Easy ways to cut your grocery spending

by Karen on June 3, 2009

grocery-shoppingIt was less than a year ago that I was frustrated with our $85-$100 a week grocery spending. I didn’t feel like we were being extravagant, and yet we couldn’t seem to cut our spending. Looking back, I realize that we were making a lot of mistakes. By making a few simple changes, we’ve cut our spending by $30-$40 a week without feeling deprived. That’s a savings of over $100 a month!

These tips may not apply to you if you’re already living frugally. But if you’re just getting started or you’re struggling to cut high grocery costs, this may be a good place to start.

Plan your meals around the sales.

Every week, we look at the grocery ads for both of the stores in our area. You can do this online at MyGroceryDeals.com. After looking at all of the sales, we plan meals based on what’s on special that week, or we plan to stock up on staples that are on sale to save money in later weeks. Make a list, and stick to it! Impulse purchases are almost always unnecessary.

Stockpile when staple items are on sale.

We cook a lot of chicken-based meals. One of the first things I realized when we started cutting grocery spending is that buying just enough chicken for the week was eating up our budget. If we needed three chicken breasts for the week, we’d pay as much as $4 a pound just to buy what we needed. Now that I stockpile, I’ve realized that chicken breasts go on sale for $1.99 a pound once a month. When that happens, we stock up with 12 or 15 chicken breasts, freeze them in serving sizes, and use it throughout the month. You can do this with other meats as well as non-perishable or freezable staples.

Avoid snacks and other extras.

When I took a good look at our grocery spending last year, I realized that a lot of what we were buying wasn’t for meals. It was extra stuff that may have been on sale or just looked good that we were throwing into the cart. Cutting out these extra purchases will cut your spending and make it easier to avoid snacking at home. In the beginning we cut out everything that wasn’t part of a meal just to get used to the concept of buying only for meals. Now we’ve been able to work healthy snacks back into our grocery trips by shopping the sales and limiting ourselves.

Drink water or iced tea instead of soda.

Seriously. I still struggle with this one because I enjoy drinking a diet soda with dinner, but you can cut your grocery spending by $12-$20 a month just by cutting out soda and packaged beverages.

Clip coupons.

I’ll be honest. I’m terrible at clipping coupons, and this has not been part of my grocery saving strategy. But if you find you have a knack for coupon clipping, you can save a ton by matching coupons with in-store deals. We typically don’t purchase packaged foods, so I’ve found that coupons aren’t very useful for us for groceries.

Add a “leftovers night” to your meal plan.

You can easily cut about $10 a week from your grocery cost by planning for six meals instead of seven. This is also a good way to clear out your refrigerator and avoid wasting leftover food.

Our $50-$60 a week grocery budget is considered pretty high for two people in the frugal world. Many frugal families of four are able to eat well for $30-$40 a week. But we consider groceries to be one of our few luxuries because we love to cook and eat.

What about you? How do you keep your grocery costs down?

Photo by B tal

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