Over my many years of environmental and personal finance writing, one of the most common things I get asked for is tips on how to save money on groceries. Grocery shopping is usually one of a family’s largest expenses after their mortgage, so everyone wants to know how they can cut that bill down to a reasonable amount without sacrificing the quality of food they eat. While TV reality shows usually concentrate on one tip – using coupons – there are plenty of ways to save money on groceries that involve things other than cutting coupons out of the Sunday paper. Let’s take a look at some of the tips I use here at my house.
Grow Your Own Food
You don’t need a farm to grow some of your own food, you just need a small raised bed, a window box, or even just some old soda bottles hung from the fire escape. Even if all you grow are ingredients for a nightly salad, you could save big over the course of a month by not having to buy those simple veggies. Herbs are also easy to grow, which can eliminate the need to buy the dried-out bottled stuff.
Stick to Mostly Veggies
The average American eats over 200 pounds of meat per year, and all that meat gets expensive. The best thing you can do to save money on groceries is to cut back your meat consumption and increase the amount of vegetables you eat. In addition to saving money, your health will benefit as well.
Shop at Farmers Markets
Whenever possible, shop at your local farmers market. You can buy fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, and even meat from local vendors for much less than the grocery store charges while also keeping your money in your own community. Buying direct saves a lot of money while making it easier to buy much better ingredients.
Buy in Bulk
Items like rice, nuts, granola (I make my own), and beans should be bought in bulk at the grocery store. Doing so can save you a ton of money while also ensuring you only buy the amount you can use before it goes bad. Bring your own reusable containers to eliminate the need for more plastic bags, too!
Drink More Water
Tap water in the U.S. is among the safest in the world along with being incredibly cheap; so why not drink more of it and less soda and juice? Water out of the tap and by the glass is basically free for you and much better for you, so cut out the purchased drinks and save yourself some money.
Skip Packaged, Frozen Meals
Our society is steeped in the convenience of frozen and prepared foods, but usually those foods are A. expensive and B. not very healthy. Skip the frozen food aisle altogether and buy real food ingredients to cook yourself. They are cheaper and better for you anyway!
Purchase Staple Items Through Amazon
I buy many grocery items through Amazon now via Subscribe & Save. It saves me money and saves me the hassle of running out of staple items in my home. See what they have available that you are already purchasing at the store.
Let’s be honest; we could all probably use a little less food in our diet. Most of us eat too much and exercise too little, so by cutting a small amount of food out of our daily consumption we could save a little on our grocery bill. There’s no need to go hungry, but dropping a little bit could go a long way here.
Too often the easy stuff is forgotten when trying to save money on groceries. We make eating way too complicated in this country sometimes, and by bringing the family dinner back to basics we can easily save a bunch of money each month. You don’t need to just eat rice and beans to spend less on groceries, you just need to be smart about how you spend your money. So use these tips wisely and you will find yourself saving a substantial amount each month!
So, how do you save money on groceries?