Busy Mom’s Guide to Saving Money on Groceries
I’m a busy mom, I just don’t have time to spend hours every week couponing. When I did extreme coupon (before it was popular) I did very well, but with all the store policy changes and rules here and there, don’t do this, do this, don’t touch that, I can’t keep up.
Between carting kids to baseball practice and picking up the baby from the laundromat and taking my oldest to and from doctor’s appointments…..wait, did I just say, “Picking up the baby from the laundromat.” See how tired I am!
If you can relate, you’re in the right place. We are busy moms. We barely have enough time to grab a cup of coffee and get 5 hours of sleep before we wake up and do it all again!
Luckily, there are some fantastic ways you can save money on groceries, without running to 5 different stores in 2 different cities and clipping coupons for 4 hours every week. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but some seasons in our lives, we just don’t have the time. That doesn’t make you a bad mom or a bad wife, it just means that we can’t always be supermom…and that’s okay!
What that doesn’t mean is that we are flippant or don’t care about your grocery bill. Of course, everyone wants to save money. Here are some great tips, the busy mom’s guide to saving money on groceries…without clipping coupons.
Busy Mom’s Guide to Saving Money on Groceries
Create a price book for stocking up
Many couponers do this, but it can be a very useful tool even if you don’t coupon as well. A price book is essentially a running grocery list that you keep with items that you buy most often and your own personal “stock up” price. For instance, if you buy pasta, maybe your stock up price is any time it is under 75 cents. Keep an eye out on sales weekly and if you see your stock up price on one of the items in your price book, make sure to get enough to hold back in your stockpile.
Don’t have time to make a stock up book? Don’t worry, here’s a free printable that I made for myself and am happy to share it.
Use Loyalty cards
Some stores have loyalty cards and when you use them, you see savings at the register. Don’t have your loyalty card on you? You don’t get the discounts! Always have your store loyalty cards on you when shopping.
Other stores use loyalty cards to send out once-a-month or once-a-quarter coupons. These coupons can be used on anything at your local store and usually are about 10-20% off!
Cook at home and meal plan
Eating out is fun and it is fine in a time pinch, but it shouldn’t be your main source of food. It adds up very quickly. Meal planning doesn’t have to be some elaborate thing either. I simply write down 7 meals on a magnetic notepad on my fridge. I buy the ingredients I need to make my meals using as many pantry items I already have. You will find that you spend less on food for the month when you have specific items you can budget for.
Shop alone if you can
This one can be kind of tough, but shopping alone without your kids in tow, will keep you on task and help you to not have extras put in your cart. Likewise, you won’t be as frantic, so you might have enough patience to pull out your calculator and do some price comparisons, thus lowering your bottom line.
Shop the right days
This depends on the store, but usually the day right before the sale, you can score some great items. Sometimes clearances will be better on those days because they are slow days for the stores. Sometimes, like with Big Lots for example, they have “Family and Friends Day,” where you get a coupon for 20% off your purchase! As you’re shopping different days, just check things out and see if you notice a pattern. Are sales better at your store on a certain day, rather than another day of the week?
Usually the best days to shop are NOT Saturday or Sunday! In my area, I’ve found Friday night to be especially good. Maybe it’s because they are getting ready for the weekend crowd, maybe it’s because it’s nearing the end of the week, I don’t know, but there are always better deals on Friday night after 4 pm.
Think outside the box
There are many places you can get groceries for far cheaper than your average grocery store. Have you ever been to an ethnic grocery store or Asian market? You can often find some household staples like rice, beans, spices, and sauces for far less at these kinds of stores. Likewise even places like health food stores can sometimes be cheaper than big box stores!
Buy in bulk wisely
Many people save money by purchasing in bulk, but it takes a little planning to do it wisely. First, make sure you look at the unit numbers of the larger packages. Break down how much each unit is (units can be ounces, single serving sizes, pounds and so on) and compare that to smaller packages. Also, some items are much cheaper almost always in the bulk section such as spices, grains, and rice.
Try not to buy convenience
Things like already-cut produce and meat, boxed meals, and frozen dinners will cost you far more than the “real” things. If time is a concern to you, try to take some time each week to prep some food ahead of time. Assemble a lasagna and freeze it for later, cut up vegetables a day of two ahead of time, or shred a large amount of chicken for that week’s meals.
You will find that doing this will save you so much money and many of the things we buy for convenience only take 5-10 minutes of our time and yet we pay twice or three times as much for them. If you ran short on your monthly budget, sites such as sunnyloansuk.co.uk might be able to help.
Shop in season
Not only does produce have seasons, but meat and even frozen goods have a season with sales cycles. Keep an eye out for when these items tend to go on sale and stock up when they do.
Are you a busy mom? How do you keep your life organized? How do you save money on groceries?
Iam busy mom and a grand mother thing for the tips
Glad you like them Trena. 🙂
GREAT tips! Thanks for putting this together. Stopping by from Sat. Free-For-All Party. Carrie, A Mother’s Shadow
I LOVE THIS. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m a new mom and paying a LOT more attention to our grocery bill. Love the “when to stock up” sheet.
Lauren @ muchadoaboutsomethin.com
As usual, Sarah, you are offering some great tips. The one that I can’t follow, though, is shopping on certain days. I’d buy way too much. How do you pop in each store and only buy the sale stuff there?
Sarah, these are great tips, and I know from experience that you are right. I am not this organized with meal plans etc, but I sure know my prices and I always have a shopping bag on hand to pick up a few things along the way when I spot them on sale. Thanks for linking it up at SHARE IT sunday linky party. I’d love to see you again on Easter Sunday and every sunday with your latest and greatest. (party opens at the end of today at the FineCraftGuild.com)
Shopping in season is #1 for our family, we also love to check the discounted produce section to find even bigger deals on fruits and veggies. As long as you use them up within the week they are usually still quite good. We are also looking into getting a crop share to save even more on fresh produce, were pricing this out now, and I can’t wait. My husband is also starting a garden, which him and my oldest daughter love to do together. It’s a great bonding experience for them, while I tend to the baby. One way we work on keeping mealtime at home is to have a “take-out-at-home” night. On those nights we buy a pizza dough at the grocery store and make our own at home, or even calzones too! We are always experimenting to see what other take-out items we can make at home. Plus, it goes with trying to make more things from scratch, which we are working on too. I’m hopping not only to help my family budget out with this, but to use these as a foundation for my children’s life in the future too.