People are inevitably curious when they discover you have a large family. One of the big questions is how much does your monthly grocery bill cost?
The fact is having a big family does not have to break your budget.
I've learned several things about saving money on groceries over the years thanks to needing to feed my large family.
I’m not just going to tell you about couponing. Money can for sure be saved at those double- and triple-couponing stores. But honestly, there are generally there are better methods of saving money that doesn’t involve studying coupons like your preparing for the SATs.
Let's face it caring for a large family or even a smaller family takes a lot of time. We don’t always have time to coupon every product we buy. I find it works best to shop intelligently and have a good frugal shopping routine.
I also have to admit that although I try to shop organic for some products. I don’t get too caught up in it on every product. For example, Almonds are a clean food regardless being certified organic or not. So getting certified organic plain almonds is just an added expense. This is often the case with many foods.
Here are my top ways to save money on groceries when you have a large family.
25 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
1. Grocery Shop Online
I’m in love with Wal-Mart Grocery.
I’ve personally gone into Wal-Mart and price-checked. The numbers are the same.
Shopping online makes keeping the cart under budget a cinch. There are no impulse buys and you can do it while hanging out with your large family.
Using curbside pickup with most stores is free to try, but usually, they do charge you a fee after a few visits. However, you may end up saving money assuming you’d spend that fee or even more extra if you went into the store and made impulse buys. So in many cases, the fees could be a wash. On the other hand, there are a few things to watch out for when shopping online. Prices can be higher online sometimes depending on where your shopping. Also, you don’t always get coupon deals online.
2. Shop with a Calculator
If you cannot or do not want to shop online for groceries, you can use your cell phone calculator to do your shopping.
By keeping track of what you spend, you can make more informed decisions about what to put in and what not to put in your cart.
You can even scan your items into some stores' apps and they will do all the calculations for you!
3. Use RAKUTEN or Other Rewards Programs
When shopping online with Wal-Mart Grocery, you can utilize your RAKUTEN. Download the app if shopping on your phone or the Chrome Extension so that it pops up to remind you to use it!
This month, I made $20 just by clicking a button before shopping online.
Other reward programs are:
There are tons more, but these are my top picks. Many times you can overlap the rebates.
4. Shop the Sales
My eyes are trained to see those yellow/orange stickers that declare something is on sale.
The trick is to only purchase the items on sale you’ll actually use.
Getting a discount on an item you would not have purchased otherwise is not saving you money.
5. Don’t Take the Kids
Shopping without the kids will make you spend less.
Not only do companies pay more to be on kid-level on the shelves so you’ll spend more money, but the constant “please, mom” can make anyone give in to those purchases.
Going when the kids have gone to bed, are in school, or with dad is the best bet for your money-saving strategies.
6. Don’t Take the Hubby
Statistically, men don’t worry about sales as much as women
They are more likely to buy it because they need it and not worry about the price.
Not only does it make it less expensive to shop without the husband, but it also allows him to stay at home with the kiddos while you get some alone time!
7. Have a Budge and Stick To It
If you don’t know what you can spend, you are likely to go over what you really need to spend.
Having a budget will help you say “no” to those fancy condiments that you can do without and focus on what you really need.
And don’t be afraid or embarrassed to take stuff off at the register if you’ve gone over budget.
It’s better to offend the cashier or patrons behind you for a moment than upset your entire bank account for the month or longer!
8. Don’t Shop Hungry
This is a no-brainer, but I cannot count how many times I shop hungry and end up (literally) paying for it.
You can buy a small item before you start shopping if you have a rumbling stomach. But never go on a full-blown shopping trip on an empty stomach.
Eating something before your grocery trip will also reduce that post-supermarket binge we all do if we are starving.
9. Shop Simple
If you are really focused on saving money at the grocery store, keep the old acronym in mind: KISS or Keep it Simple Stupid.
Planning elaborate or exotic meals means you have to purchase expensive spices and products you’ll only use once.
A simple meal plan means a simple grocery list: eggs, beans, cheese, milk, bread.
Stick to the basics and you’ll save money on groceries when you have a large family.
10. Set Expectations
When I walk out the door, I usually ask if anyone needs anything.
This obviously could set me up for disaster.
But if a child requests an item that is not in the budget, I tell them so or suggest an alternative.
Letting your family know what will be coming home, alleviates disappointment and guilt. And it will save you money.
11. Buy Store Brands
When I online grocery shop at Wal-Mart Grocery, I actually will type “Great Value” into the search bar and only shop from those items just because I know they are usually the best priced.
Sometimes I need specific non-generic brands, but usually, this technique saves me time and money.
12. Don’t Assume Bigger is Better
Just because a product is bigger doesn’t mean there is more to it.
I buy the smaller looking deodorant for my husband, but it actually has more ounces in it and costs less than its taller counterpart.
