Learning how to save money on groceries is pretty much the one area that almost everyone can get involved with. Everyone needs groceries, and if you have never looked into a budget before then chances are it will be easy to get some wins on the board and start to save some money right away.
When my wife and I first built a house and started looking into our budget, we had a good think about the best ways that we could reduce our expenses. One of the best ways that we found was to to cut our costs on groceries. When we started to look into thing we realised that we had been living/eating like kings, and the grocery store was happily taking our money and laughing at us all the way to the bank 🙁
Generic Brand Groceries
The first thing that we did when working out how to save money on groceries was to figure out which items had generic substitutes, and then decide if we were happy to make the switch. I’m pretty sure that at first we swapped almost every single thing that we could over to the generic equivalent, but it turns out that not all generic groceries are created equal in the world. Some of them were terrible, while others actually tasted better than the big brand.
The following are the things we found we ended up continuing to buy generic:
- Pastas – Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference between the $4 a pack pasta and the 0.50c pack.
- Flour – I was shocked to see the price difference here. The generic flour is about $1.50 while the brand name is closer to $5-$6. Note: We have never had a problem with the generic flour – it tastes great.
- Mince – We used to buy 5 star mince because we wanted to be healthy. It turns out when you look at the 3 or 4 star mince that it really doesn’t look all that worse, but it is half the price.
- Bread – We go through a fair bit of bread in our house (more than you would imagine) and we recently swapped over to the home brand which is $1 a loaf. The only thing I can tell you about the generic bread that is worse than the name brand, is that it doesn’t seem to last as long (you might get a day or two less). Considering how much we eat however, this is rarely a problem for us.
Groceries on Sale
Sale items can be a little tricky. Often people can get caught out buying something because it is on sale only to find that not only did they not need the item, but it has gone off before they were able to use it.
My rules when it comes to sale items:
- If it is on sale and you need it, then buy it.
- If it is on sale and you don’t need it, but it is non-perishable and you will use it in the future, then buy it.
- If it is on sale, but is perishable and you don’t need it, then skip it.
Buying in Bulk
Buying groceries in bulk can be an awesome way to save money. A few examples of what my wife and I buy in bulk are:
- Toilet paper – Often you can buy it in lots of 24-30 rolls and if you work it out you normally end up getting 3 or 4 for free just because you bought it in bulk.
- Dog food – Bulk dog food is back breaking to lift, but it saves you a small fortune over the life of your pet and we all know that pets can be expensive!
- Nappies / Diapers – This shit’s expensive (pun intended hahahahaha). If you are going to buy nappies then be sure to buy in bulk. Trust me – you will use them all.
Make a grocery list. I know this sounds simple, and it is! This is without a doubt the easiest thing you can do prior to going shopping that will save you money at the checkout. Some more dot points for you to remember:
- Make a list before you get to the shops
- Stick to your list
- Avoid the sweets section
- Go home with groceries and more money 🙂
Grocery coupons are big business in the US (not so much in Australia) and you might as well make us of the cheaper grocery items if they are available to you. Let’s face it, the money is better off in your back pocket than the grocery stores bank account.
- Take 15 minutes to find coupons
- Use the coupons that will save you money on the things you need
- Rinse and repeat
This is by no means a fully comprehensive list, but it should be enough to get you started on your way when it comes to saving money on groceries. Also, if you are really serious about reducing your grocery bill each week, you should checkout Canadian Budget Binder and his grocery game challenge. I won’t go into the intricate details of what it is about here, but if you want to save money on groceries and get help from like minded people, then this is the site for you.