Tips to Save Money on Groceries

  Jul 11, 2016  |  #meal prep

Hello, friends!

It’s been quite the whirlwind of a week/weekend. We closed on our house on Friday, signed all the papers, and officially got the keys. We’re having some of the rooms painted now and planning on officially moving in this week. Aside from moving a few boxes and doing my long run for the week, most of my nights looked like this:


I have so many recipe ideas in my brain right now, so bear with me! I can’t wait to put some of them into action in the new kitchen, and show you all pictures. I’m excited to fill the new fridge and cabinets with good food and drink, and I will definitely be following some of these tips for that big grocery store visit.

How To Save Money at the Grocery Store:

Save Money On Groceries


Don’t go hungry (aka hangry)

Everyone has heard this one, right? If I go after a run, it’s pretty probably that I’m going to come home with gallons of ice cream, boxes of cereal, and many other foods I don’t necessarily need or aren’t on the grocery list for the week. Let your mind guide your grocery shopping, not your stomach.

Make a list and stick to it

Sometimes I’ll use a written list, sometimes I’ll put it on notepad in my phone. Either way, if I don’t have something to go by, I’m bound to forget something or buy ingredients that I didn’t plan on using for the week and I hateeee food waste!

Here’s an example of my typical list. Most of these are staples; some of the other ingredients change weekly depending on what I want to make.


Plan Ahead

I tell my clients that planning ahead has multiple purposes and benefits. Firstly, it prevents food waste because you have pre-thought about what ingredients you want to have and use for the week. Secondly, it prevents the need to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work 4 days a week trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Thirdly, it allows you to cook or bake in bulk to have foods for lunches, dinners or whatever suits your lifestyle. I got these cute little lists as a stocking stuffer and I actually find them super helpful for planning meals.

meal plan

Many people prefer Sunday food prep. I actually prefer Mondays, because I don’t like to give up a whole weekend day, but it’s whatever works for you. It doesn’t need to be a whole day, and can be as simple as making 2 cups of quinoa, 3 cans of black beans, and roasting a few sweet potatoes and heads of broccoli to have on hand for the week.

Or, it may just be pre-chopping vegetables so you save the time of doing it every night. I just love roasting a bunch of vegetables together, sprinkled with some olive oil, salt, pepper, italian seasoning and garlic powder. It does all the work for you!

roasted veggies, save money on groceries

It takes the same amount of time to cook 1 chicken and 1 sweet potato, as it does 5, or to roast one head of broccoli verses 5-6 cups of vegetables, so just do it all at once versus firing up grill or oven each time.

meal prep

Buy In Bulk

It pays to belong to Sams, Costco, BJ’s because you can truly buy in bulk. Generally, meats are one of most expensive things in grocery store, so it’s a prime candidate for buying in bulk. It is easy to freeze meat, so why not stock up on meat when it’s on sale? It’s often easier for me to get to my local Walmart then driving down to the city to go to Costco, so that works too! Walmart has everything, and I’ll buy large amounts of chicken, cereals and pantry items when I make the trip.


Buy apples in bags rather than individually to save money. You can generally get a bag of apples for under $4 or $5. Similarly, buy a tub of (plain) yogurt rather than spending $1.00 on each 6 ounce serving size, and flavor your own to save money and sugar!


Buy In Season

Buying in season is much cheaper because the produce doesn’t have to travel as far. I have written about the benefits of buying local.  For things that aren’t in season, consider buying frozen or canned (if you buy canned, always rinse them to rid of extra sodium). The Department of Agriculture is a great resource for seeing what is in season in your area!

Local Farmers Market (2)

Utilize coupons or buy when things are on sale

Even if you don’t necessarily need something, if it’s something you typically consume and it’s on sale, like BOGO or buy three, get one free, it’s probably worth buying (as long as it’s shelf or freezer stable). However, coupons can be dangerous in that they may entice you to buy you don’t necessarily need. Remember that just because you have a coupon for something doesn’t mean you have to use it. I can’t tell you how many coupons I have for frozen pizzas, granola bars (that should basically be candy bars) and processed foods. I will be skipping those coupons.

Items generally go on sale every 8 weeks. You can bet like clockwork that whenever I get the email for my grocery store’s weekly deals (sign up for your grocery store’s weekly email list!), I look to see what we eat that I can stock up on. For Ed, if his favorite cereal (Quaker Oat Squares) is on sale, he buys 12 boxes. Literalllly – 12 boxes. But it works because by the time he’s gone through them all, they are on sale again. We are a binge buying household!


Know How to Navigate the Grocery Stores

Generally, the cheapest stuff is on the bottom shelves. Grocery stores put marked up items, or items that are pricier, on eye-level shelves because that’s where our eyes naturally go. Don’t fall for these tricks!

Choose store brands over name brands for most things. The ingredients are similar and you save dollars, which add up over time!

save money

Create and Utilize Leftovers

If you buy 16 ounces of meat, consider that the serving size for meat is about 3-4 ounces. Therefore, rather than use that entire meat for one meal for yourself and another, spread it to four serving sizes and two meals. Also, pair it with a carbohydrate serving and fruits/vegetables for a balanced plate, so you don’t feel the need to overeat one particular food group.

Similarly, if you’re eating out at restaurants and can’t finish your meal, consider saving some for leftovers. It’s another great way to stretch your money, and gives you an easy lunch or dinner for the following day. Most restaurants serve 8-12 oz portions of meat, so you can definitely stretch that out. You can see my restaurant tips here.

Grow Your Own (and Make Your Own!)

