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When I read articles on how to save money on groceries, I often find two types of advice.
In the first camp: You just need to grow your own fabulous garden, can everything, bake your own bread and like, create entire meals with condiment packets when necessary
The second camp: Simply switch to a smaller sized latte everyday and eat less avocado toast for breakfast and you will SAVE BIG.
Um, yeah. So helpful.
I may be weird (or totally average), but I tend to fall in between these two camps.
Making extreme commitments to saving money can be necessary at times, but it can also be overwhelming to try to completely change your spending (and cooking) habits all at once.
Not all of us have the time or ability to grow a big garden or make absolutely everything from scratch, but we can start somewhere.
Read Next: Creative Ideas for Saving Money When You Have a Big Family (or even when you don’t)
Most people find that it’s easier to gradually develop better habits by making small, realistic changes in your routines to start with.
The small successes you have when you first start budgeting your money can give you some great momentum to work towards bigger savings goals, and it’s more likely that the habit will stick when you don’t go the “extreme” route all at once.
Think of all the fad diets that have come and gone: the same rate of failure applies to budgeting when you “starve” yourself of things you enjoy OR try to change your habits overnight. It’s just not practical.
5 Easy Ways to Save $100 (or more) on Groceries This Month
These subtle swaps can really add up over the course of a month, and it’s likely that you’ll hardly feel the pinch at all!
Here’s how you could save at least $100 by doing each of these 5 things this month:
1. Use half as much meat at dinner time.
Try this for just two meals per week and see if you notice the difference this month. This works especially well for casseroles or tacos where you can bulk up on other less expensive ingredients.
For example, instead of using 1 pound of ground beef for your taco meat, brown the meat, save and freeze 1/2 pound for another meal later in the week.
Let’s say a pound of ground beef costs $5/pound. By only using $2.50 in hamburger and substituting a $0.60 can of black beans, you’re saving $1.90 on just that meal alone.
If you’re making a chicken/brocolli/rice casserole, add some extra rice and use 1/2 of the chicken the recipe calls for (dice and freeze the other half for later). By cutting out approximately $2 per meal on eight meals, you should notice about a $16 savings this month in the meat department.
2. Download the Ibotta app.
I could dedicate an entire post to all the money-saving apps out there that can save you money on groceries, but for this month let’s keep it simple and start with Ibotta if you’re not already using it.
This is one of the most popular digital rebate apps for groceries in particular, because with over 300 retail chains at over 500,000 locations it’s likely you can use this app at your closest grocery stores no matter where you live. Dumpster diving for coupons never really appealed to me, so I was thrilled to jump on the Ibotta train.
Simply download the app, look at the rebates available for products that you need and add them to your grocery list. Be sure to check the details- some rebates require a purchase of 2 of that item in order to receive a rebate, for example.
Some offers can be redeemed multiple times which can really boost your savings, especially if you need to stock up on some pantry items!
Scan your grocery receipt with your smartphone when you get home from the store, scan the item if prompted and your account will be credited the amount of the “coupon” within 48 hours. Once you reach $20, you can cash out your savings and the money is deposited directly into your PayPal account (or a gift card if you prefer).
I was able to cash in my first $20 after using this app for only three weeks! Pretty awesome.
Sign up for Ibotta through my referral link here and receive $10 just for redeeming your first rebate!
3. Learn to love water.
A recent study shows that the average American drinks about eight 12-oz cans of soda per week. If you’re “average” in this respect, you’re probably spending at least $20 per month just on soft drinks for you and your spouse.
And that’s only assuming you’re buying soda at the grocery store — you can at least triple this number if you’re both also stopping for a $1 soda at McD’s five times a week!
If you buy orange juice, apple juice, or other sweet beverages, let’s estimate two containers of juice per week at $2.50 each, your monthly bill for these non-essential groceries could easy be costing you $40 per month combined.
Personally, I don’t buy juice for my kids (I’m a mean mom) because it’s bad for their teeth and it adds a lot of unnecessary sugar to their diet. But I know a lot of kids enjoy a cup of juice a few times a week and that’s ok!
Side note: A can of Coke has a little over 9 teaspoons of sugar in it! And, of course, orange juice and other fruit juices generally have just as much sugar, if not more than soda. (Read about it here.)
But again, I’m not trying to convince you and your family to change these habits overnight. I hinted that these would be easy changes, right?
