Hey there! Are you looking to save money on groceries?
I’m always looking for ways to put extra money in my pocket, and one way to do that, especially when you’re on a tight budget, is to save money when buying groceries.
With that in mind, in this post, I’m going to go over how much money you should consider spending on food, as well as tips for saving money on groceries – without using coupons! – and some great apps that exist to help you save money when shopping for food.
Ready to get your grocery budget under wraps? Let’s get started.
How Much Money Should I Spend On Food?
First and foremost, you might be wondering how much money should you spend on food. According to BeTheBudget.com, you should consider budgeting at least $250 per adult and $150 per child per month for your grocery budget.
If you’re married with no children, that means you should expect to spend $500 per month, or about $125 per week on groceries, as that’s approximately the average cost of groceries for two people. If you are married with two children, you can expect to spend $800 per month, or $200 per week, on groceries.
This, of course, is a loose estimate, and you can certainly spend less on groceries by looking for great deals or buying in bulk, two things I’ll discuss below. My wife and I spend around $100 per week on groceries, and that includes buying cat food for our two cats. With that in mind, we also spend money on takeout each week, an expense we could certainly afford to shrink a bit!
How To Buy a Lot Of Food With a Little Money
Getting the best bang for your buck is always nice, especially when it comes down to buying food. Making your own food, which includes cooking and baking, is almost always more affordable.
There are so many things you can make on your own and save money. For example, why buy frozen pizza when you can make it yourself? I remember as a kid really enjoying whenever my mother would let me help her make pizza from scratch, so you can make cooking a family engagement as well.
For a few years, my parents had a breadmaker, and we baked our own bread. We also had a garden in the front yard where we grew some of our own vegetables. This was an excellent way for my family to save money on food.
My wife and I now save money on groceries by having a meal plan. We plan out our meals a week in advance and make a grocery list based on only what we need.
In short, you can buy a lot of food with a little money simply by buying ingredients and cooking your own food at home.
Food to Buy on a Budget
Here are some great foods you can buy when you’re on a budget or just looking to lower your expenses each month. These foods are inexpensive, especially compared to how good they are for you or how much they will fill you up when creating a meal for you and your family.
Pasta (and Pasta Sauce)
Pasta is a fantastic food to buy when you’re on a budget. You can get a pound of pasta for around a dollar, which can feed four people easily. You can generally get a jar of pasta sauce for about $4 as well, which will last several meals.
Whether you buy sauce or make your own, having a pasta meal can feed your family for around $1 per person. It’s hard to argue with that.
If you’re broke or living frugally, rice is arguably the least expensive food you can buy. You can get a pound of white rice for under $1, sometimes as low as $0.50/lb when you buy a large bag. Using spices, you can make rice in many different ways.
Rice goes great with just about anything and can even be used to make desserts.
Dried Pinto Beans
Dried pinto beans cost less than canned beans. In fact, you can get a 1lb bag of dried pinto beans from Target for $0.99, and that will serve around ten people. Can you imagine getting a serving of beans for just 10 cents? That’s amazing.
I don’t know what I’d do without peanut butter. Peanut butter is both affordable and healthy. At Walmart, you can get a 64 oz can of generic peanut butter for under $4.50. When I checked the price of peanut butter while writing this post, the generic peanut butter was 6.8 cents per ounce, versus name brand, which was nearly double.
You can generally get eggs for $1.20 or so a dozen. That’s 10 cents an egg. A delicious omelet can be made with three eggs and your choice of add-ons. How about a veggie omelet with a mixture of 3 eggs and some fresh vegetables?
That’s a breakfast you can make for under $1 that you may pay three times as much if you go out.
Potatoes have lots of vitamins and minerals, making them quite healthy. Plus, they’re super affordable. In 2019, you could get a pound of white potatoes for around 78 cents.
One pound generally equates to two potatoes or two servings. This makes potatoes an excellent food to eat if you’re trying to save money on groceries.
I really like tuna fish and try to have a tuna fish sandwich once a week on average. You can get a can of Starkist Chunk Light Tuna for $0.99 at Target, making tuna fish quite affordable. Tuna fish is also quite healthy and contains a ton of protein and almost no fat.
Many generic cereals taste similar to their name-brand counterparts, however, they cost a lot less. At Walmart, you can get many generic cereals for under $3 per box. It’s up to you if you can tell the difference, or mind the difference for that matter. That said, the savings significantly add up.
Fresh Vegetables and Fruits
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great and healthy way to save money on food. Instead of buying a bag of salad, buy different vegetables so that you can make a larger salad or multiple portions.
How to Budget For Food
As mentioned earlier, to determine how much you may spend on groceries, consider how many people you’re shopping for. Use the rough estimate of $250 per adult and $150 per child per month.
Put Aside The Amount You Need From Your Paycheck
Assume you’re shopping for you, your spouse, and your two children, and your household income is $5000 per month. One method you can employ is with each paycheck, take half of your food budget and place it aside, whether in a checking account, or use an ATM to remove the cash, and place the cash in an envelope marked “groceries.” This is known as the envelope method for budgeting.
