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Welcome to Homemaking Tips Tuesdays where contributing writers share helpful homemaking tips so you can feel more successful caring for your home and family.

{This week, post by: Jessica}

Maximize your grocery budget to spend less on groceries while still enjoying healthy foods.

Put your hands up if you like to go grocery shopping!

Just me?

I really do enjoy grocery shopping, even if I have the kids along.  That is unless they are having a meltdown or I’m starving.

I love to purchase fresh produce and try new sauces and condiments to spice up some of our regular dishes.  I especially love getting a good deal on the food we eat.

While some women have to keep a close eye on their clothing budget each month, I have to pay especially close attention to my grocery budget.

Our budget includes household items like paper towels and shampoo because I don’t have the time for two separate transactions at the store or to separate the amounts spent on food vs household items when I get home.  We also eat a combination of organic/non-organic items and a large majority of fresh, unprocessed food. (If I’m in the frozen food section it’s for chicken nuggets or veggies).

Whatever your budget for groceries, here are a few tips to spend less on groceries.

  1. Plan ahead.You may have read my previous post on how to destress dinner time.  Planning what you and your family will eat each week saves you from running to the grocery store more than once a week, and from buying ingredients that are not eaten because you never had a plan on how or when to use them.As I create our weekly menu, I check to see which ingredients I already have handy and what items I need to pick up. If it is nearing the end of the month, I try to get creative with what’s left in my pantry and freezer so that I do not go over budget.

I create my shopping list by grouping items needed by departments, and in order I find them in the store.  An organized list helps to not miss items and to save time in the store.  Stick to your list! I don’t wander down an aisle if I don’t need anything in it, because chances are if I do, I’ll grab something that wasn’t on my list. Plan ahead so you don’t waste your time and money.

  1. Keep a running list of items you are low on or have run out of. A small dry erase board in your kitchen works great for this.  Add the needed items to your weekly grocery list and try your best to stick to it.  You’ll be grateful you came home with much needed garlic salt, instead of another container of garlic powder.
  1. Stock up on the staples. Once a month I go to Costco and purchase bulk items such as chicken and beef, snacks for lunches, chicken nuggets, and any other items we consume in large quantities on a regular basis.  This is the most expensive shopping trip of the month.  Sometimes I can even get away with buying some of these things every other month if I plan right.  The point is to try and have the items I usually cook with available at all times.The rest of the month, I shop at whichever grocery store has the best sale on the fresh produce I need for the week.

live well with citrus graphic Jessie

  1. Watch the sale ads. Our grocery store mailers come on Tuesday, and I usually do my shopping Friday.  This gives me a few days to plan ahead for our meals and shop the store that has the best sale.

One grocery store near us has an extra day of savings every Friday (hence why that became my usual shopping day).  And I mean big savings on produce.  Think 5 lbs of apples for a $1.00 savings.  But there are some weeks that I need a few other staples which might be more expensive at said store (bread and salad dressing come to mind).  Even though I could save a boat load on apples, I will end up spending more on other necessities.

Shop the store with the best overall sale on the items you need that week.  You don’t have to shop the same store out of loyalty if another store is running a better sale. And if you are really ambitious, hit up a few different stores in one day.  Just be prepared to bribe your kids for good behavior as you haul them into another store!

  1. Don’t take the kids shopping. I am a stay at home mom and military spouse.  I don’t have family nearby to leave my kids with, or a husband with a regular schedule that I can always depend on.  Nine times out of ten I am taking at least one child with me in the store.  There have been times when I have thrown my hands up, said screw the list and coupons, and just got out of there as quick as possible.  But the times I can go shopping without my kids, I come home with even greater savings.  Offer to trade your kids with a friend so you can each shop in peace, or go after the kids have gone to bed.

When you have the kids with you, find ways to keep them occupied or involved.   My kids enjoy picking out our produce and putting it in the bag.  Think about what you can teach your kids while you are grocery shopping.  Explain to them how and why you are reading the nutritional labels, or discuss where different foods come from.  And I always bring a snack along in case they start to get bored or tired.

  1. Clip coupons. I don’t subscribe to a coupon service or spend hours on the internet looking for deals.  But I do browse our newspaper coupons each week.  I also check to see if the store has digital coupons available as well.  If you can spend a few minutes on facebook every night, you can browse for digital coupons.  Don’t forget to sign up for in store rewards cards and check other sites such as for other great deals.

basic and premium starter kits with prices

  1. Don’t clip coupons. Wait, what?  But you just said… Many times store brands are cheaper than name brands.  Take Cheerios vs. Tastee-o’s.  My kids can’t tell the difference.  Also, don’t waste your time clipping a coupon for something you don’t really need.  Is it on your list?  Is it something you use on a regular basis?  If not, then pass on the coupon and save yourself the time and effort.
  1. Double up the savings with apps like Ibotta. I love this app like I have never loved an app before. Ibotta offer rebates at hundreds of stores (and not just grocery stores either).  The rebates can be used on top of coupons you used in store, offering a chance to double your savings.

The night before my weekly shopping trip, I check to see if any of the items already on my grocery list are also offered as a rebate.  Many of the items are brand specific, but common items such as any gallon of milk, any loaf of bread, and a rotating assortment of produce may also be available for a rebate (rebates change weekly).

Once you are home, use your phone to verify your purchases by simply scanning the barcode on the item purchased, snap a picture of your receipt, and hit send.  While most shopping trips may only save you a few dollars, the savings add up over time, allowing you to cash in via gift cards or paypal once you reach a balance of $20.00 (you receive $10.00 after verifying your first rebate).

Ibotta is also handy in the alcoholic beverage department.  My husband is somewhat of a beer snob.  I’ll let him know which of his favorite brands have a rebate which allows him to save a few dollars on something he was going to buy anyway. (He has his own beer budget for the month so every dollar counts for him too).

One grocery store near us offers 30% off if you buy at least four 6-packs.  By the time he gets his 30% off and usually $3-$7 back in rebates through Ibotta, his beer costs less than a dollar a piece.

Lastly, Ibotta allows you to create a shopping list on your phone and will show you if any items on your list are available for a rebate.

You can sign up for Ibotta here.

  1. Keep your coupons and grocery bags in your car. Coupons can’t save you money if they are left on the kitchen counter!

Happy Shopping!

homemaking tips tuesday

What are your favorite ways to spend less on groceries?

Maximize your grocery budget to spend less on groceries while still enjoying healthy foods.

Jessica Stremer of Five O'Clock JellyJessica is a stay at home mom of two lovely little girls.  She is also a military spouse and an entrepreneur.  Jessica enjoys staying active and spending time outdoors with her family, cooking, and reading.  In addition, Jessica is hard at work growing her company Five O’Clock Jelly.