Hello fellow millennials (and everyone else looking for grocery saving tips, because we love ya’ll too!). Are you looking for ways to save money on your grocery bill, but don’t know where to begin yet?
Maybe you’ve just moved in to your first apartment. Maybe you’re living on your own for the first time, newly married, or settling into your bachelor/bachelorette pad with a few roommates. Whatever your situation might be, it’s time to tackle smart budgeting.
It’s no secret that starting out life as an independent adult comes with a few challenges. It’s also no secret that a lot of those challenges revolve around the almighty dollar. Pink Floyd said it right – get a good job, with good pay, and you’re ok. If only it were that simple.
I found this out the hard way. Groceries aren’t cheap. Unless you’re living on a diet of tap water and twinkies your grocery bill is going to be a major part of your monthly expenses. This is even MORE the case when you want to eat healthy, and treat your body well. Eating junk food can be cheap – I had friends in college who lived on what I would call the Home Depot dinner; Slim Jims, a Pepsi, maybe a Snicker bar… a dinner you can buy at the checkout of a Home Depot. Many college friends lived off of Ramen noodles. Others ate nothing but Nutella everyday. $3 dinners. Eating healthier, unfortunately, isn’t usually this cheap.
So when I first began living on my own, and paying all of my own bills, I quickly started finding ways to save money on grocery shopping. I became a micro guru of grocery savings. So gather around, because here’s my definitive guide on how to save money on your grocery bill!
The Art Of Coupons And Cash Back
The first thing you need to master is how to never spend full price on ANYTHING. There are so many deals available that with a little extra foresight you can get discounts or cash back on practically everything!
There’s a bit of a system to maximizing cash back rebates and discounts. Here’s what I do…
This one you’ve probably heard of. I easily get $20 cash back every single month just by using the Ibotta app. It’s a free, super easy to use app that has hundreds of cash back offers. When you plan your grocery shopping trip, peruse the Ibotta app for anything you can get cash back on.
I frequently get $0.25 back on milk, $2.50 back on my hair gel and migraine pills, $1.00 back on my cereal, and the list goes on. The deals that offer cash back change every week or so, but it’s always easy to find things I need that are offering money back. Here are a couple screenshots of options in the Ibotta app…
Ibotta is free to download, easy to use, and grabs you some extra money. Use the link here to download the app, and start getting cash back on your groceries – DOWNLOAD AND JOIN IBOTTA
Still skeptical? There’s a screenshot below of what I’ve earned from the app since I downloaded it and started earning. You can read my Ibotta review for more details on how I get $20/month in cash back!
2. Checkout 51
Checkout 51 is a lot like Ibotta, but not as good. It’s a cash back app that always has deals on it that will give you money back on your purchases. It’s not nearly as user friendly as Ibotta, and it has fewer deals, but I recommend using it because you can COMPOUND your cash back.
I often get double cash back on groceries that I buy because both Ibotta AND Checkout 51 will pay me cash for the purchase. The more cash back, the better, am I right?
Try out Checkout 51! It’s free to download, and all it takes is a scan of a receipt to get some extra money right back in your bank account after grocery shopping.
There are TONS of coupon websites out there where you can find oodles of discounts. The champion of all coupons sites is…. unsurprisingly… Coupons.com. It’s called Coupons.com for crying out loud.
Use this site. If you buy groceries EVER you need to use it. Coupons.com has tons of coupons to choose from, and you will often save a mini fortune on your various purchases.
The downside to Coupons.com is that you generally have to print out the coupons that you’re going to use. So if you don’t have a printer, it’s not exactly convenient to go run to your local library to print out your coupons. Your time is more valuable than that!
Luckily, Coupons.com DOES have an app that allows you to get digital coupons for certain participating stores.
If you really want to maximize your Coupons.com earnings you can join a website called Swagbucks (also free, and highly recommended), which will PAY extra cash just for using Coupons.com through their site. Swagbucks will pay $0.25 for every coupon that you redeem, so you can often rack up a few extra bucks for doing nothing but… you know… saving money in the first place.
