Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
If you are not in the store, you cannot spend money, you can't fall prey to slick marketing and "buy more, save more" types of incentives. With the exception of baby items (formula, diapers) I have found that the once a week schedule works just fine. If we run out of milk or eggs, I just become more creative by using other stuff and patiently wait until "shopping day".
Now I am taking a huge step forward. I sat down one day and looked at the calendar. I realized that if I go grocery shopping on certain days, I will not spend much time in the store. For me it's Mondays. I work late on Monday and just want to get home as soon as possible.
If my "once a week" shopping trip will take place on Monday after work, I will speed in and out of the grocery store and follow my list. No more meandering down each aisle. I tried it this week and only spent $32. Compared to more than twice that the prior weeks.
Try it; it works great. Requires discipline and creativity (substituting ingredients or postponing certain recipes until shopping day).
By Bella Swan from Forks, WA
To keep my groceries organized so I know what I have and don't have, I have been doing the following:
I designated certain rows or shelves in cabinets or even the freezer for distinct items, like the soup, vegetable, or canned fruit row, meat drawer in the freezer or the quick meal shelf.
I create a list of what potential meals I already have in the house and distinguish lunch or dinner meals so any of us can check it quickly know what's available and what we have to make a meal.
Example of list:
Lunch- peanut butter, tuna, soups, grilled cheese, ravioli, veggie burgers, ramen noodles, lunch meat/burritos.
Dinner- 6 hamburger patties, 8 drumsticks, 2 lbs. ground beef, turkey breast, pizza dough, and 2 lb. ham
This helps me to rotate my foods and not let something sit in the freezer while I continue to purchase meals.
I have been a very frugal person most of my adult life. I shop at the Dollar Tree, Grocery Outlet and the 99 cent Store. I buy produce and make the best garden salads from the 99 cent store. I use the Dole spring mix, Roma tomatoes, mushroom, cucumbers and shredded carrots; beautiful garden salad!
For spaghetti I use four cans of traditional spaghetti sauce from the Dollar Tree. I use green bell peppers, red bell peppers, garlic and onion and one cup of sweet red wine that I purchase from Grocery outlet. It turns out awesome. To top it off, I purchase four loaves of garlic bread from the Dollar Tree.
I have prepared so many wonderful dishes from the above stores. It's amazing and my guest are always pleased.
By Anastasia from Berkeley, California
Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml
I tend to do my shopping in bulk, except for milk and fresh fruits. I feel I save more money this way. I make my list, attach the weekly ad and coupons to it and go.
Recently I went shopping with a friend who shopped similar to how I shop, only she made 2 major mistakes. First, she "got hungry" while we were shopping and spent $12 on lunch. Then, because we bought a van full, it would "take too long to unload to fix dinner", so she stopped and bought pizza to take home, another $32. Basically, what she saved shopping, she spent in convenience foods, so she really didn't save!
I eat before I shop, and on the days I buy big (I shop big at Aldi every 8 weeks), I fix supper ahead of time and have it waiting in the crock pot. That way, after I shop for 90 minutes and spend another 50 minutes putting it away, we can sit down and eat.
So, my tip is to eat before you shop and plan your supper ahead of time and have it waiting!
By mom-from-missouri from NW MO
Editor's Note: Do you have any other tips for avoiding unnecessary expenses when you go grocery shopping? Post them here.
By one.of.a.kind from AL
I've recently learned to use Recipe-By-Ingredient websites, which help you cook something up with what you've already got in your kitchen or make good use of items on sale.
I saved grocery receipts for 1 month, then created a spread sheet with the prices of the items I buy frequently. I continue to add to it each time I shop.
I grow my own vegetables in the summer and freeze them, I cook from scratch, and I go every 2-3 weeks to buy groceries. I go to generic stores and stock up on meat.
Good and easy ways to save money at the grocery store.
At most supermarkets, using reusable bags can earn you 5 cents per bag. With 4 bags, that's a 20 cent savings each time you shop. If you shop once a week and use 4 bags, that works out to about $12 per year.
I usually have my grocery list and check off items as I put them in my basket. Instead of a calculator, I just put a slash mark on my grocery list, for the price of the item, rounded out to the dollar.
