17 Hacks On How To Save Money On Groceries and Eat Healthy
I bet if you looked at 90% of people that write down new years resolutions, they would include both of these.
- 1. Save money
- 2. Eat healthy.
No matter if this is for yourself or a goal for the family, money and food drive us.
In nearly all house holds groceries are one of the largest monthly expenses and definitely one that seems to vary the most month to month.
For anyone that has attempted eating clean, healthy or organic you may notice all these new green veggies and meats can for sure jump up the price of your typical grocery budget…But this doesn’t have to be the case.
You can still eat healthy and save money. Being a health freak myself (95% health freak) I have been through a number of diets myself that for 2 people jumped our budget to over $150 a week..And this is high for us!
In fact the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion reports that in 2015 that feeding a family of four can be as much as $954.60 per month depending on where you live.
But don’t fear! Below I have compiled a list of 17 things you can do to help save money on groceries and help reduce your bill down by almost 50% in most cases and still eat clean and healthy!
Lets get started
How To Save Money On Groceries
1. Don’t shop hungry
We’ve all done it. No matter if you have a list or not. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry! Research shows you are more likely to pick out random calorie packed food items because they ‘look good’ to eat at that time or you want to snack on when you finish to fulfill your hunger. To help this always plan to go shopping after a meal such as after lunch instead of before.
2. Buy Generic Foods
Just like what you should do when shopping medicines. Generic labels can offer a significant cost savings for particular foods that are incredibly similar as brand label equivalents. Now this isn’t always the case but in many this can save money on groceries each and every month once you make the switch. You need to experiment with this one because you may simply not like the taste of a generic brands and visa versa.
3. Always Shop Alone When Possible
It’s been researched, when shopping with somebody else you are 65% more likely to pick up unplanned grocery items. If you have kids we have all been there when you get to the check out and you’re pulling out toys and sweets you had no idea where there, then it creates world war 3 when you start putting them back! So always try to shop solo. Use a list and stick to it, that alone will prevent impulse or encouraged purchases
4. Always Check The Labels
If it’s a perishable item, and if you’re shopping for healthy foods, read the label and and buy as fresh as you can. I always say you should shop back to front of the shelves to get the freshest stuff. This way you will save money because it will last longer and you find yourself throwing less foods away. So don’t be lazy and pull the closest one, get stuck in at the back and find the one with the oldest sell by date.
5. A Little Prep Work Goes Along Way
Stop buying pre prepared food such as sliced mushrooms, chopped up fruits or sliced meats. Yes I know it’s convenient. But you’re paying for the process. It’s very quick and easy slice your own mushrooms, grate your own cheese and if you buy a large roast of beef. You can slice that and make sandwiches for a family of 4 for A WEEK!Yes it takes a bit more time but you will get a lot more for your money
6. Pay For Groceries With Cash
Now this may not be for everybody, but if you really want to keep things strict, then to help reduce the impulse purchases knowing you have the cushion of the credit card. Take one lump sum of cash and now you’re limited to what you can buy. You may need to budget a few shops to know how much you are spending on average. But once you have that calculated you can walk in with cash and deny yourself of the impulse purchases and start saving money on your groceries consistently each trip.
7. Eat Groceries In Season
This isn’t as limiting as it sounds, but purchasing fruit and vegetables when they are in season is a great way to help save money on groceries and get your fruits and veg tasting better and packed with more juices and vitamins! When you buy out of season you never know where it’s been shipped from, how many times it’s been frozen and how it’s been handled. Start looking locally as well in farmers markets and on the side of the road with local farms selling from the road. You can get some great bulk organic deals and help the local community at the same time. Use website such as http://www.sustainabletable.org/seasonalguide/seasonalfoodguide.php to show you state by state whats best to eat and when.
8. Get Regimented About Your Shopping Agenda
This was one of the best for me. Many times we are always running in to just ‘pick a few things up’ each day or every other day. But each one of those stops can turn into little $30-$40 impulse trips and they all add up without knowing. Plan to shop just once or twice through the week on a schedule. You’ll find you’ll spend more time at home, spend less money on groceries and have more variety each time it comes to cooking a meal at home.
