In this article, we will show you how you can feed your large family while grocery shopping on a small budget. We’ve come up with 23 tips that will help you reduce your grocery budget significantly and feed your family healthy meals.
GROCERY SHOPPING ON A SMALL BUDGET // BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR THE GROCERY STORE
Tip #1 Shop Your Freezer and Pantry First
The first tip to lowering your grocery bill is simple; shop your freezer and pantry. You may be surprised how much food you already have in your kitchen. And don’t forget about leftovers! If you know there are some meals you can make with the ingredients you already have, then you won’t be tempted to eat out.
Tip #2 Don’t Grocery Shop Hungry
When you go grocery shopping on a full stomach, you’ll likely buy more and spend more money than if you shop hungry. Shopping when you’re hungry forces the issue and will make it easier for you to save money by spending only on the items that are necessary.
Tip #3 Meal Plan
Meal planning is one of the best ways to help cut your grocery bill. You’ll be able to plan for what you need and create a menu that will save you money on food while still providing nutritious options for your family.
Meal plan around what you already have in your pantry and freezer. You can also meal plan by using left-overs. This will cut down on food waste.
An added bonus is that you always have an answer to the question “what’s for dinner!”
Tip #4 Use a Grocery List and Stick to It
A grocery list is an essential thing to have before you enter the grocery store. When grocery shopping, it’s easy to get distracted through the store and buy everything in sight. A list will keep you focused on your initial mission; saving money.
You’ll also be able to make sure that you only buy what you need, without any extras or impulse buys. There are tons of apps available that make grocery lists electronically or by voice, which can help you save time for other activities rather than running around the grocery store hunting for things.
Stick to your list. If it’s not on the list and it’s not essential for this week’s meals – then skip it.
Tip #5 Properly Store Your Food
When you store your food properly (in airtight containers or resealable bags) it will be fresher for longer.
All of the money invested in purchasing quality food can be lost if you put them away improperly, causing them to rot and go bad before their time.
Know what items you can freeze so that they have a longer life. If you can’t use something before it goes bad, popping it in the freezer or cooking it, then freezing it will help prevent waste.
Tip #6 Eliminate Bottled Water
Water is a commodity that people take for granted. It is so common and so easy to find, many of us don’t think twice about paying the price at the grocery store. But what if there was a water-saving method you could use every day?
You may be surprised to learn that buying bottled water every single day can cost as much as $2,000 per year! That’s more than an expensive gym membership or cable bill most families pay each year. The average American family buys between two and four liters of bottled water per week – which comes out to around $1,400 spent on bottled water annually.
There are several ways to reduce your bottled water costs. Purchase a water cooler and reusable flasks. Pitchers with built-in water filters are also a good idea on how to save money on water. Lastly, there are water filters that connect directly to your tap.
Tip # 7 Shop the Grocery Ads and Sales Before You Make Your Meal Plan and List
When meal planning and making your grocery list, it’s important to know what is on sale as well as be aware of items you may be able to stock up on.
Grocery ads change weekly, so it’s important that you take the time to look at the local store ads before you get started.
Tip #8 Sign-up for Rewards, Grocer Apps, and Online Coupons
Many grocery stores and supermarkets offer digital APPS and coupons to make saving easier.
It will take a few minutes of your time to sign up for future discounts and rewards programs. Just think, every dollar you save is a dollar toward paying off debt or putting away for savings. These small wins add up!
TIPS TO SAVE MONEY ONCE YOU’RE INSIDE THE GROCERY STORE
Tip #9 Buy Cheap(er) Meat and Other Inexpensive Protein Sources
There are several ways to save on your protein choices. The first is to buy family packs of chicken, turkey or pork when it goes on sale. You can use these meats in several meals throughout the week instead of just one-creating easy leftovers.
The best way to save money on meat is to cook ahead and freeze. When you have time, cook your proteins completely and then divide them into meal-sized portions and freeze. This will save you money and time in the long run.
Another way to save on meat is to buy less desirable cuts, such as beef chuck roast, pork shoulder or even ground meats. While these do take more work to prepare, they can be cooked for hours with onions and spices making them tender and delicious.
Finally, remember that there are protein sources other than animal proteins. Beans, legumes, and some vegetables are also excellent sources of protein. If you can add in a few days on non-meat meals into your meal plan, it will help you save a bit at the grocery store as well.
Tip #10 Buy Frozen Vegetables and Fruits
One way to save money on fruit and vegetables is to buy frozen instead of fresh. Fresh produce goes bad quickly, but you can keep your frozen fruit and veggies for several months. And since they are flash-frozen while the nutrients are still intact, you won’t lose any of the vitamins and minerals you need!
Tip #11 Shop in Bulk
A great way to save money on your groceries is to buy them in bulk. You can always take advantage of store-wide sales or find out when specific items are on sale and plan your trip around those weekly savings. Items that are often cheaper when bought in bulk include nuts, seeds, and grains. Look for bulk items on sale to save even more!
However, use caution when shopping bulk-type stores like Costco and Sam’s club. It is not always cheaper. These stores can be a budget buster if you are an impulse buyer. You also need to make sure you are comparing the per-unit cost to ensure you really are saving money in the long run.
