12 ways to save money on groceries

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$12,000
The amount the average family of four in America spends a year on food.

At $1,000 per month on average, groceries are one of the biggest cost categories in most family budgets. My twin one 1/2-year-olds have already started wreaking havoc on my grocery bill.

Here are 12 ways you can reduce your grocery bill each month to help you save money. You might find a few surprises.

1. The easiest way to save on groceries

According to Kiplinger’s Magazine the number one decision you make that will save you money on your groceries is where you shop.

Overall you will find the best prices on groceries at WalMart.

There is no reason to buy your toilet paper at Whole Foods. Whole Foods – also known as Whole Paycheck – has some great food. The great food also comes with great prices. And by great I mean high.

If you do all of your shopping at a single store all the time, you’re missing out on some savings. I usually buy from:

  • Costco (meat, paper products)
  • WalMart (produce, dry and canned goods)
  • and yes, even occasionally Whole Foods (bulk-container foods)

You can also check out non-traditional grocery stores. Take Aldi and Dollar Tree for example. They have smaller, cheaper selections. They don’t have as many locations but are worth investigating.

By taking the time to learn where you can get the best prices on certain products, you can easily add to your savings.

2. Make a shopping list

Make a grocery list and only buy what’s on the list. This way you’re not tempted to buy a bunch of stuff you don’t really need or may end up going bad and being thrown out.

3. Eat what you already have

A Natural Resources Defense Council report found the average American family of four throws away an equivalent of up to $2,275 annually in food.

Wow!

I get sick of my wife’s leftovers too…but Wow!

Even if families ate just 25% of what they might be throwing away each year – that’s hundreds of dollars of savings.

4. Make a few things yourself

I eat Greek yogurt every day because I like it, and it’s healthy. But the Greek yogurt at the store is expensive – $4 a container, or $1 per serving.

I bought a 2-quart yogurt maker and every eight days I spend 5 minutes making my own yogurt. I save $219 per year by doing this.

Convenience foods and processed foods are also expensive foods. Buying raw ingredients and cooking is not only healthier, but it’s also cheaper.

You don’t have to go crazy cooking three nights a week at home to save money. Identify a few processed/packaged foods that tend to cost a lot and see what it would take to make your own cheaper versions.

Picking a few things to cook occasionally at home will have big savings.

5. Clip coupons

Before the days of reality t.v. you would not have thought a show like Extreme Couponing would attract that many viewers. But it does!

I’ve watched episodes where people have walked out of grocery stores with $700 worth of products and paid $3.00 at the cash register.

That is extreme.

The people on those shows typically spend 30–40 hours per week clipping and organizing coupons. It was almost a job.

But you don’t have to go to that extreme to save some money on groceries. Coupons are an easy way to save money.

Buy two or three copies of the Sunday paper to get started and cut out all the coupons for the stuff you think you’ll want. Visit CouponMom.com to save time on finding deals.

6. Ask for coupons

Do you have a favorite product? Send a quick email to the manufacturer telling them you like their product and ask them if they have any coupons.

You may be surprised when they send you some.

7. Use the cash envelope system

Overspending is easy when you whip out the plastic at the checkout counter. When you use the cash envelope system and pay with cash for your groceries, you can only spend what you have in cash.

The envelope system helps you make wiser choices on what to buy. It’s been critical to me and Katie for not overspending and saving money.

8. Use a cash-back credit card

If you’re not into using a cash envelope system, make sure you use a credit card that offers you the most back on your grocery purchases.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card offers 6% cash-back on grocery purchases, up to $6,000 annually.

9. Don’t forget Amazon!

Amazon.com can be cheaper than warehouse clubs. If you’re looking for cheap staple foods in bulk check them out. Amazon has a wide selection of packaged goods.

10. Don’t shop hungry

Have you ever heard this phrase:

My eyes were bigger than my stomach.

I’ve shopped hungry before and end up buying way too much food – bags of potato chips, two Ben & Jerry’s ice cream instead of one, an extra grocery cart full of food, etc. But, I tell you, now I make sure I’ve eaten before I head to the store. (Yet sometimes I still end up buying two Ben & Jerry’s ice creams.)

When you shop hungry, you buy more. Period.

11. Shop by yourself

Your kids don’t understand grocery lists or budgets. They want the Milky Way candy bars. The Oreos. The supersize Frankenberry cereal.

Shopping alone helps you stick to your list and your budget.

12. Buy store brands

Consumer Reports did some research on food comparing name-brands to store-brands.

30%
The percent of store-brand foods that were cheaper than name-brands.
60%
The percent of store-brand foods that tasted as good as or better than the name-brand.

The name-brand premium is largely the result of advertising and promotional costs that are passed on to consumers.

Hey, if you’re in love with Cheerios or name brands, the next time you’re at the store just try the generic Toasty O’s or Honest O’s and see what you think. You might be surprised at how they taste about or exactly the same. But you’ll save money.

Question: How do you save money on your groceries? Please leave a comment below.

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