Need help saving money in the grocery store? Let this gluten-free momma of 6 give you all her tips! Your bank account will thank you…
20 Tips for Saving Money in the Grocery Store
Being a responsible adult is so much fun. One of the fun things we get to do as such is go to the grocery store and not end up with more than we can afford.
Ever struggled with this? I know I do sometimes. Thankfully, I had a very frugal mother who taught me well how to save money and still eat healthy. Here are some of the tips I try and stick to when grocery shopping – hopefully they’ll help you out as well!
1 – Make a list.
One of the best ways to save money is to make a list of the things you need and stick to it. I never go grocery shopping without a list, even if it’s written in down by my sweet 7-year old, or hastily scratched out in the car on the way to the store. Sticking to a list guarantees I won’t be coming home with stuff I don’t need and thus saves me from spending money on said stuff. Plus it helps me work on self-control.
2 – Take a regular inventory.
Regularly take an inventory your fridge, pantry, and freezer. Use up the older things first! Wait until you don’t have something, or will be out the next day, before getting more. I have a little dry erase board on my fridge that I add things to as I run out of them during the week/month. This way I don’t have to frantically run through the kitchen checking to see what I need before I head out and I don’t accidentally end up buying something I already have.
3 – Don’t shop on the weekends.
This doesn’t really save money, but it does save time… and frustration. Stores are more likely to be full of fellow shoppers on weekends, which means full parking lots, lack of carts, and long lines. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Besides, hustling 6 kids around a packed grocery store is not my idea of a good time.
4 – Get your coupons ready!
My mom uses coupons and saves a ton of money. I don’t usually use them, since coupons for paleo/primal items are few and far between, but coupons for things like diapers are always available. You can go to coupons.com and print them off right at home. No need for the newspaper. Just remember that because you see a coupon/sale for something does not mean you need it! 😉
5 – Don’t shop when you’re hungry.
My kids automatically become hungry when the Costco samples come out. Thankfully they’ve learned that just because something is tasty does not mean we’re buying it. But seriously, when you’re hungry everything looks good and everything seems necessary – it’s not.
6 – Don’t buy pre-cut meats or veggies.
It might be a little more work, but buying a whole veggies or whole or half chicken (frozen or not) will save you a whole lot of money. You can even buy a beef brisket instead of ground beef and most grocery butchers will grind it for you.
Buying whole veggies and meats is healthier as well, since less handling by machines/workers means less opportunity for bacteria to get into the food and less time spent going from the farm to the store.
If you’ve never cut up or cooked a whole chicken before, here’s a few helpful links…
I’m one of those lucky moms who has a 7-year old cheese grater. Kidding, kind-of. What I mean is, my 7-year old loves to grate cheese for me! She literally runs joyfully to the kitchen when I’m making homemade macaroni and cheese because she knows it’s her job to prep the cheddar.
If you have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer (I use this one), then you can purchase attachments that make grating and shredding veggies super fast and easy. If you don’t happen to have one, here’s my favorite little grater. It works wonders on cheese and veggies, has different grating/slicing options. Plus it’s easy to store and completely dishwasher safe!
8 – Don’t buy bottled drinks.
If you’re a bottled water drinker, consider getting a filter. Brita filters and old-fashioned boiling save money and aren’t hard, we use the Perfect Water system, and have friends who love their Berkey. For camping and road trips, my family always fills old milk jugs with filtered water and brings along reusable water bottles.
If you’re into kombucha and kefir, MAKE YOUR OWN. Don’t be dissuaded by the thought of fermented things growing on your counter. Making kombucha and kefirs are so incredibly simple and not at all time consuming. They’re also healthier than store-bought options since you can control the additives.
PSA: a display does NOT mean a sale! Pay attention. . .
10 – Buy the store brands.
Kirkland Signature, Equate, Great Value, 365 Everyday Value. . . They are always cheaper than the name brands. The only things I don’t stick with this on are bulk items like rice and toilet paper.