Some of our grocery stores have a gourmet food section in their deli. This is a great place to pick up some things that you normally wouldn't be able to afford
When shopping for groceries and household supplies, having a well organized list is one of the best money savers (and time savers) that we've tried.
Through the years, I've read at least one hundred different articles with tips and tricks on how to cut your grocery bill. With a large family, I've followed most of the advice at one time or another.
If you are paid weekly, shop every 8 days instead of every 7. Every seventh week, you will have twice as much available to spend.
Remember to shop at grocery stores after the holidays. They will sell the seasonal foods for cheap. -- breads, cakes, cookies, meats, etc. (and of course seasonal candy.)
Watch the store sales and take the time to cut your coupons. I usually save between $30-40 each trip to the grocery store. It is worth the time.
Here in the Great White North life is not always easier. But one area that helps out is the scanner "code". When I go grocery shopping - I check every receipt - every time.
The number one way I save money on my groceries is menu planning. I write out what we will have for dinner the whole week, make up the grocery list, and add to it any necessity items such as toilet paper, detergent, etc.
Buy cranberries early in the season and put them straight into the freezer. The closer you get to the holidays the more expensive they get. Frozen cranberries can be used just like fresh in all recipes. By Linda
Do not overlook the value of using stores that match their competitor's ads. This is seldom advertised so you have to ask. Because I live in a rural area it is not always practical nor do I have the time to do extreme couponing.
I've found that when grocery shopping, it pays to check the price per ounce. Sometimes a sale item isn't the cheapest product. Kids love to help with grocery shopping. While shopping, asking them to compare prices and price(s) per ounce for various foods.
Do your grocery shopping a day later each week, Monday one week, Tuesday the next etc. You save a week's grocery bill every seven weeks. Eat before you shop. If you are hungry, you will be tempted to buy items you don't need.
Keep a small list of what you pay for items that you buy often. Then, when you're at another grocery/department store, you'll know if their special is really a special.
This is a guide about advice for stretching grocery budget. When living on a budget, you are probably trying to reduce expenses in many areas of your budget.
This is a guide about dealing with mistakes at the cash register. Mistakes happen and the easiest time to correct them when shopping is while you are still in the store, either at the register or service desk.
This is a fun (and scary) experiment. Take your typical weekly sale paper for a grocery store or retail store. Choose one page and add up the $ cost for every item on ONE page (things on sale).
Before heading out to shop, make a list. Put a list of items you want, plus the sale price and any coupons you have. Total the costs before leaving the house and only bring that much money.
Check with your grocer from time to time to see about any greatly reduced meats or fruits that he'd be getting rid of. You could put those fruits to good use making batches of homemade jams, jellies, preserves ...
Take advantage of a store's "loss leaders." These are sale items the store is selling at such a low cost they may even be losing money on them. These items are priced so low to get you into the store, with the hope that you will keep shopping for regularly priced items.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
It seems like our grocery bill (family of 2) is growing out of control. We shop off a list and get only what is needed, generic mostly, and also split our time between the surplus store, farm market, discount stores and our regular grocery. We've also gotten into a great habit of eating our leftovers and not wasting. However, it all adds up at the check out line!
Do any of you have a suggestion for looking at this problem differently? Right now we look at the receipts and spend the time justifying why each item was needed. We need a way to take down the total costs, but need a flexible budget in case legitimate "needs" do pop up. Does anyone have a budget that works like this?
Kelly from NH
I love going to the grocery store, just wish someone else would want to pay for it!! Isn't it getting outrageous??
I, like you, go to surplus stores, Dollar General, Save-A-Lot, and the local flea market and farmer's market.
Used to be able to rough figure how much you would spend before you left the house, but not anymore.
Do you use coupon's at all? Our grocery store here, once in a while, will triple the mfg. coupons. We also have sometimes, a special in the meat dep't. where you get a big brown bag, and all of the meat that you put in it will be like 10-20% off at the register.
I generally buy a lot for like 2 weeks in a row, then I'm pretty well set for about the next month, with the exception of milk, bread, etc.
There are 4 of us here (soon to be 5) and just my husband works, but his work (factory) is very unsteady. I work private-duty caregiver just 2 days a week, 4 hrs. each day. Then my son and his girlfriend live with us and they are expecting in October.
