The price of groceries has skyrocketed, and every penny counts. For me, this means that I have had to work harder and shop smarter to get good prices. The truth is, grocery shopping on a budget, even a tight budget like mine, really is possible.
As of right now, the baby is not eating foods so I have not counted him in as our ninth person. If you are feeling the squeeze of making every penny count, believe me, I do as well. Groceries are one of the largest categories in a family’s budget, which is why I have mastered the art of feeding my family for pennies on the dollar.
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These things have taken me time to learn as I have been saving for more than 20 years, but they are secrets that have allowed me to now live debt free.
These are the secrets I use to do my grocery shopping on a budget of just $250 a month.
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1. Closing times
Pay attention to the closing times of the deli, meat counter, and bakery. Oftentimes they deeply discount things they will be throwing out in these departments right before they close. I have gotten amazing deals on rotisserie chicken, deli cuts, and baked goods this way.
2. Walk the aisles to save money
At times stores will have unadvertised deals or clearanced items if there are dented cans, sell by dates that have been reached or are close, packaging issues, or some other reason they are not able to be sold at full price any longer.
3. Check with someone in the produce department for extra savings
Much like the other counters I mentioned in number 1, you can ask for things that are near expiration date or for some other reason something they are not up to their standards to be put out. These often don’t make it out into the produce area for the craziest of reasons.
4. Don’t assume that bigger is always better
It is not. Most stores have signage that gives you the price per ounce, otherwise, figure it out yourself to find the size that is of the best value. Quite often, I am surprised to find what actually is the best deal.
5. Don’t shy away from generic or store brands (or stores!)
The differences in taste and quality are often minimal if any at all. I also know that sometimes the company that produces the name brand items also produce the store brand items, therefore making them the same or only slightly different.
Pro tip: Did you know that groceries are usually the biggest expense in the family budget? In many families, more money is spent on groceries than on a home mortgage or rent. For this reason, we spend more than 12 lessons on all kinds of ways to save on groceries from how to shop, how to plan cost cutting meals, to how to serve meals, and more in our money saving community, Thriving on a Dime.
If you are serious about wanting more money at the end of the month, you should try the first month for free. You should save at least $250 alone that first month. Just go HERE
6. Make a list of your price points on grocery items
My list has a good, better, and best price listed so I know where a sale price actually falls. A sale does not always mean a stock up price. At the same time, a best price means stock up like crazy.
7. Check for grocery outlets in your area for added savings
We have a bread outlet nearby that I can get packages of buns at for $.50, packages of bagels are $1.00, and so on. Even if you have to drive a distance, it could be worth it to make the trip, even if only once a month. Bread items freeze well.
8. Shop for good deals on grocery items at drugstores like I mentioned in frugal drugstore treasures
Don’t think that groceries should only be bought in grocery stores. There are many other places to find groceries both in stores and online.
9. Participate in store savings programs
Sometimes they have a loyalty type card that you swipe in order to get the sale price, sometimes they have electronic coupons that you can clip to further sweeten deals and prices. Find out what your stores have and participate.
10. Don’t assume that everything at stores like Aldi and Sav-A-Lot is cheaper
Sometimes they are not. This is where keeping a price list made and with you when you shop is helpful. You can find my list of what to buy at Aldi here.
11. In the same way, don’t assume that everything at stores like Sam’s Club and Costco is a good deal
Do your homework on the things you would buy and only buy them in bulk if it is a good deal. Remember, bigger is not always better when it comes to shopping. Read more about saving at Costco HERE. You can also read about saving at ALDI right HERE. HERE is a list of what to buy at ALDI.
12. Apply for a store credit card to save even more on groceries
Just pay your balance off in full before the due date and you come out ahead. Often with these credit cards there are days where you get extra savings when using their credit card. Sometimes they have special sales for credit card holders. There is almost always some kind of incentive that will make it worth your while to have it.
13. Know how each store works
If you live where your store doubles coupons, make sure you know when these days are and take advantage of them. Know how you get sale prices at each store, how any loyalty programs work, and whether they offer things like rain checks on sale products they are out of.
14. Watch out for incentives associated with their store’s gas station
Sometimes if you spend a certain amount on groceries, you get a price break on gas. These are savings that you can add on to your savings on groceries since the gas savings are a direct result of the grocery purchases you made.
15. Participate in programs like Ibotta
These are free to join, and it is an awesome way to get some added savings after you purchase certain items. If they are things you buy anyway, these programs can really save you some money. The savings can add up quickly. One year I used my savings from programs like this to have a pretty awesome Christmas with my family.
PRO TIP: You can even get a $10 credit for signing up with Ibotta by using this link HERE.
Many of these suggestions take a bit of work either beforehand or in the store, but these are the primary reason I can feed my family of eight on a budget of $250 a month including 10 gallons of milk.