Lately, I have been really into learning easy ways to save money on groceries. I am not a huge shopper. I rarely buy things for myself, but I also have never followed a budget or monitored my spending. As our family grows and I try to work less, I have become more interested in becoming more…. eh, financially responsible. When I realized that I never actually even look at or think about how much money I am spending, I was a bit embarrassed. Then, I downloaded my bank statements into Excel and sorted my spending for 3 months by category. I was more than a bit…horrified. Apparently, I like food. A lot. Since then, I have been on a mission to change my ways and cut grocery spending.
Related: Free Budget Template
I am still learning and experimenting, and surprisingly I am having fun doing it! Turns out, saving money can become quite addictive. It’s sort of like a game, and the more you do it, the more you want to do it!
Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries (without coupons)
- Inventory your pantry, refrigerator and freezer weekly.It’s easy to assume that you know what you have. It’s also really easy to forget that you have that bag of frozen chicken that’s been hiding behind your ice cream supply for a month. One of the ways I have been saving the most money on groceries is to take a few minutes and do a quick inventory of my pantry, refrigerator and freezer every week before I make a grocery list. Every week, I find things I had forgotten we had, that I would have put on my list and bought without needing to. This gives you ideas for meals, too, which leads me to the next point.
- Create a weekly menu using what you have.I’ve have actually been having fun coming up with ideas for meals based on using only what I already have. The first week I did this I barely had to buy any groceries! I had so much stuff that I had just forgotten about. As you do your inventory, challenge yourself to make at least 1-2 meals for the week using things you already have. It’s been interesting to find that most of the meals I’ve made this way have been a hit with my family. Totally winning at this frugal mom thing.
- “You’re on your own” Night. One night per week has become “You’re on Your Own” Night. Technically, my kids are too little to make themselves dinner. They are not fully on their own. But, they have to pick what they want and they may pick different things. The only rule: it has to already be in the house.For now, this night is Tuesdays for us. Chris plays in a soccer league on Tuesday nights and doesn’t eat dinner with us, which makes it the perfect night for everyone to just pick something we already have. For me, it’s typically left-overs, a sandwich, sometimes soup, sometimes something more random because I’m pregnant.The point is, everyone just looks through what we already have and picks what they want that night. Having one night per week that you don’t have to plan a meal for is definitely an easy way to save money on groceries and also eliminate waste (and doing so many dishes, win win)!
- Cook meals that double for two nights. There are a lot of meals that work really well for two nights. For example, eggplant parmesan. It’s one of our favorite meals, and it’s typically even better the second day! You can cut grocery spending by planning at least one meal per week that will cover two dinners.I like to cook these types of meals on Sundays right now. Monday night both kids have soccer practice, so if I don’t have something pre-made for dinner we end up spending money on dinner out. It’s much easier, and cheaper, to have dinner already done on Sunday for both days. I will usually get enough to make a separate salad to go with it both nights. Done, easy, and we saved money on groceries (and again, less washing dishes).
- Follow a list only. This one has been a little harder for me, but I am enjoying the challenge. Until recently, I never used a grocery list. I may write down a few things I didn’t want to forget, but I would never make a list of what I was planning to get and then actually stick to it.I remember taking my mom the grocery store with me and seeing the look of horror on her face as I scanned each aisle, grabbing whatever. She must have thought I had gone rogue. You would have thought I had learned something from a woman who spent hours making a grocery list and only went to the store once every two weeks. Clearly, I decided to rebel instead.I’m reformed though, I tell ya. Lately, I have been doing my kitchen inventory, making my list, and then actually taking it to the store and following it. I giggle sometimes while doing these things, thinking that she is probably really enjoying watching me figure this out.Bonus: I really like telling the kids, “No, we are only getting what’s on the list”.
Sticking to a list not only helps save money on groceries, but it cuts time at the store down drastically.
- Use the Ibotta App.Ibotta gives you cash back on some of your purchases. You can go onto the app and pick which offers you’re going to get at the store, and then once you get home upload your receipt and redeem your offers for cash back. I personally prefer to just wait until I get home and then see if they have any offers that apply to what I purchased. The reason I do this is because I could be easily persuaded to purchase something that isn’t on my list if I think I am going to get X amount of cash back for it, when in reality I don’t need it right now.Either way you choose to do it, this app is easy to use and has a lot of participating stores on it! If you are planning a bigger purchase, I would definitely check the app for offers first! You can get the app here.
- Use the ShopKick App. With this app, all you have to do is walk into the store. You won’t save money right away, but you will earn points that you can exchange for gift cards. You can get the app here.
- Family Dinners.For a while now we have been doing weekly dinners with my in-laws. Occasionally we go out to dinner, but most of the time we meet at one of our houses and pull together dinner. We each agree on what we will bring to make a complete meal. A lot of times we base our meals off of things one or both of us already have that we need to use.If you have family (or even close friends) who live close by, it can really help to save money on groceries to make one night per week family night. When you are only responsible for part of the meal, it’s not only easier but cheaper. The bonus is more quality family time! (Did I mention, less dishes?)
- Eat less meat.I have personally never been a huge meat eater, but even more so since I’ve been pregnant this 3rd time. I think I have always purchased less meat than average. However, with a lot of meat making me sick the past several months I have accidentally been saving money on groceries! Even if you love meat, you can incorporate a Meatless Monday into your week and still cut grocery spending!
- Go to the store way less. In addition to not using a list, the former me also frequented the grocery store. I mean, I’m pretty close with the cashiers at my local Publix, just sayin’. When you are figuring out dinner on a daily basis, you have to go to the store a lot. Lately I have been trying to limit myself to once per week. When you are doing inventory and making a list, it’s actually not that hard to make one weekly grocery trip and it certainly helps to cut spending on groceries!
There have been other benefits that have come along with trying to save money on groceries, including:
- Less stress during the week. When you have a plan and already have what you need, it’s one less thing to stress over during your busy week. It feels good to have a plan and have one less thing to do last minute.
- Less waste. I am actually ashamed of the amount of groceries we have wasted over the years. I might be odd, but it makes me really happy to start seeing my pantry and refrigerator becoming bare, because that means we aren’t wasting food.
Like I mentioned, I am still learning as I go, but it’s actually really fun to challenge myself and learn new things! Like most of you, I am super busy, so doing these 10 things allows me to cut spending on groceries and save money while also saving time.
If you have awesome tips for saving money on groceries, I would love to hear them! Leave a comment and share!
Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and Koa. I am a graphic designer, website developer and aspiring author. In this space, I share about everything from parenting, working from home, food we cook, and lots of things for kids! Learn more about me here.