Keeping my costs down when it comes to groceries is important to me. But so is my time, and I certainly don't have a ton of that to spare these days- like most of you I imagine.
1. Keep an Inventory
Keeping a pantry and freezer inventory (link to video of how I do this) is an essential step so that you don't purchase items that you already own. I mean, who hasn't wondered if they have mustard at home and bought another one just in case only to return home and realize you have two already... just me? Ok then. It also helps with meal planning! For example, say that you take a look at your pantry inventory and realize that you have 6 ingredients that need to be used up in the next couple weeks before they expire. You can make sure to build your meal plan using those ingredients, as well as other ingredients that you already have, which means that you avoid food waste as well as lower your overall grocery bill because you may only need to purchase a handful of items for the week rather than a whole basket full. I personally use this system and even brought my mom around to using it last year. We love it so much that I recently created new trackers for us in some of our favorite colors and fonts so that we could match our kitchens rather than continuing to use the ones we have been using for the past year or so. If you are interested in taking a look at those they are available in single item "Extras" for a couple dollars each at my Buy Me a Coffee page and in a bundle on Etsy. The set that I ended up printing for myself was the green in script font.
2. Shop the Sales
Another great way to save money on groceries is to shop the sales. I'm sure everyone has heard this before but it is worth repeating, if you buy the same items again and again look for a good deal to come around and stock up. Using your inventory will help here because you'll know what your preferred amount to have on hand is compared to what you have at home. If an amazing sale on taco seasoning comes around you better believe I'm buying a bit extra but that will only save me a few dollars a month... the big savings comes with your meats. If you have a freezer put it to good use and fill it with sale finds (working it into the budget, of course) when they come around. And then build your meal plan around what you have rather than the other way around like most of us do.
One quick last note on this one: many people use methods to help stock up their pantries using this method. Buy 1 for now and 3 for later for instance... or 'when its on sale 20% less than normal I will buy double'. Find what works for your needs and goals.
3. Use Cash Back Apps
I've said this a million and one times I'm sure but I love a good cash back app. If I'm already spending money and I can get a small percentage back for 10 minutes of time a week while I'm watching TV you better believe I'm there. I have an entire set of folders on my phone dedicated to trying out apps for you guys to see if they are worth it or now. A couple months ago I made over $60 back in a single month! Not every month is that profitable of course but over the course of a year I can easily pay for a couple of my trips to the grocery store with the cash back and gift cards I receive from simple uploading receipts and clicking a few buttons.
4. Meal Plan
I've mentioned meal planning a few times so I'm sure that you saw it coming, but... meal plan y'all. Meal planning, and following your plan, saves you money both on the front end like I mentioned before- less purchasing- but also during the implementation time, during the week when things get crazy.
Have your schedule with you when you sit down to decide what you are making this week. If you aren't going to have time to cook on Tuesday then perhaps it would be a good day to use leftovers or a pre-prepared meal that you have in your freezer. If you know that Thursdays are the day you typically cave to eating out then plan to have one of your favorites on Thursday so that you are more likely to get home and have that meal rather than eat out.
Having a couple of pre-prepared favorites in the freezer for days that just don't go as planned is a great idea. Some people like to have frozen pizzas, homemade taco filling (my fav personally) or burgers. Fast, simple and delicious- having favs already made makes it easier to skip not so great for you- or your budget- fast food delivery.
5. Plan for Leftovers
Last but least, for today, is leftovers. The often dreaded and maligned food that didn't get eaten the day before. Not all of us love leftovers but most of us have them from time to time sitting in the fridge. I'm going to suggest having them on purpose though and even repurposing them into other meals. For example, if you are having fajitas on Monday then make extra to have quesadillas on Tuesday or Wednesday. If you make grilled chicken salads on Thursday then use that extra from your double batch to turn into buffalo chicken stuffed peppers on Friday night. And I haven't even talked about lunches- so many things that we have for dinner can be eaten the next day as lunch with minimal extra effort but with a totally different taste profile. That chicken from before could also have been Greek kabobs on the grill at night and then turned into a chicken Caesar wrap for lunch the next day. Save the food waste- and save a ton of time as well- by planning for leftovers.
I hope that I was able to give you a few ideas that you may not have thought of before. If you have more ideas, let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear them!
Until next time,