11 – Look for deals.
If you shop at the end of the day, look for the discounted items. I’ve often purposefully gone to the meat department 10-20 minutes before closing and the butchers have given me crazy amazing deals on cuts that they are going to toss because they haven’t sold yet. (I once got steaks for 79 cents a pound!!!!)
12 – Buy in bulk and split it with a friend.
Granted, buying a huge thing of toilet paper at Coscto is not necessarily going to save you any money, but places like that and Sam’s Club can have some great deals. Their organic frozen meat is usually a heck of a lot cheaper than any other place’s, too. We usually stock up on organic meat and organic frozen veggies at Coscto once a month.
For things like gluten-free oats, organic flour, coconut, and such, we buy in bulk from Azure Standard. If they have a drop near you I highly recommend you getting on their mailing list! They have amazingly high quality products for a very reasonable price.
If you don’t have access to a bulk store or Azure Standard drop (or if you don’t like dragging all your kids around) Amazon also has some good deals on bulk items. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends to go in on something with you if it will save you both money.
13 – Grind your own flours.
For all you gluten-free-ers out there, this genuinely saves a TON of money. Pretty much any flour or meal you use (not including starches), you can grind on your own if you have a good blender or food processor. I regularly grind my own brown rice flour and oat flours in my Blendtec, and even make my own coconut flour, for grain-free recipes!
14 – Bake from scratch.
If you’re not a baker, learn. This will seriously save you so much money, as gluten-free and paleo baked goods practically cost and arm and a leg. Buying a good loaf of bread or a pie on sale is still more expensive than making it at home. It may take you some time to get used to, but in the end you will thank yourself… so will your bank account.
If you’re wanting to get started on baking your own homemade breads, here are a few easy loafs to start you off on…
If you can have a garden, DO IT. Not only is gardening economical, it’s therapeutic and a great way to teach your kids – and yourself. Plus, there’s nothing quite as rewarding as pulling a bunch of radishes from your garden.
If you don’t have a yard to build a square-foot or box garden in, don’t give up. You can easily container garden in your kitchen, living room, mud room, bathroom, anywhere there’s a window!
16 – Don’t buy fruits and veggies that aren’t in season.
Example: oranges in the summer will generally be 2 or 3 times more expensive than they will be in the winter. Know the seasons of the produce your family uses; if it’s not in season, you can probably live without it. If you really must have something out of season buy it frozen (NEVER CANNED).
This tip, however, doesn’t usually apply to root veggies, like carrots and potatoes. Their prices rarely fluctuate enough to warrant not buying them ‘fresh.’ Cabbage is usually pretty cheap, too.
17 – Make your own.
I already mentioned baking your own breads and drinks, but this applies to so much more! Sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt… these are all super easy to make at home.
No matter the cost of milk, making yogurt at home will always be cheaper than buying it from the store. It’s healthier too, since you won’t have any of the added sweeteners or other strange ingredients manufacturers of foods will add in. You can make it in the oven, in a crock-pot, or in a nifty yogurt maker, like this one. My favorite way to make yogurt is in my Instant Pot.
Here are some easy recipes/tutorials for foods you can make at home:
Compare and contrast ads from the stores in your area. Most groceries will have on-line ads you can bookmark to save time, or you can always get the paper on the day it carries ads. Sometimes you can couple a sale with a manufacturer’s coupon and save more!
And last but not least…
20 – BUDGET!!!!!!
I have a family of 8 and spend around $400 a month on food. It is sometimes difficult, but it teaches us discipline and the difference between a need and a want. (Note: restaurants, take-out, soda and candy are pretty much, unquestionably, never a need.)
If you haven’t started meal planning, this is a huge help when it comes to staying within your budget. Check out –>this post<– for a month’s worth of gluten-free meals to get you started. If you have lots of allergies to navigate, don’t give up. I’ve written an easy guide to allergy-friendly meal planning that you can check out by clicking on the link below.