I have a family of 5, and have learned a lot of strategies over the years. Probably the one that is most helpful in regard to groceries is making a lot of casseroles, and ground beef recipes. I also try to have eggs or omelets one night on the weekend. Not only is that easy to make and nutritious, but it's much less costly than meat. The added advantage of casseroles is that you can freeze the leftovers and have an easy supper ready some night in the future.
Kelly, are you near a Trader Joe's in New Hampshire? I know that there are some in the Boston area. They have some very good deals, especially on produce. I also like to buy meats, cheese and canned goods at Costco and plan ahead. This is only a good deal if you get stuff you would buy anyways and avoid the frozen convenience foods and snacky stuff. I usually get home and prep meals: cut meat up for meals and freeze them, freeze cheese in usable packets (I get shredded as it is even cheaper than the big block), etc.
I also try to cut up and freeze any veggies that I get but don't have time to use them up before they go bad. I usually make up stir fry veggie packets and ones ready for soup. I also freeze leftovers if I don't think I can get the family to use them while they are still good.
There are a lot of great tips on this site as food and the grocery budget are a favorite discussion topic. Keep it up and good luck.
maybe several of you could go into together and buy from sams in bulk?
sometimes its cheaper there sometimes not
worth thinking about
It sounds like you may already be doing a lot of things to keep your bill down. You didn't mention if you cook from scratch a lot, so that may be something to try. You can even make bisquik and creamofwhatever soup from scratch.
Are there other areas in your budget that you could cut back on instead? My husband and I spend about $250 per month on groceries for the two of us here in TN and we don't feel guilty about over spending or feel deprived. I used to focus on buying what was on sale and then I realized we weren't eating a lot of fresh veggies and fruit so I started buying that, sale or no sale, and our food bill went up a little, but it's healthy, so I don't feel bad about it, but when the food bill went up I did look for other areas to cut back on.
So, I guess my belief is that if cutting back on food expenses means cutting back on nutrition, it's not a good idea. Good nutrition is worth the money. Like, some people on here talk about eating mac and cheese for dinner every night to save money, and that just sounds like a bad idea from a health standpoint.
As long as you are eating healthy, non-processed foods and not tossing out lots of leftovers, you're probably doing just fine in the grocery department, in my opinion.
ive always had the same problem. my cabinets are full, my freezers are overflowing, yet i was still spending oodles at the check out. then i learned to make a menu. i have a months worth of menus on my icebox, recipes starting with what i already had on hand. then i look to see what else i need to finish those recipes and make a list. as long as i stick to my list, i should only spend $50 for this week, as opposed to the $150 i usually spend.
You didn't say if you buy convenient-type meals instead of making meals from scratch, but that is one area that really adds up fast. Do you eat out at lunch time or take your lunch? Do you make large quantities? If it is easier to make a large amount, make sure you are freezing part of it so that you don't get tired of the leftovers before they are gone! That also gives you a meal that is already made and paid for to enjoy later! Hope some of these ideas help.
You don't say how much you spend every month, so it's hard to guess, but a couple of ideas you might try are, 1) have a baking day. Bake your bread, treats, etc and freeze what you will be eating next week. 2) when you make out menus, do you see what's already on hand first, and plan to use it up first? 3) When a good coupon comes out, save it until the item goes on sale. 4) Do you own your own place? Can you plant some fruit trees, garden, etc? I know it sounds like work, but there's nothing quite like looking at those shelves of preserved food and knowing you don't have to go buy that stuff. Dried fruit is really easy to do. We dry tomatoes, too. I wish you the best of luck!
my husband and i are both disabled, i just recently lost the use of my right hand and arm up to the elbow, dh is diabetic, back problems, and has had one kidney removed for cancer. i have 4 crock pots, and have to use them often. do you have a scratch or dent grocery, save a lot,or other outlet near you? with the price of gas now, i'm not sure going for the sale items makes as much sense as it used too either. we eat alot of dried beans, peas, fresh veggies. a staple in my home seems to be tomatoes, which i can get the large cans for 4/$1.00, paste 10/$1.00. we eat also a lot of one pot meals. cook a double batch at once and save on electricity, plus have an extra meal when you don't feel like cooking! guess i am lucky, dh would eat a rock if it is cooked and what we consider clean foods, which is our preference.
i am thinking about cooking in bulk on the days i fell up to it and then avoiding the stress when we both feel so tired.
you didn't say if paper products and cleaning products are included in you food bill, if so, check out the dollar stores or the everything's a dollar stores. i use the spray foam bathroom cleaner to clean alot of things, including my oven, also a product called alsome which is great, both for only a dollar each. also recenty bought some microfiber cloths that you wash and resuse, sure cut down on paper towels.
good luck with all the wonderful info you have been given to your request.
