In 2019, the average US household spent an estimated $8,169 for food alone for the entire year. Of this, $4,643, which accounts for 56.8%, went toward food at home. That’s on top of the $660 spent on housekeeping supplies and $707 for personal care items.
Since most of those are grocery items, that implies a yearly average spending of $6,010 on groceries alone. That’s over $500 per month, excluding food away from home.
Five Benjamins is a lot, especially since there are plenty of ways to save money on groceries.
Ready to learn what exactly these money-saving strategies are? Then let’s get this guide started!
Table of Contents
1. Master the Art, Math, and Science of Meal Prep
Meal prep involves creating a list of whole meals and then scheduling when to make and eat them. The goal is to eat healthily while saving time and money by preparing dishes beforehand. So, instead of prepping for every meal, you can pre-assemble a few days’ worth of dishes in one go.
Meal prep can save you money on groceries since you’d buy lower-cost ingredients in bulk. These include items you can freeze for days, like meats, seafood, veggies, and pastry dough. Note that “bulk” here means a quantity that can last you for three to five days’ worth of dishes.
An example is making a large batch of a dish, like chili, that you can freeze and serve more than one way. Chili is perfect with rice, bread, salads, and filling for bread, pies, tacos, and even bell peppers. Chili mac and cheese is another excellent, no-fuss way to enjoy the dish.
As you can see, the art part of meal prep is that you get to be creative in thinking up ways to serve a single dish in many ways. The math refers to portioning, pricing, and saving on ingredients and dishes. The science aspect has to do with proper nutrition (your health) and food safety.
2. Make Kitchen Raids a Must Before Shopping
Did you know that US consumers waste almost 40 million tons of food each year? This suggests that each person wastes about 219 pounds of food every year, amounting to $1,600 per family. All in all, annual food waste in the US alone leads to $161 billion in losses.
To avoid such huge wastes and instead save on groceries, raid your kitchen before you shop. Check your freezer, fridge, and pantry to know which items you already have, and be sure to note them down. Compare this with your meal prep list to confirm which ingredients you still need to get.
Creating a kitchen inventory helps ensure you don’t “overstock” grocery items. After all, you don’t need several hundred ounces of soy sauce or oil or pounds and pounds of flour, do you? So, by buying only what you need for a week or so, you can trim your grocery expenses.
All that makes a kitchen inventory one of the best ways to save money on groceries and cut down on food waste.
3. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Coupons
According to one estimate, only 1% of US consumers redeem coupons. Shoppers who use Consumer Packaged Goods coupons reported saving an average of $30 to $50 a week. That sums up to a staggering $1,560 to $2,600 savings each year!
That sounds amazing, but that level of savings does require a lot of digging and involvement. However, you don’t have to spend hours looking for these so long as you search with specific targets in mind.
For example, you can look for digital coupons offered on grocery items you’re running low on. You can also check the Kroger weekly ad, which has deals that can save you anywhere from $0.50 to $1 per item. There are even coupons available for organic products and fresh produce.
If you decide to use printable coupons, be sure the store you visit acknowledges them. Each store follows a coupon policy, and some may not accept those printed from websites. You can ring up your local grocery or check their website to learn which coupons they allow.
4. Shop From the Comfort of Your Home
Ordering grocery items online for delivery can help you keep impulse buying at bay. There are no aisles that can tempt you from tossing “unnecessaries” in a virtual cart. Plus, you may not have to pay for delivery if you meet the free shipping minimum.
What’s more, you can use coupons on official store websites to save money on groceries. Home shopping also makes it easier to avoid “overstocking,” as you can check your pantry while you shop. Moreover, online grocery shopping helps you avoid the crowd, and you can save precious gas, too.
5. Sum up Your Costs as You Shop
If you shop at a brick-and-mortar store, use your phone’s calculator to keep a running tally of what goes in your cart. Round up the prices, too, so that you can save even more than what you expect.
Either way, the goal is to see actual figures, which can help you stick to your budget. If you exceed your “planned costs,” you can sift through your cart to pull out the stuff you don’t really need. In doing so, you won’t have to deal with unwanted “surprises” at the register.
6. Journal Your Expenses and Savings
You’re more likely to stick to your budget if you keep track of what you spend and get to save. A $150 weekly grocery bill may seem small at that time, but if this happens every week, that’s a whopping $600 a month. The question is, were those six Benjamins really for essentials, or were some of them for impulse buys?
A good chunk of that most likely went for items you got tempted to purchase.
That’s why it’s best you keep a log of your grocery expenditures so that you can see where your money goes. This way, you can monitor which items drive your costs. From there, you can then do your best to refrain from buying them over and over again.
A journal can also keep you motivated to save on groceries since it quantifies your savings. For example, if you were able to save even just $100 a month, you have proof that you can reach your savings goal. This can encourage you to stick to your plan, so by the end of the year, you could save $1,200 at the very least.
Keep More of Your Greens With These Top Ways to Save Money on Groceries
Meal prep, kitchen raids, coupons, and online shopping are some of the top ways to save money on groceries. Doing the math by keeping track of your costs and savings can further help you stick to your goals. Of course, you have to do your part too, which is to restrain that impulsive buyer in you as much as possible.
Ready for more money-saving guides like this? Check out our site’s Money section then, and feel free to browse our other educational posts!