5 Grocery Shopping Hacks for Spending $100/Month per Person

Life is ridiculously cheap!

Our basic necessities are dirt cheap and will likely keep getting cheaper.  Food, shelter, clothing, transportation… small expenses for our luxurious lives.  How small?  Well, for instance, I’ve hacked the grocery game to the point I spend about $75 per month.   And I eat healthy stuff!  Here’s what I do… Here are my 5 easy grocery shopping hacks to drastically reduce your grocery budget.

1) Buy Food That’s Actually Food

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Here are foods: vegetables, fruits, meats, baked goods, dairy… basically the perimeter of the grocery store.  Traveling the center aisles can be disastrous for your wallet and waistline.  Why do so many people think junk food is less expensive than healthy food? It’s definitely not!  Junk food may appear cheap until you consider that you’re not getting full and you’re not getting energized from eating  junk foods.

One(!) iced honey bun from Little Debbie slams your system with 490 calories!  Meaning, if you want to stay in your recommended 2,000 calorie per day range, you could only eat 4 of them!  I can’t live for a day off 4 pastries… You try it and see how long you stay full. I’m thinking if I did it, I would stay full until about 9-10 AM and then desperately need some real calories.

Buy food that will fill you up and give you energy.  Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store. Quick ideas of cheap and healthy things to buy include carrots, potatoes, bananas, frozen veggies, beans, turkey, chicken breasts, rice, etc.

2) Think like the Seller

The more work they have to do to put a product on the grocery shelf, the more cost they pass to us. The more effort it takes a manufacturer to engineer (yes – engineer) a product, the more it costs us.  That’s why you can buy Lunchables at $1/ounce or tasty grapes at $1/POUND.  Lunchables are fun, don’t get me wrong.  But wow — they are ridiculously expensive. It just takes so much money for a brand to engineer that kind of food that the company has no choice but to charge us with high prices. And don’t give in to low sale prices. Lunchables, etc. will still be priced very high per ounce and you may get hooked on them. You don’t ever want to get hooked on junky, expensive foods.

When I shop, I keep this in mind… if a product has been messed with a lot, it’s probably not a good value. Think simple. Think whole foods.

3) The More You Buy, Cheaper It Gets

Yep, buy bulk if your kitchen is big enough.  The more you agree to buy, the less per ounce the company will sell it to you for.  Plus, this creates fewer shopping trips.  Grocery shopping is such a time-suck.  I wonder why grocery stores haven’t tried to automate the process more.  I think after I write this, I’ll look into grocery shopping on Amazon… Always buy bulk when you’re able.

4) Generics Are Usually the Same

According to federal law in the US, medications sold under generic labels have to have the EXACT same ingredients as brand names such as Tylenol, etc.  That’s right, if you don’t buy generic you are literally paying for the name.  In the food world, though not federally mandated, a lot of foods are near duplicates. Even if they are slightly different, it’s likely not a difference you can tell. What I do is always buy the generic first. If I’m dissatisfied in any way, I buy the name brand. This rarely, rarely happens. The only generic item I’ve really not cared for was generic toaster pastries. But I stopped buying any kind of toaster pastry a long time ago. Problem solved.  In any event, it makes sense to comparison shop and use coupons, these are proven methods of saving.

5) Bake!

I bake all my breads at home. Why? For 5 reasons…

  • It makes the house smell A-MAZING!
  • It keeps me from eating too many carbs since I have to work to get them
  • Who doesn’t love a guy who can bake??
  • I bike to the store to get groceries.  Transporting bread home is a pain since it’s so bulky and fragile.
  • It’s cheaper than buying it pre-made.  Even if you use a handy-dandy bread machine.
  • Oh yeah, it’s wayyy tastier when made at home.

G. It’s kind of fun. I know it’s not something everyone will absolutely enjoy but there’s something very relaxing about making your own bread at home. It really makes the house feel like a home.

Those are my 5 super-duper tips for taking the bite out of your grocery bill.  With the money you’ll save, I suggest you invest it in an index fund.  Or put the money toward a house.  Or a better car.  Or fill a baby pool full of quarters and pretend you’re a shark. Any of those options are better than wasting your hard-earned cash on honey buns.

Life is cheap.

Bonus: How to Deal with the Nitty, Gritty Details of Grocery Shopping

I don’t use coupons. To me, they are a pain in the butt. But Walmart does have a savings catcher app. To use it, you simply scan your receipt and it checks to see if anything you bought had any coupons which could have been applied. If so, you get them in the form of store credit. So that is one type of couponing that I’m okay with. Otherwise, to me, life’s too short to be clipping coupons.

Another thing I do is go shopping as rarely as possible while still getting fresh food. This is usually twice per week. I also prefer going in the early morning when the store isn’t as crowded. That way I can focus more on finding deals and my mind instead pre-occupied with trying not to get trampled. The early morning hours are fantastic for grocery shopping.

I also go to as few stores as possible. This may be hard if you’re new to an area. But after a few months, you’ll know which stores have what you need. If I have to go to multiple stores, I go to them back to back. It’s just easier this way.

Finally, to keep my budget low, I avoid overeating and I waste as little food as possible. I really only throw out food if it got lost in the back of the fridge and is looking pretty questionable.

Okay, now you too can take these tips and smash your grocery budget into a teeny, tiny figure. Have fun!

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