10 Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store

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10 Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store

Feeding my family for $100 a month means coming up with some pretty creative ways to save money at the grocery store.  There are a ton of little ways to save a buck at the grocery store that can add up to BIG savings.

Even if you’re just looking to shave a little off of your monthly grocery budget, check out some of these cool money saving tips:

  1. Convenience costs.  Convenience foods, on average, costs way more than foods you have to prepare yourself.  Even whole food convenience costs extra.  A package of pre-cut carrots will cost you a lot more pound for pound than carrots you take home to peel and cut yourself.   The same applies for pre-cut fruit and pre-bagged salad.
  2. Make your own spice mixes.  If you keep your spice cupboard stocked with the basics {check out ways to save by purchasing these in bulk}, you can make pretty much any spice mix and save tons.
  3. Shop top and bottom shelves.  Grocery stores put all of there most expensive items at eye level.  Next time you’re shopping, compare prices on the top and bottom with those on the middle shelves.
  4. Shop weekly and look for discounts and markdowns on expensive items such as meat.  If you can menu plan on the fly, this can be a really great option.  Stores will mark down perfectly good food in order to ensure they get rid of it in a timely manner.
  5. Shop alone.  I know this is easier said than done, but if at all possible, leave the kiddos at home.  It’s easier to stick to a list and avoid junk and flashy packaging when their cute little faces aren’t staring up at you.
  6. I’m sure you’ve heard this, but don’t shop when you’re hungry or tired.  You’re more likely load up on dense carbohydrates you wouldn’t have if  you had been well-rested and full.
  7. While it is awesome to score a deal on an in-store markdown, make sure to have a list too.  It will keep you from throwing items in the cart “just in case” you were out at home, only to find you had plenty.
  8. Look at unit price {price per ounce, etc.}.  Sometimes the “family size” isn’t a better bargain.
  9. Don’t be afraid of generic or store brands.  Brand names come at a cost–someone has to pay the bill for advertising and packaging, and that someone is usually you.
  10. Shop produce in-season.  Out of season produce is typically much more expensive.  Plus, when you shop seasonally, each season change will bring the possibilities of new flavors.

How about YOU, how do you save at the grocery store?  What monthly budget do you aim for?

~Mavis

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Comments

  1. Dani Hale says:

    I shop the bulk spice section at my local Fred Meyer. You can save a lot by refilling your containers at home. It is by far the best place to get cat nip for my cat.

  2. The biggest thing I have done to save money is keep a food journal. It’s a small notebook that I write down the lowest price for an item and the store that I found it at. Then I always know what the best price is and can stock up when prices are truly at a low.

    It helps that I have a chest freezer to stock up on a lot of items and I’ve spent some time learning how best to preserve various staples (I know what freezes well and what doesn’t so I am better at stocking up without waste).

    oh and a note about unit pricing – I’ve found that some stores down here (central NC) change the unit across items so I have to be careful when comparing unit pricing. :(

  3. There are great tips. I also stock up when I see a great deal on meat or produce. Having a freezer and dehydrator helps to preserve the extra produce. I prep the veggies or fruit then freeze so am creating my own convience foods. I always look for mark downs in the meat section even if I am just running into a store to grab a single item. I’ve been able to score some great deals on organic meats by just always checking to see if anything has been marked down. Of course you have to budget so that when you see a great deal you can afford to take advantage of it. That might be a bit challenging for some. But being thrifty most of the time is what allow me to build in a bit of mad money so that you can take advantage when a great deal comes along.

  4. I keep a medium-sized notebook in my kitchen all the time. Every week, I turn the page and make my meal plan on the left page and my grocery list on the right page. I keep it in the kitchen (so I can reference it for that night’s meal because Lord knows I can’t remember anything from one day to the next). When I run out of something, I just turn the page and add it to the next week’s list.

    It helps in any number of ways – when I’m totally stumped for dinner ideas, I can turn back a few pages and see what we haven’t had in a while and I can also look back at old lists so when I’m in the store and can’t remember if we might be running out of, say, rice, I can see that I last bought rice 6 weeks ago so chances are good that we’re getting low.

    • I try to make one meat dish a week that has bones and turn that meal into a soup night later in the week.

    • I use my notebook for planning meals the same way but I never thought of flipping to the next page to record stuff that I need to buy more of! Great idea.