And do you want another tip? Many stores, like Amazon, will even let you STACK coupons in some cases, which lets you chop the price of the stuff you’re buying into even smaller pieces.
I highly recommend that you master coupons if you want to save on groceries.
Walmart may be an obnoxiously large corporate entity, and does no favors for local businesses (usually), but if your budget is tight they offer some of the lowest prices around. That’s literally their motto, as a matter of fact.
Additionally, if you live anywhere that isn’t the middle of a jungle on a different planet, in a different solar system, then you will likely have a Walmart or other mass merchandise discount close by.
One of the best things you can do for both your budget, and your busyness, is to use the Walmart Grocery Pickup. It’s simple. Go right to their website, buy the groceries you need at reasonably low prices online, and Walmart will gather the items for you and bring the items to your car when you drive up to the door. You just need to give them a phone call or text when you arrive.
And it’s a totally free extra service! Not just that, but try out your first grocery order at this link, and Walmart will give you $10 off the order!
The Walmart website is one of the best ways to save money. On top of the convenience of the online ordering, you also have Walmart’s generic store brand option, Great Value. Great Value is a hit-or-miss store brand, but a lot of the alternatives to name brands that it provides are just as good as their expensive competitors, and it’s FAR cheaper. Which brings me to my next point…
Don’t Be Afraid To Try Store Brand Items
It might go against your standards, but in many cases generic store brands are perfectly sufficient replacements for name brands. This isn’t always the case, but whenever possible, go for the store brand. You can often pay 50% less for something that provides you with the same thing as a more expensive product.
Many mass merchandise stores, or regular grocery stores, will have their own store brand items. Try them out! If it’s as good as the name brand, then just buy the generic one.
Just be warned, there is only one true Lucky Charms. Don’t trust the impostors.
Be afraid. Ain’t nothin’ lucky about this…
Buying In Bulk
Ever heard of Boxed.com? It may come as no surprise that you can always save money by buying in bulk, and Boxed.com has revolutionized the convenience of this.
In most big grocery stores and mass merchandise stores you have the option to buy some items in bulk. Even though the upfront cost may seem bigger, when you break it down per item you’re saving a fortune. That’s why buying in bulk makes sense for anything non-perishable (obviously, it doesn’t work so well for fruits and vegetables, unless you have about a dozen kids, an office full of fresh-produce-loving employees, or an army of gnomes who will finish your produce before it goes bad).
Saving money by buying in bulk is nothing new. Sam’s Club and Costco are probably the best known examples of this. With Boxed.com, though, you can access wholesale bulk purchases without even paying club membership fees.
Boxed will deliver your mass quantity orders straight to your door, in delightfully large boxes. So when stocking up on things like granola bars, cereal, oateal, paper towels, garbage bags, and of course toilet paper, make sure you buy them in bulk.
It’s worth getting the membership for Sam’s Club, or for convenient home deliveries, but if Sam’s isn’t an option for you Boxed.com is an easy resource.
What About Affordable Organic Stuff?
So if you’re someone who prefers eating more natural, organic food, or someone who prefers responsibly produced things, you may find that your options are very… very… expensive.
I’m a HUGE fan of farmers markets, and visit them on most weekends in the warmer seasons. I think it’s important to support local farms as often as possible. But when I was at a place in life when my budget was tighter, it was not easy to afford farmers market prices.
The good news is, when your budget is tight, there are still options online where you can find lower cost organic products. Websites like Publicgoods.com offer hundreds of organic products for only $3 on average! (I also liked Brandless, back when they existed).
Try it out right here!
Grow Your Own Produce!
Believe it or not, certain grocery items are not too hard to just grow at home. While you may not have the space, time, or patience to go full homesteader and raise chickens and alpacas, there are a lot of simple things that you can grow right on a sunny window sill.
Basil leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers, and even lettuce are a few examples.
Browse the vast inter-webs for a few simple things you can grow at home for your own cooking, and you’ll save money.
What Are Your Ideas?
These methods have helped me save several thousand dollars per year on groceries. And they’re easy! Saving on household expenses is not complicated. By developing a few healthy habits like these, you can save yourself thousands every year too.
Do you have some tips to add? Let me know in the comments!