The two best ways I know to save money on your monthly grocery bill are menu planning and shopping sales with coupons. But sometimes implementing these big strategies can seem really overwhelming, especially if you are at the beginning of your money saving quest. If you’re not ready quite ready to completely change how you shop, try implementing a few of these quick and easy ideas. I think you will see a significant drop in your grocery bill.
1. Don’t shop hungry
This is such basic advice, I know. But every time I forget, I pay for it big time at the cash register. The same applies, by the way, to shopping with hungry kids! I’ve been known to bring a bag of Bamba or a bottle of water for my little ones when we shop late in the afternoon.
2. Stay out of the stores
Try shopping just once a week or once every two weeks. If your shopping day is Thursday and you run out of milk on Wednesday, try making due for 24 hours until it’s time to shop again. In my experience, that quick trip for a gallon of milk inevitably costs me five times as much when all is said and done.
3. Don’t improvise
Whether you are meal planning or not, you must shop with a list. Hopefully, you’re able to make that list based on your meal plan, weekly sales and available coupons. But even it’s more haphazard than that, your list should be sacrosanct. Impulse shopping is the biggest budget buster I know.
4. Skip the alcohol
I’m sorry, I know for some of you this is heresy, but don’t shoot the messenger: Alcohol is expensive. If you can bear to cut back on your beer and wine for a few weeks at a time, you will see an appreciable drop in your grocery bill. Fortunately, neither my husband nor I are big drinkers, and in fact, we often stick to grape juice for Kiddush.
5. Check the sell by date
I’m a huge believer in stocking up when prices are low, but if you are buying dairy, eggs or other perishable items, be sure to check the sell by date. If you get it home and realize you can’t possibly go through that much cheese in just 5 days, consider freezing it. I’ve had great luck freezing milk, butter and cheese. I’ve even frozen yogurt to use in our smoothies. Here’s a handy little ‘what can you freeze‘ list.
6. Don’t buy produce until it’s at your target price
Just because you can buy strawberries any time of the year, doesn’t mean you should. When they cost $4.99 lb, you’re getting the costliest berry with the least taste. Wait until the produce hits your target price (for me, that’s $.99/lb for non-organic and $1.99/lb for organic, which I determined by using my price book), and then enjoy them to your heart’s content. For more tips on saving on produce, check out my list of 6 ways to cut your produce bill.
7. Shop your kitchen before heading to the stores
Three bottles of opened mayo, anyone? No? Maybe it’s just me, but I find that a messy kitchen = overspending at the grocery. When I take the time to sort through my shelves and find out what I already have on hand, I spend a lot less at the grocery store. It also forces me to use up my Shabbat left-overs, which too often get tossed on Thursday night — a huge money waster.
8. Organize your deep freeze
If you have a deep freeze, then tip #7 applies to your freezer as well. We have one of those chest types, but I know that even uprights can be a huge black hole. I’ve found an easy way to stay on top of my freezer inventory, which I shared with you on Monday. That simple little list taped to the top of my chest freezer has saved me a fortune in duplicate shopping. Of course, like anything else in my home, I have to work the system for it to work for me.
What quick and easy ways do you use to shave a few dollars off your grocery bill? I’d love for you to share them with us in the comments!