I was talking with some of my girlfriends a few weeks ago about groceries and one of the girls asked the group to share how much we spend a month. When I told everyone that we've managed to keep our budget to $250 a month even since adding two children to our family, they were surprised and asked me to share some of my tips and tricks with them. Since this month's theme is all about balance, I thought I would share how I balance my budget with you!
Here are my top 5 tips to keeping the grocery bill low:
- Price match at Walmart. Let's face it: Most of us live fairly close to a Walmart, and although it's not the fanciest place to shop, it's by far the least expensive. Personally, I think this makes the biggest impact on your monthly grocery bill. I've estimated that I save at least 30% on my groceries by price matching. For example, above is my receipt from my most recent trip to Walmart. These groceries would have cost me $36 but I saved over $12 by taking a few extra minutes to price match. Imagine if you would do this before each shopping trip—the savings would really add up! You can do it right at the register and don't even need the ads from the competitor's stores with you. It really is so simple and will make a huge impact on your bill. There are lots and lots and lots of great websites out there that explain how to price match at Walmart in more detail.
- Stock up when the price is low. If you pay attention, you'll soon learn what a good price is for the items that you frequently buy, like meat, produce, milk, eggs, bread, cheese, laundry detergent, paper towels, etc. There are awesome websites like grocerysmarts.com, that can help you spot the great deals in your area. The site compiles all the ads from your local grocery stores and ranks each item by an okay, good, or great price. When you find a great price on everyday items, buy a bunch!
- Make your freezer your best friend. When I stock up on great deals, I come home and freeze whatever I think we won't be able to use before it expires. Keep a running list of what is in your freezer and pantry so that you always know what you have on hand. A huge money waster is buying items that you realize you already had once you get home from the store. Related to this, when I'm making my weekly meal plan, I think, "What do I have in my freezer/pantry/fridge that I need to use up?" I search for recipes that use these ingredients instead of making meals where I need to buy all new ingredients.
- Wait. If a box of crackers is $3.69 but you've seen the same box on sale for $1.99 in the past, wait. Grocery sales are cyclical, so if you are patient, chances are those crackers will be on sale again in a week or two. You probably don't need them right now anyway.
- Be disciplined. It's easy to throw items into your cart on impulse, but stick to your list. I bet you'd be surprised at how much you spend per month on little extras. Also, avoid the temptation to stop at expensive stores that may be conveniently located. If you need to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home from work, sure, stop at whatever store is closest. But don't buy your whole grocery list at the overpriced store down the street just because it's in your neighborhood.