This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.
So you are looking to save money on groceries. Smart move! If you were going to find one area in your expenses that you can easily save money on, then saving money on groceries should be where you focus your attention
Groceries is something we continually spend money on every single week. According to GoBankRates.com, Americans spend between 12.4% to 33% of our entire monthly income on groceries. That’s a huge chunk of our income, so it just makes the most sense to make an effort to cut back on this expense. What’s even better is that it can be done very easily.
The Easiest Way to Save Money on Groceries
Why your grocery budget?
- Saving on groceries is one of the easiest ways to save money
- Groceries are one expense we spend money on every single week
- There are many different ways to cut back on grocery spending
- Food is one of the biggest monthly household expenses we have
Ways to Save Money on Groceries
There are many techniques that we can use to save money on groceries. Here are a few of my favorite.
- Meal Planning
- Using Rebate Apps
- Shopping Sales
- Seasonal Shopping
- Growing a Garden
- Freezer Cooking
All of these ways are really easy to do but considering I’m going to share with you the EASIEST way to save money on groceries, I’ll just be talking about one of these ways. And the winner is…drum roll….shopping sales!!
If you want to learn more ways to save money on groceries, here are some great articles that show you all the grocery saving strategies.
The easiest way to save money on groceries
Yes, we all look for what’s on sale when we are shopping. It just makes sense, and if you don’t, you really should. And if you buy EVERYTHING you ever need or at least the majority, then you can easily cut your grocery budget by 25% or more.
It does mean that we have to be strategic about how we shop, but it so much less time-consuming then you might think. We’ll talk about strategy in a minute, first, let’s talk about why shopping sales.
Shopping sales mean that you will NEVER pay full price for groceries (or anything really) again! Think about how this could very easily save you a lot of money every week.
Why shopping sales are the easiest method to save money on groceries
What makes shopping sales the easiest way to save money in your grocery budget you ask? I’m glad you asked! Because it is the quickest way, it doesn’t require clipping coupons or using any kind of rebate app, and there is very little planning that needs to be done.
Of course, if you want to add in some of the other techniques, you will save a considerable amount of money on your groceries budget. But for many of us, finding time to do some of these things is difficult. And, as we all know, time is money so you’ll have to decide for yourself if these other techniques are worth your time.
On the other hand, if you’re strapped for time like many of us are, then concentrating on shopping sales is what you need to concentrate on first.
Note: If shopping sales is not your thing, you can still save a ton of money with less effort using the $5 Meal Plan. This plan is a collection of meals that are under $2 per serving and are emailed to you every week along with a shopping list. The cost is $5 per month ($1.25 a week) making this a super cheap alternative. Get a 14 day free trial today to see if it’s right for you.
Misconceptions about shopping sales
Now, you might be thinking that you will be limited to what you eat from week to week by shopping sales. Or maybe you think that you’ll be eating the same thing all week long.
No, this is not how it works. Well in its simplest form, I guess it would work but I don’t think many people would stick with this type of plan. I know I’d get pretty bored eating the same things for a full week.
How to make shopping sales work to your advantage
Before we get into strategy on how to save money on groceries with sales, you need to know how grocery stores put items on sale. Basically, every store has a sales cycle. A sale cycle is really just a schedule of what items will be going on sale and how often.
The majority of store cycles are in intervals of 4 or 6 weeks. This means if the chicken is on sale this week, then it’ll be on sale again in either 4 or 6 weeks, depending on the store’s sale cycle.
To make sale shopping work, without eating the same things day in and day out, you will need to buy enough of the sale items to last you until the next time it’s on sale or goes through the store’s sales cycle.
The first thing you need to do is find out what your store’s sale cycles are. The easiest way to do this is by simply asking the store manager. This might make you a little apprehensive, that’s ok, being an introvert, I’d have a hard time doing this too.
If you are like me and too shy to ask this outright, then you just need to be a bit observant when reviewing sales flyers and you’ll figure it out in time.
If you don’t know your store’s sale cycles yet, then I’d buy six weeks worth of products until you find out. This will cover you until you figure it out.
Save money on groceries with sales
Once you know the sales cycle of the grocery store you shop at, all you really need to do is buy enough of that item to last until the next time it comes on sale. Really, it’s as easy as that! Didn’t I tell you it was easy??
Let’s look at an example. This week chicken is one of the items on sale at the grocery store I shop at regularly. The regular price is typically around $1.39 a pound. This week it’s on sale for $.79 a pound.
By buying enough chicken leg quarters on sale this week to last the next 6 weeks, I’m saving $.60 per pound. That’s a savings of around 43% off the regular price.
Maybe saving $.60 a pound doesn’t seem like a big deal. But if you apply this technique to everything you buy at the grocery store, then you’d be cutting your grocery bill down to almost half.
Let’s say your typical grocery bill is $150 every week and for simplicity sake, you can save 43% off everything you buy. Your grocery bill would be cut down to $85.50 a week. That’s a savings of $64.50 every week and $3,354.00 a year!!
Does shopping sales make it worth it’s wild now that you know you could be saving this kind of money on groceries?
Not all sale items are created equal
Not all sale items are created equal. Take the chicken leg quarters example from above. They also come on sale grocery store I shop at for $1.19 a pound some weeks and $.99 a pound other weeks.
