23 Savvy Strategies for Smart Grocery Savings in 2023
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I don't know about you, but I had trouble keeping my grocery budget in control prior to the ridiculous inflation the last couple years. As consumer prices started to rise, my wife and I decided it was high time to get our budget under control. I am sure I am not alone in feeling like it's an uphill battle trying to cut grocery spending while still maintaining quality of life and enjoying good food. Whether you're a busy professional, a student, or a parent trying to feed a family, there are many ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality or nutrition. In this blog post, we'll be sharing 23 savvy strategies for smart grocery savings in 2023. From planning your meals and using coupons to shopping online and buying in bulk, we've got you covered with practical tips and tricks that will help you stretch your grocery budget further than ever before. So let's dive in and start saving some money!
1. Make a list and stick to it.
One of the most effective strategies for saving money on groceries is to make a list and stick to it. Before heading to the grocery store, take a few minutes to plan your meals for the week and make a list of the ingredients you'll need. This will help you avoid impulse purchases and ensure that you only buy what you need. Stick to your list while you're at the store, and resist the urge to add any extras to your cart. By being intentional and disciplined with your purchases, you'll not only save money, but also reduce food waste and make meal planning easier. So the next time you're tempted to wander the aisles without a plan, remember the power of a well-crafted grocery list!
2. Plan your meals for the week based on what's on sale.
Take a look at the weekly circular or online deals before making your grocery list, and choose recipes that feature ingredients that are on sale. This will not only help you save money, but also inspire you to try new recipes and get creative in the kitchen. If a certain ingredient is on sale, consider buying extra and freezing it for later use. Planning your meals around sales is a great way to take advantage of discounts and stretch your grocery budget further. Plus, it can make meal planning more fun and exciting as you discover new ingredients and flavors. Even if this doesn't end up saving you money, at least you will be more organized and prepared for your week!
3. Know the sales cycle and stock up when things are on sale.
Most grocery stores have a predictable sales cycle for certain items, so it's worth paying attention to when your favorite products go on sale. For example, if you know that your go-to brand of pasta goes on sale every 6 weeks, stock up on a few boxes so that you don't have to pay full price in between sales. Buying in bulk or larger quantities when things are on sale can also save you money in the long run, as long as you have the space to store the extras. By understanding the sales cycle and stocking up strategically, you can save money on the products you use regularly and avoid having to pay full price for them. So keep an eye out for sales, and be prepared to stock up when the time is right!
4. Shop the loss leaders each week.
"Loss leaders" are items that the grocery store marks down significantly in order to entice customers to come in and shop. These items are usually featured in the weekly circular or advertised prominently in-store. By focusing on the loss leaders each week, you can take advantage of these deep discounts and save money on your overall grocery bill. You may even discover new products or brands that you wouldn't have tried otherwise. However, it's important to be mindful of not buying items you don't need, even if they're marked down. Stick to your list and only buy loss leaders that fit into your meal plan for the week.
5. Check unit prices.
Unit prices tell you the cost per unit (ounce, pound, etc.) of a product, making it easier to compare prices across different brands and sizes. Sometimes, buying a larger size of a product is actually more expensive per unit than buying a smaller size. By checking the unit price, you can make sure you're getting the best deal and avoid overpaying for a product. It's also important to compare unit prices across different brands, as sometimes a generic or store brand can be cheaper than a name brand, even when the sizes are the same. While it may take a bit of extra time and effort to check the unit prices, doing so can lead to significant savings over time.
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6. Find coupons before you go to the store.
Finding coupons before you go to the store is another savvy strategy for smart grocery savings. Many grocery stores offer digital coupons on their websites or apps, and you can also find coupons in your local newspaper or online coupon websites. Taking a few minutes to search for coupons before you go to the store can lead to significant savings on your grocery bill. Some stores also offer double or triple coupon days, where the value of your coupons is increased for even more savings. However, it's important to only use coupons for items you would buy anyway, as using coupons for items you don't need can actually end up costing you more in the long run. Thankfully, many grocery store chains these days have apps to make coupon clipping even easier. Check out this article from our friends over at the Hello Sensible blog for some of the best coupon apps out there!
7. Use a loyalty program.
Most of us have our favorite few stores we like to frequent and would consider ourselves loyal to them. For us, it's none other than Trader Joe's. Many grocery stores offer loyalty programs that allow you to earn points or rewards for your purchases. These rewards can be redeemed for discounts on future purchases or other perks such as free products or gas rewards. Signing up for a loyalty program is usually free and easy, and it can lead to significant savings over time. Some loyalty programs also offer personalized discounts and promotions based on your shopping habits, which can further increase your savings. By using your loyalty card every time you shop, you can earn rewards and discounts on the products you already buy. One word of caution: only buy what you need and not to let loyalty rewards influence your purchasing decisions.
