If your refrigerator is overflowing, you can be pretty sure that you have a lot of stuff that will probably expire and end up in the trash can.
According to Feeding America, “An estimated 25 – 40% of food grown, processed and transported in the US will never be consumed.”
I think that sounds right!
Last year, Sarah and I were cleaning our refrigerator and realized that we were wasting a lot of food.
This is when we decided to do meal planning to reduce food wastage and save money – I also wrote a post on how to save $600 per year on groceries.
It is almost a year now and I wanted to share an update.
#1 Meal Planning
Over the past 10 months, what we realized is that meal planning provides the largest savings.
We have been able to cut our grocery spending by approximately ~$50 per month and also reduce the amount of food wastage significantly just by the simple act of meal planning.
Both Sarah and I enjoy cooking, we take turns, and meal planning is easy for us.
Do you struggle with meal planning? Do you find it boring?
If you do, then you might want to give $5 Meal Plan a try.
It is a meal planning service that makes meal planning as easy as possible.
You receive the meal plan with a grocery list every Friday by 11 AM eastern in your inbox.
You can sign up for a 14 day free trial period and after that it costs $5 per month. You can cancel the service anytime.
If you can save ~$25-$50 dollars a month by meal planning, I see no harm in giving this service a try.
I have heard a lot nice things about the $5 Meal Plan service. I have reviewed their sample meal plan and it looked good.
To be honest, I have not used their service.
Ibotta is a free cell phone app that helps you get cash back on purchases from several brands including store brands.
They have cash back offers from several merchants but we just use the app mainly for groceries.
You get cash back on items you buy on a weekly basis like milk, cheese, eggs, soda, fresh produce like tomatoes, bread, pasta, and much more.
If you use my referral link to sign up with Ibotta, you will receive $10.
To learn more about Ibotta, please read my Ibotta review.
Once you earn $20 cash back in Ibotta, you can withdraw it to your PayPal account or purchase a store gift card at Ibotta using the cash back dollars.
I usually withdraw the cash back via PayPal.
We have been using Ibotta for a year now and we love it.
We have earned a cash back of about $41.75.
#3 Walmart Savings Catcher
Walmart Savings Catcher is by far the simplest apps I have ever come across to save money.
You go to the Walmart and buy the things you normally buy.
After you checkout at the cash register, simply scan the receipt bar code or QR code using the Walmart Savings Catcher app.
Walmart looks at your receipt and compares the prices at which competitors nearby are selling what you just bought.
If Walmart finds a lower price from their competitor, they give you cash back.
The cash back can be redeemed as a Walmart electronic gift card that never expires or you can transfer the Walmart bucks to American Express Bluebird account.
There are no minimum cash back thresholds to redeem the savings.
In the past year, we have earned about $33.75 Walmart bucks.
SavingStar is a free cash back app you can use to save money on groceries.
You can link your store loyalty cards from big chains like CVS Pharmacy to your SavingStar app. This will help automate your savings.
To learn how it works, please read my SavingStar Review.
Here is what I like the most about it. You can withdraw cash back via PayPal as soon as your cash back balance crosses the $5 threshold.
I have been using this app sparingly over the past ~6 months.
We have saved about $17.23.
#5 Checkout 51
We started using Checkout 51 very recently. As a matter of fact, we have been using it for less than 30 days.
It is yet another cash back app.
Once you accumulate $20 in cash back savings, they will mail you a check.
The way it works is very similar to other grocery cash back savings apps.
So far, I have been able to save $7 in less than 30 days.
The Script – What Works For Us
If you are wondering, all this is crazy amount of work, it is not as difficult as you think it is.
Over the past year, through trial and error Sarah and I have narrowed down the most efficient way to do meal planning and also leverage the cash back apps to save on groceries.
The script that works at home for us takes about 30 minutes per week and it is well worth it.
#1 Meal Planning
We decide what we plan to eat on Saturday afternoon for the next week.
Based on that Sarah comes up with the grocery list and puts it on Wunderlist. You could use any app of your choice like Wunderlist or Evernote that syncs across mobile devices.
It takes about ~10-15 minutes for us to finish meal planning for the week.
#2 Check Apps for Coupons
I scan through grocery apps Ibotta, SavingStar, Checkout 51, and select / activate the coupons for items on our grocery list.
This takes about ~5-10 minutes.
#3 Purchase Grocery
Either we go together as a family or one of us goes depending on the weather and what is going on in the family.
This takes however long it takes depending on whatever things we tag along with it.
#4 Claim Cash Back
When we return home, the first thing I do is claim the grocery cash back using all the apps before putting the grocery away into the pantry or refrigerator.
This takes about ~5 minutes.
With grocery saving apps, we have saved a total of ~$100 ($99.73) over the past ~10-12 months.
In our case, here is the simple rule of thumb – meal planning has helped us save an average of $50 per month on groceries. Cash back apps have helped save an average of $7 to $10 per month.
If there is one thing you will ever do, I suggest that you start out with meal planning to prevent unnecessary spending on groceries and also reduce food wastage.
You will have more green left in your wallet at the end of the month.
What are your thoughts on meal planning? How do you save money on groceries and reduce food wastage at home?