For Your Life · Frugal Living

Easy Ways to Save on Groceries

This post is a little lengthy because it’s packed with lots of great info! Because of that, I won’t bore you with some sort of introductory tale of my grocery buying habits…  let’s just get right to the good stuff!

Easy ways to reduce your grocery bill this week

1. Rebate apps

I think we can all admit that the days of extreme couponing are pretty much gone. (I never did really get into it anyhow, so no big loss for me.) If I happen across a coupon, I will definitely make the effort to use it, but I don’t spend much time seeking them out. What I have found to be really effective and totally worth my time is rebate apps. These are the top three I currently use and would recommend. They’re all 100% free and easy to download and use. No gimmicks, subscriptions, or unattainable requirements.

1. iBotta

iBotta is my favorite! If you do just a little extra planning while you’re making your grocery list, you can easily add up significant savings. Here’s a quick example of why it’s worth your time: I purchased $46 of groceries and toiletries at Walmart the other night. 10 of the 12 items I purchased had a rebate on the iBotta app. I earned $11.10 total in rebates. On top of that, I earned $12.50 in iBotta promotional bonuses because of the number of rebates I submitted. So in total, I saved over 50% on name-brand items! Now it doesn’t always work out this way- it’s not going to split your entire grocery bill in half every time, but I am regularly able to create scenarios like the one above, and my rebates add up pretty fast. (They also have expanded to include rebates at lots of retail and online stores, as well.)

Reasons to use iBotta on your next shopping trip:

  1. You can stack bonuses.
  2. You can use it at lots of different grocery stores and several retail stores.
  3. You can scan barcodes in-store to be sure you will get your rebate.
  4. Cash in for cash (via PayPal or Venmo) or gift cards when your balance reaches $20.
  5. Earn more money when your friends join and use the app.
  6. Learn more and sign up right here, and iBotta will give you $10! 

2. Checkout51

Checkout51 is another great grocery rebate app. It’s really similar to iBotta. I find that I consistently earn more with iBotta, but there’s no reason not to use both! In fact, e-e-every now and then, both Checkout51 and iBotta will offer a rebate on the same item, and you can earn double cash back!

Reasons to use Checkout51 on your next shopping trip:

  1. You can stack bonuses.
  2. You can use it at lots of different grocery stores and several retail stores.
  3. Request a check to be mailed to you when your balance reaches $20.
  4. Earn more money when your friends join and use the app.
  5. Learn more and sign up right here, and Checkout51 will give you $10! 

Easy ways to reduce your grocery bill this week

3. Walmart Savings Catcher

This is a free program that is offered via the Walmart app. (They have made a recent change requiring users to pay for their items via the app in order to participate, rather than scanning their receipt, as in the past.) Essentially the Savings Catcher looks through the items you purchased and if another store in your area was offering the exact same item for less, Walmart will refund you the difference. Your refunds accrue into a Walmart gift card, for you to use any time you want- no minimum.

I have to admit, while this is a way to save a little on groceries, it hasn’t proven to be the most profitable for me. This is probably because it’s only for name-brand items, and I tend to stick with store brand (unless I’m getting a rebate, of course!). But hey, it’s free and easy, and can’t hurt. You can sign up and learn more here

For max savings, use all three rebate apps together- they’re three separate programs, and it is possible to get money back on the same item from different sources!

2. Less meat

One of the easiest and most actionable money-saving tips I was ever given is simply to be mindful of how much meat my meals require. Typically, meat of any kind will be the most costly item on your grocery list. Take a look at the menus you regularly plan. Is every meal centered on a meat?

Here are a few practical ways to save on meat costs:

  1. When serving chicken breasts, use a meat cleaver to pound them out thinner and then serve only half a breast to each person. (They are more tender and cook faster this way, as well.)
  2. When serving meatloaf or burgers, try adding meat substitutes such as mashed black beans, mashed chickpeas, or bread crumbs to make the meat go further. (You’ll have to experiment with just how much of this you can get away with- some people don’t enjoy the slight change in texture or flavor that this can bring. I don’t mind it, as along it’s seasoned well.)
  3. Replace ground beef with ground turkey when possible. Turkey is significantly cheaper. I grew up eating ground turkey as a substitute in almost every dish that would require ground beef, so it doesn’t really bother me. Again, seasoning properly is the key here. However, my husband is a die-hard red meat eater, and can spot the imposter turkey from a mile away. My solution to this has been to use a 50/50 mix of turkey and beef. He still knows the turkey is there, but the beef flavor is enough to keep him satisfied. Another option is to add a little beef bouillon concentrate when you brown your ground turkey.
  4. Choose meals that incorporate meat (for flavor and protein), but don’t have meat in the spotlight. Casseroles, stews, soups, burritos, etc. are a great way to serve up a hearty, filling meal that doesn’t require a lot of meat.


