10 Tips for Sticking to Your Grocery Budget

One of my talents is grocery shopping. Like, I'm

really

 good at it. And I

love

 it! I guess you could call me a grocery nerd? One of the things that I am great at is getting everything that we need while staying within my grocery budget. Pretty much every week, we end up with leftovers (though my goal is to never have any extra and buy everything fresh each week). Since this is one thing that I am really good at, I thought I would share a few of my grocery shopping tips with you. How do you save money at the grocery store?

1. Download Apps.

Target's Cartwheel app is actually really great and whenever I get groceries at Target I scroll through the app to see if anything on my list is on there. If I use all the coupons that I save, I could cut close to $15 off of my bill!

2. Make a Meal Plan & Stick To It.

Every Thursday I sit down and choose our dinners for the week and make a

very

 organized grocery list. And then I stick to that list when shopping. If I happen to have some extra money after getting what I need then I can go back and get one or two things that I

want

. This also keeps me from buying pounds of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups every week...

3. Check Clearance Sections.

Most grocery stores have a clearance shelf or two (usually on the end cap of an aisle). You can often find some good stuff on there, just be sure to check the expiration date!

4. Name Brand Isn't Always Best.

With many snack foods, the generic brand is just as good as (and sometimes even better than) the name brand. Some generic products do suck but it's worth the try because some products are even one or two dollars cheaper than the name brand.

5. Coupons Do Work, As Long As You Use Them.

I am notorious for taking hours to search and cut out coupons that match my grocery list and then I go through the store and find everything on my coupons. Then, I get to the cashier and forget to use the coupons. But if you do use them, you can save a good chunk of money.

6. Shop At More Than One Place.

I shop at our local market, Giant, and Target every week. At market I buy all of our produce. I like buying all of our produce there because I can buy the exact amount of spring mix (or any fruit/veggie) that I need without having extras that will end up rotting in the fridge. Plus, it usually tends to be cheaper than the grocery store and I like knowing that I am supporting local businesses. I tend to buy most of my groceries at Target, they have all of the basics that I need and their generic brand "Up & Up" never fails to impress (they have

fantastic

 frozen meatballs!). I buy whatever I couldn't find at Target or Market at Giant along with any "specialty" items like Earth Balance butter or fancy cheese.

7. Take Your Time.

If you rush through the grocery store you are just going to grab everything without looking. You may miss that it's buy one get one half off or miss that the generic brand is a whole dollar cheaper. It can be hard to take your time if you have a little one along but try to time the grocery trips for when they are happiest. I try to go right after William eats because then I know that I have a few hours of happy baby before he gets hungry again.

8. Buy in Bulk.

Let me tell you people, that $55 Costco membership is life changing. Two words: bulk hummus. Also you do get a really good deal for large sizes of foods that will last you close to two weeks. I like to buy sandwich bread there because most of them come in loaves of two so we use one now and freeze the other.

9. Don't Fear Discount Grocers.

Some discount grocery stores can look a little scary. They usually aren't bright and shiny like Target but they are usually full of good finds. At a local discount grocery around here, I buy all of my flours, sugars, etc. in bulk for fantastic prices (hollah 10 pounds of flour for just under $5). Just be sure to triple check the expiration dates.

10. Only Buy What You Need.

If you don't think that you're going to use the entire container of rolled oats, go somewhere like a discount grocer where you can buy a smaller amount. I don't know about you, but I

never

 use the entire container of a spice. Usually it will go dull far before I'm even halfway done with it. So now I buy all of my spices from a stand at market where I can buy just a quarter of an ounce if it's all I need and then my spices stay fresh. I still keep all of my spices on hand but in smaller quantities.