How to save money at the grocery store: smart and savvy moms share their budget-busting tips to help you save money on groceries when you have a hungry family to feed.
Ok, does anyone else feel like their pay cheque should just be sent directly to the supermarket every week? The price of groceries is getting to be ridiculous, isn’t it?
With two teenage boys, a husband who works construction, and a home daycare, someone is always hungry at our house. Keeping a family fed costs me a small fortune at the grocery store. Food packages are shrinking while grocery prices are increasing, making it harder and harder to feed a family on a budget anymore.
I try to do all the obvious things to keep our grocery costs down: I avoid expensive convenience-foods, I serve home-cooked meals, and I pack simple, healthy lunches for work and school. But I figured there must be a few money-saving tricks that I’m not aware of, so I asked my Facebook followers for advice.
I asked them for their best grocery saving tips, and boy, did they come through in spades.
Dozens of moms offered their favourite tips and tricks for keeping their families’ grocery costs down. I figured you’d probably enjoy their advice as much as I did, so I’m sharing it with you today!
Grocery List courtesy Shutterstock
To those of you who offered your tips and suggestions, thank you!
How to Save Money on Groceries When You’re Raising a Family
- Use filling ingredients like beans, lentils and rice to bulk up soups, stews, sauces, casseroles, burgers, tacos etc, and you’ll keep everyone feeling full longer.
- Make homemade soup often. It’s hearty and filling, and great for meals & snacks.
- Look for discounted items at the grocery store. Often cans or packages that are dented or dinged are reduced in price, but perfectly fine.
- Serve meals and snacks at dedicated times to eliminate random snacking throughout the day.
- Buy ingredients online, from home, to prevent impulse purchases made in-store.
- Freeze over-ripe, brown bananas to make banana bread at a later date.
- Turn too-soft fruit into easy-to-make sauces and purees like strawberry-applesauce.
- Freeze berries that are past their best, and toss them into your morning smoothie.
- Buy chicken on sale, and prepare and freeze convenient “dump recipes” that you can thaw and literally dump into your slow cooker.
- Make homemade pizza instead of ordering out. This 20-minute dough is fast, easy and amazing.
- Whenever possible, cook your meals from scratch. Convenience foods and take-out costs a fortune.
- Buy ground beef on sale. Freeze for tacos, spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, shepherds pie etc. You can even cook it first, measure out how much you need for your recipes, and freeze in the required portions.
- Search for & download recipe apps to keep costs down.
- Don’t load up on sugar and carbs. They won’t keep you full. Think: eggs, greek yogurt and chicken.
- Cut coupons for toiletries to have more money for groceries.
- Use cloth napkins, wash cloths and cleaning rags instead of buying paper towel products.
- Serve water instead of ready-made juice at snack time. It’s a healthier choice and it’s free.
- Serve lots at breakfast, lunch and dinner to reduce the need for snacking in-between.
- Serve muffins or oatmeal or granola for breakfast rather than expensive, sugary cereals.
- Make your own cleaning supplies.
- Save hundreds of dollars per year by making your own laundry soap.
- Roasts, chops and fish, can all be bought on sale and frozen.
- Stock up on bread, buns, bagels, butter, milk, bacon, cheese when they’re on sale, and freeze.
- Prevent opened bags of chips and nachos from going stale by sealing up the bag, and storing it in the freezer.
- Go meatless several times per week.
- Avoid expensive convenience snacks, and only buy produce, popcorn and other healthier options like cheese sticks, nuts, peanut butter and apples.
- Use a slow cooker to transform a cheap cut of meat into a mouthwatering dinner.
- Plant a vegetable garden to feed your family.
- Hunger is often mistaken for thirst. Offer a glass of water before a snack.
- Menu planning can save you loads of money (and, in the long run, loads of time).
- Go through grocery flyers, and base your shopping and meal planning around the sales.
- Skip the temptation to buy pricey chips, soda and junk food.
- Add flaxseed to foods like pancakes, oatmeal, cornbread. It increases the fibre content and keeps you full longer.
- Pack lunches every day instead of buying lunch at work or school.
- Serve meals that go far: a large batch of chilli, spaghetti sauce, soup or lasagna can be served two nights in a row, and leftovers can be frozen for a later date
- Put those leftovers to work! Vegetables go into soups and sauces for the next night. Meat goes into soups, stir-fries and stews, or you can throw these leftovers into omelettes or wraps the next day.
- Don’t throw out leftover pasta! Turn it into a salad or toss it into a soup for tomorrow’s lunch.
- Left-over rice can be added to casseroles and soups.
- Saute left-over or too-soft vegetables and freeze for soups and sauces.
- Always stop to take a look at the day-old bread rack at the grocery store.
- Turn stale bread into homemade croutons that keep well in a sealed container
- Freeze stale bread and buns, and use them to make garlic bread when you need a quick side-dish.
- Remember that years ago, snacks weren’t a daily thing like they are now; they were a treat, but the meals were what kept you full. Try to go back to that.
- If you want to do snacks, try a snack-baggie a day for each child. When the snack baggie is empty, they are done with snacks until tomorrow.
- Use price matching. Many stores (like Walmart) will do this and you can do all of your shopping in one place.
- Make one-pot meals.
- Buy in bulk (but know your prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal).
- Bake your own breads and even your own dinner rolls.
Go ahead! Get creative. Plan ahead. Stretch your meals. You can do this!
And if you have any ideas that we didn’t cover, please leave your suggestions in the comments. I’d love to know your grocery-savings secrets!
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.