5 Tips & Tricks to Save Money on Groceries

This week we are in prep mode for the 6 Month Spending Diet Challenge, which starts tomorrow, June 30 and runs until December 31, 2017. …

This week we are in prep mode for the 6 Month Spending Diet Challenge, which starts tomorrow, June 30 and runs until December 31, 2017. 
Saving money while grocery shopping has been so difficult for me lately. I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels and not saving anything. This is something I really need to get a handle on or I am going to have a very difficult 6 months. 
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve researched different tips and tricks for saving money on groceries. 
Couponing is almost always the number one way to save money, but most of the time it really doesn’t help me much on my clean eating diet. Also, it can get very overwhelming with coupon stacking and double coupon day. . .  
So I took a hard look at my own situation and chose the top five ways I can start to save money on my grocery bill.
5 Tips and Tricks to Save Money on Groceries
1. Make detailed inventory lists of your food and household items
This is the very first thing to do and it helps so much. Why? For two reasons. 
The first is you will have a master list of the items that you use. But be sure to be as detailed as possible. If you only use Heinz ketchup write that down. Only like Crest toothpaste. Add that to the list. If there are some items that you really don’t care about, like what type of mustard you buy, just write down mustard. You can search the weekly sales and pick up the one that is the cheapest.
Some inventory lists you will want to include: pantry, freezer, refrigerator, spice cabinet, medicine cabinet, and laundry room. I’ve been using GetButtonedUp.com‘s free printable inventory checklists for the pantry and freezer. I like them because they are blank. If you want some that are more detailed check out this Pinterest Board. These lists will help when you come across sales or coupons. 
Also, plan for the entire spending diet (or as long as you want). My spending diet will run throughout three seasons: summer, fall, and winter. I know that I always get bronchitis in the fall and that I can’t live without Ricola and Mucinex. So with my master list from my medicine cabinet, I can keep an eye out for sales on both items, which will most likely happen before the fall. I can stock up now and be all ready for when bronchitis season hits!
My lists are still works in progress because I keep remembering things that need to be added. But once the master lists are completed it will make shopping so much easier and cheaper.
The second, you can shop from your lists first. Why buy another jar of salsa when you have two in the pantry already. Yep! This just happened to me last week. And it will help keep the food from spoiling. If you are shopping from your pantry the food will continue to get rotated out regularly. It will also make it a little easier for you to tackle #2 on the list.

2. Shop every other week or *gasp* once a month
This is going to be a toughie for me.  I love to take salads to work but lettuce just isn’t going to last for 2 weeks. So I am on the lookout for some other lunch recipes that I can substitute for my salads on week 2. Pinterest is the best place to search for recipes, but I’ve been hitting the library lately to check out some cookbooks too. Lots of great, FREE recipes out there!
If I can cut my grocery bill in half by only shopping twice a month I will be one very happy girl.
3. Become a member of your local grocery store
This is really simple and I think most people already do it, but it can really save you money. Just make sure the membership is free! 
My local grocery store is Food Lion. They have a free MVP program that loads monthly offers to your digital card. Every time you shop the cashier scans your MVP card. Once the reward criteria are met you earn money.
These Food Lion rewards are perfect for me and my clean eating diet. And while it might not be a ton of savings, combining the rewards can really add up. 
4. Download shopping apps to your phone
This might be the best thing that I have done to save money. I don’t have a fancy iPhone, just a little Andriod that doesn’t hold a ton of apps. So, I loaded my shopping apps to my iTouch. It works just as well. (affiliate links)
There are a ton of shopping apps out there. Believe me, I’ve tried a lot of them. But the two that have worked the best for me are Flipp and Ibotta.
I always check Flipp first. It lists all of the local weekly store flyers in one app. And the best thing about it is you can search for a specific item and it will show you all of the stores that have it on sale that week. This past weekend I searched for Pepsi and saw that Target had it the cheapest for the week. 
You can also look at individual flyers from your favorite stores. I checked the Food Lion flyer and saw that there is a buy one get one free coupon for Heinz ketchup and French’s mustard. I can go buy my ketchup and get some mustard for free. Score!
And something I just figured out is you can add your loyalty cards from your favorite stores to your app, load the coupons to your loyalty cards, and redeem rebates for cash. I’ll be setting up my cards before I go shopping this weekend.
I think a lot of people know about Ibotta, but if you don’t it is another great rebate app. Their motto is “turn your receipts into cash”. 
It is super simple. Search the Ibotta app for rebates and add them to your account. Purchase the products from one of the participating stores (you can find the list on the bottom of each rebate). Then take a picture of your receipt and the Ibotta app will verify the purchase and rebate. Your money is usually added to your account within a day. 
If you haven’t signed up yet and think this app is perfect for you just click on my Ibotta friends link below. You will be rewarded with a $10 welcome bonus! 
Two more money saving making sites
Another tip is to sign up for Swagbucks and Ebates. Both sites reward you for shopping online. While this might seem counterintuitive to the 6-month spending diet, if you shop online, especially with Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up soon you will definitely want to sign up. The rewards are pretty sweet! 
Swagbucks is the best!!! It rewards you with gift cards to places like Target, Walmart, and Amazon. 
You can also choose a Visa gift card to use anywhere or money to your Paypal account. Any of these gift cards can be used to buy groceries or household items. 
You earn Swagbucks or SBs by shopping online, watching videos, and even searching the internet. I just got 30 SBs the other day just for searching the internet. 
You need at least 1,000 SBs for a gift card, but the SBs really do add up. I usually earn enough for a gift card about every 2 months, or so. 
After several years of using the site I’ve redeemed my SBs for gift cards from Amazon, Starbucks, Target, Home Depot, Visa, and Paypal. This is all FREE money! If you do a lot of web searching or online shopping this site is perfect for you. 
Find out more about the site and sign up using my referral link:
Ebates also rewards you for shopping online, but instead of a gift card they send you a “big fat check”. I get my money sent to my PayPal account, which is even faster! 
For the upcoming 4th of July holiday Ebates is offering double cash back at a lot of stores. What does this mean? Let’s say you are shopping for birthday or Christmas presents and you spend $100 at Macy’s. You use the Ebates site while shopping this weekend and with a 6% cash back bonus you will get an automatic $6 added to your account!
Again, more FREE money just for shopping online. 
Ebates is running a little promo now that the first two people to sign up by June 30 using my personal link will get $10 for free!
5. Don’t forget to check the non-grocery stores
I can’t tell you how many things I have found cheaper at non-grocery stores. Last week I bought my water at Staples, my popcorn at Dollar Tree, and my pistachios at Walgreens. It is crazy where you can find some really great prices on everyday items.
This is where the shopping apps will really come in handy. I now know to look at Staples for household items; the Dollar Tree for popcorn, spices, and Ziploc bags; and Walgreens for pistachios, granola bars, and toilet paper/paper towels.
Unfortunately, this all takes a bit of getting used to as well as some time to organize yourself. But once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t difficult. And the payoff is well worth the extra time.
Bonus: Start a piggy bank / spare change jar
A couple of months ago I started tossing all of my extra change I got into a glass jar. Last night I poured it all out and did a quick count. I have almost $20 worth of change in that little jar. I just need to roll the coins and I’ll have a nice chunk of change to take with me when I go food shopping next month. FYI: you can pick up a bag of change rolls at Dollar Tree for $1!
I hope these tips and tricks for saving money on groceries will be as useful to you as they have been for me.