9. Buy Food In Bulk
No matter if it’s condiments, spices, vegetables or meats. Use places like Costco, Sam’s Club or catering sections in your local grocery store to buy foods in bulk and then either cut up and freeze or store away and use over time as long as it’s not perishable. This is most rewarding with things like spices, fats, nuts etc. Even with things like chicken and beef. If you can buy in bulk or when on sale. Portion it and freeze it. Even better vacuum pack.
10. Prep and Pack Your Own Lunch
If you are able to take food into your workplace, do it. Those casual runs to Subway add up (both in calories and dollars). Plan ahead and buy your lunch at the grocery store. Even better, cook larger portions the night before and take in left overs (This was a game changer for me). This means you won’t have cravings or eat simply what’s easy and available…. Plus you don’t spend 10mins of your valuable hour lunch standing in line. This alone can save $30 -$50 a week per person.
11. Check For Sales Close By First
Before you head out or through the week, collect coupons and deals at local stores. Again this may be a bulk buy situation and some prep may be involved, but you can find huge savings through the week even at certain times of the day. Meats and fresh produce may not last another day so they reduce them at the end of the day to clear them out for new items. Nearly all grocery stores have a specials catalogue at the entrance, always grab it and don’t forget to keep it healthy and not jump on any unhealthy alternatives just because it’s on sale. Be Strong Soldier!!
12. Loyalty Cards and Points Programs
If your local store does rewards points or some type of loyalty program. Take advantage of it! It’s free grocery money just for shopping in the same place. This can either be used on food or in a lot of cases gas…Either way it’s savings. Also use sites like retailmenot.com or coupon.com before you head out just to make sure you ain’t missing out of a few extra savings. You may have to be a bit flexible with brands, but as long as it’s healthy, tastes good and saves you money on groceries, it’s a win win in my book.
13. Don’t Go Without A Plan — Shopping List
Sit down and plan out your meals or at least get a rough shopping list for the week. This can be a game changer in so many ways. A lot of experts will tell you this is the best way to save money on groceries and still eat healthy. Write down a clear plan of what you will eat each day, map out exact ingredients and quantities as well, This way you won’t pick up items you don’t need and again you will always have options when it comes to eating. Meaning you won’t resort to late night pizza as often because it’s “easier”.
14. Grow Your Own Vegetables and Herbs
Yes some of you will be limited by space and seasons, but it goes without saying you can get 50 tomatoes for $3 over the space of the summer from your own backyard if you do it right, and it’s the same with LOADS of other vegetables, fruits and herbs. When I did mine for the first year with cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli and sweet potatoes, as well as parsley, cilantro, rosemary and chives. Over the summer we saved an estimated $500. We actually had so much I was giving it away to neighbors…So we could have actually made some money from it as well.
15. Learn To Cook
There is a lot of ways to save on this page. But this is one of the back bones. Learning to cook so you don’t eat out as much or buy overpriced pre-sliced and pre-cooked foods can save $100+ a month instantly. Not only that, your cooking will taste better, be healthier and more involved if you live with others. Plus you’re not as limited with portions so you can control how much you make and in return how much you have as leftovers to save money on other meals, such as next days lunch.
16. Audit The Kitchen Before You Shop
How many times have you just run out and come back and “Doh! We already had that”. Happens all the time with vegetable and pantry items. Make a mental or physical note before you go so you don’t double up and help reduce waste.
17. Less Is Always More… (In Tase and Savings)
When you cook yourself don’t think feel need 20 different herbs and spices to make a dish taste good. A simple meal of meat, 2 vegetables and a sauce will ALWAYS satisfy, cause it’s all in the seasonings when done right. This also cuts down on extravagant ingredients that can cost $7 for a one time use. So think clean, think healthy and think easy.
Wow! That’s a lot of savings. You now have no excuse not to be saving money on groceries now. If done right and just taking a hand full of these ideas you should effortlessly be able to save an extra $100 a month.
Just you tell me. experiment with a few of these ideas and let me know below in the comments how it works out for you, or if you have any additional methods you can share with other readers to help save on food.
As always, if this article was helpful please share with friends and family.
Originally published at www.financialfreedomlab.com on March 6, 2015.