Save money on groceries with these tips and tricks to spend less money at the grocery store plus a budget-friendly and healthy grocery list to kick start your quest for saving money while shopping for food!
Attention shoppers! Have you noticed some of the items you always buy at the grocery store have suddenly gone up in price? I have! A few weeks ago I noticed some of the veggies I always buy on a weekly basis were suddenly almost two dollars more and don’t even get me started on the price of chicken!
According to research firm IRI, food prices are estimated to rise an overall 5% in the first half of 2022, though the level of increases will depend on the grocer and location.
This means it’s more important than ever to be a conscious and informed shopper! My tips for saving money on groceries will hopefully help you spend less, have less food waste, and get a little creative in the kitchen to eat healthy and save money (win, win!).
How to Save Money on Food
I do believe it’s possible to eat healthy on a budget and with these simple strategies for shopping smarter I hope you are able to get the most bang out of your buck at the grocery store while still eating foods you love! And maybe even discovering some new foods in the process. Here are 20+ key things to pay attention to.
- Don’t go grocery shopping hungry.
- Make a grocery list before going shopping.
- Make a (rough) plan for meals for the week.
- Join your grocery store’s loyalty program & download your grocery store’s app.
- Use the salad bar for produce needed in small quantities.
- Look for sales.
- Go plant-based a few days a week.
- Consider shopping at a wholesale club.
- Buy frozen vs. fresh.
- Stock up when something is on sale.
- Consider growing your own (for things like herbs!).
- Keep your fridge and pantry clean & organized.
- Prep produce post grocery shopping.
- Get your groceries delivered.
- Plan for dining out & getting take out.
- Take notice of your eating habits to help your purchasing habits.
- Store produce correctly to ensure maximum freshness.
- Check prices at multiple grocery stores.
- Freeze items you think you won’t get too before they go bad.
- Choose produce that’s in season.
- Shop at your local farmers’ market or subscribe to a local produce box / CSA program.
- Opt for store brand items when possible.
- Shop during off times vs. peak times.
- Be a little flexible.
Now let’s talk about these money saving strategies at the grocery store, shall we?!
How to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy
1. Don’t go grocery shopping hungry.
Easy right?! Yet somehow we’ve all been there. Strolling the aisles nearly starving grabbing everything in sight that looks good! Oops, let’s course correct that. Aim to have a snack before grocery shopping or go after eating so that you’re not tempted to buy extra foods you may not actually need!
2. Make a grocery list before going shopping.
Another no-brainer yet sometimes it just doesn’t happen before going to the store which can result in over buying groceries or worse forgetting things you actually need and having to make another trip. Both scenarios can be avoided by spending a little bit of time figuring out what you already have at home and what you want to buy for future meals.
3. Make a (rough) plan for meals for the week.
Going grocery shopping with a game plan of what meals you’re going to make for the week is a great way to ensure you buy the right amount of food for what you need. Even a rough idea for meals for the week can go a long way to ensure you buy things you actually plan to eat. I’m definitely guilty of going without a game plan and coming home with too much produce that I simply won’t get to.
4. Join your grocery store’s loyalty program & download your grocery store’s app.
These days most grocery stores have a loyalty program or an app you can download to see what’s on sale and if there are any coupons you can “clip” within the app for greater savings. For example, I have a Target red card which gets me 5% off everything at Target including groceries. I also have the Jewel-Osco app which shows you special deals on certain products or brands that you otherwise might not have known about.
5. Shop the bulk section.
For things like nuts, grains and flours, shopping the bulk section of your grocery store can help you save on cost of goods and control the quantity you want, helping to avoid food waste. This is especially great when shopping for one.
6. Use the salad bar for produce needed in small quantities.
I discovered this trick with recipe testing/creation when I only need a small quantity of one ingredient. If it’s a vegetable that’s available at the salad bar and I don’t need a lot of it, I’ll grab it there. Not only is this faster because it’s usually already prepared, but it also helps prevent food waste and save money from buying a larger quantity of something I might not eat all of.
7. Look for sales.
Buying things on sale vs. full price is one of the first places to start when trying to save money. Be cognizant of what’s on sale when you’re going down the aisles to make your dollar go further. Consider crafting meals based on what you find on sale or stocking up on things when they’re on sale.
8. Go plant-based a few days a week.
Since prices of meat are at an all-time high, consider going plant-based for a couple nights a week. Not only is this good for your wallet, it’s also good for your health. Greater heart health, lower risk for diabetes, and increased longevity are just a few of the benefits of eating plant-based. I like that it helps add more fiber to your diet and encourages you to put more veggies on your plate and try things like grains and beans you might not have otherwise. Things like beans are incredibly versatile, nutritious, and less than a dollar!
9. Consider shopping at a wholesale club.
Clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club offer steeper discounts on groceries versus traditional grocery stores. This could be a great option if you’re buying groceries for a family.
10. Buy frozen vs. fresh.
Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh! Let me say it again for the people in the back — frozen is just as nutritious as fresh and cheaper! Spinach is a great example. Buying a big container of fresh spinach is more expensive and you run the risk of not being able to use it all before it goes bad. Frozen, on the other hand, can last in your freezer for months and you can use it in nearly all the same ways as fresh.
11. Stock up when something is on sale.
If you have a little extra cabinet and freezer space, it might be a good idea to buy extras of items when they’re on sale. However if you do buy extra of something because it’s on sale but don’t end up using it before it goes bad, you didn’t really save money — so be careful here! Pantry staples or things you can easily freeze are best for this scenario.
12. Consider growing your own (for things like herbs!).
I love adding a fresh pop of green herbs on top of almost every recipe but constantly find myself spending upwards of $3.99 for certain herbs every week. Now I grow my own and have them ready to pick anytime! Of course this does come with an upfront cost (I grow herbs & microgreens in my indoor Rise Garden). If you do have the luxury of a backyard, perhaps planting a few veggies/herbs in the summer can help cut down on your grocery bill at that time!
