As you may have already figured out, here at Budget Meal Planner, our mission is to help people eat for as little as possible. Ideally this is to eat for $5 a day. However, it’s not always an easy task and we get that. Cooking at home with a meal plan on a budget is only half of the battle. The other half is knowing how to save money on groceries by shopping smarter.
Our biggest piece of advice is to approach this challenge as a game, think of it like beating your high score. Except instead of going higher, you want to get a lower price every time you go grocery shopping.
Take Advantage of Buying in Bulk
Usually when we go grocery shopping, we only plan for the next week or so. Because of this, we end up buying the same smaller sized items quite frequently throughout the year.
Let’s say you buy a bag of rice for $3 every week, after 1 year that adds up to be $156 – not terrible. However, there’s a larger bag available with 3x more contents priced at $7. Sure, it’s a lot more money up front, which may not seem like you’re able to eat for $5 a day after getting your receipt. But, the benefit is that you only have to purchase it once a month. After 1 year, that larger bag of rice only adds up to $84. You end up saving nearly half the original amount because you chose to buy in bulk.
If you have a family and have a store like Costco or Sam’s Club nearby, you should take advantage of them to really maximize your savings.
Frozen Vegetables and Fruit
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you want to be healthy and eat for $5 a day, you have to trade fresh vegetables for frozen at some point. Simply because of their price point. A 1-pound bag of broccoli can easily be $1-$2 with at least 4 servings, whereas a fresh head of broccoli can be up to $4 or more during off-season and provide only 2 servings.
Don’t let frozen vegetables scare you. They are equally as nutritious, if not more, due to being harvested and frozen during their peak. They also give you more time to plan when to eat them as you can keep them in the freezer for many weeks. So, if you find a sale, don’t be scared to stock up! You can also pair this with the previous advice and buy frozen in bulk.
Switch to the Store Brand
Sometimes how to save money on groceries is right in front of our faces, next to the items we usually buy. The store brand. We’re not sure why generic brands get a bad reputation, but 9/10 times they taste exactly the same and provide the same quality. Sometimes even better.
Larger supermarkets typically offer their brand for a variety of products, from produce to meat and non-perishables.
If you’re reading this, let’s do a challenge. The next time you go grocery shopping, you have to only buy the store brand if it is available. Share with us on Instagram letting us know how it differs from your typical grocery totals.
Eat for $5 a Day by Shopping the Sales
When figuring out this week’s meal plan on a budget, the first step you should always do is search for what’s currently on sale. Thankfully, shops usually post their weekly deals on their website.
Right before you go grocery shopping, take some time to browse their weekly ads and make a grocery list to prevent buying items you don’t need. Not sure how to save money on groceries? Well, coming to the store prepared, will eliminate a lot of impulse buys because you think you need it.
Ignore Convenience and Do the Work
So, you’re wanting to buy all the ingredients for your meal plan on a budget… but you’re having a hard time finding easy items at a cheaper price. You know, like 2-minute rice, already chopped vegetables, and so on. Hate to break it to you, but lowering your grocery bill comes with a little sacrifice. You have to ignore convenience items.
Everything that is packaged as ‘quick and easy’ or ‘ready in 3 minutes’ most likely has a cheaper alternative available. And cheaper means more for your money. So, that little bag of already chopped carrots are nice and all, but is an extra 2 minutes of cutting carrots really going to hurt you? Not at all.
Buy In Season
No, we’re not talking about the ebook. If you want to eat for $5 a day, and not get bored, then buying what’s currently in season will be a game changer.
Eating what’s in season is often much more affordable. You can thank our good friend supply and demand for this. When food is in season, the cost to supply it is much lower than it is during the off-season. And when the cost to supply is lower, the market price reflects that. This is why berries are much more budget-friendly during summer than winter.
Shop Your Fridge and Pantry First
If you really want to know how to save money on groceries, an obvious but overlooked strategy is to keep track of what you already have. But that’s not all… you have to actually eat it!
About 50% of all produce in the United States is thrown away.
We must get in the habit of shopping weekly or buying frozen options. Otherwise, you are throwing away hundreds and hundreds of dollars every single year.
Maybe you’ve bought something that you planned on eating, but now it never appeals to you. We get that, it happens to a lot of people. But that’s no excuse to not eat it. Instead, look up a new recipe to try to make it more appetizing.
Do you have any advice to share? Leave it in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out our meal plans to help you with your money-saving goals.