News flash – food is expensive! According to the USDA, the average family of four spends a whopping 10% of their household budget on buying food for their family, that’s well over $8664 on the low side to an unbelievable $13, 284 on the high side year. And the worse part of that number is that despite falling wages, the price of food continues to skyrocket. When you’re just trying to keep food on the table, it’s a scary feeling. So, how do you cut your grocery bill in half and save money on food?
Couponing is a great way to save money. There’s no doubt about it. But no reasonable person I know has time to spend 5 hours in a store choosing items that fit with their coupons which they spent about 5 hours finding, clipping and organizing for their gigantic haul. If you ever watched the show Extreme Couponing, then you know what I mean. It borders on ridiculous and well – extreme.
So if you want to save money on food, and don’t have the time or the desire to become an extreme couponer, here’s my five best tips to save money and cut your grocery bill in half.
How to Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half
Shop The Sales
The biggest bulk of your savings is not in the coupon your clipping. Your savings will come from the store sales. The better the promotion, the bigger the savings. So if you want to save big, you need to shop the sales.
Overall, you’re looking for a savings of around 30-50% off the regular store price. Don’t be fooled into thinking that everything in the flyer is on sale either. They often trick you with wording like “compare and save” or “new low price”. The reality is those items are still regular priced and not on sale at all.
The way to get really good at figuring out what’s on sale and if it’s at it’s “rock bottom” price is to keep a price book. By maintaining a price book, you immediately see in black and white who has the best promotion and what the lowest offered price is for your particular store and area.
This doesn’t mean you should buy food just because it’s on sale. Instead, be on the lookout for the foods your family eats. Eventually, all food in the store goes on sale. You just need to figure out the sales cycle for your store and the brands you’re looking to purchase. A price book will help you figure this out
Don’t assume you know which store has the best deals until you’ve checked–you may be surprised at what you find. Here in the Northeast, for example, many people believe Stop and Shop is the “expensive” store, but when you compare sale ads, you will find that Stop and Shop consistently have good sales. Many people also automatically assume that Walmart has the best prices, but most sale prices at a traditional grocery store will beat Walmart’s “everyday low price.” Also if you have an Aldi in your area, they beat many store prices even with a coupon. So check them out too. I personally use Aldi for many of my pantry and staple items because I don’t have to cut a coupon and I still reap the same benefit.
The end goal is always buying food when it’s at it’s lowest price – period!
At first, you may be thinking that stockpiling is going to cost you more money, but you’d be wrong. Remember your shopping the sales and looking to buy food at the lowest possible price. The best way to do this is to stockpile when the prices are at their lowest.
The best way to accomplish this is to learn the natural sales cycle at your favorite stores and to “stock up” when the foods you regularly buy go on sale. Most food goes on sale every 6-8 weeks. This is the magic behind saving a lot of money on food.
Let’s say by way of example that your family consumes two boxes of Raisin Bran every two weeks. The regular price for a large box of Raisin Bran is $4.50 a box. This week you happen to see it’s on sale for $1.99 a box – more than 50% off the regular price. Instead of buying just two boxes like you usually would you buy 6 or 8 boxes because you’ve figured out the sales cycle for your particular store and know you’ll need that much cereal until it goes on sale again. In essence, you get 12 boxes of cereal to last six weeks until it goes on sale again at less than half the price you would usually pay. Pair with a coupon and watch the price drop even lower!
Over time you’ll see your bill go down because you’re shopping the sales.
Eat less meat
We try to eat at least one meatless meal a week in our home. By doing so, we save about $600 a year in our food budget. Meat is high ticket item for most food budgets and so if you can find a way to cut at least one or two meals per week you could save upwards of $1200.
Here are some of our favorite family-friendly meat-free recipes:
I understand that not all families are interested in refraining from meat – not even for one meal, so when you do buy your chicken, beef, or pork, remember to stick to the principles above–buy only what is on sale, and stock up if it is a great deal.
Commit to Meal Planning
IF you like to wing meal planning – saving money at the grocery store won’t happen. Running to the store for last minute dinner items cost you more money in the long run. If you can learn to “shop your pantry” and your stockpile it will not save you time but money too.
For those of you who plan your meals then create your shopping list based on the plan, this will be more of an adjustment for you. You can still make this work if you get in the habit of plannings your meals based on what’s on sale and on what you already have on hand in your stockpile. The goal is to reduce the number of non-sale items you buy each week, meal plan each week and cut your grocery bill in half.
One great meal planning resources I’ve been impressed with is Grocery Budget Makeover. I personally am a student of GBM and after using Erin’s system was able to reduce my grocery budget from $1,200 per month to $700 per month. It completely takes the stress out of doing all this by myself. Erin has done all the hard work. All I do is follow the system and pow! I’m saving money and feeding my family food they love! The program opens a few times a year, so get on the wait list so the next time she offers the program you can see if it’s right for you.
Match Coupons To Store Sales
It’s no accident that using coupons is far down on the list. Coupons will save you a ton of money, but only if you use them by following the steps above. When you make these changes in the way you shop – shopping only for what’s on sale, buying enough to last until the next sale cycle, eating less meat, and planning meals around your stockpile and what’s on sale – then and only then will you see a dramatic drop in your grocery spending. And, that’s before clipping a single coupon or using a money saving app.
When you begin to match coupons to the products that are on sale you will see savings of up to 60% or more. Doing this consistently will cut your bill in half! Learning to coupon and match sales is a whole easier when you follow Erin’s Grocery Budget Makeover, but it’s not impossible to do it yourself.
If you’re thinking that the only coupons out there are for junk and unhealthy food options that’s not completely accurate any longer. There are coupons available for things like yogurt, cheese, soy or almond milk, frozen vegetables, oatmeal, coffee & tea, gluten-free foods, cereal, and basic pantry staples such as pasta, canned tomatoes, and rice. There are also plenty of coupons available for non-food items such as shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and over-the-counter medicine.
Money saving apps like Ibotta often have fruit and veggie coupons that you cut electronically and help you save on those types of fresh foods that are often scarce in the coupon world. I’ve been using Ibotta for quite some time and depending on what I’m purchasing can save a few extra dollars a week on top of whatever I saved at the grocery store with my coupons. Plus you earn extra bonuses by being part of a team. Join my team and let’s start saving together!
Start consistently using these methods to save money on groceries enjoy the savings and cut your grocery bill in half!
Do you have any great grocery saving tips you can share? I’d love to hear about them!