13. Keep your fridge and pantry clean & organized.
Knowing what you have in your fridge and pantry is a not-so-secret weapon in the quest for spending less at the grocery store! Being able to quickly take stock of what you already have on hand will prevent overbuying, and give you good inspiration for meals to make with some of the ingredients you already have. Shop your own fridge and pantry first before heading to the grocery store!
14. Prep produce post grocery shopping.
Instead of just putting your produce away in all of the little plastic bags from the store consider washing, chopping and transferring things to glass containers to help extend their shelf life and make it easy for you to grab when you want to use them. Having veggies prepped and ready to use increases the chances of you using it, which again helps prevent food waste and ensures you’re getting the most out of the groceries you bought.
15. Get your groceries delivered.
While you may have to pay a little extra to have the groceries delivered, not going into the grocery store might actually save you more money in the long run. If you always come home with extra food you might not need, consider online shopping for groceries where it’s much easier to stick to a list because you’re not tempted by looking at aisles of different products.
16. Plan for dining out & getting takeout.
Having an idea of when you’re going out to eat or ordering in will help you better determine how much food you actually need to buy for the week. Going grocery shopping at the beginning of the week only to eat out a majority of the nights obviously doesn’t help your wallets plus the food you have could go bad in that time frame.
17. Take notice of your eating habits to help your purchasing habits.
I’m not saying you have to write stuff down or create a system for keeping track, just simply survey your fridge and pantry to notice how much of the things you buy you actually eat. Are you always buying mixed greens for future salads that never happen? Nix that! Being conscious to utilize everything you’re buying can be a huge cost savings in the short and long run. If you need some inspiration for using up all the greens you bought be sure to check out this video on how to use up a big container of spinach!
18. Store produce correctly to ensure maximum freshness.
Nothing’s worse than noticing something you just bought is already going bad before you even had a chance to use it. Storing fruits, veggies, herbs, and proteins correctly is the easiest way to get the maximum life out of them. Plus cut down on food waste. Check out this video and this video for some of my favorite easy food storage hacks.
19. Check prices at multiple grocery stores.
If you live near multiple grocery stores it’s probably a good idea to compare prices for items you buy often. There could be substantial price differences on things like meat, produce and pantry goods across different stores.
20. Freeze items you think you won’t get too before they go bad.
Your freezer is definitely your friend when it comes to saving money at the grocery store, so use it! You can freeze nearly anything! If you’re not going to get to it in time or if you buy a little extra when it’s on sale, freeze it — just don’t forget it’s there!
21. Choose produce that’s in season.
Often times produce that’s in season is on sale. Eating seasonally is a great way to try new fruits and veggies which in turn is good for your health.
22. Shop at your local farmers’ market or subscribe to a local produce box / CSA program.
If possible, join a CSA program that gets you a box of seasonal produce each week or month at a lower cost. Shopping at a farmers’ market is also a great way to only buy what you need, plus you’re supporting local farms and getting fresher produce!
23. Opt for store-brand items when possible.
Generic store-brands are almost always cheaper than the name-brand. If there’s a product that you know is literally the same thing no matter what the brand is, or you just don’t have a strong preference for the name brand opt for the generic brand. A lot of name brand products sell their extra product to be used as the generic brand, so in some situations, it’s exactly the same product.
24. Shop during off times vs. peak times.
I don’t know about you, but I try to avoid grocery shopping on the weekend and Monday because I find that when the store is crowded I feel more rushed and frazzled which either ends up with me forgetting things I need and having to go back, or buying extra things I didn’t need to simply finish shopping and get out of there. If you can relate, plan to go shopping sometime in the middle of the week or in the middle of the day if you can.
25. Be a little flexible.
When trying to save as much money as possible on groceries being flexible can pay off. See what I did there?! 🙂 Rather than planning your meals and then going grocery shopping, you may want to see what’s on sale and plan your meals off of those items. This may require a little more creativity on your end but could be a great way to lower your grocery bill.
Peep this video to see some of the tips mentioned in action!
How to Save Money on Food
How to Save Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons
These days many retailers have apps that highlight certain products that are on sale and allow you to “clip” coupons in the app that can be applied to your bill at checkout. This is a great way to save money on groceries without using coupons. All of the tips listed above also don’t require clipping coupons to save money on groceries. They’re tactics that can definitely help you be a more conscious and informed grocery shopper from beginning to end.
Best Day to Go Grocery Shopping
Some retailers might run special deals or offer steeper discounts on certain days of the week. To find out what day that is, you might want to check their app or circler and plan to shop that day.
How to Grocery Shop for One
Many of the tips listed above apply also if you’re grocery shopping for one. I would say paying attention to which foods you actually eat and having a plan for meals for the week are two especially important tips when shopping for one to save money and prevent food waste.
If possible also try to shop the bulk section for smaller quantities of food and choose frozen produce when you can because it’s cheaper and lasts longer.
Budget Grocery List
Download my FREE budget-friendly (and healthy!) grocery list for inspiration on what to buy when being a price-conscious grocery shopper.
Click here to download my budget grocery list and if you’re a Trader Joe’s shopper, be sure to check out this post on all the best healthy items from Trader Joe’s!
Budget-Friendly (and nutritious!) Recipes:
- Pumpkin Chickpea Blondies [GF & DF]
- Mexican Cauliflower Rice [GF]
- Pumpkin White Bean Chicken Chili [GF]
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad [GF]
- Crunchy Chickpea & Lentil Tacos [GF & DF]
I would love it if you followed me @onceuponapumpkin for more tip, tricks & fun seasonal recipes! See you there!