Who doesn’t want to cut their grocery bill in half, right? But, besides the obvious savings, these tips can help turn your kitchen into an enjoyable space, not a reminder how you can’t seem to keep up with demand or find an item when you need it. A space that, no matter how basic or small, can be a haven and springboard to affordable stress-free meals and snacks. This article is about your ability to redirect money and time to other important things.
Note: Grocery bills are works in progress. The tips you end up actually using are going to be the tips that work for you.
Here’s a list of 19 tips to cut your grocery bill in half:
1. Know the how and why
You can’t cut your bill in half if you don’t take time to examine your current grocery expenses. Go easy on yourself! You didn’t get here overnight, so changing course is going to take time. First, review the previous two- or three-months’ expenditures for groceries, carry-out, and restaurants. If you don’t have receipts, think back as best you can. Second, start taking notes.
2. Get buy-in
Getting buy-in from yourself and family members, if needed, helps make the following tips do-able. Buy-in is easier to get when approached like a game, not a chore. A game everybody wins.
Take an inventory of your refrigerator, pantry, cabinets, and freezer. Empty contents onto a table or countertop. Depending on your personality – Type A, Type B, Type DU (disastrously unorganized) – use a plain sheet of paper or type into a spreadsheet. Whatever works for you is what works. Get in the habit of updating lists each time items are added or removed. Track expiration dates by marking containers so you know what should be used first.
4. Create additional storage
Perhaps you could convert part of a closet or add shelving, if needed. This is also a good time to clean and organize. Again, these upfront efforts will save money going forward.
5. Meal planning
Here’s the buy-in part, big-time. Make sure you and your family will actually eat what is planned. An inexpensive dinner that no one wants is a waste of money. While you plan, include favorites, comfort foods, and treats, as well as the healthy, new recipes. Be realistic. Meal planning is constant rotation and evolution. Save even more: Look for ingredient overlaps. Learn about portion sizes.
6. Avoid packaged/prepared meals
Sure, they’re convenient, but they’re also expensive and come with extra, wasteful packaging.
7. Make a list, check it twice
Here’s where your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer inventories payoff. Shop from your own supplies first. Look at your lists so you know what’s on hand to avoid unnecessary spending.
8. List order should mirror store aisle order
Write the shopping list in the same order you walk through the store. When you’re organized before you even leave your house, you will save time and, importantly, money.
9. Shop once a week
Shopping once a week is a no-brainer way to cut out costly, budget-busting impulse buys. Subsequent weekly trips should take previous expenditures into account. This “lid” on spending targets will up your planning game. And, yes, approach this like a game, not a chore, to encourage a positive and proactive approach to shopping trips.
10. Don’t shop hungry
Sounds like a cliché, but this one is true. Stick to your list. Shopping hungry means impulse buys.
11. Don’t shop distracted
Concentration is key. Caveat: If you must take children or an elderly parent along, cut yourself some slack. Perfection is not possible, especially in a grocery store.
12. Clip coupons
Coupon clipping is an industry unto itself. Should you go decide to use your time reading and clipping coupons, do this only if you will consume the items. If couponing is not your thing, at least not initially, grab store circulars – they’re usually stacked by the front door. Circulars are printed maps to weekly store savings.
13. Shop sales
Who doesn’t love a sale? Before you buy a sale item, however, compare unit prices. Get familiar with your store’s routine because everything goes on sale, eventually. After a few trips with this on your radar, you’ll know when to stock up on what. Your goal: Only buy what’s on sale. Yes, this takes practice. Fortunately, store employees will tell you about upcoming sales, if asked. It’s all about customer satisfaction.
14. Buy in bulk
Bulk buying is essential to saving money, but only if you can use the item in a practical amount of time and store it conveniently. Having to fashion a bulk package of 100 paper towel rolls as a coffee table is not wise or convenient.
15. Meatless meals save money, are nutritious
Start off with one or two meatless dinners per week. Breakfast for dinner? Sure! Eggs and legumes are less expensive than meat. Tofu, if you haven’t already, is worth a try. Bring home affordable and filling nutrient-dense meatless options.
16. Substitute ingredients
Learn how to substitute and be open-minded regarding new entrees and ingredient combinations. Cook from scratch with items you already have in stock.
17. Make big batches
Carve out a cooking day or evening. Double and triple batches of pasta sauce, soups, etc. You’ll thank yourself later when meal prep time is slashed, and carry-out spending doesn’t happen.
18. Leftovers are your friend
Invest in reusable storage containers and sealable bags. Mix and match leftovers in the following days or freeze for later.
19. Freeze scraps
Keep a bag or container in your freezer and add to it as you cook. Example: Don’t throw out broccoli stems; freeze them for later, chopped up or blended into in soups and sauces. Edible scraps add nutrition, fill out serving sizes, and save money.
Each of these tips is a realistic step toward cutting your grocery bill in half. You may end up using all of them, or only a couple. Take your time to develop a customized system that transforms shopping for groceries and your kitchen into a less-stressed, more affordable space!
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