Sunday, May 22, 2022

20 Ideas for Saving Money on Groceries

Lately I have been hearing a lot of complaints about how expensive food has gotten -- and it has.  I have been a coupon queen for over 30 years (way before it was cool) and here's my 15 tips on how to save money on food.

FTC disclaimer:  The following contains affiliate links.

1. Shop Loss Leaders

Stores will often have sales to draw you in.  I remember the days of 4/$1 boxes of macaroni and cheese, and while those are long gone, you can still find some good sales and while you might have to go to a couple different grocery stores, you can save some money this way.

2. Price Booklet

Back thirty years ago I was telling people they should do this.  Take note of what the cost of your typically purchased groceries are  where you shop regularly.  I often shop at Kroger and Walmart, but Kroger isn't near me so I will want to see if there are cycles to sales. But if I had a Kroger and a Walmart nearby, I would see which generally has the better price on things I would need to buy that week.

3. Eat the Sales

You might plan to have burgers on Monday, pizza on Friday, etc. but if there isn't a good deal on beef that week, then wait until beef is cheaper and eat something that is on sale.

4. Use savings apps.  

I save so much money doing this.  I have more in depth posts about using savings apps, but the ones I usually use are

iBotta -- this one you need to add offers BEFORE you shop
Fetch -- My referral code is NP7PE -- with this one I just scan my receipts after shopping and whatever I get back is pure bonus.  
Receipt Hog -- My referral code is stroh862 -- again I just scan for what I would be purchasing anyway

5. Use store apps

While Walmart doesn't have a store app, Kroger does.  Adding coupons before shopping can really give some significant savings.  Sometimes you can use a coupon up to five times, other times the coupon is only good once.  I also have store apps for Walgreens, Dollar General, and CVS.

6. Food at Dollar Tree

I really think Dollar Tree has upped their game since they went to charing $1.25 per item.  Although lately I've been finding clearanced items for as low as 25 cents for a box of cake mix.  I love their egg rolls.  The frozen ravioli is top notch.  The spring rolls (8 for $1.25) is also a great bargain.  But watch sizing.  Some of the products are smaller than a regular grocery store and may cost more per ounce.

7. Stock Up

If something you use often goes on sale, buy extra.  As I write this, iBotta has  75 cents off a jar of Ragu, up to five times on one receipt.  We eat a lot of spaghetti and ravioli (as I mentioned above).  I have learned that if you use your offer, it sometimes comes back for another use.  So this month I have purchased 15 jars of Ragu for about $1.50 a jar.  

8. Shop Grocery Outlets

Not everyone has a grocery outlet near them, but if you do, see what they have.  Sometimes these are called scratch and dent stores.  You need to watch expiration dates, but many times "best by" dates are just that -- best by and will stay good for a while afterwards.  In fact, one time I ate microwave popcorn with a best by date of six years before -- I really wanted popcorn and it was all I could find in the house.  It tasted fine -- just not as many of the kernals popped. 

9. Forage

Did you know that upscale grocery stores can sell dandelion leaves for over $3 a pound?  Wild onions for $15 a pound.  As long as you don't chemically treat your lawn, add some dandelion leaves to your salad.  My husband made some amazing dandelion jelly this year. 

10. Make it Yourself

It is easy to find bread machines in thrift stores.  It may be cheaper to make the bread yourself.  I know it is for us, and it is so much tastier.  Instead of ordering out for pizza, make your own.  Many foods can be made easily at home.  When I visited friends overseas, I loved her chili seasoning.  I asked her what brand it was, and she said it was her own, and now I always make my own taco and chili seasonings as well as ranch seasoning.

11. Dollar General 

Dollar General is another favorite store of mine.  You can scan items while in store to see if there are coupons on the products you are buying.  Most Saturdays they have a $5 off $25 coupon which can be combines with manufacture coupons in the app (make sure they say manufacture and not store.). Many Saturdays I can walk out of Dollar General with $25 for about $10.  Of course, don't forget to scan your receipts!  Also, seasonings are cheap there, which is great for when I make my yearly chili and taco seasonings.