  5. April Myers says:

    If you do use a coupon, I usually find that it makes sense to use the coupon on the smallest allowable size item, especially if you have multiple coupons. For example, 50 cents off $1.50 vs. 50 cents of a $2.50 item, chances are the unit price will be significantly less when you get 1/3 off vs when you get 1/5 off. Not sure if that makes sense, but in the days when I could get my hands on multiple coupons, this saved me a lot of money.

  6. I am trying SO hard to get my grocery budget under $400 a month. There are 3 adults, a 13 yr old boy (who seems to NEVER be full) and a 6 yr old who only wants Ramen Noodles and bread (at least she’s cheap).
    I just recently found out that one of my local grocery stores have discounted eggs. They take the “good” eggs from the broken egg carton into a new carton with other eggs. Instead of paying $1.69 for a dozen eggs, I can get them for $.79!
    I always check the produce department, even if I’m not buying produce. If there is something marked down, I usually buy it, the freeze it when I get home. That has saved me a few dollars.

  7. I save all the little dibbles and dabbles of leftover veggies in a container in the freezer, then when it is full, it is a good basis for vegetable soup.
    I try to get multiple meals from a roast or whole chicken. ie: roast w/ veggies, then bbq or hash and mayber even enough left for taco filler or stir-fry. ie: chicken—roast whole then into a pot pie or stir fry or quesidillas….a little meat can go a long way.
    I menu plan but am flexible. If things are on sale but I can barter something and don’t need it, I buy it and add it to the pantry for when I do. We grow most of our vegetables and some fruit…so throughout the year we are watching for deals on canning and freezing supplies and gardening supplies.
    I make my own bread crumbs from the ends of a loaf of bread. We have planned overs and never feel that a meal is leftovers.
    Share extra crop food with neighbors when we have extra and they do the same with us. Seems during growing season someone always has something good to add to the menu.

  8. Holly@abundantlyfed says:

    There is a #11 that I can’t seem to ever remember. It is: Do not go grocery shopping right after reading a specialty cookbook. Oh, man! Do I end up with odd items in my cart that a few days later I look at and think “what the heck am I supposed to be doing with THAT?!?” :) And by that time, of course, the cookbook I had been reading has already been returned to the library.

  9. Marianne says:

    I am also attempting to cut our food budget. We have a family of 5 and spend $400/month on food. I, also, keep a medium-sized notebook in my kitchen all the time. Whenever I run out of items, I jot it down on the list. I also write a weekly menu at the bottom of the page to help with my grocery list. I menu plan but am flexible. I have to be – sometimes I forget to defrost the meat in time so I end up making soup or tacos from leftovers. I use coupons as much as possible. However, I am not an extreme couponer. I have read books and attempted extreme couponing but have not grasped the concept, yet. I make my own bread crumbs from stale bread, make my own diswasher powder and laundry detergent. Clothes and dishes come out clean!

  10. #12~ Don’t go shopping at all. See if you can make a meal or two out of your pantry/freezer. The best way to save money is to not tempt yourself at the grocery store.
    I always forget to scrounge around in my cupboards. Or maybe grandma will invite you all over for dinner? Score!

  11. Shop your freezer and pantry first – I get more menu ideas that way! Hmmm, what could I use those pinto beans in??

    DON’T waste anything – throw left over veggies into a frittata, burrito or fried rice, etc.

    Make your own dressings – delicious, easy and much cheaper!

    Eat less meat – use it as a flavoring, not the main item- Americans aren’t protein deficient.

  12. Great Ideas thank you. I know someone already mentioned the dollar store, I want to again say..I shop the 99Cent store on certain days early in the morning, from 8:30a to 10:00a. I asked the clerks what day and time the trucks come. Which I now know, all the good stuff which is named brand good ideas that I would easily pay $2-$5 for, I get for 99Cents. To the point where I wont buy an item unless I get it for $99c. and many times I stock up, Items like , Yogurts, cream cheese, olives, ice tea drinks, the good stuff, not the sugary stuff, veggies- yes even organic.

    take the time to get to know your neighborhood 99c store if you have one, and you will see you can save so much!!

