As the food costs are soaring in America, more and more people are trying to find ways how to cut their grocery bills, and shop smarter and cheaper to save money, and minimize food waste.
In the US, the average grocery bill per month for a family of 4 is around $594.90 and $1,161.90. For a single person living alone, it is between $174.30 and $390.40.
The above statistics are for 2021, so the average cost has undoubtedly gone up even more by now.
Many money-saving guides and articles online teach people how to reduce their grocery bill or even cut it in half, but sometimes that may not be enough.
So, let’s explore how to cut your grocery bill by 90 percent to make a significant dent in your food spending but without starving yourself.
1. Plan Your Grocery Shopping
It may seem obvious, but it bears repeating—planning and budgeting are essential to saving up. Going to the grocery store without a solid buying strategy and a planned out shopping for meals list is a recipe for disaster.
However, the planning stage goes beyond preparing a simple shopping list. If you want to curb your grocery bill by 90%, you must plan exactly what you eat and how much.
By preparing a monthly or bi-monthly meal plan, you can get a clear-cut idea of the meals you will cook and the ingredients you need to purchase.
Another benefit of this approach is that you can ensure your meals are more balanced and nutritious within a budget, therefore assisting your health goals in the long term.
Keep in mind that planning your meals and shopping lists doesn’t have to be boring—you can keep your diet varied and include your favorite foods; the key is to reduce the impulse to buy unplanned items.
Read Also: Cost of 6 Month Food Supply for a Family of 4 – (Simple Survival Kit).
2. Look For Yellow Sticker Discount Items At The End Of The Night
Depending on your country and the supermarkets and stores in your area, you may be lucky enough to encounter one of the best allies of the savvy shopper—the famed yellow stickers.
Yellow stickers identify food or products with a “best consumed before” date of that day or the next one. With stores eager to sell them beforehand, they reduce the prices a few hours before the date change.
Of course, there is no standard method to hunt for yellow stickers, as each store has different practices and the discounts and sales are also vastly different. However, as a general rule, yellow sticker discounts happen at the end of the day and cover perishable goods—fresh fruit, veggies, meat, or fish.
Some stores go as far as to include 50-90% discount sales near closing hours, which means that you can approach that 90% reduction in your grocery bill with luck and some careful strategy.
To make a great deal better, if you have a storage freezer for your purchases, you can make quite a striking difference in your bill in the long term. However, if you can not freeze the food then most of these ‘about to expire’ foods must be cooked straight away.
3. Buy Past ‘Best Before’ Date Passed Foods From Special Shops
Buying food just about to reach or passed it’s marked ‘Best Before’ date is an excellent strategy if you have access to yellow sticker discounts, but it is far from the only option you have.
Believe it or not, you can save a lot more by buying food past the marked “Best Before” date without risking your health. Best Before date is about the quality and safety of the food, but many people confuse it with Expiration Date or Used By date and end up throwing away perfectly usable food .
- ‘Best-before’ date lets you know how long foods will stay the best quality before it starts to gradually lose quality when stored properly.
- Foods products marked with an ‘expiry’ or ‘use-by’ date should be consumed before or on that date.
Naturally, this misunderstanding leads to tons of food waste every year. But as a savvy shopper, you only need to trust your nose and mouth—your senses will quickly tell you when something is really expired.
Search for salvage food stores, surplus and short-dated stocks, food clearance warehouses, specialty shops that sell “damaged goods” at a reduced price—food that has passed their best-by dates, dented or “ugly-looking” fruits and vegetables, out-of-season items, and anything else you can imagine.
Of course, you need to have a keen discerning eye to know what’s worth buying. To illustrate, a vlogger got a $500-worth haul for merely $193 , which is a cost reduction of over 60%, so a careful shopper can quickly reduce 90% off a bill with just this one trick.
4. Buy Frozen And Value Canned Foods Instead Of Fresh
First, let’s be clear—you cannot beat fresh and organic. It is the healthiest approach and contains the most impactful nutritional value.
That said, canned food gets an unfair reputation—it may not be as excellent as fresh food, but it is still a perfectly acceptable option with a specific, yet lesser, nutritional value.
Canned foods are always more budget-friendly than their fresh counterparts, and they last a lot longer as well—as such, you invest less money for a longer timeframe, as you can buy in bulk.
Most importantly, canned food is always processed at its peak freshness which means they carry a delicious flavor and retain some valuable nutrients. Canned foods can cost half less than fresh or frozen food, and that price can reach up to 90% less if bought with discounts .
Read Also: What Happens If You Eat Canned Sardines Every Day!?
5. Save Money Grocery Shopping Online
Although buying locally always has benefits and your everyday market can hide some valuable offers and discounts, especially for new customers, so don’t discard online shopping.
