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Feeding our family is one of the biggest monthly expenses in our house. It’s kind of annoying since you have to eat. And you have to feed the kids. And it’s so expensive. I walked out of the store the other day with 2 bags and it cost me over $60! SIXTY DOLLARS!
So I’ve been looking for a few ways to save some money on my monthly grocery budget. Over the past few months, I’ve found some great ways to save (or make money) on buying food.
Plan your Meals
I have found that planning even a few meals a week, incredibly helpful in lowering my grocery budget. I usually stick with really planning out my dinners. Then I try to keep a few simple breakfast and lunch options on hand at all times (cereal, eggs, cheese, crackers, yoghurt, fruits and veggies). Planning helps in two ways. First, I go into the store knowing what I need, which means I save money by not buying whatever I see. Secondly, it also makes my days easier since I already know my meal options and what I’m going to make. It’s less stress at 4 pm when it’s time to start cooking dinner.
Please Write a List
I try to only go grocery shopping once a week. So writing a list is really important but it’s also a great way to save money. If it’s not on my list, I don’t buy it. It’s that simple. Once I’ve decided on my meals for the week, I usually make my list, making sure to double check that I have all my ingredients, including side dishes and spices. I keep a running list of things that I’ve run out of during the week, cereal we’ve finished, or when I used the last of the baking soda. I add in my fruits and veggies, milk and any other perishables that I might need.
Making a list and shopping once a week has a second benefit. It means that I don’t end up buying food to throw out later, especially perishables like fruit and veggies. I only buy what we’ll eat in a week and that means less spoiled produce in the garbage. I hate throwing out money and using a list keeps me from doing that.
I always shop the sales. It saves me so much money. But I also price match. Basically, I shop at Walmart or Real Canadian Superstore and I get the lowest price on an item in the city, regardless of whether it’s on sale at that store or not. And it’s way easier than you think. You used to have to search through flyers and circle what you want. But now we can use apps for that. I personally use an app called Reebee, but I’ve heard great things about the Flipp app too. These apps contain all the flyers and to mark a sale item, you just have to tap the picture and it saves it to your personal shopping list. You can also search for items. Simply type in what you’re looking for (like strawberries, for example) and it’ll show you all the strawberry sale prices in your area. Then I simply pick the best price, walk into my store, pick out the item and then show the cashier the ad on my phone as I check out, and I leave paying the lowest price.
Points, Points, Points…
I’m personally a fan of any company that finds a way to reward their customers. There are some great loyalty programs out there and I highly recommend that you find a store that has one. That might be one of the reasons I love PC points. The Loblaws grocery chains hand these out. We have about 8 stores in my area so it’s pretty convenient for me. They are free to start up and super easy collect. It works out that 1000 points equals $1 and you can redeem them once you’ve collected $20 worth. Download their free app and you’ll get weekly bonus offers sent your account. You do have to load the offers every Friday, but it’s not a huge hassle. You just have to open the app and they load automatically. The cool thing is that the more you use the app and the card, the more personalised the bonus offers become. Because I buy tomatoes almost every week, I get a bonus offer for tomatoes about once a month, usually, something like 200 bonus points for every $1 I spend on tomatoes that week. You can also save offers until the next week. I saved an offer for flowers until my sister’s bridal shower and was able to get a huge bonus when I bought them at the grocery store.
My favourite thing is when I can combine my points with price matching. This happens when I walk into the Real Canadian Superstore, which isn’t super often because it’s a little out of my way. But then I can collect the points and price match! Over the 6 months, I’ve made over $100 in points. I like to use my points around the holidays and they pay for Christmas dinner for my whole family.
Pennies and Dollars in Cash Back
Have you heard about Checkout 51? It’s a super cool app that pays you to shop. Each week, you get a list of offers, usually brand name products. You take a picture of your receipt, check which offers you want to redeem and hit send. Once it’s reviewed and approved (usually in a day or 2 at the most) you’ll get the cash in your account. Once you reach $20, you can request a cheque and receive your payout. It’s kind of amazing. I’ve gotten a $1 back for buying milk, $0.50 for buying Goldfish crackers and $1.50 on Pampers wipes. That’s pretty good considering that I would have bought those things anyway. I also love to combine these offers with price matching, meaning I pay the lowest price and then get the cash back. I’ve been using the app for about 2 months and already have about $20 in cash back. Oh, and did I mention that it’s totally free to sign up and use? It’s amazing! Seriously click on the picture below to sign-up now!
Here’s a picture of my latest grocery receipt. This week I saved $10.04 price matching. I then got $6 in cash back from Checkout 51. I collected over 13000 points which equals $13.10 when redeemed. So I basically saved or made back $29.14, just for buying the groceries I would have purchased anyways.
These are 5 things that I do to save money on my grocery bills. Do you have any other tips or tricks? How do you save on groceries? Let me know!