5 Smart Ways Our Readers Spend Less Money on Their Groceries
After your rent or mortgage payment, one of your biggest monthly expenses is likely food. Depending on the size of your family, weekly trips to the grocery store can easily set you back a couple of hundred dollars.
And when you’re looking to tighten the purse strings and live a bit more frugally, it can seem tough to scale back at the grocery store. It’s food, after all. You have to eat.
But if you go in prepared, you can cut back without spending your entire Saturday clipping stacks of coupons. To figure out how, we asked some of the best experts we know — our Penny Hoarder readers.
Here are some of the best tips from those savvy savers.
1. Buy Your Groceries Online
Reader Jennifer H. suggests buying your groceries online whenever you can. The most frugal of our Facebook Community group respondents, she manages to feed her family of three for about $30 a week. You’ll want to take her advice.
For online grocery shopping, she likes Walmart. There, she can order online and pick up her bags in-store.
For Jennifer, this takes all the guesswork out of budgeting, because she can see her running total with each item she puts in her basket. If something breaks the budget, she can put it back with a simple click, instead of having to ask a cashier to remove something while a long line of impatient customers breathes down her neck.
2. Know the Rules for Your Favorite Stores
Jennifer also suggests knowing your favorite stores’ rules. For example, she knows her local Save-A-Lot discount grocery store takes competitors’ coupons.
On one shopping trip, she got a 20-piece package of chicken legs for just $2.55 and a package of yellow rice for 99 cents. With each family member getting two pieces of chicken, she was able to prepare dinner for several nights for less than $4.
3. Stock Up On Your Nonperishables
This tip comes from Abby S. She spends about $50 a month on groceries. She buys her nonperishable items in bulk when she can. Spending a bit more on a bigger package can save bundles of money.
For example, because Abby bought a 10-pound bag of brown rice, she was able to get it for only 33 cents per pound. That means for just over $3, she had enough rice for about two months.
She does the same thing for other items like beans, oats and spices.
4. Grow a Garden If You Can
Abby also suggests using any outdoor space you have to grow your own food. Of course, not all of us have enough yard space to plant a garden, but even if you just grow a few things on your window sill, that’s more food for free — and less money at the grocery store.
5. Choose Your Lunches Wisely
Even if you’re not a savvy budgeter, you probably know that bringing your lunch to work can save you big time. Still, our reader Michael B. says you should think about what you’re buying for lunch.
Before he became the budget master he is today, he used to buy deli meat so he could make sandwiches to bring to work. While that saved him lots of money that would have been wasted in restaurants, he realized that even on sale, his favorite deli meat was still between $6 and $10. And not only was it expensive, it expired quickly.
He switched to buying chicken breasts and thighs for several dollars cheaper per pound.
Not only did that save money, it made for tastier lunches with more variety, because he could season the meat differently each time he cooked.
Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.