Staying within a budget when grocery shopping seems easy on paper, but it’s difficult to master without a little help.
Grocery prices have exploded over the past year due to unforeseen impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption of supply chains. AmeriForce Media crowdsourced more than 300 experienced military spouses for their best tips and habits that help their family stay on budget.
Read more: Keeping your budget tight in the digital age
The six best tried and true ways military families can save on their grocery bill are:
The simplest and most effective way to save money on groceries is to plan ahead.
Planning meals in advance allows you to buy once and use the ingredient many times. Buying one protein in bulk saves money and keeps meals simple.
When planning meals, don’t forget about incorporating leftovers, nonmeat meals and “on-your-own” nights for large families. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with breakfast for dinner.
Coupons – but be wary
Coupons can save money, but awareness is key.
No one needs five jars of mayo, so walk away from the condiment aisle and throw away the coupon. Instead, look for coupons bundled in newspapers from large product companies like Procter & Gamble or General Mills.
Most coupons from big brands are for everyday items and offer significant savings. In-store apps from Target, like Circle, or loyalty programs from local grocery chains also offer big savings.
Aldi and Lidl
Those who have been stationed in Europe, know discount grocery stores like Aldi and Lidl.
Shoppers can find produce and protein at significantly discounted prices. Buyers can’t be picky or expect name brands, but if a family needs to stock up on fruits, vegetables, dairy or meats, shopping at Aldi or Lidl will save hundreds of dollars per month.
Remember to bring your own bags and a quarter for the cart. And be prepared to bag everything yourself at sprinter pace.
Cash is king
Shoppers are forced to stay on budget and shop from their list when cash is the only way to pay.
Just practicing cash-only grocery shopping for three months can help build your savings or pay down debt. It’s an old school way to shop, but the benefits are important for a modern family.
Shoppers can save on brand name items, case lot sales and shop with coupons at the commissary. But to really save, plan ahead. DeCA posts all of its sale items categorized by store on its website. Log on before you leave to hunt for the best prices.
There’s an app for that
Want more financial readiness tips? Download our complimentary 2021 Military Money Guide.