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Save thousands a year by cutting food costs. Groceries and food costs was draining our monthly finances. Don’t judge but we were spending nearly $1,000 on food alone for two people. You may be wondering how in the world is that possible? It consisted a lot of Starbucks, going out to eat, and never meal prepping. You’d be surprised how much you can spend just on food alone.
The most important part was that we fixed this horrible habit of spending so much on food and drinks. So, how were we able to figure out how much we spent? Well, we started budgeting our money and were taken by surprise at all the unnecessary costs.
Along the way, we found some of 15 easy ways to save money on food and groceries that nearly everyone can also apply to their lives. Freeing up extra money means more cash in your pockets.
Have you ever heard of the saying “money saved is money earned”?
It’s actually pretty awesome to have more money in your pockets at the end of the month. For us, we were able to save $300-$500 a month just by doing a few things. We used this extra cash to throw at our debt. $127,229 worth of it. I know I know, it’s ridiculous. We were able to knock out more than $50,000 within 10 months and cutting food costs definitely helped with that.
Do you have debt and want to start knocking it out ASAP? Start by grabbing this free Debt Thermometer and join us in the free 5-Day Debt Free Bootcamp.
Now you may be wondering how you can save money with food and groceries. Don’t worry there are plenty of ways you can do that. Most importantly, budgeting will help you uncover where you may be spending money where you don’t need to. It’s definitely helped us save $6,000 a year just on food and drinks alone.
Food and drinks can quickly add up, you wouldn’t believe it.
|Total||$15 a day|
|$15 X Two People||$30 a Day|
|$30 X 5 Days a Week||$150 a Week|
|$150 X 4 Weeks||$600 a Month|
|$150 X 52 Weeks||$7,800 a Year|
The example above doesn’t even include groceries. Adding grocery costs can tack on a few more hundred to that total, easily bringing the monthly food costs up to $1,000 or more.
$5 Starbucks drinks, take out, restaurants, they all add up over time.
Budgeting will help reveal how much you actually spend every month on food. Results may be shocking!
Not saying you should cut all those things out. Cause we haven’t! It’s just about being mindful of certain things and budgeting your money can certainly help with that.
There’s also few tips and tricks I learned along the way that can help you save hundreds a month on food & drinks.
1. Coffee and Drinks
There’s just something about Starbucks isn’t there? It keeps us all coming back for more. I’m sure it’s the caffeine.
I must’ve spent a good $60-$100 a month on Starbucks alone. Think about it, most of those drinks cost at least $5. If you get one every single day, that’s $35 a week or $1,820 a year. Sure, it may be some pricey coffee but for some people it’s hard to give up.
There’s always a balance when trying to save money. Some people go all out and never eat out again. I’m definitely not one of them. I still indulge but I find ways to minimize the expenses.
You don’t have to give up your favorite drinks and coffees to save money. There’s ways to earn cash or gift cards for Starbucks to still enjoy the simple pleasures in life.
Are there times when you just sit around and watch TV for hours? Or waiting around when you’re picking up your kid’s from school, doing laundry, or just relaxing around the house?
You could be earning some cash or gift cards on your free time to afford your favorite cup of coffee or drinks.
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There are tons of ways to earn points with Swagbucks like watch videos, play games on your phone, download and try out apps on your phone, shop online through Swagbucks’ site, complete daily goals, enter competitions, sign up for free trial services, and referrals.
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When you’re trying to save money on drinks, food, or groceries, you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice the things you love. Just find some ways to make some side money on your free time to buy the things you love.
Another thing you can try doing is buying Starbucks at the grocery store. They sell big bottles of Starbucks coffee and it’s usually located in the refrigerated section. The big bottles usually go for under $5 and it can last a lot longer than just buying one drink.
Let’s not forget specialty drinks at restaurants. Some of them can be sodas, smoothies, margaritas, and alcoholic drinks. These can cost an additional $4-$12 per person on the tab! So you can always choose water instead to save a lot more money on your next dining bill.
