Knowing how to save big bucks at the grocery store has become more and more difficult as the world and the way we shop changes. Not only are there fewer sales of items most people stockpile, but couponing has become more trouble than it’s worth most times. Plus, there is the issue of whether or not it is inconsiderate to use coupons right now. Fortunately, there are still ways to save money on your groceries.
How to Save Big Bucks at the Grocery Store
Over the years, we’ve covered a lot of different ways to save money on groceries. Here are some of our favorite tips:
- Create a bi-weekly menu. Buying in bulk saves money.
- Use up your leftovers. Any food you throw out instead of eating is just like throwing money in the garbage can.
- Stock up when things are on sale. This may be challenging at times, so do your best.
- Make food from scratch. It does take a little more planning, but you’ll save a fortune over convenience foods.
- Find the cheapest location for your favorites. Watch prices. Shop where they’re lower.
- Buy direct from farmers for higher quality and cheaper cost.
- Get the generic version. It’s almost always cheaper, even with a coupon.
These are a handful of easy things you can do to save money. Let’s look at some other things I’ve been doing recently, since I’ve taken a moratorium on using coupons for a bit.
Ways to Save Money on Grocery Costs
If you caught my article from a few weeks ago, you know that I’m not using paper coupons right now. On top of the dangers of passing paper back and forth with the works, I feel it is unfair to those in line behind me to hold them up when they may have deep fear about being out in public in the first place. I will return to coupons in the future, but for now I’m exploring other ways of saving on groceries.
You may want to check out the article by Kelly Tyko of USA Today where she interviewed me and some other folks about saving money and using coupons during COVID-19.
I’m planning my menus a little more carefully than in the past, with an eye to having at least one or two meatless days as the cost of beef and pork go up.
I include one egg-based meal and one bean-based meal nearly every week. I also try to plan two weeks at a time.
Another thing I’m doing is making like meals so I can use up leftovers. I’ve talked about this before.
- Day 1: Pot Roast
- Day 2: Beef BBQ from part of the pot roast
- Day 3: Hobo Stew from small bits of the roast I shredded and set aside
Here is another example:
Day 1: Whole Chicken
Day 2: Chicken Pot Pie
Day 3: Chicken Noodle Soup
You get the idea. You basically take a meat and then extend it through three meals by changing things up a bit. You can also just cook extra and eat the leftovers, but my family gets bored with that.
Always get out your calculator and make sure, but it is usually cheaper to buy in bulk. I can go into Sam’s Club and get a huge package of ground beef and divide it up. A whole chicken per pound is cheaper than skinless boneless chicken breasts. Buy bigger and save more (usually).
As an added bonus, cooking more at once saves time later. It is said that time is money and I tend to agree. When I save time on cooking, I have more time to write an article for this site or work on my books and fiction projects.
Cutting Eating Out
One thing we’ve been doing a lot less of with the COVID-19 outbreak is dining out. First, it is no longer an experience. We can’t actually go out and eat and use it as a social outlet. My husband was also laid off for about five weeks, so we decided to cut out how much we were dining out in an effort to save money.
This is another area in your life you’ll have to balance. If you’re like me, I’m still working because I worked from home anyway. There are some nights I just do not feel like eating. One thing we’ve tried to do is support our local restaurants more as they are really struggling right now. We might grab a pizza from the local pizza parlor even though that isn’t our first choice in where we’d like to eat at the moment.
I’m looking at the cost of meals more often. Beef is really expensive, so subbing in ground turkey or chicken stretches my budget a lot further. Breakfast for dinner is a thing at least once a week and I’m trying to look at meals that stretch such as pasta and rice and beans.
Look for filling, nutrient dense foods.
Even though it is much harder to stockpile right now, I’m making sure I have a couple weeks’ worth of food on hand. No one knows if coronavirus could circle back around or what else might happen. After getting caught without a stockpile, even though I tell all of you to keep one, I won’t make that mistake again.
However, a stockpile does you no good if you buy up food and it expires before you use it. I’m only keeping those things we actually eat or will keep for a very long time. My list includes the following, but yours may be different:
- Dried beans
- Canned vegetables and fruit
- Diced canned tomatoes
- Vienna sausages
- Tuna canned
- Salmon canned
- Flour & Corn Meal
- Dried fruits
- Some freezer veggies, pizzas and meats
In addition to the foods, I am trying to get enough toilet paper to last two weeks, but that’s been spotty in my area. With shortages everywhere, you shouldn’t hoard. However, having enough for two or three weeks for your family is more than reasonable.
I still clip digital coupons. It requires no effort on the cashier’s part. You simply punch in your loyalty card number and it takes the discount off.
I also utilize apps such as Ibotta and take advantage of 11% rebates from Lowe’s and Menard’s to also stock up on essentials. Menard’s is great for this because they have some dried goods and a few frozen items as well as paper products.
Check Amazon for subscribe and save deals. I recently subscribed to receive my shampoo every two months. The cost of the shampoo was the same as at Walmart, but with the subscribe and save option I saved another 5%. I am very close to saving more as it is based on your number of subscriptions.
Grow Your Own
I started tomatoes and tried to start cucumbers but my daughter’s cat ate the start. You have to laugh some days. Growing your own vegetables is a smart way of ensuring you have what you need and cutting down on costs.
If we have enough of a crop, I plan to also can some of the tomatoes for use throughout the winter.
Cook from Scratch
One of the top things you can do to save money on groceries is to get rid of all the convenience foods. Go to the simplest form of everything and make your own things. The only exception to this would be bread. I actually think it is cheaper to go ahead and buy bread at the store. However, there is also something to be said for the heart-warming comfort of a loaf of homemade bread.
Let me give you one example. A bunch of celery at Kroger is $1.39. 14 oz of precut celery sticks are $2.99. You’ll get less and pay more. Cutting up celery takes mere minutes. Multiply those savings by everything you cook and you see how it can add up.
One Final Tip to Save Money on Groceries
Shop on the bottom shelf. Stores want you to spend more money and buy the most expensive items. It benefits them tremendously. The lowest priced items are almost always on the very bottom shelf and even pushed back a bit out of site. Always scour the bottom for more savings and choose the option that saves you the most.