Once our move is complete, I have reallllly big aspirations of planting some herbs and mini plants. I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb so this will be a work in progress, but how great would it be to just pick your own herbs whenever you need them, rather than buying them? It can also be a great activity for the family and children, to plant seeds and watch them grow.


Nut butters are getting super expensive, Am I right?! So much more cost efficient to make your own in your food processor. Hummus too!


Some people still think that healthy eating is more expensive, but it’s really not. It’s just about knowing what to look for. Consider these few examples:

  • A candy bar is $1.00. A banana is .20.
  • Potato chips are ~$2-$3 per large bag. A bag of frozen vegetables is about $1-$1.50.
  • A box of cereal can be between $3-$5.00. A store brand tub of oats is $2.00.
  • A box of mashed potatoes is about $2.00. You can get a whole potato or sweet potato for about $1.00.


More tips about simplifying meal prep here.

Any other tips to save money at the grocery store?

Favorite type of apple? I love galas, but every now and then I crave a Granny Smith for the tart juiciness!

40 responses to “Tips to Save Money on Groceries

  1. Yes yes yes to all of this! I tend to be frugal when it comes to shopping, however, my Mum is one of those people who buys on impulse and always manages to have a hugeeeeeeee grocery cart full of shopping that she probably won’t even use.

    Case in point? She’s currently emptying out the fridge to throw out food that’s been in there for goodness knows how long 😛

  2. I’ve been thinking I should make my own almond butter because its so expensive. We have been using Amazon Fresh and ordering our groceries online, which eliminates any impulse buys. However, sometime we forget to buy stuff we need which we may have seen if we were in the grocery store! But it does make it a little easier to get the best deals when you are shopping online I think. Great tips!

  3. I shop at Aldi’s and also have my grocery list dialed down to a few items. I know bananas, rice and potatoes are cheap, so I use Pinterest to find many recipes that feature those things. I also buy spices at Aldi’s in bulk and go for dried rather than fresh so they keep forever.

  4. Making a list before I go grocery shopping is so important for me, or else I just end up buying a ton of stuff that I don’t really need. Like 5 jars of nut butter…. Also not going hangry saves me lots of money too 🙂

  5. Just the other week I went to the store hungry, I brought home jarred queso, a frozen pizza & a few other rogue impulse buys, they DOUBLED what I had planned to spend on groceries.

    One of my goals is to volunteer with // start my own cooking classes that teach people exactly this, that healthy eating isn’t expensive if you do it right, but focusing on how things like SNAP benefits can be stretched to provide maximum nutrition for your dollar. So many people have no idea how to prepare food, so they buy it already prepared. Which boggles my mind, but I was lucky enough to grow up with a Mom who knew how to cook & did so all the time. It took until recently to realize that’s not a thing for everyone.

  6. What an awesome post Sarah! I’ve pinned the image with the serving sizes. This is super helpful for me – not from a perspective of someone looking to eat less, but from someone who is trying to get away from measuring cups and on to a more natural sense of what “normal” serving sizes are. I should also start looking into / using my coupons more. I’m a very frugal shopper but I know I could be getting more bang out of my buck by stocking up when there are sales (something to do with spending more in one shop makes me feel like I’m spending too much – I’m not good with “long term” investments aha). What a great list of comparisons at the end, too. Buying produce – especially in markets in the summer – is SO much cheaper than anything else. Which is a-okay with me 🙂

  7. I save money by planning and calculating as I go. I have a budget so I try to stick within those means. Sometimes I’ll get one or two new things to try. Shopping in season makes the bill so much cheaper but meals more enjoyable too!

  8. It’s not really for grocery shopping, but to save money on food, gardening is great too! I don’t garden (I kill basil plants, I’m 100% a “red thumb”), but my brother does landscaping for a women who is am avid gardener and she always gives us fresh produce. It’s awesome because we end up with fresh lettuce and zucchinis the size of toddlers (I’m not kidding about the size!). Gala apples are my favorites too! I also like fuji if I want something more crisp and tart.

  9. These are great tips! Buying grains and nuts in bulk is such a money saver. I also like to buy bone-in chicken breasts or thighs (or the whole chicken) and then make stock from the bones – which then turns into a brown rice risotto or soup and saves money from having to buy extras like stock.

  10. I love these tips. Safeway has this program where you can add coupons to your card called Just 4 You, and they have exclusive coupons every week. 🙂 Thankfully food is still pretty cheaply priced here in Colorado. It’s amazing how the price of food goes up and down. I loved the tips about buying fruit in bulk and cooking stuff in bulk, because it takes the same amount of time to do 5 as it does to do one. I think I need to be a better planner and list maker, as that would probably greatly help my mom. The primary thing I’ve learned from my meal planning blogger friends is that planning goes a long way!

  11. 12 boxes of cereal? Haha that reminds me of when my husband bought 20 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. I only wish I was kidding…
    Great tips here lady!

  12. I have been eating out SO MUCH these days that I really don’t buy all that many groceries anymore – which is kind of sad. If I do, it’s typically day of (me eating them) or I buy a lot of FROZEN stuff so it keeps for far longer and I don’t have to get stressed that I need to eat it RIGHT AWAY or else!

    I would say one of my tips is go to WHOLESALE stores – I am lucky enough to have a Korean Whole Sale Market near me and they price their seafood so cheaply, it should be illegal! haha!

  13. These are great money saving tips! I like your tip about not going shopping hungry; I used to always buy too many snacks. Consuming a granola bar before walking in the store can do wonders.

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