Although I would still save money on groceries, buying them at the lowest sale price of $.79 a pound is the best price I can get them for. I’m not going to buy them for more than the lowest sale price. This is where having a price book comes in really handy.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways grocery store put products on sale.
10 for $10 sales
I’m sure you’ve seen these types of sales, you can buy 10 of a particular item for $10. Sounds like a steal right? Not always…
If the item is typically priced at $1.09 then you are only saving $.09 per item or 9%. That’s not really a great deal. On the other hand, if those items are typical $1.50 each, then you’ll be saving roughly 33% which is good.
On another note, sometimes stores might put up a sale sign for 10 for $10 when the items regular price is $1 each anyways (or even less). This is a sneaky little trick that stores use to get people to buy a particular item thinking they are getting a deal when they really aren’t.
Pro tip: Just because the advertisement says 10 for $10, you typically don’t need to buy 10 of that one item to get them for $1 a piece (unless specified). You can buy 5 for $5 if that’s all you need.
BOGO (Buy One Get One Free) or BOG50% (Buy One Get a Second for 50% off)
BOGO items are a great deal. You buy one item at the regular retail price and you get a second one for free. You know right off the bat that you are saving half off or 50%. These are great deals.
You might also see buy one get a second for 50% off or buy 2 get one free sale. While these types of sales are still good, they may not be the best deals you can find these products for.
For instance, when there is a sale for buy one get a second for 50% off, you might think your saving 50% and you are, but only on one of the two items you have to buy. In reality, you are only saving 25% off the total purchase price.
Buy two get one free sales are a little bit better. Yes, you are getting one product for free, but you are only saving 33% off your the total purchase price.
Pro tip: Sometimes the wording on sales makes you think you are getting a better deal than you actually are. You need to determine the actual total savings when a store advertises a percentage off (ie buy one get 50% off) or a free item (buy two get a third free).
% off sales
Percent off regular retail priced items are probably the most straightforward in terms of knowing how much you are saving. If an item is on sale for 25% off, you know exactly how much money you are saving.
But is it the lowest possible price you can get it for? Maybe. But if that item comes on sale for buy one get one free (BOGO), then getting it at 50% off is a much better deal.
Limits on Grocery Sale Items
Another thing you must consider is sales limits. Many stores have a limit on how many you can purchase at the sale price. This is something you must pay attention to. You don’t want to go over the limit without realizing that you paid full price for some products you purchased.
There are many sales that don’t have limits. If you don’t see any fine print on the sale advertisement, then there is no need to worry about it.
You typically see store limits most often on BOGO type sales. You’ll see something like “limit 2 per purchase”. This can be a bit deceiving.
You might think that you can only buy two of that particular item but you can actually get 4 of that item because you are actually only purchasing two. The other two items are free with the purchase of the first two.
Another thing you should watch out for is the terms of the limit. Some limits state “per purchase” which means on the same transaction. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that’s all you can get.
This simply means that you can go back to the store later and you’ll be able to buy that item up to the limit at a later date. You could even pay for your items on separate transactions on the same day if you want to.
Rainchecks on sale items
There are many times that a store is having a great sale that is way better than the typical sale price. Many times these extra special sales will be during the holidays.
Because that product is on sale for such a great price, many people run out and stock up on those items. Then there is nothing left on the shelf by the time you get to the store. There is no need to worry or run out to the store the minute they open.
All you need to do is simply ask for a raincheck. A raincheck is simply a slip of paper that is guaranteed that you can purchase the item at the sale price once the store has it back in stock. All you have to do is present the raincheck the next time you go grocery shopping and you are good to go.
Pro tip: Many times when an item has a really good price that is way better than the best sale price, there is a limit on how many you can purchase. If you ask for a raincheck, make sure you can get the limit (or whatever quantity you intended to buy) with one raincheck.
Tracking the best grocery store prices
All these calculation can seem quite daunting when you are first starting out. This is where having a price book comes into play. A price book is basically just a list of the products that you buy regularly, along with the best price that you can purchase that item for.
This comes in real hand, especially when you first begin sale shopping. Going back to the chicken leg quarters from earlier; when you first start and see them on sale for $1.19 per pound compared to $1.39, you might think this is a good deal.
Then you realize later on that they are on sale for $.99 a few weeks later, then a few weeks later again for $.79 per pound and realize how much you could have saved if you knew at what price to buy at.
You can keep your price list in a notebook for even a spreadsheet if you’d like to. I keep track of prices on these price book printables. I also use dividers to separate the items into different categories such as meat, dairy, etc. It just makes things easier to find when scanning sales flyers.
Creating a grocery shopping list
If you’ve read any other articles on how to save money on groceries, then I’m sure you know that shopping with a list is the best practice, whether you are meal planning, couponing or using any other savings strategies.
The same is true for sale shopping. You should never go shopping without your list. What I do is basically just scan the sales flyers for the best deals. I then check what the best price is in my price book to make sure it’s the best deal, then add the item on my grocery shopping list along with the quantity I intend to buy to last until the next sale cycle.
I know that all this information might be making your head spin, but it really isn’t very complicated at all. In a nutshell, know your grocery stores sale cycle, determine what the lowest possible price is and start saving. Easy peasy!! This is how you save money on groceries the easy way!!