While some things may be more expensive online, you can find incredible discounts on online grocery stores semi-regularly, so it is always rewarding to keep an eye on the sale and offers of the pantry or grocery items you need. Of course, only as long as you stick to your budget and meal plan.
If you are a frequent online shopper, you should also consider using grocery cash-back apps. They are applications or browse extensions that, upon installing, reward you with points or cash after purchasing groceries online. Ibotta and Rakuten are the most well-known ones, but there are plenty more worth checking out.
If combined with a solid meal plan and a detailed shopping list, using online rewards can significantly compensate you for your expenses in the long run.
6. Make The Best Out Of Coupons And Discounts
There is nothing embarrassing about making the best use available of coupons and discounts. In fact, many millionaires still do—and being so budget-friendly probably helps them remain that way!
Buying smart is essential for saving money, and you can cut your expenses a lot if you use discounts wisely. And keep in mind, wisely is the keyword here—there is no sense in buying something you don’t need just because it is discounted, right?
Take a look at the lowered prices of items you need for your meal plans and pantry restocking, and buy them if you need to. Or take advantage of discounts and plan your meals around the food you just acquired. The key is to guarantee you are not wasting more money by falling prey to FOMO marketing.
Likewise, take advantage of coupons as long as you don’t feel tempted to buy something you wouldn’t purchase otherwise. Online coupons are also just as effective, and a study in 2021 determined you can save up to $122 monthly by simply buying online coupons.
7. Buy In Bulk To Save Money
One of the best ways to take advantage of discounts and coupons is by buying in bulk. However, it requires careful planning to guarantee you save money instead of unconsciously increasing costs.
The first aspect to consider is that you should only buy bulk items that you absolutely need and quantities you know you will use. Pause for a moment and think—the fizzy drinks are very cheap, and buying them in bulk seems tempting, but do you really need them?
Likewise, consider investing money in a freezer if you’re really serious about saving money by buying in bulk. Yes, it will require a considerable initial expense, but it can be a huge money saver in the long run—you can stock up on any freezable goods when they go on sale and preserve them for months.
8. Cut Down On Food Waste
Did you know that odds are you’re throwing $1,800 worth of food into the trash every year? Even worse—most of it is probably entirely edible?
It turns out that 40% of the food you buy never gets eaten, which is a considerable amount of wasted food and money. A significant part of this waste is due to the confusion regarding expiration dates, making people throw away still perfectly edible food.
To prevent this, remember that expiration dates are guidelines, not absolute. Odds are that if the food looks and smells great, it is still edible, regardless of what the label says. Rely on your senses and common sense first and foremost.
Another way to prevent this rampant food waste is by enjoying your leftovers. If stored right away in the fridge or freezer, some meals can withstand a couple of days without posing any health risk.
To give you some ideas, check out these 11 Meals That Are Good Cold Leftovers To Eat The Following Day.
9. Grow Your Own Food
If you have a garden where you can grow edible plants, fruits, or other types of food, do so. The best way to save up significant amounts of money on groceries is by not requiring you to buy as much as you did before.
With some knowledge and a garden, you’ll be able to grow all sorts of herbs, fruits, and veggies. In no time, you won’t have any need to buy items like thyme, basil, bell peppers, potatoes, spinach, lettuce, carrots, mint, and more.
Relying on your gardening skills can save you a lot of money in the long term, and it requires minimal effort or investment. Food scraps can become compost to provide your crops with some nutrients, transforming your trash into more food.
So, Can You Really Cut Grocery Bill By 90 Percent?
It sounds surreal, but any household can drastically reduce its grocery expenses. However, there is not a single, unique magical solution, and it requires a combination of techniques, an initial investment, and single-minded focus and discipline.
Cutting back on non-essential expenses, dedicating time and effort to planning monthly meal schedules, investing in safe storage options, and carefully investigating coupons, sales, and deals are the perfect combination to reduce your expenses significantly.
Just remember—be consistent!
-  Wilkinson, Alissa (2021). The lie of “expired” food and the disastrous truth of America’s food waste problem. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/22559293/food-waste-expiration-label-best-before.
-  Rodriguez, Shayna (2020). $500.00 worth HUGE Stock up! Amish discount store- Weekly Grocery hauls with Shayna Rodriguez. Retrieved from YouTube channel MomLife at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0HQfzxeucs&ab_channel=MomLife.
-  Hennessy, Maggie (2014). Study: Canned produce more affordable, just as nutritious as fresh. Retrieved from https://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Article/2014/03/10/Study-Canned-produce-more-affordable-just-as-nutritious-as-fresh.