I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to save money on groceries. Other than rent, groceries eat up the largest portion of my budget each month. Therefore, if I can save money on groceries, then I can save a lot of the money that I would otherwise spend.

Naturally, I’m always looking for grocery coupons, tips, hacks, and deals. I also keep my eye out for new apps, tools, and ideas for saving money at the grocery store. Sometimes these are helpful. Sometimes they aren’t.

However, when it comes right down to it, the newfangled options aren’t always the best ones. In fact, what really helps me save money at the grocery store are well-established habits. These things might be simple. They seem obvious. Nevertheless, sometimes I slip out of those good habits. When I do, I spend too much on groceries.

The start of the new year is a great time to review habits. It’s a great time to remind myself to do the things I already know work but might have stopped paying close attention to over the past few busy months. So, here are the New Year’s resolutions and habits that I plan to re-implement and refocus on.

Limit Shopping to a Few Grocery Stores

Are you able to save money on groceries by shopping for the best deal on specific items across many different stores? Some people are, and I think that’s great. However, that doesn’t work for me. I get disorganized, confused, and flustered. Mostly, I get busy, and I end up buying groceries at one store that would be cheaper at another. I don’t bother to bring a coupon because I was planning to get that item at another store. Therefore, I spend more than I should. That’s why the best habit for me is to limit myself to just a few grocery stores.

Save Money on Groceries By Sticking to a List

This is so obvious that it shouldn’t have to be said. Nevertheless, it’s a habit that I fall out of now and again. I cave to impulse buys. Food can be so emotional, so if I’m not vigilant about sticking to a list, then I end up justifying extra purchases. I actually keep a few different grocery lists:

  • Staples that I typically buy weekly (produce, for example)
  • Staples that I usually need monthly (such as condiments)
  • Special occasion ingredients (if I stick to a list then I don’t just buy them on impulse)

Closely aligned with sticking to a list is making and sticking to a meal plan. I plan out all food in advance for the week. I do it when I’m clear-minded and not hungry.

Buy Only Groceries at the Grocery Store

It is so tempting to pick up “extras” at the grocery store. In fact, I used to have non-food items on my grocery list. Paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste … many of us get in the habit of buying those items at the grocery store. However, they are almost always more expensive there. I save money if I skip those at the grocery store and order them online instead.

Buy Produce In Season and Local

There are many reasons that I purchase my produce locally and in season. It starts with health and aligns with many of my values. It also helps me save money at the grocery store. The “local” part is cheaper here because I have a lot of good produce nearby me in California. That may vary depending on where you live. However, the “in season” part almost always holds true.

I’m a vegetarian so produce makes up a big chunk of my grocery budget. There often aren’t coupons for produce, so it’s important for me to stay really aware of the changing prices and to adapt my meal plan accordingly (but thoughtfully).

Buy Certain Groceries Only with a Coupon

There are some items on my list that I only buy if I can find a good coupon deal for them. These are high markup items that tend to be very expensive. For example, bread and bakery items typically have a high markup. If I can’t find a coupon, then I don’t buy them. I always make sure that my meal plan for the week includes backup plans in case this happens.

Shop at the Same Day and Time Each Week

This doesn’t sound like it will help you save money on groceries. However, I have found that it does. That’s because it makes the grocery shopping a solid routine. When something is a routine or a habit, then it’s easier to go on autopilot with all of the other good habits that relate to it. Therefore, I find it easier to stick to my lists and use my coupons if I’ve already established the larger habit of going to the grocery store at the same time each week. Believe it or not, this is one of the habits that help me the most. Unfortunately, during the holidays, my schedule gets busy, and I slip, so it’s something I need to recommit to in the new year.

What are your New Year’s resolutions that relate to groceries and saving money?

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