2. Pack Lunches for Work
Prior to this process, my husband and I would always buy breakfast at local restaurants prior to work, and order from fast food restaurants for lunch. That can easily add up to $20-$30 a day for the both of us just on food and in a month, it can quickly accumulate to $400-$600 in food costs
Sure, it’s mighty convenient to step out for lunch and order that $15 quinoa salad but it can definitely add up over time.
|$15 Lunch Everyday For 5 Days a Week||$75 a Week|
|$75 a Week X 4 Weeks in a Month||$300 a Month|
|$300 a Month X 12 Months in a Year||$3,600 a Year|
Ideas for lunch meals:
3. Eat At Home More Often
Try to reduce your visits to fast food chains and restaurants. Instead of going out for lunch everyday 5 times a week, we may only reserve the weekends for our cheat day. Doing this has saved us over $500 each month.
Sure, if you want to save tons of money you can cut going out to eat for good. Everyone has different preferences and lifestyles. Try to make slight adjustments so that changing up your routine is doable.
For instance, if you go out to eat everyday, try to cut back a couple times a week to start. See what ways will work with your life but ultimately, the more you can cook at home and meal prep the better it is financially.
4. Meal planning
Meal planning is so important in saving money on grocery and restaurant costs. This actually helped me cut our nearly $1,000 a month food costs down to $500. Prior to meal planning, my husband and I would always buy lunch ranging from $6-$10. Then, we didn’t really plan what we would eat for the week so we often ended up bring home food after work or ordering out. After adding up all the costs, it was close to $1,000 and sometimes we went over.
It was shocking to see that we spent $1,000 on food alone. It felt like a huge waste of money. We were able to bring our food costs down to $500.
So, how did we cut our food/grocery bill by 50%?
We started planning our meals for the week.
For breakfast, we made sure to wake up 10 minutes earlier to eat at home. For lunch, we packed ourselves something to eat or brought healthy microwaveable foods. For dinner, we planned ahead and cooked a large batch that gave us left overs for the next day.
Make a List to Meal Plan
Another way to help save money and stay organized is by making a meal/ingredient list and sticking to it. I came across this really cute meal planner on Amazon, it sticks to your fridge so that way you can jot down anything that comes to mind when you’re in the kitchen. Also, the shopping list is perforated so you can tear it right off when you’re ready to head to the grocery store.
Writing down your meal plans and ingredients can really help save a lot of money. It helps you stay organized and prevents you from buying unnecessary items at the grocery store.
I find that writing down what to make for the week and buying the ingredients needed prevents overspending. It can also prevent stress.
I can’t tell you how many times I used to go to the grocery store stressed out because I was trying to come up with things to make for the week on a whim. It’s so much better to have a plan and it helps to reduce a lot of stress that way.
Meal Plan Ideas
There are lots of meal planning ideas online. You can find them on Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and more.
If you don’t want to spend time trying to research what to make every single week, then you can try $5 Meal Plan.
$5 Meal Plan
Offering a free 14-day trial
Weekly recipes sent straight to your e-mail
Option to choose the pre-made weekly meal plan and shopping list OR
Use the Meal Plan Builder to customize what meals you want
You’ll get 5 dinner with sides recipes, 1 lunch, 1 breakfast, and 1 dessert/snack/or beverage option.
It also comes with a full ingredients list so it requires less work on your part.
$5 Meal Plan is offering a free 14-day trial and charges just $5 a month. It’s great for those who want to save some time by leaving the guess work out of preparing meals for the week. The best part is that they also provide an ingredients list so it makes shopping very easy.
If you want to check out an example of what a weekly e-mail print out will look like, check it out here.
Meal planning can certainly save you time and money.
Whether it’s meal planning on your own, or using services to help you, it’s worth trying it out. It can save you hundreds and thousands of dollars!
5. Easily Save Money By Using Coupons and Cash Back App
Have you ever heard of the saying “Money saved is money earned”. It’s absolutely true!
I know coupons can also help save lots of money on food and groceries. I’ll admit that I just can’t find the time to sit there and clip coupons. I’ve tried it once but it takes a lot of time and it’s hard to keep track of.
If you can clip coupons and look for online sales then definitely go for it. Anything that helps put money back in your pockets, the better!
A great place to find all circulars online is on Flipp. It’s so easy to use, you plug in your zip code and it’ll pull in all the circulars for the stores in your area. Go through the digital circular and if you like an item click on it. It will then add the item to your shopping list. It makes clipping coupons super easy.
One method that I actually find doable for me is using cash back apps.
