Happy New Year! Doesn’t January just make you wanna be better at like…everything? I just finished up my goal setting for this year and one of the biggest is to save on groceries. We’re off to Disney in May, and Mama needs a new pair of shoes adorable Minnie Mouse ears 🙂 I do, right? I haven’t been to Disney since I was thirteen.
But seriously though. When you’re eating special diets it can get super duper expensive come grocery day. We’ve removed all sugar and grains from our diet, so we buy lots of meat, lots of produce and tons of highly priced ingredients for baking sweet treats and Fat Head pizza (hello Almond Flour!).
I’ve comparison shopped all of our local grocery stores and some online venues to figure out how to save on groceries while eating all the specialty stuff and organic goodies. Our grocery bill has definitely gone up since we changed our diet. BUT, I’ve thankfully found a few ways to keep costs down and not so crazy we can’t eat how we want to.
In an effort to better organize myself (and save some serious bills) I’ve rounded up a couple of clever ideas – simple things you can do to save and some really awesome apps that put money right back in your pocket.
This post contains affiliate links*
GET YOURSELF A MEMBERSHIP TO THRIVE (SAVE 25-50% OFF)
Our Thrive Market membership has saved us a BOATLOAD of money so far and I imagine it will continue as we shop our faces off in 2019. Thrive carries tons of organic, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto, raw and other healthy goodies (including stuff for kids, beauty and home) and sells them much cheaper then you’ll find them at your local grocery stores.
Almond Flour is a prime example here. Being sugar-free and grain-free, I bake almost all of my own goodies (bagels, cookies, muffins, pizza dough, etc.), which means I always need a bunch of Almond Flour in my pantry despite its ridiculously expensive price point. When buying it local (I shop Stop n’ Shop, Market Basket, Wegmans, Whole Foods and Trader Joes), I paid an average of $2 to sometimes $4 more than what I’m paying now through Thrive in bulk (so I buy like 3-4, 16-oz bags at a time). If you’re into the Bob’s Red Mill brand they totally sell it (still cheaper then you’ll find at the grocery store), but they sell it even cheaper if you use the Thrive brand almond flour (which I do now and it works just the same for so much less)!
I get free shipping, it comes super duper fast and as a member, I almost always get a full sized product for free (last time we got mixed nuts which are not cheap!). You can sign up for free to browse, but if you choose to buy, you’ll need to become a member (you’ll get a 30 day free trial!). After that, membership runs you $60 per year. BONUS! When you sign up you sponsor a FREE membership for a deserving family who can’t afford it.
Considering all of the other things I buy at Thrive (sweeteners, nuts, snacks, sugar-free chocolate, etc) I already saved that $60 membership many times over. Everything after that is pure in my pocket savings. AND, bonus #2- I don’t have to go to 50 million different stores to get all the ingredients I need for my weekly meal plan. I buy it all at Thrive, stock my pantry and give my self a pat on the back because I just figured out how to save on groceries like a boss.
SAVE 25% ON YOUR FIRST ORDER! If you decide to give Thrive a try and use my link you get 25% off your first purchase 🙂 I’ve also seen a lot of people use Brandless, but I have no experience with them yet, so I can’t comment on their potential to save on groceries, quality, etc. If you try them out with this link, you’ll get a $6 credit. Everything they sell is $3 bucks each, so that’s 2 free items.
SUBSCRIBE AND SAVE ON AMAZON PRIME
Speaking of Memberships…
Removing all of the added perks of being an Amazon Prime Member (free 2-day shipping, movies/tv, borrowing Kindle books, etc), we save TONS of money by purchasing some groceries and household items through Subscribe and Save. Like any budget saving plan, you’ve gotta do a bit of research first to make sure you’re purchasing the things suited for your family at the lowest price, but once you do that and set up your preferences, you do nothing (I mean nothing) each month except open the box when it arrives and stick that stuff in your pantry somewhere.
We get our coffee $3 cheaper via Subscribe and Save and find similar savings on Annie’s organic products, paper towels, and toilet paper. When our cats were kittens (and literally eating us out of house and home) we purchased their wet cat food through subscribe and save, saving an average of $10-15 per month! CAn you imagine? If we got in our cars, used up our gas and drove to the local pet superstore (the only other place that carried the brand, PS) we’d end up spending $15 more. Subscribe and save saved us $180 a year alone on cat food and about a bazillion trips to the pet store. Much more when you factored in everything else we had on our list.
When you choose 5 things to add to your Subscribe and Save account, you get an additional percentage off (up to 15%). You are eligible for additional coupons, free shipping and flexible delivery schedules (you choose when you want to get your stuff). We have some things on a monthly schedule and others (like TP and paper towels on a 3-month schedule). If you end up overloaded or know you won’t be around for a certain time period, you can skip a date, bump it to a new month or delete it. Easy. Peasy.
I can probably make even better use of it if I spent more time navigating the various sales and coupons, but I don’t have time and still save so.much.money. You can get tons of organic food (hello Wholefoods / Amazon partnership) and mucho things for your special diet. It’s worth it for us!
GET A 30-DAY FREE TRIAL! If you decide to give Amazon Prime a try and use my link you get to try it for 30 days, free.
