During this season of my life as a stay-at-home-mom, I believe that my financial contribution to our family is to save money rather than make money. One of the ways I have been able to drastically cut our spending is at the grocery store.
Before becoming a SAHM, I would spend around $80-90 a week on groceries. Now I spend $65 a week. I am buying more groceries but spending less because I make more meals from home, and we now have our son to feed who is almost two.
Bringing the grocery budget down was overwhelming at first. I felt like I had to cut out every single coupon and match it with a sale all the time. But I have learned to keep it simple. I only cut out coupons that I know we will use, and I don’t stress about using them all the time. Instead, I am able to save big by making simple changes to the way I shop. Check them out below!
1. Focus on One or Two Major Stores
When I started lowering the budget, I spent hours comparing all the store ads each week. I think I cried a few times while trying to find what store had the lowest price on bread! I would travel around to 3-4 stores in one day, getting the best deals at each store and then come home exhausted!
After just a few weeks of this, I realized that the stores run similar sales. I started focusing on the sale cycle of my favorite store, Publix. Now, I do the majority of my shopping there and every couple of weeks I will buy a few things at Sam’s Club. You can read what I sometimes, always, and never buy at Sam’s Club.
Focusing on just one or two stores has helped me stress a lot less, and I know I’m still getting a great deal.
2. Make Foods from Scratch
One of the ways to instantly lower your grocery bill is to start making things from scratch. I wrote an entire post of the things that I make from scratch. It all started when I realized that I could make my own enchilada sauce!
I used to spend $5 each week on sweet tea for my husband, but I finally figured out how to make it and I save $5 each week by simply making the tea at home. Check out my perfect southern sweet tea recipe!
3. Make Cleaning Supplies
When I was pregnant and had a hard time with smells, I started making my own cleaning supplies. I use a DIY all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, and dish washing soap. Vinegar is a versatile and inexpensive cleaner that I use daily. Check out the 6 ways that I use vinegar to clean! Last year, I even made my own laundry detergent, but in the past few months, I’ve been able to get detergent for $1 at drugstores.
4. Use Less Paper Products
When I was working, we used paper plates almost every night. At the time we didn’t have a dishwasher, and to be perfectly honest, I hated washing the dishes! I bought paper plates continually, but now we hardly ever use them, and I rarely buy them.
5. Use It All Up
I was guilty of throwing out leftovers every week, but now I make sure we eat leftovers. If I know we aren’t going to eat the leftovers before they go bad, I put them in a freezable container and put them in the freezer right away. This has saved us a ton of money!
I also make sure to use the last bit of food in containers. I have a small spatula that works perfectly for scraping out the last bits in jars. Even when it looks like the mayonnaise jar is empty, I can scrape it clean for a couple more sandwiches. I used to throw the ends of bread away, but now I keep the ends to make bread crumbs. I haven’t bought breadcrumbs in almost two years now! These are little things that add up.
6. Use Cash Back Programs
I tried several cash back apps and it became overwhelming trying to keep up with them all. I decided to just focus on one app instead of getting stressed over all the others.
Ibotta* is my absolute favorite! I was able to cash out when I reached $10 in December and I am just under $2 away from cashing out again. That is free money! If you would like to sign up for Ibotta* but aren’t sure how to get started, send me an email with your questions. I’d love to help you out!
7. Take Advantage of BOGO’s (Buy-one-get-one-free)
BOGO sales are the best because you automatically get an item 50% off! No coupons required! There are certain things that I always buy when they go on sale for half off. I haven’t paid full price for these items in years: ketchup, salad dressing, pickles, mustard, BBQ sauce, taco shells, jelly, cereal, bagels, hot dogs, frozen vegetables, cool whip, coffee, frozen pizza, canned vegetables, cake mix, coffee creamer, cheese, paper plates, chips, crackers, soda, and more. Check your local grocery ads and start noticing the items that go on sale for BOGO. The key is to only buy those items when they are half price.
8. Shop With a List
Before I go to the store I always write down 5 meals to make the following week. We usually have leftovers one night and go out to eat the last night, so 5 meals get us through the week. Next, I go through my cupboards and freezer to make sure I have everything that I need. Whatever I don’t have, I write down on my list. Then I look through the ad and write down the sale items that I need to stock up on. If I didn’t make a list, then I would wander around the store picking up random items, some of which probably aren’t needed.
9. Keep Your Meals Simple
When we were first married, I wanted to make complicated recipes with numerous ingredients. It got tiresome and expensive. Instead of trying to come up with fancy new dishes all the time, I started focusing on mastering a short list of regular meals. We have about 30 meals that we rotate through. These are simple meals that only require 2-5 ingredients, and they are all meals that my husband loves. I also keep our side dishes simple by usually serving a vegetable or two and a starch. For lunches we eat leftovers or sandwiches and fruit and chips. By sticking to regular meals, I know exactly what to get each month at the store and I watch for the sales on those items.
1o. Buy the “Regulars” at the Lowest Price
There are some items we purchase on a regular basis that don’t go on sale for half off, but I will only purchase them when they are on sale. Toilet paper and paper towels are never BOGO, but the big packs will go on sale for $5. When they are at that price, that is when I buy them. I haven’t purchased paper goods at their full price in years because I make sure to get enough each time they go on sale. Sometimes I have a coupon to match the sale, but even if I don’t, I’m still saving money by not purchasing the toilet paper at full price.
Milk is something else that we buy every week. It never goes on sale at my grocery store, but I was purchasing it there for convenience sake. This month I have been watching the ads and buying milk when it goes on sale at Walgreens and CVS. I have saved between 40-70 cents a gallon which adds up!
What do you buy every week or every month? Make sure you are getting it at the lowest price.
Bonus Tip: Keep Learning!
The business of saving money and using it wisely is a continual learning process. If these tips are new to you, pick 2-3 to start with. Once you have the hang of those, add a couple more to your grocery shopping habits, and before you know it, you’ll be saving big on your groceries!
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