In March of 2023, the price of groceries had increased by 8.5% when compared to March of 2022. The price of eggs had increased by 36%, the price of margarine had increased by 33.4%, and the price of frozen vegetables had increased by 20.1% according to the consumer price index report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are a lot of reasons for this increase, from inflation to supply issues to tariffs, but the effect is all the same: we are spending more and more of our hard earned dollars on groceries. This means that we need to get creative to cut costs and keep more of our money in our pockets.
Here are ten ways you can cut your grocery bill in 2023.
#1. Plan ahead and consolidate.
The best way to cut your grocery bill is to be highly organized. By planning out your meals for the week (including your snacks!) you can avoid buying unnecessary ingredients and wasting food. And when you can plan meals that use the same ingredients, try to do so. If you can plan on using tomatoes in a few of your meals instead of just one, chances are you will not waste as much.
#2. Shop alone.
When you shop with a friend or family member, you are much more likely to buy more things you don’t need. They may try to talk you into an additional purchase or a different brand that is more expensive. Being alone means that you and you alone can make the decisions and focus on cutting your costs.
#3. Choose the right grocery store.
If you live in a small town, you may not have a lot of options in terms of where you shop. But if there are a few different stores in your area you should take the time to compare prices. Certain stores may have better prices for certain things, so take note of what the differences are. Also compare the rewards programs and see which one might provide the best benefits for you.
#4. Avoid buying prepared (or pre-cut!) food.
In general, skipping the prepared food aisle will save you a lot. Cooking your own food will always be cheaper (and probably healthier). Additionally you should avoid buying any foods that are pre-cut. Will pre-cut green beans save you time? Absolutely. But they will cost you twice as much, so it’s worth the added time to save a lot of money in the long run.
#5. Look at the unit price.
It’s easy to simply compare the package price when scanning for the best deal. But oftentime this results in comparing apples to oranges. Many products will vary in the weight or amount that is packaged. This is very common with manufacturers who don’t want to increase their prices outright. Instead they reduce the amount of what is being sold and make their profits that way (also referred to as “shrinkflation”). But by comparing the unit price you will ensure that you are comparing the right numbers.
#6. Buy and cook in bulk (and maybe include a friend).
Buying in bulk is almost always a less expensive option. Whether you join a membership warehouse club, such as Costco or BJs, or just buy the family packs at the grocery store you will find more savings when you do this. Buying in bulk may not make sense if you have a small household or live by yourself, but you can still use this method for maximum savings. When you buy meat in bulk you can portion it out when you get home and freeze packages that weigh one or two pounds each. Then when you are ready to use it you can simply pull and defrost.
If you live alone it may make sense to purchase some bulk items with a friend that you can split up. Things like nuts, pasta, and toilet paper can be bought in large quantities but you might not need or have the space for a large quantity. But splitting these items with a friend means that you can both save money without the commitment of a large purchase.
Cooking in bulk can also help to save money and time. By cooking a large batch of something and freezing smaller portions you can save money and give your future self a good meal. Things like soup, chili, and lasagna are easy to cook in bulk and can provide many meals for a later date when you don’t feel like cooking (because let's be honest, takeout is expensive too!)
#7. Start an herb garden.
Even if you have a small apartment, consider starting a mini herb garden. You can start one very inexpensively and can save yourself a lot of money. When you buy pre-cut herbs they tend to go bad relatively quickly, but if you have some plants where you can simply clip off what you need, you can avoid a lot of waste. Herbs require minimal care, so even if you don’t have the greenest thumb you can find success with a simple setup. See what herbs you use the most, but basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and mint are some simple herbs that can give you a lot of versatility.
#8. Make a grocery budget.
We’ve said it before and we will say it again: you need to have a budget. Budgets are the best way to stay accountable for your spending and avoid issues like overdrawn cards and missed bills. Your budget should include a realistic budget for your groceries. Looking at past receipts and purchases can give you an idea of how you should approach this, but sticking to a number will help you avoid impulse purchases.
#9. Shop the sales before you plan your meals.
Many of us think about what we would like to cook this week as a first step for grocery prepping. But by looking to see what is on sale first you can build your menu around that. If ground beef is on sale, see how you can use it a few times during the week. If pork loin is on sale, see if you have space in the freezer to buy an extra and freeze it.
#10. Look in your freezer first.
We’ve mentioned freezing things a few times, but how often do you freeze something and then forget about it? Take the time every week to see what you have in your freezer before you plan your meals and hit the store. You want to pay attention to the dates when you freeze things as well, as different foods are safe in the freezer for different times.
Those are ten ways you can cut your grocery bill in 2023.
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