Ibotta Cash Back App
One of my favorite ones is Ibotta. Super simple to use.
Sign up for free and use the code YDIGCFJ get your $20 welcome bonus.
Before my weekly shopping trip, I’ll go to my Ibotta app and check to see if any of the items on my shopping list is in the app.
Ibotta has all the brand name grocery stores from Walmart, Kroger, Target, Costco, Aldi, Dollar Tree, and so much more.
All you do is click on the store you plan to shop at. Then you look for the items you plan to buy. They’ll have coupons available for you to choose from and some of them can be used 5 times.
You then redeem those coupons for cash back! Once you hit $20 in cash back, you can withdraw your earnings straight to your bank account, via PayPal, or digital gift cards.
My last shopping trip, I earned over $8 back.
Checkout 51 Cash Back App
Checkout 51 is very similar to Ibotta. You can get cash back from groceries and hygiene products. Just upload your receipt and redeem for cash once you hit $20. What’s great about Checkout 51 is that you can also get cash back at the gas pump and they offer a digital Prescription Savings Card which can save you up to 80% on medications.
Sign up for free and get your $5 bonus at Checkout 51 to start earning cash back the easy way.
Tip: Earn $2 when you upload your first receipt and $1 for each receipt three times after that which gives you a total of $5 bonus cash.
GetUpside Cash Back App
GetUpside is another easy cash back app to use. You can get money back on restaurants, groceries (Washington D.C. area), and Gas.
You can see savings as much as 35% at restaurants, 15% at grocery stores, and 25c/gal of gas.
It’s very easy to use, all you have to do is claim the offer presented, simply upload your receipt, and get cash back. Once you hit $15, you can get cash back via PayPal or reach $50 to get a cash payout.
Fetch Rewards App
Fetch Rewards is another easy app you can use to earn cash back to redeem for gift cards or magazine subscriptions. This can come in handy when you want to give out gift cards for birthdays or holidays.
All you need to do is scan your receipts from most grocery stores, pharmacy, convenience store, and big retailers. You will then earn points which convert to cash.
Sign up for Fetch Rewards with this referral code 7JKFH and you’ll get 2,000 Fetch Points ($2.00 in points)
You can also refer others and earn 2,000 points ($2) yourself and your friend/family will earn 2,000 points ($2) as well.
6. Look For Cash Back When Ordering Food
Do you order food occasionally? I don’t always make food at home, I get too tired. On the weekends we like to indulge and order out.
If you ever order food then you need to check out Rakuten.
Rakuten is a major hub that has ALL sorts of major businesses on there, from food companies, major department stores, Amazon, Ebay, travel, entertainment, books, and more!
I always go through Rakuten before I do any online shopping because I usually end up getting cash back. Once you earn at least $5, you can request Rakuten to send you a check.
Have you ever used GRUBHUB or Postmates to get your food delivered? Today I saw that Rakuten is offering 11% cash back for GRUBHUB and up to $7 back for using Postmates.
Sign up to Rakuten and get a $10 welcome bonus
7. Eat up food in the freezer and pantry!
Every once in a while look through your pantry and freezer.
Maybe you could have whole bunch of pasta boxes just sitting there. Why not make some cooked pasta over the weekend? or salad pasta to make it a bit healthier.
Sometimes there could be some great cuts of meat left in your freezer that you could have overlooked. Start going through them to find which ones to begin defrosting for meals.
Also, remember that meal planning will help save money this way too. You can go through your pantry or freezer to start planning what to make for the week. That way, you won’t have to buy extra things which you may already have.
8. Shop with a Calculator
I noticed that when I used a shopping list and shopped with a calculator, my grocery bill would be nearly 30%-40% less.
First, set your grocery budget and try sticking to that number. Using a calculator will help you stay on track. Keep tabs on everything you add to your cart with a calculator, it’ll give you an idea how you’re doing throughout your shopping trip.
What I like to do is write down the price of the grocery item just in case I end up miscalculating.
This method really worked for me, try it out and see if it saves you any money on your shopping trip.
8. Buy in Bulk Online
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money in the long run. Don’t worry if you don’t have a wholesale club membership. You don’t actually need to pay for one.