3. Avoid pre-packaged

Have you ever noticed the price difference in whole, unprocessed foods, versus foods that are prepared and/or prepackaged? For example, it’s cheaper to buy the large jar of applesauce than it is to buy the pre-portioned cups. It’s cheaper to buy the raw, whole chicken breasts than it is to buy the chopped, cooked, and seasoned chicken strips that you just heat up. (Taking that one a little further, of course, it’s even cheaper to buy the chicken whole and cut it up yourself, but that can really be time-consuming.) Sure, you can buy a container of chopped onions in the deli- or you can buy an onion and chop it yourself, for about half the price. I could go on, but I know you get the idea.

Check your grocery list- are you paying more for foods that have been prepared for you, and really you could save by  preparing or even just portioning them yourself? (Disclaimer: I am aware that for many, time is money, and it really is smarter for them to spend a few more dollars on convenience items, than it is to spend extra prep time in the kitchen each week.)

4. Shop at Aldi

Have you ever heard of Aldi? They are a discount grocery store that originated in Germany in 1961. Aldi is a genius operation, in my opinion. They have a number of unique qualities that help them keep operating costs low, and they pass those savings on to the customer, so you can get decent food for your family at a much lower price! Overall, it’s a pretty straightforward, no-frills experience that will save you a great deal of money! If you’re new to Aldi, check out this post that will give you some great tips, so you know what to expect at Aldi. I sort of alternate between shopping at Walmart using my rebate apps, and shopping at Aldi, just depending on what’s cheapest that week.

5. Plan meals around sales

This is another crazy-simple tip, but it helps! Wherever you choose to buy groceries, look at their sale ad before you hit the store. If there’s a fantastic deal on pork loin that week, plan a couple meals around that. Be creative and find ways to use items that are a great deal, rather than always paying full price for your regular fare. Another option, of course, is to buy items (especially meat) when they’re on a really great sale and just freeze or store them for another time, if you don’t want to serve them that week. Still saves money in the long run.

Try not to be too brand-loyal- shop at the store with best deals that week, and choose the brand that has the best price, or even the store brand.


5. Shop online-pick up at the store with Walmart Grocery

I am in love with grocery pick-up service! After a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is spend 2 hours in the grocery store, listening to other people’s children cry, and developing uncontrollable road-rage trying to push a buggy through crowds of people. Even when I’m off work, going to the grocery store isn’t my favorite way to spend my time.

Walmart’s grocery ordering is the one I currently recommend, because it’s what I’ve been using, and am very happy with, but I know other stores also offer the service. But why did I put this shopping option with ways to save money? Because if you’re anything like me, you don’t always stick to your list. Especially if you’re hungry- knowwhatImean? Go in there starving and come out the proud owner of Aisle 4. Not good. But when I order online, among other advantages, I find that it’s sooo much easier to just buy what I need because I have to search for and add each item to my cart individually, rather than meandering aimlessly down each aisle and wondering how all the shiny things ended up my buggy…

Also, you can watch your total add up as you add each item, so it kinda helps cut superfluous spending. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen my total at the register in store, and almost fainted.

Another awesome benefit of the order online – pick up at the store model is that if you’re ordering from home, you can run and check to see what you’re out of, instead of buying something, only to discover you already had two.

Also, (although not necessarily a money-saving feature) Walmart will save your recently purchased items, and they’ll pop up on your homepage when you sign in. Just click the items you want to purchase again.

I love being able to grocery shop in my pajamas, from my cozy couch! And when you go to pick them up, you don’t even get out of your car. You just pull up to the designated space and a nice employee will load all your stuff in your car for you. No worries- they’re not allowed to accept tips, so you don’t spend any extra at all to use the pick up service. If you did forget something when you were ordering online, you are there at the store- you can always run in.

If you’re interested in trying Walmart Grocery, here’s $10 off for new shoppers! 

(A note for those using Checkout51 or iBotta: unfortunately, you won’t be able to get rebates on items purchased via pick-up. {Hopefully, this rule will change soon!} I just plan to run in and grab my rebate items, if I have time. You can, however, use Walmart’s Savings Catcher app in conjunction with their pick-up service, so there’s that.)

If you’re like me, you’re always up for more ideas to cut costs, so check out this quick read: Things to Stop Buying if You Want to Save Money.

What are your favorite ways to save a little (or a lot) here and there on groceries? Share your sage wisdom in the comments!


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