Plan Your Meals
You can save money on groceries by planning your meals in advance and only buying the food that you need to make those meals. By planning out your meals in advance and only buying what you need, you’ll cut your grocery bill down significantly. That’s because you’re not buying random food that you may not use or that may go to waste.
Make a Recurring Grocery List
If you’re commonly buying the same things, make a grocery list that you use each time you go shopping. Instead of making your list from scratch each week, having a recurring list will save you time, and you’re less likely to forget something or buy things you may not need.
Many grocery stores with online shops will allow you to save your cart to a list so that you can pick and choose your groceries each week from the same list.
Tips for Saving Money On Groceries
Here are some easy ways to save money on groceries.
Save Money on Groceries (without using coupons!)
Coupons are a great way to save money on groceries, but this method of saving may not always work in your favor. Getting a discount on something you don’t actually need doesn’t save you any money. Why save $1 off mayonnaise if you don’t need any anytime soon?
The additional argument is that coupons can take a long time to clip and adds time to your checkout time at the store, which takes away from the time you have to do other things.
So here are some great ways to save money on groceries without using coupons.
Always Shop on a Full Stomach
When you shop on a full stomach, you’re less tempted to buy things you don’t need, including more food and junk food. Make sure to have something to eat before you go out to the store, which will help you save money. In fact, some studies show that the average person spends 64% more on groceries when they shop while hungry.
Buy in Bulk
Whether you shop at a typical grocery store or a bulk store such as Sam’s Club or BJs, look for bulk deals, as buying in bulk can save you money. How much can you save when you buy in bulk? When you buy in bulk, you can save, on average, 20% off the unit price of the items you’re buying. For some items, you’ll save a lot more, especially when you purchase large quantities.
Buy What’s On Sale
This seems pretty straightforward. When you’re shopping around, and multiple brands are available for the same food, buy the one that’s least expensive, especially if it’s on sale. If you go to the grocery store frequently, purchase food items when they’re on sale and skip them when they aren’t.
Many grocery stores have regular sales, and carefully planning to shop when sales are going on can save you tons of money. An app like Flipp can help you find deals and digital coupons so that you’ll save money each time that you go to the grocery store.
Shop at Discount Grocery Stores
When possible, shop at discount grocery stores. You may have several grocery stores in town and knowing which ones have the best deal pays off over time. When you shop at discount grocery stores, you’ll feel like you can afford more food because you’re able to get more for your dollar.
Apps to Save Money on Groceries
There are a few grocery store apps that can be great for helping you save money without having to clip coupons. Some of these apps provide direct discounts, whereas some provide cashback. Many of these apps offer overlapping discounts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use more than one of them, depending on what you buy.
Ibotta is one of my preferred ways to save money on groceries. With Ibotta, you can save money on specific items at dozens of grocery stores around the country. When you scan your receipt with Ibotta, you’ll earn cash back on qualifying purchases. Once you’ve earned $20 through the app, you’ll be able to withdraw the money.
My wife and I use Ibotta whenever we need to purchase items that appear in the app as the cashback tends to be quite nice.
Acorns is an investment app that rounds up your credit and debit card transactions and deposits the money into an investment account. The Acorns app also has partnerships with online retailers, and you can earn cashback when you buy through the app.
For example, if you shop on Walmart.com through Acorns, you’ll earn 1% cashback on your entire purchase, and that money will be deposited into your Acorns account, which can then be invested or withdrawn to your bank account.
Swagbucks is an online survey and offers app, but you can also earn Swagbucks via shopping at popular retail stores. When you upload your receipt or shop directly through the app, Swagbucks will give you SB, which can be redeemed for gift cards or cash via PayPal.
Swagbucks also has occasional big deals where you can save even more money. For example, my wife and I signed up for Home Chef, a meal delivery service that is absolutely fantastic, and we earned 3500 SB – approximately $35 – in doing so. If you use my link above to sign up and get amazing food delivered to your door, you'll get a $35 credit towards your first meals.
Flipp is an app that rounds up all the local listings in your area and gets you coupons and discounts on products in your area. If you’re into couponing, this is one way to do it online without having to clip.
If you want to save on groceries and bring down your average monthly grocery bill via online coupons, this is an excellent app to go with.
Your Local Grocery Store’s App
Many grocery stores have an app that you can use to save money directly when you shop their store brands. Sometimes you’ll simply have to scan your receipt to get discounts, whereas other apps will have discounts build-in when you shop.
Look up your local grocery store in Google Play or the App Store for iPhone as two places where you can get many discounts. Some stores may even have discounts directly on their website.
Wrapping It Up
Using the above ideas to save money on groceries, you should be able to drastically lower your monthly grocery expenses without too much effort. Think about this: If you spend $500 per month on groceries and you can save even 15% on average, that’s $75 per month or $900 per year saved. What would you do with $900? Would you spend it or invest it in perhaps a Roth IRA or similar?