8. Buy store brands.
Buying store brands is another savvy strategy for smart grocery savings. Many grocery stores offer their own brand of products, which are often cheaper than name brand products. However, this doesn't mean that store brands are of lower quality. In fact, many store brand products are made by the same manufacturers as their name brand counterparts, but are simply labeled differently. A great example of a high-quality store brand that is great for its value is Kirkland Signature by Costco. By opting for store brands instead of name brands, you can save money on your grocery bill without sacrificing quality. Always remember to compare unit prices between store brands and name brands, as sometimes the name brand may be cheaper per unit. However, in most cases, buying store brands is an easy way to save money on your grocery bill.
9. Buy in bulk.
Many grocery stores offer bulk items such as rice, beans, and spices at a lower cost per unit than their smaller packaged counterparts. By buying in bulk, you can save money on your grocery bill and reduce waste by only buying the amount you need. Additionally, buying in bulk can be more eco-friendly, as it reduces the amount of packaging waste that ends up in landfills. While buying in bulk may require a larger upfront investment, it can lead to significant savings over time. Just be sure you have enough storage space for bulk items and that you will use them before they expire.
10. Eat less meat.
While not for everyone, eating less meat isa great strategy for smart grocery savings. Meat can be one of the most expensive items on a grocery bill, and reducing your meat consumption can lead to significant savings. Additionally, eating less meat can be healthier for you and better for the environment. Meatless meals can be just as satisfying and delicious as meat-based meals, and there are many vegetarian and vegan options available at the grocery store. By incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet, you can save money on your grocery bill while also improving your health and reducing your carbon footprint. It's important to make sure you're still getting enough protein and other essential nutrients, so be sure to include sources such as beans, lentils, and tofu in your meals.
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11. Eat more vegetables.
Eat your vegetables! Vegetables are often cheaper than meat and can be a great source of essential vitamins and nutrients. By incorporating more vegetables into your meals, you can save money on your grocery bill while also improving your health. Vegetables can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as roasted, sautéed, or in soups and stews, and can be a delicious and satisfying addition to any meal. Additionally, buying vegetables that are in season can lead to even greater savings, as they are often cheaper and more abundant during their peak growing season. By planning your meals around seasonal vegetables and incorporating them into your dishes, you can save money and enjoy fresh and flavorful produce.
12. Cook at home more often.
In my home, each of us gets to choose one meal each week that we are responsible for preparing. Eating out can be expensive, and cooking at home allows you to have more control over the ingredients and portion sizes, which can lead to significant savings. Additionally, cooking at home can be a fun and creative way to try new recipes and experiment with different flavors and cooking techniques. By planning your meals for the week and making a grocery list, you can save time and money at the store and avoid impulse purchases. Meal prepping and batch cooking can also be great ways to save time and money, as you can prepare multiple meals at once and have leftovers for the week. By cooking at home more often, you can save money on your grocery bill and enjoy delicious and healthy meals at the same time.
13. Eat out less often.
Inflation has not just impacted consumer goods, but you've probably noticed the prices at your favorite restaurants have increased as well. By reducing the number of times you eat out and cooking at home more often, you can save money on your food expenses. This can be challenging if you're used to the convenience and variety of eating out, but with a little planning and creativity, you can enjoy delicious and healthy meals at home. Consider trying new recipes and cuisines, and involving your family or roommates in the cooking process. Meal prepping and batch cooking can also be great ways to save time and money, as you can prepare multiple meals at once and have leftovers for the week.
14. Take advantage of free meals and snacks.
Have you heard of the "TANSTAAFL Principle"? Neither had I prior to my macroeconomics class in college. "TAANSTAAFL" is the scientific term for "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!" Thankfully, that principle is not true! Many workplaces and community organizations offer free meals and snacks, such as breakfast, lunch, and snacks, to employees and members. These meals and snacks can be a great way to save money on food expenses, especially if you're on a tight budget. Additionally, many events and activities offer free food, such as festivals, open houses, and community gatherings. By attending these events and taking advantage of the free food, you can save money on your grocery bill and enjoy delicious and diverse meals. It's important to keep in mind that these meals and snacks may not always be the healthiest options, so it's important to balance them with nutritious meals and snacks at home.
15. Grow your own food.
This one is perhaps my favorite item on this list. I just finished planting two navel orange trees and a lemon tree, and there is nothing I love more than being able to grow my own produce! By growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs, you can save money on your grocery bill and enjoy fresh and flavorful produce. Gardening can also be a fun and rewarding hobby that allows you to connect with nature and learn new skills. Additionally, growing your own food can help you reduce your environmental impact by reducing the transportation and packaging associated with store-bought produce. You don't need a large backyard or a lot of experience to start a garden - even a small container garden on a balcony or windowsill can yield a variety of herbs and vegetables. It's important to do your research and choose plants that are suited to your climate and growing conditions, and to give your plants the care and attention they need to thrive.
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16. Share a meal with friends or family.