This is a difficult question to answer, since it varies greatly depending on where you live and what you eat. Groceries always seem to be the one place we try to save on. And it gets so frustrating, because sometimes no matter how much you save, it never seems to be enough.
We have no stores that double or triple coupons, so I rarely use them. I find it cheaper to buy generic/store brands too. But I still clip and save coupons, since you never know when you'll come across a great deal. Do you use a price book? If not start making one right now (instructions are all over the net). It's amazing how you think you're getting a good deal when you're really not. It's so easy to say that it's only a few cents, but it really does add up fast. Are you able to stock pile? Find places in your home to store food. I have wooden crates under my bed that hold spaghetti sauce, jelly, Mayo, and other things I got great buys on. Don't say that there's no extra money to do this--you can start small. Just make sure you buy things that you'll eat. I also buy marked down meats and immediately rewrap and freeze. If you have a place for a freezer, this alone can save you a bundle. Do you have a place for a garden, a flower bed that can hold a couple of vegetable plants (a trellis works great for cucumbers), buckets for container gardening, a flower pot for herbs, etc? Even if this is just to eat fresh, it can save on the grocery bill. There is an initial investment, but you'll use most of the stuff from year-to-year. If you are able to freeze and can, you can save even more. Time is no excuse. I am disabled, have worked 10 hour days while tending to my kids (we have no family to help) kept a garden, and canned and froze veggies and fruits. It can be exhausting, but you must set priorities. Never say it's not much, every little bit helps--after Thanksgiving, I often buy pumpkins at the store for .50 to can, so we can have homemade pies, breads, cookies, and desserts. Make everything you can from scratch; never buy processed items. This includes salad dressings, spice mixes, breadcrumbs, laundry soap, cookies, anything you can think of. We routinely try new and cheap recipes, especially ones that can be made with leftovers, like homemade chicken and dumplings--never buy chicken just for a recipe like this! Eat a chicken and save the carcass. Later, cook the chicken carcass, pick off the meat, use the stock, make homemade dumplings and throw veggies in, even leftover ones. It's turned into a family favorite here. Buy marked down things like bananas that are a lot cheaper to make banana breads (freezes beautifully to eat later), banana cakes, banana smoothies, banana cream pie, banana puddings, etc. Buy things in bulk, but make sure you have a place to store the food so it won't go bad, get bugs etc. Do not spend hard-earned money on extras that are nonessentials: pop, candy bars, cookies, minute rice (cook your own), cold cereal (eat oatmeal, kasha, farine, etc.), bottled juices (concentrates are cheaper), oil changes for autos (change your own), expensive cleaners (make your own), microwave popcorn, chips, etc. I have a rule: I will NEVER pay full price for "junk" when I do buy it-- buy candy after holidays (50% off) to use in future baking (M&Ms, candy sprinkles, Hershey kisses, marshmallows, etc). If you have an Aldis relatively close, shop there. Ours is an hours drive away, so I only go once every couple of months or so and stock up. I usually combine this trip with other errands (Big Lots, Sam's Club, health food store, etc.). Have you tried the Angel Food Ministries in your area? They really help us, but where my parents live, they can buy stuff cheaper at the stores watching sales.
With the constantly rising prices of groceries, it's especially hard to see savings, but don't get discouraged. Implementing strategies one-at-a-time will soon become second nature, and soon you'll see your grocery spending staying the same and even dropping. Or like me, you'll say, wow I remember fifteen years ago that I used to spend XXX dollars per week on groceries when we don't spend anywhere near that now! Good luck.
Since the New Year is only a couple of days away, I need help saving money and really becoming frugal, especially when it comes to food shopping. Any ideas? I am only shopping for one, but money is really tight!
By Lynda from Kearny, NJ
Does anyone have suggestions for ways to save money these days? I am particularly interested regarding things like, food, pet products, lotions (dry skin in winter)?
