Winter is just around the corner and with the weather cooling down, you will be staying inside and eating more food. Food is one of the few types of costs you can actually have a large amount of control on a week-to-week basis. A family that focuses on saving money on groceries can stand to save a large amount of money overtime.
As a college student, I had the biggest problem trying to save money on groceries. I would easily spend over $80 on groceries each week and this wasn’t including alcohol. Amusingly, Mrs. Broke and I now average less than $75 on groceries each week!
In hindsight, I made a series of bad mistakes when it came to shopping for groceries. Things have changed quite a bit since my college days.
For starters, since my college days, I’ve met Mrs. Broke. Together, we have worked together different strategies that we have discovered, researched, and proven that it works. Depending on how you spend your money now, did I mention that these tips won’t leave you hungry and you might just lose weight!
I realize we are talking about groceries and that post talks about lunch, but the same concepts apply. You should absolutely avoid buying pre-made food from grocery stores.
When we were researching costs for our lunch post, we came to realize that grocery stores were only slightly (typically $1-2 cheaper) than a restaurant. It is very often the quality of food is worse than what you would find at a restaurant.
One of the things that we notice a lot of people like doing is buying pre-made foods by the pound. Usually, it costs about $9-10 per pound and seem very cheap. However, when you consider that an American eats an average of 2 pounds of food per meal, you would pay $20 to feel full – the equivalent of a nice entrée!
Not only is it usually more expensive than a restaurant, the food quality is about the same level of a restaurant. The food is high in salt, sugar, fats and not very healthy.
Buying pre-made food is possibly from a grocery store is one of the worse food choices you could make.
2. Avoid buying frozen foods (unless they are frozen vegetables)
When I was in college, the reason why my grocery bill was so expensive was because I loved buying frozen pizzas. Every meal, I would eat a frozen pizza – breakfast, lunch, and dinner….because college.
Frozen foods are expensive because you are paying for the food to be cooked then frozen.
An example of how not worth it is compare the price of a frozen pizza to making a pizza yourself. The initial cost of making the pizza yourself might be slightly more expensive, but you will likely make more pizza than one.
Frozen foods are expensive and unhealthy, avoid them at all costs.
3. Avoid purchasing pre-packaged food
There is a general prevalence of a belief that pre-packaged food is cheaper to eat and therefore worth it. I agree with this statement, but for different reasons. Pre-packaged foods contain more calories per dollar than something unprocessed. So why am I telling you to avoid it?
Because most pre-packaged food consume are chips, crackers, and cookies. These pre-packaged foods are expensive and doesn’t provide much nutritional value.
No one ever finishes a bag of chips and cookies and says, “Boy, that was good dinner – I don’t need to eat anything else.”
Decreasing the amount of pre-packaged food is similar to cutting back on frozen food. You are saving money on groceries and you also decrease the calories you take in.
4. Decrease the amount of dairy products purchased
Major disclaimer: Mrs. Broke recently became one of those people that tell you their eating habits before their name – vegans.
Here’s the thing, diary in high amounts are not needed, especially when you use it as a fancy condiment. You know, cheese on top of your salad, sour cream on top of your burrito, etc.
While all these costs are small (usually less than $5), it all ads up!
Most importantly, cutting back on dairy can help you save money on groceries, but also help you become healthier. Since we have cut back on buying dairy Mrs. Broke and I have lost weight and have much more healthy physicals.
5. Eat less red meat to get under budget
Your mom’s keto, your dad’s keto, even your granny is keto.
Red meat has become increasingly more expensive over time. Even more expensive are processed meats such as beef jerky and salami. By cutting down on the red meat you purchase, you will be able to save a significant amount of money.
This isn’t to say you should cut out red meat altogether, or even meat in general. You should try to decrease your red meat amount.
As an alternative, try to do poultry and fish for your needed source of protein.
6. Cut coupons and utilize apps with coupons
Remember when you people would cut coupons and have books of coupons to choose from? The concept still remains the same, you are saving money on groceries for very little work.
However, there are now apps that make coupons more easily accessible.
It is becoming even more common that stores are creating their own apps to help save coupons. Make sure you download the app for your favorite grocery store. More likely than not, they will allow you to save your coupons to your membership card.
Once you get to the register, all you need to do is swipe your membership card and voila! Coupons are automatically added to your tab.
Additionally, it should be noted that there are apps like Honey which help give you money back after you shop. Make sure to check out all these different apps!
7. Shop wholesale stores and ethnic stores for additional savings
When we began shopping at ethnic stores and wholesale stores, we had so much more savings on our groceries!
Ethnic stores typically sell a larger variety of produce and food at a lower price than traditional grocery stores. If you are afraid of going to an ethnic store – don’t be. I know that ethnic stores can be intimidating for people who do not speak the language of the store, but I’ve never had a problem going to ethnic stores. Money talks louder than language barriers!
Since going to an ethnic store to get our produce, we have slashed our produce budget in half – don’t miss out on this opportunity!
I realize a lot of people don’t have access to ethnic stores, but most everyone has access to wholesale stores. Wholesale stores like Costco and Sam’s Club sell food by the bulk. While there is a membership fee, this fee will be worth it with all the saving you’ll have on groceries.
8. Buying generic brands instead of brand names for more saving on groceries
Don’t be the person who avoids generic brands like the plague. You probably take generic brands of medicine. Similarly, there isn’t much difference with eating generic brands.
So what’s stopping you?
Generics are generally significantly cheaper than the brand name offerings but similar tasting. This is because generics are usually created from the same regional distributor as the actual brand name.
In most cases, generics are even better tasting than the brand name offerings. This is because the generics are able to make their generics similar tasting in what the local population eats. Brand names have to think about the entire nation’s population.
When it comes to buying generics, most stores usually have 2 types of generics. Usually, there is a low tier generic and a high tier generic.
Take for example, Target. Their low tier generic is called “Market Pantry”, it’s usually cheaper and similar tasting to the brand name. The high tier generic is called “Archer Farms” which is usually the same price, but way better tasting than the brand name.
Generics are consistently looked over by Americans, it’s time you should give it a try and start saving for your groceries.
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