Cooking and sharing a meal with others can be a fun and social way to save money on your food expenses. By splitting the cost of ingredients and sharing the workload of cooking, you can enjoy a delicious and varied meal while keeping costs low. Additionally, sharing a meal with others can help reduce food waste, as you can divide any leftovers among the group or plan to use them in future meals. This strategy is also a great way to try new foods and cuisines, as each person can bring their own unique ingredients and flavors to the meal. Perhaps the greatest benefits of this strategy is enjoying your community!
17. Donate unused food to a local food bank.
While not necessarily saving you money, if you find yourself with unused food that is still safe to eat, consider donating it to a local food bank or charity. Food banks and charities often accept non-perishable items, such as canned goods and dry foods, as well as fresh produce and meat. By donating your unused food, you can help those in need and reduce food waste. Additionally, some grocery stores and restaurants have programs in place to donate their unsold food to local food banks and charities. This is a great way to ensure that good food does not go to waste and can benefit those who need it most. It's important to check with your local food bank or charity to see what items they accept and any guidelines they have for donating. If you need help finding your local foodbank, head on over to Feeding America's online locator.
18. Compost your food scraps.
Instead of throwing away your food scraps, you can compost them and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden or houseplants. Composting is a natural process that breaks down organic materials, such as food scraps and yard waste, into a soil-like substance that can be used to fertilize plants. By composting your food scraps, you can reduce your household waste and create a sustainable source of fertilizer for your plants. Additionally, composting can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that occur when organic waste breaks down in landfills. There are many ways to compost, including using a backyard compost bin, vermicomposting with worms, or using a composting service. It's important to research the best method for your lifestyle and living situation, as well as what materials can and cannot be composted.
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19. Recycle your food waste.
While composting is a great way to reuse food scraps, some materials may not be suitable for composting. In these cases, recycling may be a better option. Many cities and municipalities have curbside food waste recycling programs that collect food scraps and other organic materials and turn them into compost or renewable energy. By recycling your food waste, you can divert it from the landfill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, some grocery stores and restaurants have programs in place to recycle their food waste. This is a great way to ensure that food waste is being properly managed and can benefit the environment. It's important to check with your local recycling program to see what materials they accept and any guidelines they have for recycling food waste.
20. Buy in-season produce.
When produce is in season, it is often more abundant and therefore less expensive. Additionally, in-season produce is typically fresher and more flavorful, making it a great choice for meals and snacks. To find out what produce is in season in your area, check with your local farmers' market or grocery store, or do a quick online search. By incorporating in-season produce into your meals and snacks, you can save money and support local farmers. Additionally, buying in-season produce reduces the environmental impact of food transportation, as it doesn't have to travel as far to reach your plate. Seasonal Food Guide has a great tool for checking what is in season near you.
21. Buy frozen produce.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are often less expensive than fresh produce, and they can be just as nutritious. Additionally, frozen produce lasts longer than fresh produce, reducing the likelihood of food waste. Frozen produce is also convenient, as it can be stored in the freezer and used whenever needed. When buying frozen produce, it's important to check the ingredient list and avoid products with added sugars or sauces. Look for plain, unsweetened frozen fruits and vegetables that have no additional ingredients. By incorporating frozen produce into your meals and snacks, you can save money and reduce food waste while still enjoying nutritious and delicious fruits and vegetables.
22. Buy canned produce.
Canned produce gets a bad rap, as it is obviously not the same thing as the fresh version. However, there's a reason canned products became so widespread during World War II. Canned fruits and vegetables are often less expensive than fresh or frozen produce, and they have a longer shelf life, reducing the likelihood of food waste. Additionally, canned produce is convenient, as it can be stored in the pantry and used whenever needed. When buying canned produce, it's important to check the label and avoid products with added sugars or sodium. Look for plain, unsweetened canned fruits and vegetables that have no additional ingredients. Canned produce is also a great option for recipes that require cooked fruits or vegetables, such as soups and stews.
23. Buy dried produce.
My dad affectionately refers to raisins as "dead grapes". All jokes aside, dried fruits and vegetables are often less expensive than fresh or frozen produce, and they have a longer shelf life, reducing the likelihood of food waste. Additionally, dried produce is convenient, as it can be stored in the pantry and used whenever needed. Dried produce is also a great option for snacks, as it is often portable and easy to take on-the-go. When buying dried produce, it's important to check the label and avoid products with added sugars or preservatives. Look for plain, unsweetened dried fruits and vegetables that have no additional ingredients. Dried produce is also a great option for recipes that require cooked fruits or vegetables, such as oatmeal or baked goods.
Well, there you have it. 23 ways to save on groceries in 2023. By utilizing even a few of the strategies we discussed, you will be well on your way to reducing that hefty grocery bill, freeing up those hard-earned dollars to save or spend elsewhere. Saving on groceries does not have to be a chore, but rather can be a fun challenge for you, your family, and friends. What are your favorite ways to save on groceries? Did anything on this list stand out to you? Please feel free to drop us a comment via our social media handles below or via our contact page. We would love to hear from you!