16 Tips for Military Families to Save Money on Groceries
Ways for Military Families to Save Money on Groceries
If you are working on your budget, your grocery bill might be one of the best ways to save some money. Here we outline ways for military families to save on groceries.
If you feel your grocery bills are high, maybe you ARE overspending. According to the USDA charts for August 2023, a family of 4 with kids between the ages of 6-8 and 9-11 should be spending the following on groceries per month:
- Thrifty Plan – $975 monthly ($225/week)
- Low-Cost Plan – $1,056 monthly ($244/week)
- Moderate-Cost Plan – $1,312 monthly ($303/week)
It should be noted that teenage boys will be the most costly to feed, much more than elementary school-aged children.
While these are just numbers, it can give you an idea of what you should be spending. However, if you are an E-4, your budget could look a little different than if you are an O-4, even if you have the same family size.
If you feel as if you are overspending at the grocery store, you probably are. Here are 16 grocery shopping tips to help military families save money on their grocery budget.
Shop the Commissary
If you are local to a military commissary, try to shop there when you can. You might want to price-check items in your area. Depending on where you are, the commissary may or may not be the best place to shop. If you can compare the costs, you will be able to figure out if shopping at the commissary at your duty station is saving you money.
Always Use Coupons
Don’t forget your coupons at home. Even using a handful of them can save you some money. You can get coupons online, in the weekly paper, and even in the mail. Also, check the social media pages from your favorite brands as they often give out coupons for specific items throughout the year.
Buying the generic version is great way for military families to save money on groceries. When generic versions are an option, and as long as the taste is similar and you enjoy the product, you should consider it. Often the generic will be $1 or more cheaper and you can’t even tell the difference. If you do prefer the name brand, make sure to shop the sales as that is when you can get the name brand for a similar or even cheaper price than the generic brands.
Eat Before You Shop
Make sure to go grocery shopping on a full stomach. The hungrier you are, the more you will want to buy, and the easier it will be for you to overspend at the grocery store.
Buying seasonally will save you some money when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Check on prices and what is in season and go from there.
Make a meal plan each week. Get in the habit of doing so and plan out everything you need to make those meals. This gives you more control over what you are eating and will cause you to eat more at home.
Make A List Before You Head to the Store
Always make a list of what you are going to buy ahead of time. You can do this using pen and paper or on an app. You can also keep a running list of things you need throughout the week and use that to make your list. While you are working on your list, you can price out everything which makes it easier to stick to your budget.
Plan For Kids
Plan for your kids if you are taking them to the store with you. They will probably ask for something so make sure to set up boundaries around that. You might let them know they can pick one extra thing but that is it or offer a reward for good behavior while at the store.
Don’t Pay For Convenience
Think about what you are buying for convenience. See if there is a cheaper way to do so. Compare your options and see if you can save money that way. A tub of pre-cut melon could be $5 while purchasing a melon you cut up yourself would only be $2.
Check the Discount Area
Check out the discount area in your grocery store. You might not find anything, but you also might find items on your list for a discount rate. They also might discount certain breads and meats that you can stock up on.
Use a Grocery Pick-up Service
These days, you can find grocery pick-up services at your local grocery stores. Walmart’s service is free and using the service will allow you to sit down on your computer and plan your trip. This will help you avoid adding extras you see while you are at the grocery store.
Use Grocery Apps
Using grocery apps can help you save some money or give you money back. Ibotta is one app that will allow you to earn cash back on specific items, and they also have a commissary option.
Use the Grocery Stores Rewards Program
Many grocery stores have a rewards program you can use. You can save money on specific products and use your reward points on gas and other items they might offer. You will be shopping there on a regular basis anyway, might as well be rewarded for it. The commissary even has a rewards card to use to save money.
Shop the Weekly Ads
Make sure to shop the weekly ads. Make your meal plan using them. Shop around what is on sale each week. You can pair coupons with sale items for even better savings.
Shop Once a Week and Make Due In-Between
Challenge yourself to only grocery shop once a week and make due in between. This can be difficult with fresh produce but do what you can. Even if you run to the store for one item, that can easily turn into an extra $100 in your grocery budget. If you know you have to go to the store mid-week, plan for that in your budget.
Stock Up and Buy in Bulk
Stocking up and buying in bulk can save you money if you do it right. Only do this with products you use a lot of. Don’t just buy bulk because you think it is a good deal. You might consider joining a club store such as Costco or Sam’s Club to get better prices on bulk items.
Always look for ways to save money at the grocery store. Your grocery budget is one part of your budget that can be more flexible and you can always work to lower your bill.
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About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.