How I Cut My Grocery Bill in Half!

How I Cut My Grocery Bill in Half!

Hey y’all!  There is no secret button or magic inexpensive recipe that will dramatically cut your grocery bill in half.  I know right?  That’s exactly what I was looking for when I first started looking for a  way to save money at the grocery store.  Then, I thought that I could do some crazy couponing, like on those TV shows and save a ton of money, but that didn’t pan out either.  Well, okay, I do coupon now, which does save quite a bit, but not in the way I thought it would.  What really helped me save money was planning.

I know, I know, that is probably not what you were looking for with a title like “How I Cut My Weekly Grocery Bill in Half,” but stick with me, I promise that this will pay out!  The best way to save money at the grocery store is to pay attention to what you are doing, and have a solid plan when going to the store!

(I would like to add up front that all stores, products, and aids that are mentioned in this post are all things that I use and love.  They are NOT sponsored.)

img_4562Way I used to shop:  I have always been a meal planner.  (I can’t understand going to the store without a list of what I’m going to be cooking, and what I’m going to need for the entire week.)  So I would sit down and decide what I was going to cook that week and add all the ingredients to my grocery list.  Then, while shopping, I would pick up a few non-list items like snacks.

PLAN PLAN PLAN!  Tuesday is junk mail day for the Cantrell household, meaning, we get all the weekly circulars.  Honestly, most of those circulars get chunked, except the one for my favorite grocery store, Kroger.  I’m not kidding when I say I look forward to this circular all week.  I plan my weekly menu (five or six meals for a week) by using what is on sale.

digital-vs-analog-free-license-cc0Compose list.  Never go to the store without a list of items you need and stick to the list!  I mean it; stick to the list.  When you start picking up stuff that just catches your eye or sounds yummy when you are there, you are getting too much.  You have a list of everything you need, so additional items are waste.  They will either get thrown away or replace something from your plan, and that original meal/item will be thrown away.  DO NOT buy things that are not on the list!  (If you have a hard time with this one, I suggest you turn to the buddy system.  Bring someone with you and have them help you stop the impulse buys.)  You can either use a list on your phone or an old fashion paper list.  I use the app IntelliList.  logo_300x120You can get a limited version free in the app store.  This is my favorite list because you can store the cost of items at different stores in the app.  This has helped me a ton!  Now, when the circulars say something is on sale, I can check my app and see if the sale is actually worth it.

Divide up expensive items you use frequently between trips.  Yes, I know that these are not “grocery” items, but they are items I get when I go to the grocery store.  I have both fur babies and an actual baby, so I buy lots of dog food and diapers.  Those of you who are parents know that those can be REALLY expensive.  To keep my trip totals more consistent one week I buy a 20lb bag of dog food, and the next week I buy an 88 count box of diapers.

Use digital and print coupons.  I love being able to load coupons onto my Kroger card is AMAZING, and if there isn’t a coupon on Kroger’s website, I’ll check coupons {dot} com to see if they have anything.  Couponing can be tricky thought.  The most important thing about it is do not, I repeat DO NOT look up coupons before you make out your meal plan and grocery list!  This will lead to you spending way more money, and defeats the purpose of using the coupons in the first place.  This was the mistake I made the first time I started couponing.  I would see a coupon for a name brand detergent and get excited (hey look, $1.50 off!) and would add that detergent to my list, even though I did not need any and usually bought a brand that was cheaper.  See?  (A lot of people I know prefer Wal-Mart to Kroger when it comes to grocery shopping because of Wal-Mart’s new Savings Catcher.  This is a super helpful tool if you are a brand loyal person.  However, I love using store brands, so this doesn’t save me a ton of money.)

Use a rebate system.  ibottaapp-primary-logoThere are tons of apps now that “pay you to shop.”  I currently use Ibotta and have made $35 dollars just buying what I would have bought in the first place.  Ibotta is an app that gives you a small amount of cash back for select purchases and once you reach a certain amount, you can cash out through Paypal or gift cards.  (If you’re interested in this, you can sign up here and receive a $10 after your first rebate.)  However, the warning that I gave for couponing goes double for this.  Do not buy something just because you can get a large rebate on it.  It totally defeats the purpose of the program.

Extra Tips:

  • Just because something is on sale / has a coupon doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.  Do not buy something simply because it is on sale.  Have a clear plan / purpose for each thing you buy.  Even if it is a pantry item or common staple, don’t pick it up unless you know you will be using it within the next four weeks.  If you aren’t, odds are it will go on sale again by the time you need more, and you can get it then.
  • Sometimes, store brand is just as good as name brand.  I know you probably hear this a lot when the topic of saving money comes up, but it’s true.  There are certain things that we prefer name brand, like our coffee creamer, but other things, like pasta, lunch meat, or bread, I use store brand.  The best way to figure out if you like store brand is trial and error.
  • One trip a week.  If you are going to the grocery store more than once a week, you have messed up step one.  If you have a concrete plan of what you are buying and eating that week, you only need to go one.  Multiple trips to the store increases the likelihood of impulse buys and is a total gas waster.

Doing these few things really did cut my bill in half!  My family of two (and a half) used to spend around $160 a week at the grocery store, and now we only spend $60 – $80!  What about you?  Do you have any tips for saving money at the store?  Leave it in the comments!

 

Other posts in my “How To” series that might interest you:

How to Have an Easier and Happier Morning!

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