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How to Inflation-Proof Your Grocery Budget
Just about everywhere you look right now things are EXPENSIVE. Inflation is showing up everywhere from the grocery store, to the gas pump, to the vacation you're trying to plan this Summer. It can be overwhelming trying to attempt to whittle down your spending in all areas. But here's a good place you can start RIGHT NOW:
There is no area in your family's finances that you have more control over than your grocery budget.
For the average family, food is the 2nd biggest expense after their mortgage. Now your mortgage, your car payment, your health insurance, your cell phone bills…. these are all things you may not have the ability to change immediately.
Every single week, you decide how much you spend at the grocery store. Unfortunately, prices HAVE gone up – but you can still take control! Here are 5 seriously helpful ways to save at the grocery right now:
5 Ways to Inflation Proof Your Grocery Budget
1 . Decide On a Grocery Budget
With rising prices starting to pinch – it's time to pinch back! (Pennies that is…) Start by sitting down and looking at your grocery spending for the last few months. (I know… ouch!)
Decide on the amount of money you’d like to cut your grocery budget. (See specifically how to make a grocery budget & use our Grocery Budget Calculator here)
Now you have a place to start – an expectation about what you SHOULD be spending.
Expect to save about 20% on your grocery bill over the next month as you’re building your pantry with basic staples, then you should see significantly larger savings in the next six months.
Having a budget set will help you avoid the extra splurges and impulse buys!
2 . Buy Double What's On Sale
When you look through the grocery ad – take notice of things that are deeply discounted, things that your family uses often. Those are things you'll want to grab extras of – so you DON'T have to pay full price for them a week or two down the road.
If your budget allows, stock up on double or even triple of the sale item. For example, I know my family will eat pasta once a week. When spaghetti sauce goes on sale Buy One Get One Free – I often will buy FOUR – so my pantry is now stocked for four weeks of pasta night.
For the next month I don't have to add pasta sauce to my weekly shopping list which leaves room for other purchases.
Also keep an eye out for items marked down (especially meats!). Early in the morning is typically the best time to spot these deals. You can also ask a store clerk what days or times your store will typically mark things down.
We also go through a TON of cheese – so anytime cheese goes on sale for half price or less – I stock up big time. Did you know you can freeze cheese? Here's a list of how to freeze things that might otherwise go bad in the fridge!
3 . Meal Plan Prior to Shopping
It's important to have a full grocery list made out and a menu plan made in advance before going to the store. That helps avoid impulse purchases and having to run back out later in the week. Our MENU PLANS are perfect to help stay on track with your grocery budget! But even if you use any other menu plan – or make up your own – this is HUGE for staying within your grocery budget.
When things are tight – meal planning around the sale ad makes the most sense. If chicken thighs are on sale this week while chicken breast is $5/lb – looking up a crockpot recipe that uses chicken thighs might be a great way to start planning for the week ahead.
If this week's ad has tortillas, refried beans and rice on sale for half price – well that might be a sign to have a Taco Tuesday night or make these air fryer chimichangas. (And remember – get double so you can have Taco Tuesday for half price next week too!)
I have to tell you – it is the NICEST feeling in the world to know that you've come home with everything you need to feed your family for the entire week. Every ingredient accounted for – no need to run out at the last minute to buy something else (And with gas being so high – that's another expense!)
If it helps you keep things together – and make sure your family doesn't run off with an ingredient for one of your meals you have planned – you can even plop those groceries right into handy bins so you're prepped for each day's dinner! Overwhelmed by thinking up a menu plan each week?
Take a look at our different menu plans. Twelve weeks of menus, all planned out for you – grocery list, recipe cards and everything!
4 . Avoid Pricey Convenience Items
When you're trying to stick to a grocery budget, convenience items that make life easy will make it extra hard. See all our top 10 Grocery Budget Busters here – but here are a couple of the main culprits:
A bag of Tyson Grilled Chicken strips is $10 at Walmart right now for 1.37 lbs. (That's $7.26/lb)
Boneless, Skinless chicken breast is $2.28/lb.
That's a $5 per lb difference!
There is a HUGE markup on prepackaged, pre-cut fruit and vegetables. It's so nice and easy to buy them this way – but whew! – not worth the blow to your budget… Check this out:
A watermelon at Walmart this week is $3.98, which yields approximately 9 cups of fruit.
Kroger has a package of pre-cut watermelon for $4 – for 10 measly ounces.
That's seven times as much fruit for the same price!
Individually Size Snack Packs
Skip the tiny bags of goldfish and buy the big box, making your own snack baggies at home! Here's one example:
Sensible Portions Veggie Straws 12pk at Walmart cost $7.68 for little .75 oz baggies
Veggie Straws 14 oz bag is just $4.98 – which will make eighteen .75 oz baggies
You're looking at 85¢ an ounce vs 35¢ an ounce!
**Also check out the price of the generic store brands when planning out your snacks – like these Aldi Veggie Straws are around $2 for 7 oz – which would save you even more!
5 . “Clip” Those eCoupons!
Stores make it really easy these days to use digital coupons – just download the app for the store (or stores) you shop most often and create an account. You're ready to clip eCoupons! Let's say you're shopping this week and you notice that Gain laundry detergent is on sale….pull up your store app and see if there are any eCoupons available. Sometimes a sale plus a coupon can mean you save more than half!
Warning: Don't let eCoupons sway you into buying high-price items that aren't on your list. If you see a 50¢ OFF Haagen-Dazs coupon – that doesn't mean you need to go off script to buy the $5 Haagen-Dazs. That can lead to some costly purchases! Just stick with the coupons for items that are already on your list and you'll truly save.
If you're really out to trim your budget – you may also want to begin using rebate apps (Ibotta and Fetch Rewards are two of our favorites!). This allows you to save on things you're already buying anyway.
Here are a few additional tips some of our readers recently shared:
Plant a garden
You can grow a lot of your own spices and produce items right in your backyard. This may not be feasible for everyone and varies greatly depending on where you live, but you can save SO much money. Remember you can freeze most of your produce!
If you can't grown your own garden, be sure to check your local farmers market. They'll often have seconds marked down that are perfect for soups and stews!
Make your own supplies
You can make your own laundry detergent, fabric softener, cream soup, bread, cool whip, pesto sauce, alfredo sauce or whatever you can to make your own and save a trip to the store. Not only is it generally healthier, but you know exactly what is going into it.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg – there are SO MANY great tips for saving at the grocery!. If you've made it this far and want more ideas to consider – check out this list:
We polled the PassionatePennyPincher community for some of their best tips and tricks and I have to say – they had some genius ones!
Here are some more money-saving articles to check out:
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