Peel Back the Sales Tag.
Stores put the sales tag on top of the regular price, but if you peel it back you might discover that the item is actually the same price as before. Don’t be fooled.
Load Your Store Card.
A lot of us having those fancy grocery store cards, but most of us don’t use them to their full potential. Go online and register your store card, that way you can add coupons to it. Stores like Safeway offer a lot of coupons online.
Hold the Cheese.
…And buy it from the dairy case instead of the deli counter.
Don’t Assume the Dollar Store is Cheapest.
Dollar stores can offer great savings, but sometimes that same $1 green beans are $0.88 at your regular grocer.
Keep Receipts Handy.
This helps you comparison shop without having to have an excellent memory. I just can’t remember how much a particular item cost me at another store, but if I have a receipt I can just whip it out and compare. Keeping receipts also will help you put together a spreadsheet to compare item prices at different stores. You can then discover which store is really offering you the best deal.
Don’t Shop Hungry.
When you’re hungry, you’ll buy more. Sometimes this is hard to avoid, especially since my shopping trips can last all day. I try to eat before I leave the house, and if I feel a pinch of hunger, I’ll down a dollar menu burger.