You have a hobby, right? Well, my hobby is seeing how low I can get my monthly grocery bill. (I live a wild life.)
We’re more than a third of the way through September. I’ve yet to spend anything at a restaurant, and my grocery bill thus far for a family of three is $21. A full $11 of that was a cosmetics purchase made by my wife yesterday. Last month our household spent $154. Here’s the kicker: our fridge, freezer, and pantry are jammed full of nutritious food.
Here’s how I do it. Some of this you’ll dig. Some of it you won’t. But even adopting one or two of these tips could save you mucho dinero. (I’m multilingual. Impressed much?)
1. I’ve adopted the European style of shopping, which means I go frequently (walk every time) to take advantage of daily deals and promotions.
2. I have absolutely no brand or store loyalty. I’ll get something when it’s on sale and then never get it again. I’ll go to a store and only shop the “loss leaders,” which are the flash-sale items they use to get you in the store. I never buy anything on impulse. Ever.
3. I lean heavily on the clearance rack. They put stuff there that’s half off because it has a ding on the packaging. I get family-size boxes of high-protein, brand-name cereal for next to nothing all the time.
4. I shop the perimeter of the store and avoid highly processed foods. The stuff in the frozen section has extreme markups.
5. I buy fruits and vegetables when they’re in season and cheap.
6. I use grocery cash back apps like Ibotta and Fetch. They also have free items. I use store loyalty programs to my advantage and coupons.com (which also have free items).
7. I try to only buy nutrient-dense foods. That means no chips. No Coke. No candy. I want the following:
I use a health app called Lark Wellness to keep track of this.
8. I stock up on stuff when it’s on a great sale and really lean on my freezer. We have a lot of food in this house.
9. I eat leftovers.
10. My wife and I use cloth diapers. (We have a beautiful, four-month-old girl!)
11. I buy non-perishable items in bulk when they’re on sale.
12. We base our meals on sale items. My wife thought she would hate this at first, but she ended up really liking it. “Surprise” foods show up all the time. Dinner has gotten more creative.
13. We use crockpots and Instapot to great effect.
14. I don’t pay for convenience. I can shred my own cheese and cut up my own fruit.
15. I eat when I’m actually hungry, not when I’m bored or stressed.
16. I’ve slashed meat consumption. It’s very expensive.
17. I always have a shopping list. I don’t stray.
18. All things equal, I buy generic. Don’t pay for brand-name marketing costs.
19. We have a green pepper plant and a tomato plant. We’ll be doing some serious gardening going forward.
20. I always eat a big meal before I grocery shop. It keeps pizza-crazy Ryan at bay.
For the curious, here’s an example of a typical daily menu for me.
Special K cereal
A smoothie (that includes flaxseed, carrots, oatmeal, skim milk, and plain nonfat Greek yogurt)
A Kind bar
Salad (if I’m at home)
Skinless chicken breast
So, final takeaway: we eat healthy, nutritious meals on the cheap.
So can you.
(If you have any money-saving tactics, please share them below!)
Frugal Tip: You’re going to use toothpaste until you die. Buy it in large quantities at rock-bottom prices and save yourself some money.
3 thoughts on “20 Tips to Slash Your Grocery Bill”
hey ryan– any other resources/websites/apps that you would suggest? we’re about to face a long-term super tight budget and need every tip we can get our hands on. thanks!
Hi! I’m compiling some info and will get it to you shortly!
Hi, Emily. I know some folks who swear by You Need a Budget. Full disclosure: I’ve never personally used this app. I’m actually a little old school: I set a savings goal for the year and don’t get too bogged down in the minutiae. That said, I do use grocery cash-back apps like Ibotta and Fetch. You scan your grocery receipt after shopping, and these apps give you some cash back based on the products you bought.
As you look to trim your spending, I’d suggest looking back at a full year of your expenditures. Get a sense of where your dollars are going and then start slashing. Cancel magazine and streaming subscriptions you don’t use much. Switch car insurance companies if you can realize savings by doing so. Set the thermostat a degree warmer in summer. You’re really just looking for a series of small tweaks that will add up to something meaningful in the aggregate.