If you’ve read any blogs or magazine articles about how to save money on groceries, you’ve doubtless noticed that many of the same tips are trotted out: Shop with a list. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Match coupons with sales. Etc., etc., etc.
To switch things up a bit, here are five lesser-known ways to dial back your spending and save money on groceries.
1. Eat Less
Eating less is usually something we think about when we want to lose weight, but it’s also a great way to cut grocery spending. At the risk of stating the obvious: if you eat less, you won’t need to buy as much food. This is not a great idea if you struggle to keep enough weight on your frame, but most of us could actually stand to carry a little less weight around, so buy less and eat less—and you’ll spend less.
2. Quit Throwing Your Groceries Away
American households waste up to 40% of the food they buy. But somehow, not many of us consider the issue of food waste when we want to save money on groceries. We focus on procuring groceries more cheaply instead of taking good care of the food we’ve bought.
Every time you throw uneaten food away, it’s like tossing dollar bills into the trash. And when you throw food out, you’ve got to go spend more money to replace it! To avoid food waste, make a menu plan, shop based on the plan so you don’t overbuy, eat your leftovers, read up on how to store your food properly, and keep a watchful eye on the contents of your fridge so you know what needs to be used up.
3. Stop Drinking Sugar
Sugary beverages (commercial fruit juice included) are a completely unnecessary addition to your diet. So instead of thinking about how to get your sweetened beverages for a lower price, drink water instead.
Unless the water in your area is exceptionally horrible, make it tap water. Up to 44% of bottled water is just filtered tap water anyway, and if your water tastes bad, a fridge filter pitcher should fix the problem for a fraction of the price of bottled water.
4. Eat What’s Cheap
Sales and coupons can net you discounts on expensive foods, but swapping naturally cheap foods for the pricey items will keep even more money in your pocket. For instance, you can find sales and coupons for lunch meat, but you’ll save a lot more if you pack homemade chicken/tuna salad or leftovers in your lunchbox.
And you can shop for deals on cold cereal, but if you buy a big container of oatmeal (make granola or cook it and add fruit, spices, and milk or cream), you’ll save way more. Swap walnuts for pine nuts in pesto; use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts; make fish cakes instead of crab cakes … the possibilities are nearly endless!
5. Go Alternative
You can find deals at a grocery store, but that’s not the only game in town. Try a discount store like Aldi or Save-A-Lot. Look for a local grocery outlet. Shop online. (Some foods are surprisingly inexpensive on Amazon!) Visit ethnic grocers in your area for great prices on produce. Try a CSA, especially if you’re wanting to save on local food. Look for marked-down produce at farmer’s markets or produce stands. Pick your own produce at a local farm.
Of course, making a list and shopping when you’re not hungry are great strategies, but if you’re looking to step it up a notch in the savings department, give some of these ideas a try!