25 Ways To Save Money On Groceries [And Eat Well]

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: July 2, 2021

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Learning how to save money on groceries is a great way to live within your household budget.

Beyond that, with a few simple changes to your food shopping habits, you can free up additional money to fuel your savings or investments.

In this guide, we’ll show you 25 ways to save money on groceries without sacrificing the quality of your grocery list.

how to save money on groceries: 25 practical ways | Be The Budget

1. Create A Food Budget

The single most impactful way to save money on groceries is to have a budget.

After all, if you don’t set a monthly limit on your grocery spending, then there’s nothing stopping you from blowing your entire paycheck on food.

And honestly, when you sit down and review your monthly expenses, you might be surprised at how much you are actually spending on food.

So, at the beginning of every month, sit down and create a well-defined food budget. This is the first step you should take if you want to save money on groceries.

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2. Create A Weekly Meal Plan

Planning ahead can reduce your grocery budget by helping you avoid random or last-minute purchases. That’s why we highly recommend creating a weekly meal plan.

Therefore, at the start of each week, sit down and make a list of what you want to feed your family for lunch and dinner. Next, put all the ingredients into a shopping list and hit the store.

For best results, try to create a meal plan that uses recipes with similar ingredients. For example, try to cook several chicken dishes in the same week to save on meat purchases.

Oh, and don’t forget to also plan for snacks throughout the week, as even the cheapest of snacks can get expensive over the course of a month.

3. Use Grocery Pick Up Or Delivery

How many times have you placed an item in your grocery cart as an impulse purchase?

It happens to the best of us (That new flavor of Doritos was calling your name, right?).

Fortunately, there are plenty of options to avoid these unnecessary grocery expenses.

For instance, using curbside grocery pick-up or a delivery service can help ensure that you are only getting what you need. Since you won’t be walking through the aisles at the store, you’ll be less tempted to purchase items you don’t actually need.

Thus, you will save a ton of money on groceries.

Just watch the cost of delivery fees and tips for grocery delivery services. Trust me, they add up!

4. Buy In Bulk

Buying items in bulk from a club warehouse like Sam’s Club or Costco can save you a lot of money.

Just be mindful of the types of items that you are buying in bulk.

I mean, does anyone really need a 10-gallon vat of mayonnaise? I hope not!

To put it simply, if you don’t think you will use it before it spoils, you might want to avoid a bulk purchase.

However, for items like toilet paper, paper plates, bread, paper towels, cookies, or other items you’ll for sure use, buying in bulk can help you save money on groceries.

5. Make Extra And Eat Leftovers

Cooking large meals is a great way to get the most bang for your buck.

You can easily save the leftovers to eat at another time during the week, or even recycle your leftovers into another recipe.

For example, if you have chicken breast for dinner, you can save the leftover chicken to be used in a soup the following day.

6. Take Advantage Of Coupons And Cashback Apps

Sometimes, you need to go old school to save money.

Coupons are still just as useful and valuable as they were when you were a kid. And the best part is, you don’t have to be an extreme couponer to take advantage.

For those who prefer a modern approach, there are lots of apps and sites that make it easy to find coupons.

Rakuten, for example, is a great option that provides cashback for shopping at certain sites. The best thing about Rakuten is their Google Chrome extension that automatically looks for discounts as you shop online.

Another great option is Honey, which automatically searches for and applies coupons to your purchases. Seriously, if there’s a coupon out there that can help you save on a mobile grocery order, Honey will probably find it!

7. Buy Generic Brands    

At some point in our history, purchasing name brand products became a status symbol.

However, any wise person knows that what’s inside the package is rarely different (Oreo cookies are a strange exception).

So, whenever possible, save some money and buy the generic brand. Over the course of each year, this can easily add up to hundreds of dollars in savings.

8. Grow Your Own Produce

If you have a green thumb, you might consider growing your own produce.

Think about the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you use the most. You might be surprised how little space you need for a small garden. And the best part is, your produce will be fresh and nearly free.

9. Don’t Shop On An Empty Stomach

We’ve all heard the saying “never go shopping on an empty stomach”. But most people don’t realize how serious this can impact your grocery shopping budget.

I can’t tell you how many times I have blown our grocery budget all because I didn’t eat before I went to the store.

Seriously, even if you have to swing by a fast food joint, or devour a Chipotle burrito before you go grocery shopping, you’ll probably spend significantly less on groceries than you do on your pre-shopping meal.

10. Substitute Expensive Ingredients

Some ingredients can be replaced with cheaper alternatives that reduce your meal cost while maintaining the quality of the recipe.

For example, saffron is one of the most expensive spices on the planet. By mixing paprika and turmeric, you can get a similar flavor for a fraction of the price.

And lucky for you, there are dozens of different websites that provide examples of these types of cost-saving ingredient swaps.

11. Use Ingredients You Already Have

Before you put together your shopping list for the week, take a look at the items you already have in your pantry.

Instead of letting those go to waste, think about recipes and meals that you can plan that incorporate these ingredients.

The more items you use, the less you will have to spend at the grocery store.

12. Use A Smaller Shopping Cart Or Basket

Dieticians recommend that people who are trying to lose weight put their food on a smaller plate. This tactic helps reduce the amount of food that you can pile on your plate.