12. CVS

While CVS is often more expensive on stuff, combining sales, coupons, and their Rewards Pass (which costs $5 a month for a $10 certificate) can make things much cheaper.  Sometimes there is a $5 off $30 of food coupon in the app.  We also get our prescriptions filled there, so we earn Extra Care Bucks from that.  About a month ago I walked out of CVS with $30 of groceries for $5 ($10 if you count the $5 I spent on the Rewards Pass for the month.). Even if you don't live near a CVS, you can get free shipping if you sign up for the Rewards Pass and purchase certain CVS or Gold Emblem items.  I didn't leave the house for almost a year before I got the vaccine and I would get great deals once a month from CVS.

13. Fast Food Apps

Download the apps for the fast food places in your area.  When our local professional hockey team wins, our local McDonalds will have free six piece nuggets with a $1 purchase.  Since my husband and I each have an account, we can order the cheapest thing on the McDonalds menu (2 cookies for $1.19) and each have two cookies and six nuggets for $1.19.  Sometimes they have other deals.  Keep an eye on your apps

14. Enter Sweepstakes

I have a group on Facebook about entering sweepstakes.  It's not a sure fire way to save money on food since sweepstakes are random, but read my blog posts about how to win sweepstakes and contests.  You can check out my group on Facebook.  It's not uncommon for me to win gift certificates or free coupons.  (I have won year's supplies of Lay's potato chips, Totino's Pizza Rolls, Colivita Olive Oil, Kellogg's Cereal, Mrs. T's Pierogies, and more!)  Also, Circle K often has a sweepstakes where you can win small convenience items.  This year I've won slices of pizza, Polar Pops, roller grill items, energy drinks, chips, nuts, and more.  

15. Stretch meat

Meat is expensive.  If you can, use it in recipes where you can add beans to make it stretch.  This is great for taco night, chili, etc.  

16. Garden

My husband and I began a small garden in 2020.  (Who didn't? Ha!). The amount of tomatoes we have been able to get from a package of seeds (purchased at Dollar Tree or Dollar General) is amazing.  Same with cucumbers.  Even if you don't have room for a garden, some herbs on the windowsill are a great idea.  I won a cooking class for my husband and the grandmother teaching it was thrilled he had fresh basil from a plant in a window.

17. Farmer's Market

Not everyone lives in an area where farming is prevalent, but if you do, check out farmer's markets.  Often you can get fresher fruits and vegetables than at the grocery store and at lower prices, too.  Of course, eat what is in season, as that helps save money as well.

18. Canning / Freezing

When my husband made the dandelion jelly, he took his first try at canning -- and in our Instant Pot no less!  We have green tomatoes frozen for enchilada sauce -- we had to harvest them last year as it was about to freeze outside, so he made enchilada sauce to freeze.  I took the red tomatoes and parboiled them and froze them for a dish I enjoy making.  

19. Dry Milk

Before you think, "I would never go that far", Dry milk is great in baking and cooking -- in fact, our bread recipe calls for dry milk.  Nido is our favorite dry milk as it is a whole milk, and not a skim milk like most dry milks.  Once you mix it and chill it, it is hard to tell the difference between store bought milk and Nido.

20. Check Amazon

It sounds odd, but groceries can at times be cheaper at Amazon.  Also, if you are a Prime member and not in a super hurry for something, you can often get $1.50 digital credit if you order 3 items that cost a total of $8.50 or more.  So then I search for groceries, lowest price first, Prime eligible (or you can click this link)

Also, watch for Amazon deals.  I recently had a coupon for $10 off a $20 or more Amazon order if I picked it up locally.  So I went to the general grocery section of Amazon, found stuff I needed, and ordered it for pick up.  I used a gift card I had earned from a savings app, and was going to where the pick up locker was anyway, so it was not an extra trip.  So I ended up getting a dozen cans of tomatoes (great for making tomato soup) for under $4!   I have also been very pleased withe their store brand of items, Happy Belly.  

No comments:

Post a Comment