You can do your bulk shopping online through Instacart. They include wholesale clubs like Sam’s club or Costco and you can order through Instacart without a membership card. What’s even better is that you can get those bulk items delivered straight to your house.
Try Instacart out to get your bulk items delivered to your house. The signup is free and you can use this code MINFO1CE14E to get $10 off your first order.
9. Vacuum Seal Meat and Vegetables/Fruit
Also, when buying in bulk storage is important. If you buy a lot of meat or veggies, using food saver bags can prolong the life of the food so much longer than regular Ziplocks.
According to Foodsaver, they say that coffee, meats, vegetables, and fish can last up to two years in the freezer. In the fridge, fresh fruit, vegetables, and cheeses can last 4-8 months.
To save money on groceries, buy in bulk or when items are on sale and store them in vacuum sealed bags. That way, you won’t be wasting food and money.
Tip: If you have bananas laying around that are about to go bad, slice them up and store them in vacuum sealed bags for the freezer. They come in handy when making delicious smoothies.
10. Shop Along The Outer Aisles
Usually, grocery stores have whole foods along the outer aisles. Next time you go to the store, check out the layout. I bet the produce, dairy, and meats will be along the outer aisles.
Try to buy whole foods instead of too much processed food which tend to be around the inner most aisles and are more expensive compared to the other.
10. Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
When you can, try to buy frozen fruits and vegetables. You may end up getting more for your money.
For instance, frozen organic spinach can cost 50 cents less than the fresh kind for up to twice the volume. Also, a 10 ounce bag of frozen organic raspberries could be the same price as 6 ounces of fresh raspberries.
11. Months to Buy Produce In-Season
Buying produce when they’re in-season will save you more money. They’ll be more plentiful which results in more sales. Below are fruits and vegetables that would be in-season according to The Spruce Eats.
12. Avoid Buying Pre-packaged Lettuce and Kale
Buying lettuce/kale/salad in the pre-packaged bags can be so much more expensive than prepping it yourself. You could be better off buying the greens as a whole, wash it, and store it your self to save more money.
For kale, any remaining leftovers go straight into the freezer. It comes in handy when I make smoothies.
13. Save Yourself Time by Shopping Online
You can save so much time and stress by shopping for groceries on your couch. Grocery shopping can be very time consuming.Use services like Instacart or Freshdirect to have your groceries delivered straight to your door.
Try Instacart out to get your grocery items delivered to your house. The signup is free and you can use this code MINFO1CE14E to get $10 off your first order.
Sign up for Freshdirect and get your $10 off first shopping order over $99.
14. Make Large Batches
If you don’t have too much time to cook then make it easy on yourself by getting the Instant Pot. It’s a pressure cooker that let’s you set it and forget it. You can make savory soups, stews, have tenderized meat almost instantly. It allows you to cook up something delicious at a fraction of the time. It’s also a great way to use up whatever you have in the freezer and cook it up in minutes. It will also allow you to cook up the food in large batches and have it last throughout the week or freeze leftovers. It will definitely save you money in the long run by allowing you to conveniently cook more at home and eat less take out food.
15. Use Rewards
Did you know that many restaurants/coffee shops have rewards programs? You can sign up with them and they will create a free account where you can accumulate points just by eating or drinking at your favorite restaurants or beverage shops.
Many times they will offer freebies or big discounts for birthdays/special occasions or even frequenting the establishment many times. Take advantage of them!
Just recently, my husband and I went to a restaurant to celebrate my birthday and yes we did use a 25% off coupon. No shame in the game folks!
We may not realize it but spending money on food and drinks can really add up over time. Heck, I was spending $1,000 more or less every month on food. It’s ridiculous now that I think about it.
Over this course of our debt payoff journey, I realized that making small changes to a routine can give you big results. Little things like eating breakfast at home, making lunch for work instead of ordering out, using a shopping list and meal plan for the week, making the most out of cash back apps, and buying in bulk often all adds up to major savings.
There are tons of ways to save money on food and drinks, I hope some of the things I mentioned can also help keep more money in your pockets this month.
Did you know that knocking out some debt can free up hundreds or thousands of dollars for you? If you have debt, today’s the day to start eliminating it. Here’s a free Debt Thermometer for you + join us in the free 5-Day Debt Free Bootcamp to get you on your journey to be debt free.