  13. Donna Westbrook says:

    I coupon, and am a member of a coupon exchange to get multiples of things we use a great deal of. I stock 3-6 months of items we use regularly. I root lettuce stumps. I buy rice and spices at the ethnic food store in large quantities. I freeze bread heals use them for stuffing, bread pudding, toast and crush for crumb toppings, breading for meat, or to add to ground meat in meatballs or meatloaf. I use left over rice the same way… if we don’t eat in a day or two, it goes on a cookie sheet and into the freezer. When frozen, I throw into a Zip freezer bag….add as a meal stretcher to burritos, frittata, meatballs or loaves, or make rice pudding. Bits of meat or veg go into quesadillas, nachos, quiche, omelets, stir fries, soups, sandwiches, soups, or the freezer. When I get onions or peppers for a good price I chop and freeze or dehydrate so they are ready to toss into, well, everything. I skip at least one grocery shop a month, planning meals from older items in the freezer or from my shelf stock.

  14. I’m a huge fan of store brands. I used to just assume that they wouldn’t taste as good but there are very few varieties that I don’t like. And the store brand over the counter medicines are a great savings too!

  15. A friend and I routinely get organic products (especially milk, tofu, veggies, meat, chicken, eggs) at drastically reduced mark-downs just because we ask. We keep track of when the milk will go out of date, we know from our grocery store friends when they can mark it down and we ask them to, with a specific price mentioned. We’ve built relationships with our friends at our local store and they give us much better mark-downs than the normal “manager’s specials.” We both have freezers and freeze milk (I used to do it in Africa all the time but had to convince my friend it would work). One day I got close to $50 of organic milk for under $10! We also buy locally from farmers whenever possible and spend about $20 a week on produce in the summer (my husband is a vegetarian, so that’s a lot of veggies too!) and get to know fabulous farmers in our area.

  16. How do you save when you live in a town that only has one grocery store and you have to go 50 miles one way to get to a larger city???And you are on a fixed income. Any suggestions??

  17. Susan, I would drive the 50 miles but I would only do it once a month (or less). Buy enough canned and dry goods to last you through the month so that you only need to shop at your more expensive local store for things like fresh produce and milk.

  18. I only shop the perimeter, produce, dairy, meat. Due to a health condition we cannot eat anything in a bag, can, jar, box etc. This means more work in the kitchen but less expense. I buy pasta, rice, and beans in bulk, and only buy meat once a year. I make my own bread, grow all the veggies we eat year round, grow nearly all our fresh herbs and a few fruits too. I only go the the grocery store once a month which really cuts down on impulse buys. I never use coupons, and only spend only $25 a week for a family of 2 adults.

  19. Wow. Y’all are smart! I am loving these comments! The only idea I have not seen yet is cereal crumbs. I pour that cereal dust when it’s all done into a Baggie. Then for a snack I chop up a banana a roll it in those crumbs. The kids love it.

  20. Thanks for the ideas!! I definitely need some help in this department, I spend $100/week on myself and boyfriend and sometimes for than that! We mainly buy lots of produce, one or two meat products, rice, eggs, coffee, and creamer. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  21. Since we stopped eating anything processed we’re doing surprisingly better with budget. I had always assumed I was getting a great deal with boxed meals for $1 or $2 per meal. I started this last summer with a small garden and plan to plant more this year – Mavis I’m jealous of the size of your yard, haha!

    I highly recommend the price book, I use a pantry app and track it there so if I’m in a store and see what i think is a deal I can look and know its a deal – buy all the things! It also lets me keep track of how much I have so I don’t buy more than I can reasonably use. I get couponing and stocking up but if it expires before you use it its not a deal.

    If you’re diligent and track specials every week you’ll start to see trends when things go on sale so if you LOVE pork roasts you know when its most likely to on special so you can stock up. Your weekly budget will be more that week but if you’ve been planning for that sale you’re ready for it and it won’t break the bank

  22. When I shop, I *always* have a calculator, pen and paper with me. As someone else noted, stores like to change the unit pricing on the shelf labels to make it more difficult to compare sizes or like items, or sale items, since the unit price is rarely listed on the sale sign. Sometimes a sale isn’t really a sale.

    Learn the sale cycle for the items you buy the most often, then when it goes on sale, buy enough to last until the next time it will go on sale, if it makes sense to do. Or at least buy several extra of it and try to build a stockpile so you aren’t always paying full price.

    As much as possible, make or grow your own.

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