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Grocery shopping can get expensive if you’re not careful. When I first got married and started doing all the grocery shopping for my new little family of two I just thought that’s how it was – expensive. I didn’t think there was any way around it, and I didn’t try to find any way around it because, well, I just thought that’s a part of living.
Life certainly would be easier if we didn’t have to buy groceries, but that’s just not an option.
If you’re someone like me who thought that having an overwhelmingly expensive grocery bill was just a part of life, then I am here to tell you there are ways you can cut your bill and save, save, save!
Don’t be that person who just accepts that it’s expensive and doesn’t look for any ways to cut their food costs, because there are ways! And while unfortunately there isn’t a way to make our grocery bill disappear, there are still ways to make it cheaper.
And who doesn’t like saving a little money here and there?
20 things we took off our grocery list to save money
1) Plastic grocery bags.
Instead, we purchased reusable shopping bags that I bring with me on my shopping trips. This way I am not wasting 5 cents on each plastic bag.
2) Store bought cookies and muffins.
I make my own cookies and muffins (and other desserts) at home. This way I know what I am putting into my body, as I control which ingredients go into the treats. You will also get much more for your money when making them at home.
3) Store bought bread and buns.
Many people don’t make their own bread because it is too time-consuming and/or too hard. I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be hard. It is time-consuming just for the fact that you have to let it rest and rise for so long, but it is by no means hard. And after a time or two, you will have the art of making homemade bread & buns mastered, I’m sure! If you dedicate one day every two weeks or so (depending on how fast your family goes through bread) to making bread and buns you will reap the savings. And why stop with just bread and buns?! Making homemade tortillas is also a great way to save!
4) Buying the small bags of flour and sugar.
Now I save money by buying the large bags of flour and sugar. Lots of people claim they don’t have space to store that much flour and/or sugar, but if you purchase large containers that can sit beside your fridge, in your pantry, or hide them away in a closet, then it’s not taking up too much space. Bonus points if you buy stackable containers that way you can store your flour/sugar on top of each other to save even more space.
If you’re worried that it will go bad before you get around to using it all up, stop worrying. As long as you have tight-sealing storage containers your sugar will stay good for a very long time (most sugars have a 2 year best by date but will usually be good long after that). If stored properly, flour will stay good for about 6 months in the pantry, but you can extend that by freezing your flour, where it will stay good for up to several years.
5) Buying coffee out.
I’ll be the first to admit that we haven’t got this one down to an art, as we still stop sometimes to grab a coffee, but we’ve definitely slowed it down – and are working on stopping it altogether. We invested in a good coffee maker (Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Single Serve and Full Pot Coffee Maker) and now make our coffees at home before we hit the road so we are less tempted to make a quick stop at the coffee shop.
6) Buying K-cups.
Now we just buy a large can of coffee grinds (or coffee beans and grind our own), and use a filter that our coffee maker came with for when we are making a single cup of coffee.
7) Pizza Sauce and Pasta Sauce.
We quit buying pre-made pizza and pasta sauces and started making our own.
8) Speaking of pizza… We stopped buying pizza.
Instead, I opt for making homemade pizza. It’s simple, not very time consuming at all, and so delicious!
9) Chunky soups.
Those delectable chunky soups, oh how delicious they are! But, when they are around $3/can it gets pretty expensive. So instead I now make all my own soups (it wasn’t just Campbell’s chunky soups that I stopped buying, but they were obviously the hardest to give up). Soup is something I never made too much of when I was growing up, but once I moved out I realized how simple it is to make, and homemade soup is so good! And the bonus? My husband and I don’t finish a whole soup recipe to ourselves (I make big pots of soup), so it’s a great meal to stick in the freezer and pull out on a busy night.
10) I STARTED buying whole chickens from the grocery store.
After we have eaten it for dinner I save the bones and any leftover meat that there is and make soup out of it.
11) I STARTED meal planning and stopped doing last-minute trips to the store.
Those last-minute I-just-need-one-more-ingredient-for-dinner shopping trips were a huge money sucker, because not only was I starting up our car and driving to the store, but I would often see something on sale (that really, we didn’t need) and grab it, and whatever ingredients I needed for dinner, and usually an item or two more. Those trips didn’t end up being as quick or cheap as I thought they were.
12) I STARTED shopping at Costco when I can.
We don’t live close to a Costco, but when we do city trips I try to squeeze a Costco run in there if I need stuff. Since we’re such a small family (just my husband and I), I obviously can’t buy everything at Costco because we wouldn’t be able to finish it all in time, but buying non-perishable food items from Costco have saved us money. But be warned that not everything at Costco is a better deal than other stores! Make sure to compare prices before you go on a Costco shopping spree thinking that you’re getting everything for a great deal.
13) Stop buying standard muffin cups and start using silicone muffin cups.
If you don’t bake a lot of muffins then this won’t be the best purchase for you, but if you are someone who finds themselves baking a lot of muffins and cupcakes this can save you a bit of money in the long haul. Around here you can purchase a package of regular muffin cups for about $4.50 for 75 cups. And I can purchase 12 silicone muffin cups for $10.99. (And they often come on sale for half price.) So, again, if you don’t make many muffins or cupcakes this won’t save you money. But for me, it is worth it because by the time I have made 187 muffins/cupcakes I will have already spent more on muffin cups than I would have spent if I bought a dozen of the silicone cups. I realize 187 sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t take long to go through that many for us.
14) I quit buying fresh herbs all the time.
Now I save money by buying them when they are on sale. Washing them, cutting them up, and sticking them in freezer bags, so in the future when I need fresh herbs I don’t need to go out and buy them at regular price (especially in the off-season when prices go up).
15) Pre-marinaded chicken wings.
I get it, they’re easy to pull out of the freezer and chuck into the oven, and in no time and with little effort dinner is ready. But you get so little for what you’re paying for when buying chicken wings that way. Instead, try buying a large tray of raw (un-marinated) chicken winglets and drummets, and when you’re ready to bake them put them on a tray and marinade them yourself. The bonus of this is they don’t all have to be the same flavour, you can make some of them a certain flavour and some of them different.
16) I STARTED buying chicken breasts (and other parts) in bulk.
I now look for sales and buy all my chicken in bulk. When I get home from the store I simply split them up into portion sizes and freeze them.
17) Coffee Creamer.
We used to love having flavoured coffee creamer in our coffee, but I soon realized how expensive they really are. Now I just buy plain old half and half cream for our coffee and we can sweeten it with sugar, or honey. Or, dare I say, nothing at all!
Okay, okay, I realize margarine is not the healthiest option out there. But I just can’t bring myself to buy butter for everything. Now I just buy butter for us to have on our toast, or anything we are going to eat like that, and I buy margarine to use when I’m baking. With the amount that I bake, we’d go broke if I used butter in it all.
19) Chocolates and candies.
Sometimes it’s tempting, while you’re pushing your shopping cart through the store to grab a tasty looking chocolate bar or bag of candies, but I advise you to stand strong against those temptations. It’s healthier and much, much cheaper if you quit buying those little treats.
20) Eating out.
We didn’t “cold turkey” this, but we did certainly cut down, a lot, on our eating out when we realized how much we were spending every month on eating out when we had perfectly good food at home to eat!
I started using a cashback grocery app (Checkout 51). So now when I go grocery shopping I just take a picture of my receipt and select the items that are available for that week, and claim my money back! Checkout 51 is completely free and super simple to use.
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