Gardening, raising livestock, and food preservation are wonderful ways to save money on groceries to become more self sufficient. But how do you save on those food items that must be bought at the supermarket? The majority of families become overwhelmed at the thought of the time commitment needed to save money at the grocery store. However, it can be quick, easy, and fun.
There are several small ways that will save time, money, effort, and sanity every single time we need to head to the store. Here are 8 easy habits for saving money on groceries without the fuss .....
Organize The Refrigerator
Each shelf in the refrigerator can be designated for certain food groups. For us, the top shelf is for fresh fruit only. The second shelf is for fresh vegetables and complex carbs. The third shelf is for all dairy, beverages, chicken broth, and any other cooking aids. The fourth shelf is for leftovers and any other large items. Our top drawer is for fresh eggs, and the bottom drawer is used for thawing foods slowly from the freezer.
You can organize your food any way you like. This organized system works for us because we are more likely to reach for fresh fruits and veggies since they are at eye level and easy to grab instead of tucked away in a drawer. This leads to less food going bad, which saves money. It saves time also because family members aren't constantly searching around for food items or forgetting what was bought.
When returning home from the supermarket, family members can help put food away because everyone knows exactly where each food goes. It's a great feeling to have such a high traffic spot in the home stay cleaned and organized by keeping this habit.
Organize The Pantry & Freezer
In the same way that organizing the refrigerator is a blessing, completing a one-time overhaul of the pantry and freezer in the same way will cause less food to be wasted there as well. In our pantry I store all pasta, beans, potatoes, onions, and jarred foods in this cool, dark area. The bottom shelf holds all nuts, spices, cooking aids, nut butters, and snacks that are easy to grab and go.
Our shelves in the freezer are organized by areas designated for mason jars of chicken broth, buckets and bags of frozen fruits and vegetables, containers of ready-made muffins and breakfast bars, extra milk and bread, and frozen meats. It's easy to prepare meals and additional snacks when food items are so readily found on their respective shelves.
Take A Quick Inventory
Many experts suggest taking every food item out of the refrigerator, pantry, and freezer to take an inventory of what you have so that you can know what groceries to buy. Who has time for that? By using the organizing method above, that isn't necessary. Think in terms of produce, dairy, meats, beans, pasta, and snacks, and take a glance in the fridge, pantry, and freezer.
Make a mental or written note of what items are missing. As you are glancing through, think about what items you would need to make your most popular meals and snacks. Once you complete this habit several weeks in a row, it becomes quick and easy without much effort.
Pick One Grocery Store To Buy Your Groceries
It's tempting to run around town, grabbing deals that each store offers, but most people don't have the time or energy to keep up that extra work. Pick a grocery store that you can buy your groceries from regularly. By doing this, you can learn the secrets of how to save money at this particular store as you become familiar with it.
Sticking with one particular place also helps you speed through the aisles because you know where everything is located. Also, you are able to receive great customer service and help from familiar grocery store employees. Bonus tip: only shop at any grocery store once a week without exception. Make due with what you have at home until the next week.
Find Out What's On Sale
Don't get overwhelmed here because this is simple. Option one is to glance at your grocery store's front page and back page for the best deals. The listings in the center of the ad are typically just filler information. Stocking up on items listed in these specific sales sections will save you money with minimal effort.
Option two is to find a deal site for your local area. Sites like Southern Savers or Deals to Meals will list items from each area of the supermarket that are the biggest bargains. Skim through produce, meats, and frozen, organic, and grocery listings and check off which items you will buy to complete certain meals or snack ideas that you have determined previously.
Use A Grocery Store Loyalty Card
Most grocery stores now offer a loyalty card as a big discount for shopping with them. If you do nothing more than use your loyalty card when buying groceries, you've saved a lot of money with no effort. Check to see if your grocery store also offers e-coupons on their website. Many stores will offer coupons on their site that can be added to your loyalty card for an automatic savings at the register.
Look For Closeouts
Since you are loyal to one particular grocery store, you will be able to spot the closeout tickets while doing your regular shopping. In my grocery store, their closeout stickers are a certain color that is never used for big sales and promotions. When there are closeout items, they stick out like a sore thumb! Your local savings site may also list closeout items as well.
Shop With Cash
I'd heard the suggestion to grocery shop with cash for years but that seemed overwhelming and a little scary to me. I finally got up the nerve to try it and was amazed at how little I spent. There was a running tally in my head the whole time so that I wouldn't go over a certain price. I set my budget at $100 the very first time I tried shopping with cash, because I had read that the financial experts suggest only $100 per person per month for frugal families. The habits listed above were easy and I was shocked to leave the store only spending $65 instead of $100.
I was hooked! Now it's a fun game that I have with myself to only take $65 to the grocery store and make sure I stay within that budget. It's an exciting challenge that makes my shopping trips more enjoyable without any extra effort or time. Getting kids in on the action can be a tremendous learning skill that will help them also for years to come.
I never knew how much fun saving money on groceries could actually be. After just a few weeks of implementing these habits, they don't slow me down because they are habits. It's been surprising how many meals and snacks I can squeeze out of our tiny budget that I've set for our family each week. We are eating well and typically have lots of food that carries over to the next week in surplus.
Have a blast with your new habits and let us know in the comments if you have more suggestions for easily saving money on groceries!