Tip #12 Take Advantage of Store Flyers
Most stores have a weekly flyer that can really help you reduce your grocery budget. You’ll be able to see what is on sale around town and plan your meals accordingly! Make a list based on what is on sale and stick to it!
Tip # 13 Shop the Perimeter of the Store and Avoid the Products at Eye Level
One trick you can use to save money on your grocery bill is to buy products at the perimeter of the store and avoid those at eye level.
The products at eye level are most often more expensive name-brand items than those found at the bottom and top of the aisle.
It’s also important to shop mostly from the perimeter of the store because healthier and cheaper items, such as fruits and vegetables, are located around the perimeter, while packaged and processed foods with little to no nutritional value — like chips and cookies — tend to be at the center of the store.
Tip #14 Shop the Store Brands
Another way to save money when shopping for groceries is to check out the store brands.
They are usually cheaper than national brands and are already marked down so you can get them even cheaper! Often these are the same foods as the national brands and the only difference is the outside label.
Tip #15 Chop, Divide, and Package Items Yourself
You pay extra for convenience. Buying pre-chopped vegetables, shredded cheese, and smaller packaging may save you time, but it also costs you money.
Instead, buy large-sized items and package them yourself to save money. Buy the large block of cheese and have one of the kids shred it and put it in zip-locks for later use. Storing in reusable containers is another option.
Tip #16 Use Coupons Carefully
When it comes to couponing, there are some things you need to be aware of before going out and buying a bunch of unnecessary items just because they’re on sale with a coupon attached.
First, coupons are only good on the specific items they are promoting. If you buy 10 of those Oreos with your coupon, you will still have to pay full price for the other things in your cart!
Second, while some stores accept competitor’s coupons, it is not a given. So always read the fine print before clipping.
Third, coupons can expire and using them past their expiration date can turn your “savings” into a loss. So always check the expiration date before buying!
Tip #17 Look at the Dates!
Looking at the food product’s use-by dates is an easy way to save money. You can find them on nearly all packaged foods, and they give you a good idea of how long you have until it goes bad. For example, if your package of lunch meat says “use-by date: 1/25,” then that means the product will be fresh for one more day after January 25th! So in order to get the most out of your money by not wasting anything in your refrigerator, always check the expiration date before buying.
OTHER HELPFUL GROCERY SAVING TIPS
Tip #18 Pay With Cash
Paying with cash at the grocery store is one approach to save money. This will prevent you from spending more than you have to. You could end up spending less because when your working budget runs out, you are done shopping!
Tip #19 Order Your Groceries Online
Shopping for groceries online is an easy and convenient way to save money. You can order your grocery essentials from home, saving you time and gas money.
With a few clicks of the mouse, you could have all the ingredients for tonight’s dinner delivered right to your door! And since many stores offer free delivery or flat-rate shipping, ordering groceries online will save you even more money.
Ordering groceries online also eliminates impulse buys which can break your budget if not planned out carefully beforehand.
Tip #20 Learn How to Cook
Cooking your own food can save you tons of money. There are many reasons why, but here are just a few to get you thinking about it!
When you cook for yourself, you know exactly what goes into the meal instead of trusting someone else’s cooking skills or ingredients. You’ll also find that cooking is cheaper than eating out, even if you have to buy all the necessary kitchen supplies first! Your meals will be much more enjoyable too because they will be made specifically for your tastes and likes.
Cooking is not only healthier for yourself, but it is good exercise as well! It’s time to take control over what goes into your body by learning how to cook with these simple tips that will help make this task even easier.
Tip #21 Learn What Freezer Meals You Can Prepare in Advance
One of the most convenient ways to save money on food is by preparing freezer meals in advance. You can make several dinners and freeze them for future use.
This will allow you to pull out whatever meal you need quickly, without having to run to the store or order take-out! Even if you are not great at cooking, learning a few easy freezer meal recipes will save you money and time.
Freezer meals or “dump” meals you can put right into the crock-pot are perfect. They save you both time and money.
Tip #22 Don’t Limit Yourself to One Grocery Store
You may think going to more than one grocery store is too much of a hassle, but the truth is that going to more than one grocery store could save you money.
Not only does this allow you to take advantage of different sales and coupons, but it also allows you to comparison shop. By comparing the price per ounce or pound between two different stores, you can save a great deal of money!
For example, our local dollar store sells name-brand bread for .99. The same bread is priced at Walmart for between $2.50 and $3.50. That is a $1.50 to $2.50 saving for each loaf! That’s a huge savings and allows our family to put those savings to other food items, like meat and dairy.
Tip # 23 Buying Wants vs. Needs
Particularly when you are living on a tight budget, every dollar counts. That means you need to make sure that you are not buying items that are wants rather than needs.
For instance, a recipe calls for chicken breast – you may want chicken breast but they are more expensive than thighs but it will make no difference in the meal whether you use the thighs instead.
Do you “need” to have steak on your menu this week? Or will the pork chops on sale satisfy your meal plan for the week?
You can feed your family for less when you use these simple tips to make the most of a tight budget. Whether it’s learning how to cook, comparison shopping at multiple grocery stores, or making freezer meals in advance, there are many ways that you can save money on food by only buying what is necessary and avoiding expensive wants.
Let us know if we were able to provide some helpful insight into feeding your large family without breaking the bank!
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