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How to reduce your grocery bill by 90%

✋ Raise your hand if you feel your food budget is out of control… like any. single. month. Yes me

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✋ Raise your hand if you feel your food budget is out of control… like any. single. month. Yes me too. And if you’ve had enough, you’re probably all like:

Source: giphy.com

But is it really possible to reduce your grocery bill by 90% – or even just by half?

I’ll be the first to say that it really is, really difficult to reduce your grocery bill by 90% unless you live on lobster and caviar every week. That said, it’s not impossible.

Here are some of my favorite tips on how to save money at the grocery store.

Buy at discount grocery stores like Aldi or Trader Joes

One of the easiest ways to save food is to shop at discount stores like Aldi and Trader Joes. These stores tend to be cheaper than your average grocery store for a number of reasons:

  • They have lower overhead costs.
  • They are less focused on marketing (or “branding”) their products.

For example, one Clark.com study found that you can save 33% on groceries by shopping at Aldi versus a name brand store like Kroger – and 20% by shopping at Aldi instead of Walmart.

2. Compare prices between stores – even if it means driving to a few different stores first

Speaking of grocery stores … even if you already have a place where you would like to go shopping, take a day or two to look at other stores in your area. You may find that one item is significantly cheaper at one versus the other.

For example, say your household goes through two liters of milk a week. If milk costs $ 2.49 at Walmart and $ 1.49 at Aldi, it’s $ 104 a year you can save on just one item!

Price look at other staples like sugar, flour, canned beans, eggs, spices, vinegar and more for even more savings.

3. Plan your meals for the week based on what is for sale

Another great way to save on food is to plan your meals based on what is for sale. It may take a little extra effort up front, but the payout can help you pay less at the grocery store.

To do this, start by flipping through your local grocery store’s weekly circular. Choose some items that are for sale. Then make a list of meals you can make with them.

Say for example chicken, beans, noodles and pasta sauce are for sale. You can make white chicken chilli with the chicken and beans, and chicken Alfredo with the noodles and gravy. Likewise, you have two hearty meals to keep you satiated for the week.

Brownie points if you use “buy one, get one free” (BOGO) offers to stack your savings even more.

4. Cut coupons and look for discount codes

In addition to planning your meals around what is for sale, you can also save on food by using coupons.

For example, applications like Ibotta scan your grocery store receipts and give you a refund when they received a coupon for something you bought.

Likewise, a cash back credit card that is good for groceries can be a great way to stretch your grocery budget even further. Just make sure you pay off your account in full each month to avoid interest.

Read more: Best credit cards for groceries

5. Always, always, always eat your leftovers

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love leftovers and those who despise them. If you’re in the latter camp, learning to love (or at least tolerate) your leftovers can add significant savings to your wallet.

One study found that the average person can save $ 375 a year by simply eating leftovers. A family of four can save as much as $ 1,500 a year.

And if you think, “Yeah, but leftovers are BIG! 🤢”, well, it could be that you did not get meals you like or that you did not learn how to heat your food properly. Do some experimenting. If it teaches you how to save money on groceries, it’s definitely worth it!

6. Stick to your shopping list and do not buy anything that is not on it

A big part of saving money on food is making sure you stick to your shopping list and avoid everything else.

Grocery stores are incredibly smart. They use a lot of mental magic to get you to spend money you do not have:

  • Pour milk into the back of the store so you have to walk in several aisles to get to it.
  • With a Nutella stand right next to the bananas.
  • Display sweet cereal at eye level.
  • Surround the toll road with candy bars and tasty treats.

All of these tactics are meant to entice you to spend just a little more on groceries than intended. And even if it’s just an extra $ 20 a week in “extras”, it can add up to $ 1,000 or more in the course of a year.

7. Buy in bulk – the larger the quantity, the cheaper the price per unit

One study found that you can save up to 25% on groceries by buying in bulk at a store like Costco or Sam’s Club. But the key here is to buy in bulk only if:

  1. This is already a product you use regularly.
  2. You know for a fact that you can use it all before the expiration date.

Otherwise, it could end up throwing your grocery budget off the track altogether.

8. Go with the generic store brand

Did you know that retail brands are typically 20% to 25% cheaper than brand names? This is why switching to your store’s private label can be a great way to save food.

If there are certain brands that you can not give up – such as Oreos or Coca-Cola, this is fine. Instead, try buying the generic version of pantry staples such as flour, sugar, mayonnaise, cooking oil, and garbage bags. You’ll be less likely to see a difference in quality – if there is one at all.

9. Make your own sauces and spice mixes at home

Another great way to save food is by making your own sauces and spice mixes at home. (I know this from personal experience, because I spent way too many years buying versions of my favorite spices.)

But the truth is, it really is not necessary to ever buy taco seasonings, salad dressing or “special burger sauce” if you have the basics in your pantry. It’s often cheaper to make it yourself – and it tastes much better.

For example:

  • Taco seasonings are just chilli powder, smoked peppers, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and salt.
  • Special burger sauce is just mayonnaise, ketchup, hot sauce and delicacy.
  • Honey mustard vinaigrette (my favorite salad dressing) is equal parts vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard and honey.

10. Grow your own vegetables or herbs in a garden or container

Tomatoes, green onions, basil and parsley are all very easy to grow at home – even if you do not have an outdoor space.

For example, I bought a live basil herb from my local Whole Foods for $ 3.99 more than a year ago. As I pluck leaves, the plant grows new – and I have not had to buy basil since.

I also did the same thing with a $ 0.79 batch of green onions. Just cut off the white root tips, put them in water, and voilà … you will have more green onions within two weeks.

11. Apply for food stamps if you qualify

We’ve talked so far about many great ways to save on food, but let’s get real for a moment.

Food prices have been rising for years while wages have remained relatively stagnant. As a result, more and more people are struggling to cope. If this is you, then it’s not a shame to apply for food stamps if you think you can qualify – it can be a real lifesaver.

You apply for food stamps online. And if you qualify, you can get as much as $ 250 a month as a single-family household, $ 459 as a two-person household, $ 658 as a three-person household, and so on.

12. Visit a food pantry or soup kitchen if money is very low

Another option is to visit a food pantry or soup kitchen. I know many people are reluctant to do this because they feel they should not rely on charity.

But the truth is that food pantries and soup kitchens are there for anyone who needs them – regardless of your income or financial situation. And when money is really scarce, a little help can make the difference. So do not be afraid to seek out these local resources if you need more ways to save on food.

Summary

At the end of the day, there are many ways to reduce your grocery bill by up to 90% – whether it’s by shopping at discount stores, planning your meals around sales, using coupons or buying in bulk.

Exhibition image: JulieK2 / Shutterstock.com

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