How To Save On Your Grocery Bill And Still Eat Healthy
When my husband and I decided we wanted to save on our grocery bill and still eat healthy I have to admit I had concerns. We spend an obscene amount of money on food every month and it’s not from going out to eat. We rarely eat out, takeout is budgeted for twice a month.
It’s just the two of us, well maybe a little extra thrown in for the Frenchie’s, they do love their burgers. That said, we’re not feeding any kiddos and our grocery bills were still adding up to $700-$800 a month. It’s not like we’re eating lobster every night!
I’ve been using cashback apps for about a year and we shop at different stores to capitalize on coupons.
Here’s how we save on our grocery bill and still eat healthy:
Step 1: Make a Budget
If you don’t already have a grocery budget, this is a must – make one. I’ve used an Excel spreadsheet for my personal budget for years. Yep, it’s old fashioned but, I’m an old soul and it works. EveryDollar is a very user-friendly app that I recommend if you prefer something more current. The best part, it’s free! There’s a ton of budgeting apps out there, just pick what works best for you. What matters most is using it.
Take a 3 month average of what you’ve previously spent on groceries and set that as your budget. Seeing what you spend makes you aware and by tracking the numbers you may even decrease how much you spend. Budgeting is powerful and shows you exactly where your money is going, grocery bills are no exception.
Step 2: Create A Meal Plan
Create a meal plan and I promise you your grocery bill will decrease. Nothing will decrease your grocery spending quite like making a meal plan. It’s the most powerful way to spend less at the store and it doesn’t have to be complicated! This doesn’t have to be complicated!
My husband takes the lead on meal planning, I play a supporting role by sending recipes for him to work in. His entire meal plan process takes less than 10 minutes. Then he sends it to me for final approval!
- Plan for a week in advance
- Choose 3-4 recipes that we want to make that week
- At least 2 recipes have overlapping ingredients (example: chicken so that we can buy in bulk)
- At least 2 recipes need to result in leftovers (to be dinner for another night)
- Scan the pantry for staples that will help us make those recipes
- Compile the list of ingredients we don’t already have on hand
- Shop for the missing ingredients
That’s it! Really simple right? We plan with dinners already set each night because we like to know when to set meat out to thaw and who is responsible in advance. He’s the grill master and I stick to the stove and oven.
You don’t have to be that structured if that’s not appealing. Just have a goal to keep ingredients on hand for 3-4 dinners and then it’s not a matter of what’s for dinner, it’s just what do you want to cook for dinner.
Planning ahead cuts back on last-minute trips to the grocery store or worse a hasty decision to order takeout.
Ready to give it a try? Grab your cell and open your Notes app or hop on your computer and open a Word doc. Find a few recipes that speak to you and then check out your pantry and fridge to see what you already have. Make your grocery list for what you don’t have. t down a few ideas on paper or in the Notes app on your smartphone, raid your pantry for what you don’t already have, make your grocery list from that, and don’t forget to include fruit-and-vegetable-heavy meals in your planning.
If you struggle with coming up with different ideas each week check out $5 meal plan. They make meal planning as simple as it gets and they’re frugal too!
TIP: Meal plan for one night a week to be a protein and a veggie. Chicken and broccoli is our go-to and comes out to be less than $3 per person. Less if we find a sale!
Step 3: Write Down Your Grocery List
Have you ever gone to the store without a grocery list? I know I have and it never ends well. Your grocery list is your roadmap when entering the store. Don’t leave home without it!
No seriously, if you forget your grocery list, turnaround and go back and get it. Better yet, keep it on your phone because we know none of us can detach from that! If you can remember an entire list without having it in front of you, you’re superhuman. Plus, without your list, you will be tempted by impulse purchases lurking at the end of every aisle.
Step 4: Cash In On Deals To Save On Your Grocery Bill
I’m not talking clipping coupons, if you have the patience for that I bow to you. Apps for saving on groceries make it really easy to get cash back on items you’re already buying.
Fetch, Ibotta, Makeena, and SavingStar are a few of my favorites. I love any brand or any items rebates that Ibotta offers. Fetch is super easy and you get 25 points for every receipt you scan even if you didn’t buy something that has added points.
Before I go grocery shopping but, after I make the grocery list I open the apps and see if I have any items that have rebates. Select those that do and then after I shop I scan my receipt. Cashback on items I was already going to buy, winning!
Now, the key to this is don’t go on the app before you make your list. Cashback on something you weren’t planning on buying is extra spending, not saving.
Step 5: Eat Before You Go Grocery Shopping
Cookies, yep you need that. Ice cream, yep need that too. No, you don’t! That’s your stomach talking to you as you grocery shop. It will wreck your budget and tempt you to buy anything other than healthy foods.
Eat before you go grocery shopping and I promise you it will help you stick to your list and save money on your grocery bill.
Step 6: Buy Whole
Buying whole means a little more prep work but, it saves you big bucks. Fruits and vegetables that are cut up and prepared might be easy but, they’ll cost you. You pay more and get less, no thanks!
Buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself. I always check the price on rotisserie chicken and compare it to a whole chicken. Often times the rotisserie is a loss leader for the store and cost less. Already being cooked is an added bonus.
Bagged salad, you can get an entire head of lettuce for less than a bag of salad.
Precut melon and fruits, buy the whole melon or a few individual fruits and cut them up yourself. It takes 5 minutes and will save you money every single week.
Step 7: Buy The Store Brand To Save On Your Grocery Bill
Good marketing causes us to spend more and grocery stores have a surplus of products in bright shiny packaging. The facts are buying the store brand might not look as pretty but, it’s often the exact same product that you see in the fancy packaging for a whole lot less money.
I’ve found plenty of cases where we like the store brand better and it’s rare we don’t at the very least like something the same as the most expensive options.
My favorite store brand options to buy:
- The basics: flour, sugar, spices, butter, eggs, milk
- Granola bars: many times the store brand has less added sugar (healthier and cheaper!)
- Canned goods: beans, chickpeas, pineapple
- Frozen veggies: branded frozen veggies can cost twice as much as the store brand and I sure as heck can’t tell a difference
Step 8: Check The Unit Price
The price of every item in grocery stores is prominently displayed however, to check the unit price you’re going to have to look a little closer. It’s not hard, just small print typically under the actual price.
Always check the price per unit, buying a larger package isn’t always the best cost. I really focus on price per unit or price per pound when buying fruit, veggies, and meat.
Depending on what I find I make my selections based on price per unit. If ground turkey is on sale and a recipe calls for ground beef I’ll buy the turkey instead. Planning on broccoli as a side but, green beans are cheaper? We’ll go with the cheaper option and adjust our menu accordingly.
Step 9: Cut Back On Meat
Meat is one of the most expensive items at the grocery store. A great way to eat healthy and save on your grocery bill is cutting back on meat. We replace meat with eggs at least one night a week and the savings have been huge.
Increasing the number of veggies you eat is good for your budget and for your health. One of our favorite recipes is these breakfast burritos. I can make them for dinner and have enough to freeze for another meal for less than $7 – 4 healthy dinners for $1.75!
Step 10: Enjoy Healthy Eating And A Happy Grocery Bill
Cutting your grocery bill doesn’t mean not being able to eat healthy. Try it out and see if you can decrease your monthly grocery budget and still eat healthy. You’ll be pleasantly surprised! A little planning ahead goes a long way!
What are you doing save money on your grocery bill and still eat healthy? I’d love to hear!