But I’m a firm believer that the same strategy can be applied to grocery shopping.

By using a smaller shopping cart or a handheld basket, you will be less likely to continue shopping once the cart or basket is full.

13. Freeze Food To Reduce Spoil

The downside of fresh produce is the short shelf life.

Fortunately, many grocery items can be frozen and kept fresh for several months.

Some of the best items to freeze include vegetables, meat, bread, nuts, cheese, beans, and dairy products (yes, even milk can be frozen).

This is especially helpful if you bought items in bulk but can’t use them in time.

14. Buy Nuts And Grains From Bulk Bins

Many grocery stores have bulk bins that allow customers to weigh out raw ingredients such as nuts, grains, baking ingredients, and coffee.

 Ingredients in these containers are typically cheaper and allow you to purchase only what you need.

15. Buy Dried Beans Instead Of Canned

If you eat a lot of beans, you can cut your cost by purchasing dried beans instead of canned beans.

Seriously, the cost savings is about 25 percent compared to canned beans.

Dried beans can be easily rehydrated by simmering in water for an hour or so.

You can also use this trick for other dried products such as dried mushrooms which are cheaper than fresh mushrooms.

25 simple ways to save money on groceries | Be The Budget

16. Avoid Bottled Water

Americans spend billions of dollars each year on bottled water.

What most people don’t realize is that they are usually purchasing nothing more than tap water that has been filtered by a beverage company.

By purchasing a pitcher with a filter, you can produce gallons of the same quality water for pennies on the dollar.

17. Check Unit Prices

Most products come in multiple sizes. And typically, the larger the container, the less the food costs per ounce or pound.

Why does this matter?

Well, most grocery stores list the unit price right on the shelf next to the price.

This is a helpful piece of information when comparing sizes or different brands.

However, don’t base your decision on unit price alone. Companies offer lower unit prices to trick consumers into purchasing more than they actually need.

Like buying in bulk, only buy the larger size if you know you will use it.

18. Trade Produce With Your Neighbors

Growing your own crops can save you a lot of money.

But what if you need a fruit or vegetable that you don’t grow?

A great way to solve this problem is to trade with friends, family, or neighbors that grow that crop.

For example, if you have an apple tree, you can trade apples for the tomatoes that your neighbor grows.

19. Ask The Butcher To Break Packages

What happens if you need two steaks for your anniversary dinner, but the meat at the grocery store comes in packs of four?

Most people assume that you have no choice but to buy the extra meat.

What they don’t realize is that most grocery stores will allow you to buy only what you want.

Simply take the package to the butcher and ask them to break the package.

In most cases, they will repackage and reprice with the smaller quantity at no charge.

20. Be Cautious Of Product Placement

Retailers know how to maximize profit from their stores by placing the most expensive products in the best places.

In grocery stores, the best placement is the shelves that are at eye level.

So, when looking for a product, look at the items that are on the top or bottom shelves.

That’s where you will likely find lower-priced brands of the same item.

21. Shop For Foods That Are In-Season

Supply and demand also impact food prices.

When certain produce is in-season, there will be a higher quantity available which drives down the price.

By adjusting your buying habits, you can both save money on groceries and not get bored eating the same fruits or vegetables over and over throughout the year.

22. Shop At Multiple Grocery Stores

If you always go to the same grocery store, you might be missing out on opportunities to save money.

For example, since grocery stores price goods differently, you might find that meat is cheaper at one store while fresh produce is cheaper at another.

So, before you head out on your next grocery shop, be sure to check your ingredient prices at multiple stores in your area.

Honestly, for my wife and I, this is one of our favorite strategies to save money on groceries.

23. Bring Reusable Shopping Bags

More and more states are starting to limit the use of plastic grocery bags.

Unfortunately, if you live in one of these areas, stores likely charge a small fee for each bag that you use. And these microcharges add up throughout the year.

To eliminate this cost, you can simply bring your own reusable grocery bags.

Not only is this a cheaper option, but reusable bags are more durable and typically hold more weight (which means fewer trips to unload the car).

24. Reduce Meat And Dairy Consumption

It’s no secret that meat and dairy products are usually the most expensive item on your shopping list.

Therefore, if you reduce your consumption of these types of items, you can save a ton of money on groceries.

25. Buy Day-Old Baked Goods

Most grocery stores and bakeries offer steep discounts on baked goods that were made the previous day. And honestly, you’ll find that in many cases the quality of the items is just as good.

Look for bread, donuts, bagels, and cinnamon rolls.

In some areas, there are entire bakeries or shops dedicated to selling day-old items.

Grocery Savings Don’t End Here

While we have discussed a lot of great ways to save money on groceries, the work doesn’t stop here.

The most important element to maintaining healthy finances is to monitor your expenditures and budget regularly.

Since food is an absolute requirement, don’t feel guilty if you occasionally overspend a little. Just adjust your budget and keep moving forward.

Ultimately, there more consistent you are, and the harder you work to reduce your grocery spending, the better off your finances will be!

So, how do you save money on groceries? Be sure to drop your money-saving strategies in the comments below!

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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