How to Save Money on Food: 4 Practical Grocery Shopping Tips
Your grocery budget is by far the most flexible budget item in your monthly spending plan. Your grocery budget can help push you through to your goals or it can hinder you from meeting your goals.
Most Americans spend way too much on food. But you can make some changes to help you with your grocery budget. Learning how to save money on food does take effort, but these changes reap a great reward. I’m hoping to motivate you by talking about the power of change.
Here are my four tips that give you solid and practical ways to save money on food.
1. Meal planning is key to saving money
The first change you can make is to be aware of how much food you are buying. We buy all this food and we are not eating it all. Instead, we end up throwing it away and we are just wasteful.
Being wasteful and throwing away food is a budget killer. Pull back a little bit and don’t buy so much.
Meal planning will really help you cut down on how much food you’re buying. If you don't have a meal plan, you probably end up waking up each morning wondering what to have for dinner that night.
Thinking that way leads to you stopping by the store to pick up more ingredients for dinner. Or you think, “Okay, I’ll go by Costco to pick up a rotisserie chicken,” or you may just swing by a fast food place because it’s easier.
You’re not saving money that way. Become strict about menu planning. Plan out breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks if that’s easier for you. Plan the menu and then work on the plan. Don’t veer off the plan.
Give yourself a little flexibility if something doesn’t sound good to make that day, but stay on track with other menus you’ve planned for the week that you’ve already purchased food to make.
2. Go monthly grocery shopping for bulk items
This doesn’t mean just going to the store once a month, which contradicts my tip about meal planning. But buying those items that you are always eating every week and buying them in bulk will save you money.
For example, every month, we eat about 25 pounds of oats. That’s a lot! It’s a great staple food since it’s naturally gluten-free and I can use it for a wide variety of recipes. For example, I make amazing, cheap oatmeal crepes.
Monthly grocery shopping allows me to buy in bulk at a lower price. Not only am I saving money, but I’m also saving myself the headache of making large grocery shopping trips every week.
When I am purchasing all of those items in bulk once a month, then each week, my grocery shopping trips are really small since most of the time I’m just purchasing fresh produce or condiments to go with our meal plan.
3. Change your eating habits
Eating habits greatly affect your grocery budget. Our society is great at one big thing: snacking. We have become professional snackers. We keep snacking after breakfast, after lunch, and after dinner, and we don’t give our bodies a chance to rest.
All of that snacking costs money! Eliminate the very bad habit of snacking, we’ll save money. One of the best tools to do this is intermittent fasting. I love intermittent fasting because you fast and eat for certain periods of time.
I am not into extreme fasting. I mostly don’t eat after dinner. I’ve eliminated my evening snacking which means I don’t purchase ice cream or cereal (if you like a bowl of cereal as a late-night snack).
I want to challenge you with your eating habits because they greatly affect your food budget. Have one snack a day! We have one snack a day between lunch and dinner. I like to have a little treat with my kids, like air-popped popcorn.
4. Change up your dinners
If you want to get serious about food hacks to save money on your grocery budget, change what you eat for dinner. This is a hard one. Go meatless.
You don’t have to have meat as the centerpiece of every dinner, especially when inflation means that the price of eggs and meat is rising. We are not stuck eating meat and potatoes at dinnertime.
Be flexible and cut back on the amount of meat you eat. I think some of us have this mindset that we have to live and eat a certain way. We could have a salad as the main part of the meal with a side of pasta.
Or try having a side of meat! Or add beans or lentils to your ground beef to bulk it up so you’re only using half a pound instead of one or two pounds to feed your family at dinner. You do not have to let inflation rule your budget by forcing you to eat a lot of meat for each meal.
How to save money on food
What do you think about the power of change and how it can save money? You don’t always have to buy unhealthy or cheap food to save money. You can buy quality food but you can just rethink how you buy and eat your food as I’ve outlined above.
Let me know in the comments what your favorite tip was and if it can save money in your household.