BUY THE WHOLE COW (NO SERIOUSLY)
If you eat a lot of meat and you have the storage space you may consider purchasing a cow from a local farmer (most offer the option to purchase a whole, half or quarter cow). It makes me sad just thinking about it, but if you can find a local farm you trust (humanely raising their cattle a must in my book!), you can save a ridiculous amount of money purchasing the meat, freezing it and meal planning based upon what you have.
We’ve also tried meat delivery services (like Karv) that provide grass-fed, humanely raised and antibiotic free meats. While we didn’t save too much there, we did find it to be super convenient (especially since we could never just buy what we wanted at one store). And, we certainly paid a bit less then we would at the local meat counter.
If you really want to save on groceries, jump on the Meatless Monday train. If you’re eating meat every day, you can save $10 or more per week just by cutting out one day and baking something meatless. There are tons of recipe ideas via this blog!
USE REWARDS APPS & COUPONS
I’m actually terrible at using rewards apps and coupons and should totally try to do more of it this year. These days, most grocery stores have branded apps that offer weekly savings and coupons. Check into those for sure when you’re making your grocery list!
There are a few others out there that I’ve heard of who give cash back on your purchases like:
- Ibotta: You make your grocery list, go to the website and select the products you plan to buy. Once you shop at your own grocery store, you scan in your receipt and you get cash back for your purchase. I’m totally trying this!
- eBates: Ebates is similar with cashback. I used to use them years ago and just signed up again. This is great if you’re shopping “big box” stores like Jet, Boxed, BJ’s, etc.
- Drop: Another one similar to those above that I’m still researching.
Again, these are great ways you can save on groceries by creating a layer of simple tasks to save at point of purchase and get cash back afterwords. Why didn’t I do this last year and the years before?
HACK YOUR GROCERY STORE
Well this one is interesting and takes a bit more time, but if you’re in-it-to-win-it, it’s kinda genius. You can hack your grocery store. There are tons of bloggers out there and helpful articles that can help you save on groceries by figuring out when certain chains stock thier shelves, discount thier products, offer BOGO’s and everything in between. Here’s one on Trader Joes and another for Whole Foods, but all you need to do is type in your grocery store name and “hacks” and you’ll find lots of articles to peruse!
MEAL PLAN AND AVOID UNNECESSARY WASTE
Meal planning is one of the best ways to save on groceries (not to mention that batch cooking actually saves time and keeps you eating healthy all week long). I meal prep every week and only buy what I need from my various sources (produce and last minute items from grocery coupled with what I already had in my freezer from meat delivery or pantry from shopping Thrive and Amazon).
When meal planning think of foods that stretch your budget – instead of one bag of shrimp that will get you one meal, purchase a bag of wild caught frozen salmon that will serve you up 2 or 3 at the same price.
Make sure you get some food storage containers that will store your pre-prepped meals for the entire week. I mean, some things may not last that long, but when I plan I make sure my meals will be fine for the week without spoiling. Spoiled food equals dollars dropped directly into your garbage can. Not awesome. We use these ones for lunches! Mason jars work great for stretching your pre-cut fruit and veggies!
OTHER WAYS TO SAVE ON GROCERIES
There are a ton of other ways to save on groceries too – I mean, if you’re not too picky about brands, organic vs. non-organic or don’t need speciality ingredients, you can really dig into some savings by:
- Eating First. If you go hungry, you will buy stuff you don’t need. Eat first so you’re not evaporating beside 15 bags of potato chips.
- Sticking to your grocery list. Don’t grab something you’re not gonna eat just because its on sale!
- Looking into Grocery delivery. This not only saves time for you, but it helps you stay on track like I mentioned above (especially if you get week in the knees in the cookie aisle).
- Purchasing based upon the price per unit. It may cost more in the moment, but save less in the long term. Most grocery stores show the price per unit based upon the various sized products they sell. The smaller version may be cheaper, but may actually be more per ounce, so this can save you lots.
- Checking your Pantry First. Make sure you take an inventory of what you have. I don’t know why, but I have 6 cream cheeses in my fridge. I buy them every time and literally always have some in my fridge. What a waste, especially if they go bad before I get to use them!
- Avoiding Pre-Cut Meats and Produce. You’ll pay a premium not to dice those onions. Grab yourself an entire onion and borrow your hubby’s sunglasses so your eyeballs don’t burn when you’re cutting 🙂
- Growing your own produce. If you can, you totally should. But not me, because I kill all the plants.
- Joining a CSA. If you can’t grow your own, but want it straight from the farm (at a discount) sign up for a CSA. There’s a database you can use to look up CSAs in your area here!
- Knowing when to buy organic. While there are some foods that you want to buy organic (if you can), you don’t have to shoot for organic everything. Here are 21 foods to buy organic if you can. And, if you can’t. DONT! It’s better to eat healthy and non-organic then avoid healthy foods altogether because you’re afraid of the nonorganic versions. You’ll be fine (not that I’m a doctor or anything, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be fine).
I feel like I could write 16 million more things in this post, but we’ve got some saving to do. If you have any tricks, tips or hacks that help you save on groceries, drop me a note in the comments below! I’d love to make this list even better. Yey!
*DISCLAIMER: This post is a combination of my personal insights, opinions and thoughts on various topics and products and may contain affiliate or referral links. I earn a small commission if you make a purchase through my links, which helps me continue on this fabulous journey of blogging! Full disclaimers avail. here.