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It appears that the most varying portion of a household’s budget is the amount spent towards groceries within a month.
Unlike all other bills that come in once a month with a set amount to pay, the supply and demand for food in the house is determined solely on the people in that house and can be ever-changing.
Some people grocery shop weekly, some stop several times a week on their way home from work for dinner ingredients. Sometimes there is a hint of a budget for the family members to follow, but often times this area ends up being overlooked in it’s entirety.
The point of this post is not to convince you into coming up with an extra 10 hours a week to dedicate to clipping coupons. It’s more intended to open your eyes to a major opportunity in saving some serious cash!
When we were living in Texas and my husband was still Active Duty in the Army, I only shopped at the Commissary on base. I didn’t look at circulars every week, on occasion I would look for coupons to save a little here and there. But for the most part, everything was low maintenance.
Fast forward 2 years and we have since bought a house back up in the Chicago Suburbs. My husband is in the Reserves and the Commissary at Great Lakes Naval Base is a good 40 minute drive from our house. Yeah, not happening.
Without much thought, I found myself going to our local Meijer every Friday after work to get groceries for the next week. Each week I was spending roughly $200 even though there were only 2 people in my house consuming this food. Any of this sounding familiar? Needless to say, we didn’t need $800 a month in food.
I’m proud to say I’ve since cut our monthly grocery budget from $800 a month, down to $280! The best part is the savings can happen the next time you go shopping! Here’s how I did it:
1. MEAL PLAN
I cannot stress this enough. You don’t need to go all out and plan out each meal of each day before you go shopping. I typically will receive the weekly ad and skim through it for any major deals while also keeping in mind what I already have. Often times, I’ll decide what we’re going to eat based on just what sounds good. The point is that I’m buying ingredients for those meals all at once, instead of having to make multiple trips back to the store.
2. SPREAD OUT TRIPS
Like I said before, I was shopping every week. I’ve since stretched that out to every 2 weeks. This cuts back the amount of impulse purchases I am likely to make by shrinking the overall time I’m at the store in half! Mind you, this does mean that I will buy enough food to get us through 2 weeks at a time (i.e 2 gallons of milk, 2 cartons of eggs, etc).
3. SHOP AT ALDI
I don’t do this every week since there are certain things that in all honesty, are better with the name brand. Also some items I need Aldi just flat-out doesn’t carry. But I would say, every 2-3 grocery trips I end up going to Aldi if I have enough stuff to make the trip there worth the savings. I’m lucky enough to have the Aldi right across the street from the Meijer I normally shop at as well so it’s easy to pop back and forth. I’ve built a list of some items that are safe to buy (personally tested by my family and I) that you can view [HERE]
4. SIGN UP FOR STORE REWARDS
Most grocery stores offer some sort of rewards card. For instance, Meijer has ‘mPerks’ which is an app on my phone where I can view their weekly ad, earn cash back in certain categories, and electronically clip coupons without having to worry about forgetting them at home. I’ll often clip coupons while I’m on my break at work since I can skim through their list super quick!
5. COUPONS & CASH BACK REWARDS
I know, I know. I said this post wasn’t going to be about clipping coupons. But I’d be lying if I said they didn’t make a difference in the grocery budget. Now a days, there are a few different coupon methods to save on certain items, which if done correctly can mean stacking coupons and massive savings! The three systems I use are:
mPerks (Meijer): I collect the bulk of my coupons on the app here, but I also review all of the Catalina coupons that print out after I check out as well
Ibotta: This is a phone app where you can take short (1 question) surveys or watch a 5 second video to earn cash back offers on items. I like Ibotta because there are often non-brand specific offers such on items such as milk, produce, cheese, peanut butter, etc. All you need to do is scan the items while you put them away, and then scan you receipt and your account will be credited with 24 hours! They also have a sign-on bonus of $10 when you use my referral code: lwoqg (please note: I may receive commission if you use this referral). If you try it, and love it, you can also make $5 from every person you refer as well!
Checkout51: This is also a phone app much similar to Ibotta, except you don’t have to complete short tasks to receive the offers. Everything is already loaded up on the screen, you just need to select which offers you’d like to redeem, and then scan your receipt with those items and your account is credited also within 24 hours!
Often times Ibotta and Checkout51 run similar promotions which can help you save big on certain items. I find the Ibotta tends to have better rebates and a larger selection, while Checkout51 is a little quicker to work through.
Overall, it does take a little work to cut down grocery costs, but if you implement these steps, I guarantee you’ll start seeing the savings!