Same with larger boxes or bagged items. I noticed that Malt-O-Meals large bags sometimes can be more expensive than the same amount in a box.
13. Price Compare
Look for better prices on grocery items at other stores that you might not normally shop at, especially in the hygiene department.
Many times Walgreens will have sales on their hair care or bath products if you utilize their in-store coupon book and your rewards card.
Sometimes I can find items at Big Lots cheaper than at the grocery store but that's not always the case. They also have other items like shampoo that can be cheaper as well. I found Herbal Essense conditioner for only $2 in a reduced price bin and bought every single one left because we spend more than that on our generic brand Kroger and Wal-Mart.
14. Always Check the Clearance Sections
When I enter a grocery store, my first stop is almost always the clearance sections. Name brand shampoos and conditioners can be half their original price in the clearance aisle, making them less expensive than their generic counterparts.
Shopping in the clearance section means you can’t be loyal to certain brands, but unless you have a good reason, most brands are nearly identical for general grocery shopping.
15. Use Technology
I spent $7 on butter just the past shopping trip when I already had four packages in the fridge.
Use an app like Out of Milk to help with your inventory so you avoid purchasing items you already have at home.
Or at least call home and ask someone to double-check if you aren’t sure!
16. Shop Your Pantry
There are so many times that my family swears “there’s nothing to eat” when there actually is.
Don’t allow the angry masses to determine when you need to return to the grocery store.
You can make creative use of what you have in your pantry if you take inventory.
I spend at least $50 every time I step foot into a grocery store, so avoiding even ONE trip a month is a massive money saver!
17. Shop Fast
A grocery store is no place to stop and smell the roses.
Researchers have found that the slower you shop, the more you spend - up to 30% more!
Stores know this and will often play slow soothing music and set up those “sample” areas so you slow down.
Get in and get out, spend less money.
18. Buying Herbs? Go to the garden area!
Herbs in the produce department can get really pricey.
When shopping at a store with a garden department, see what herbs they have. They are usually cheaper!
They also have the added benefit of continuing to grow AND not spoiling.
19. Know what Freezes Well
Shredded cheese and cranberries freeze great.
If you have a large family, knowing which items freeze well will help you save money on groceries. This will prevent spoilage and save you money in the long run.
20. Get the Mid-Sized Cart
Again, this is psychologically driven, a large shopping cart can make you spend more money.
But don’t grab a hand-held one either, studies show that people tend to buy “vice” products when they are struggling with the weight of a hand-held basket.
Pick a middle-sized shopping cart, if possible, and you’ll spend less.
21. Skip the aisles that you don't need anything from
Lots of people will say “stick to the outside” aisles.
This is good advice, but not really realistic.
If you are certain you do not need something in an aisle, don't hesitate to pass it up so you won't make other unnecessary purchases.
22. Be Loyal, but Be Watchful
I’m pretty loyal to Kroger, Wal-Mart, and Costco and know the prices accordingly, but I make sure to keep an eye out for deals at other stores.
I love our local Dollar Tree, but usually don’t buy tons of groceries there.
Sometimes you can find items that or normally a few bucks at most stores at the Dollar Tree for $1.
If I find a deal I’ll snag as many as I can get and freeze them.
23. Get A Loyalty Card
Not really grocery-related, but I saved .20 cents per gallon at the pump when I use my Randall’s card.
Target’s RedCard gives you 5% cashback. though I wouldn’t shop for groceries there if you are trying to save money on groceries when you have a large family.
Sometimes you can buy gift cards from Wal-Mart or Kroger and it’ll save you 10 cents a gallon at the pump.
23. Don’t Buy Produce at Warehouse Stores
There are very few times where I’ve seen Costco has great prices on produce.
Sometimes they do, but more often I find myself paying for the convenience of purchasing apples there.
The trick is to look at the price per pound and NOT the total price which is usually what is displayed more prominently.
24. Switch to Amazon Prime or Amazon Grocery Instead of Warehouse Stores
Again, I’m a huge fan of online grocery shopping.
Going into Costco or Sam’s Club opens up the door for expensive purchases on items you’ve never tried and/or don’t need. (Especially on “sampling” day).
While it’s great for buying things in bulk for a large family. Don’t automatically think you get a better deal just because you're getting a larger quantity. Plus sometimes you will use more just because there’s more available.
25. Buy the Bag
Bagging apples and potatoes tend to be a good money-saving strategy.
Check the fine print for how much your apples are per pound versa the per pound price of bagged apples. Sometimes it’s more than a 20 cent discount per pound!
Same thing with bagged cereal. Many times (though not all) bagged cereal saves the company on the packaging and they can pass those savings on to you!
Did I Miss Any Money Saving Grocery Tips?
Are there any money saving grocery tips that I missed that you use when shopping for your large family?
We'd love to hear what family wisdom you have to share, whether it's store-specific or not.
Tell us what you think in the comments below!