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People are always looking for new ways to save money on groceries. With food price inflation outpacing overall economic inflation, it’s not difficult to see why.
But let’s face it — grocery shopping is no one’s favorite task. If you’re anything like me, you like to keep your grocery runs as quick and infrequent as possible.
I get it, I really do. That’s why it took me so long to get on my grocery game. Now that I feel like I’ve finally figured it out (for the most part) I’m here to share my favorite tips with you!
Note: I will never advocate saving money on groceries by purchasing cheap, processed foods. I stick to an all-organic diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and always try to get the proper nutrients in the right amounts. So I can tell you firsthand that it is possible to eat an actually healthy diet on a budget — even a tight one! Here’s how I do it.
1. Plan Your Meals
I only recently got into meal planning, so I’m still working out a system. However, my tummy and my brain are both much happier on the weeks I get it right! I started using $5 Meal Plan a few months ago for recipe inspiration (I use their Gluten Free plan!).
They make it soooo much easier! They deliver a new meal plan to my email inbox every week with a list of recipes and groceries. I hang on to all the meal plans so I can pick and choose which ones I want every week depending on what I’m feeling or what groceries I have on hand.
The recipes are all tasty and inexpensive — the website claims that each recipe costs $2 or less per person, but it’s obviously a little more expensive if you buy organic. You can try $5 Meal Plan free for 14 days!
Switch It Up: Most people plan their meals and then purchase the necessary ingredients. Try backing into your meal plan by purchasing groceries that are on sale and then looking for recipes to incorporate your finds!
2. Keep a Running List
Keep a list somewhere in your kitchen — a notepad, the refrigerator, cabinet door — and update it every time you run out of something. That way you’re less likely to forget items on your grocery runs.
Just don’t forget to actually look at or grab the list before you leave (I’m guilty of this one)! After a few grocery runs, it should become a habit.
3. Eat Out Less Often
This one is so tempting for me because I have a serious lack of self-control. When I go to a cafe to work, I will almost always succumb to the smell of coffee and muffins.
The best way to avoid this temptation? Well, for one, don’t hang out in restaurants and bars. And secondly, start making delicious meals at home! Again, I recommend $5 Meal Plan, because it’s much easier to avoid temptation when you’re not waiting until your stomach is grumbling and you think it’s going to start eating itself before deciding to cook your next meal. (I’m guilty of this — that’s why I meal plan now!)
It’s also handy to keep around a good cookbook. Sometimes you just have cravings, ya know? When that happens for me, I like to flip through my favorite cookbook and see if anything catches my eye. Just because you plan your meals doesn’t mean you have to always stick to it. If you ask me, plans (like rules) were meant to be broken. (;
4. Get Cash Back
There are a few different apps that that will give you cash back for your grocery purchases, but the one I like and use the most is Ibotta. I didn’t like it as much when I first downloaded the app because it didn’t have many of the things I normally buy.
However, they’ve added a lot of new deals since then! Like these:
(That avocado mayonnaise is awesoooooome!)
I do a quick search for “organic” and pick out my favorite items.
Ibotta is super easy, though it does require a little bit of planning. You first have to choose what items you’re going to get cash back on, then unlock the rebate by completing a simple task like answering a question or sharing a coupon. Then you make your purchase, scan your receipt, and voila — cash back in your pocket!
And Ibotta isn’t just for groceries. You can get cash back on a ton of different kinds of purchases, including Groupons, Amazon Video, clothing, electronics, and much more!
Plus, you get a $10 welcome bonus when you sign up!
5. Drink More Water
It saddens me to see people drinking soda everywhere I go. Am I the only one who feels this way??
I was at the hospital not long ago and saw a lady walk into the ER thinking she had another kidney stone and she was drinking a Coke! (If you don’t know why I’m making a big deal out of this, studies have shown that soda intake drastically increases risk of kidney stones, like this one from the American College of Physicians.)
Drink more water, people!
Drinking water is a win-win. Save your money + improve your health. Why wouldn’t you?
6. Shop Online (Vitacost, Thrive Market)
Yes, even with groceries! (Isn’t technology amazing!?)
Vitacost is always running a sale of some sort, and they have everything! Supplements, sports and fitness, babies, pets — whatever your shopping needs, you can probably find something at Vitacost. I buy most of my beauty products from them, as well as some of my favorite pantry staples. I’ve found deals up to 50% off retail prices on Vitacost!
Psst! You can also get cash back at Vitacost through Ebates.
Thrive Market is another awesome platform for buying groceries online. I love that Thrive gives back as part of their mission to “make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone.” Each paid membership sponsors a free membership for a low-income family. How awesome is that!? They also have a savings guara
Thrive also has a savings guarantee that ensures if you don’t make your membership fee back in savings throughout the year, then they will refund you the difference. So it’s completely risk-free to join! You can sign up for free to check it out and get 25% off your first order.
7. Buy Local
I know, I know. I just told you to shop online, and now I’m telling you to buy local.
Make up your mind, Megan!
Both can save you a lot of money depending on what grocery items you buy and what’s available in your area. I usually shop at my local farmers market for produce items and buy canned and specialty goods online (salmon, coconut oil, beauty products, etc.). Farmers markets are a great place to find awesome deals on nutritious, organic foods.
A lot of farms also do Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. What that means is they sell “shares” to the community — you pay a certain amount per month or per season, and you get paid in the form of delicious, healthy, nutritious foods (usually boxes of vegetables, but sometimes other goodies).
On top of saving you money, CSAs can be a fun way to get to know your local farmers and gain exposure to new kinds of vegetables and different ways of cooking.
8. Don’t Shop Hungry
It always seems like a good idea, but it never is. I can’t recall a single time I’ve gone to the grocery store hungry and didn’t leave with a half-eaten bag of potato chips.
Generally speaking, most people have less patience and less self-control when they’re hungry. Clearly I do… Save yourself the trouble (and the money) by at least having a hearty snack before running your grocery errands.
9. Buy in Bulk
I used to be against buying and storing a lot of food because I was afraid of things going to waste. I’m also very cognizant of spending a lot of money at once on anything, including food items. But eventually making 3 or 4 grocery runs per week got old. I realize now that buying in bulk isn’t only convenient, but cost-effective, too.
For example, let’s say you eat 5 cans of wild caught Alaskan Sockeye Salmon per week (delicious, by the way — you can get it at Vitacost). Normally, it costs $4 per can, but it’s on sale for $2.50. If you only purchase enough for a week, you’ll be paying regular prices again next week. But if you purchase enough for, say, a month (4 weeks), you’ll save $22.50 on just a single item.
Imagine if you used this technique for several items every month. You could save hundreds!
Math Magic: (5 x $2.50) + (15 x $4) = $72.50; ($2.50 x 20) = $50; $72.50 – $50 = $22.50 Savings
10. Eat Less Meat
Meat is expensive. Not to mention the meat (and dairy) industry is horrifyingly gruesome. Animals are stuffed into small spaces, disease-ridden, mistreated and abused in ways most of us could never imagine. Not to mention, red meat has been linked to increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers.
Now, I’m not vegan. I still eat locally and ethically sourced meats. But if you do decide to drastically reduce your meat intake, you’ll want to be sure you’re still getting the appropriate amounts of protein and other essential vitamins and nutrients.
That’s where healthy supplements can help! Vitacost has a great selection of vitamins and supplements, including plant-based protein powders that won’t break your budget.
I’m a financial coach and author + owner of Goodbye to Broke. I love all things personal finance, money management, and healthy living. And I talk to my dog way too much, if we’re being honest.