So my challenge to you is to cut back 1/2 of the amount of soda and juice you normally buy and replace it with water for the next month. You’ll save $20 this month and will probably feel a lot better too!
4. Order pantry essentials online from Target or Amazon .
I don’t know about you, but walking into the grocery store with my 4 kids and coming out with half of everything on my list while staying anywhere near what I budgeted is basically a Christmas miracle I haven’t witnessed yet.
When I started ordering a few grocery items here and there online, I had no idea that it could not only be convenient but it could actually save me money too.
First of all, if you don’t have a Target Red Card, you’re missing out.
Save 5% and get Free Shipping at Target – Apply for a REDcard
I have the Target debit card option which is linked to my checking account so that I’m not tempted to overspend. (Well, tempted, yes. But let’s say I have to limit myself and it’s easy to do when it’s NOT a credit card.)
Target gives you 5% off plus free shipping on almost everything on their site so that’s a huge incentive for me alone. While you can’t get everything on your grocery list online, you can get a wide variety of breakfast foods, snack foods, pantry staples and other absolute essentials – like coffee – at great prices!
Some of the perks I’ve found shopping online are: I can browse grocery items that aren’t available at my local store; I can take a few days to ponder what I really need versus want, and I can adjust my shopping cart to make sure I stick to my weekly budget.
At Target and Amazon, you don’t have to purchase bulk items, either (although you can if you want to), so it’s really just like shopping in the store – but waaay better in my book.
If you’re a person who gets overwhelmed in the grocery store and/or makes impulse purchases because you just want to get the heck out of there, this will be helpful for you too! (Not that I can relate to those scenarios.)
If you have an Amazon Prime account, check out their Prime Pantry items. Basically, you search that category, add items to your cart and it tells you what percentage of your box is full until you get to 100%. If you choose at least 5 “qualifying items” in your box (typical grocery items you will want anyhow), you receive free shipping; otherwise, it’s $5.99 per box.
They literally box it all up in one big box (rather than the several random boxes you might get on other Amazon orders with multiple items) and ship it to your doorstep.
In addition to all this awesome convenience, Amazon has pantry coupons you can “clip” and the savings will be deducted from your total. I usually compare items I am needing between Target and Amazon and compare available coupons or discounts on each site.
Before shopping at either Amazon or Target online, I always click through from BeFrugal’s website so that I earn cashback on top of all these discounts I mentioned above. If you do a lot of online shopping your cashback rewards will stack up very quickly.
It’s such an easy way to boost your savings on stuff you have to buy anyhow!
5. Swap eggs for meat once a week.
In addition to just cutting back on meat (#1 above), we try to do a meatless meal once per week that is satisfying but budget-friendly.
Some of our favorite ways to do this: Scrambled eggs or omelets with cheese and diced veggies; birds in a nest; or fried diced potatoes/onions/bell peppers/cheese with eggs mixed in at the end. Serve with toast and some apple slices!
Our closest Aldi store frequently has eggs for $0.50/dozen so even if you used an entire dozen (we often do for six people), that’s much cheaper than any meat you’ll find. If you average $4 savings per week at 4 times per month, you will save $16 per month with this swap.
By the way: I highly recommend shopping at Aldi in general to get the most bang for your buck on groceries. Our nearest Aldi store is 50 miles away so I don’t get to go nearly as often as I’d like to (hence the hunt for online deals). But if there’s one in your area, check it out!
Also read: A Completely Basic Guide to Creating a Meal Plan on a Budget
You can see how small changes can add up big — these 5 things could easily save you around $120 this month alone.
Save Even More
If you want to make your savings stretch even further, I highly recommend banking what you save in a Capital One 360 online savings, checking or money market account (all have great interest rates). I’ve had an account for several years at this online bank and it’s been a lifesaver for us.
There are no fees, no minimums, and you can set up automatic deposits to build your savings each month without even thinking about it. You can even create multiple “accounts” within your main account and label them with your specific savings goals (“Christmas Savings”, “Vacation”, etc) – then easily transfer funds back and forth from your brick-and-mortar bank account.
It’s really a no brainer! Sign up for your savings account here.
What other simple and creative ways do you save money on groceries? Tell us below!
You Might Also Like:
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• A Completely Basic Guide to Creating a Weekly Meal Plan on a Budget
• Creative Ideas for Saving Money When You Have a Big Family (or even when you don’t)