By Drew from Piedmont, AL
I am rather aggressive when looking for prices and shop online often. But how does one save money on food? I don't mean Costco, I mean really save. Food is so expensive now.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
Know the price per ounce of all food and cleaning supplies that you purchase. Example: vegetables 4 cents per ounce, meat 10 cents per ounce or pine oil cleaner 2 cents per ounce. This will prevent financial mistakes like paying $1.49 for a 20 ounce bottle of soda pop (7 1/2 cents per ounce) when you could have drank home made instant tea mix (2 cents per ounce) Home brewed tea would have been even cheaper 1 cent for 8 ounces.
I am not telling you to keep a list of every food price but to know what you are paying for each category of food and to put a limit on the price per ounce that you are willing to pay. Canned peaches were $1.29 for a 29 ounce can and bananas were $0.39 per pound. I bought bananas because they were 2 cents per ounce and the canned peaches were 4 cents per ounce.
When you know price per ounce, the savings are automatic.
By Native Okie from Tulsa, OK
I've done this since I had my kids, my mum did it as well. It gets to be automatic doesn't it? Best of luck.
Great idea!. I never thought of doing it this way. I just keep a list of the regular price of things I buy regularly, then I know if the sale price is really good or not. I'm going to try your way.
It is a good idea to check the prices per weight. I was at Wal-Mart recently and had been buying the gallon-size Minute Maid orange juice for $6.12. Imagine my surprise when I added up what two half-gallons of the same orange juice cost - $2.28 each - much cheaper than the $6.12. Plus the half-gallons are in cardboard containers while the gallon-size was in plastic. Another benefit is that one of the half-gallon boxes stays sealed, therefore fresher, while using the other half-gallon box. (11/28/2009)
I didn't always take time to calculate price per ounce. I was really glad when stores began voluntarily includint that info on price tags and such. My variation of your tip was that I'd compare unit prices. One can of soda was $0.50, whereas buying a case made the unit price half that. Bad example, I know, since I don't even drink much soda anymore.
Okay, here's another example: For a large family, we'd have spent two or three times the money on dry cereal if I hadn't checked unit price. And I rarely bought pre-sweetened. Easier and cheaper to add your own, and you control the amount of sugar added. (11/28/2009)
Would like to know some tips on saving while buying grocery. Also I am a vegetarian so any special tips on buying grocery for vegetarians?
Little Princess from Brampton
Don't think that you have to buy fresh. Always compare the prices between fresh, frozen, and canned. Also, don't be afraid to try store brands; often they are made by the same manufacturers who make the name brand products, and are of comprable quality.
Often the grocery store will have a shelf or other area with produce that is still good but getting ready to go soft or be too ripe, if you are ready to use them that day or put them in the freezer right away, they are perfectlly good.
And as far as your canned goods, try shopping at discount stores such as Dollar Tree or Dollar General -- great prices on non-perishable items, and some perishable too.
Try bakery outlets (Merita, Flower, etc.) for your baked goods. Not just bread, but also cakes, cerals, even lots of other items that you wouldn't think of as being in a bakery -- pickles, jams and jellies, popsicles...
Good luck, and happy bargain hunting! (01/29/2009)
There are so many ways to save on groceries. First of all, frozen can be fresher than even "fresh" frozen fruits and veggies are picked at ripeness, and flash frozen right away,thereby making them fresher. and brands will offer coupons, and sales for their frozen products. Also watch your local Walgreens and CVS stores, they offer extra rewards every week. Their sale items are very reasonable when churning your reward bucks. I very seldom pay more than 50 cents now for Ragu pasta sauce, Skippy and Jif peanut butter, Progresso soup, Campbells soups fiber bars etc.
Most grocery stores double coupons. Wait for their sales to use coupons, just be savvy with what your local stores offer. Use coupons, and you will be surprised at the amount of money you can save. I recently purchased 20 jars (yes) of Taco Bell salsa at our local Meijer for 35 cents a jar and Miracle Whip for 1 dollar a jar. Stock up when on sale. Grocery stores have websites that offer extra coupons savings, etc. (01/30/2009)
Shop with the seasons. Seasonal fruits and veggies are often cheaper than frozen. Out of season fresh fruits and veggies will destroy your budget. (07/02/2009)