Need help saving money in the grocery store? Let this gluten-free momma of 6 give you all her tips! Your bank account will thank you…
20 Tips for Saving Money in the Grocery Store
Being a responsible adult is so much fun. One of the fun things we get to do as such is go to the grocery store and not end up with more than we can afford.
Ever struggled with this? I know I do sometimes. Thankfully, I had a very frugal mother who taught me well how to save money and still eat healthy. Here are some of the tips I try and stick to when grocery shopping – hopefully they’ll help you out as well!
1 – Make a list.
One of the best ways to save money is to make a list of the things you need and stick to it. I never go grocery shopping without a list, even if it’s written in down by my sweet 7-year old, or hastily scratched out in the car on the way to the store. Sticking to a list guarantees I won’t be coming home with stuff I don’t need and thus saves me from spending money on said stuff. Plus it helps me work on self-control.
2 – Take a regular inventory.
Regularly take an inventory your fridge, pantry, and freezer. Use up the older things first! Wait until you don’t have something, or will be out the next day, before getting more. I have a little dry erase board on my fridge that I add things to as I run out of them during the week/month. This way I don’t have to frantically run through the kitchen checking to see what I need before I head out and I don’t accidentally end up buying something I already have.
3 – Don’t shop on the weekends.
This doesn’t really save money, but it does save time… and frustration. Stores are more likely to be full of fellow shoppers on weekends, which means full parking lots, lack of carts, and long lines. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Besides, hustling 6 kids around a packed grocery store is not my idea of a good time.
4 – Get your coupons ready!
My mom uses coupons and saves a ton of money. I don’t usually use them, since coupons for paleo/primal items are few and far between, but coupons for things like diapers are always available. You can go to coupons.com and print them off right at home. No need for the newspaper. Just remember that because you see a coupon/sale for something does not mean you need it! 😉
5 – Don’t shop when you’re hungry.
My kids automatically become hungry when the Costco samples come out. Thankfully they’ve learned that just because something is tasty does not mean we’re buying it. But seriously, when you’re hungry everything looks good and everything seems necessary – it’s not.
6 – Don’t buy pre-cut meats or veggies.
It might be a little more work, but buying a whole veggies or whole or half chicken (frozen or not) will save you a whole lot of money. You can even buy a beef brisket instead of ground beef and most grocery butchers will grind it for you.
Buying whole veggies and meats is healthier as well, since less handling by machines/workers means less opportunity for bacteria to get into the food and less time spent going from the farm to the store.
If you’ve never cut up or cooked a whole chicken before, here’s a few helpful links…
I’m one of those lucky moms who has a 7-year old cheese grater. Kidding, kind-of. What I mean is, my 7-year old loves to grate cheese for me! She literally runs joyfully to the kitchen when I’m making homemade macaroni and cheese because she knows it’s her job to prep the cheddar.
If you have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer (I use this one), then you can purchase attachments that make grating and shredding veggies super fast and easy. If you don’t happen to have one, here’s my favorite little grater. It works wonders on cheese and veggies, has different grating/slicing options. Plus it’s easy to store and completely dishwasher safe!
8 – Don’t buy bottled drinks.
If you’re a bottled water drinker, consider getting a filter. Brita filters and old-fashioned boiling save money and aren’t hard, we use the Perfect Water system, and have friends who love their Berkey. For camping and road trips, my family always fills old milk jugs with filtered water and brings along reusable water bottles.
If you’re into kombucha and kefir, MAKE YOUR OWN. Don’t be dissuaded by the thought of fermented things growing on your counter. Making kombucha and kefirs are so incredibly simple and not at all time consuming. They’re also healthier than store-bought options since you can control the additives.
PSA: a display does NOT mean a sale! Pay attention. . .
10 – Buy the store brands.
Kirkland Signature, Equate, Great Value, 365 Everyday Value. . . They are always cheaper than the name brands. The only things I don’t stick with this on are bulk items like rice and toilet paper.
11 – Look for deals.
If you shop at the end of the day, look for the discounted items. I’ve often purposefully gone to the meat department 10-20 minutes before closing and the butchers have given me crazy amazing deals on cuts that they are going to toss because they haven’t sold yet. (I once got steaks for 79 cents a pound!!!!)
12 – Buy in bulk and split it with a friend.
Granted, buying a huge thing of toilet paper at Coscto is not necessarily going to save you any money, but places like that and Sam’s Club can have some great deals. Their organic frozen meat is usually a heck of a lot cheaper than any other place’s, too. We usually stock up on organic meat and organic frozen veggies at Coscto once a month.
For things like gluten-free oats, organic flour, coconut, and such, we buy in bulk from Azure Standard. If they have a drop near you I highly recommend you getting on their mailing list! They have amazingly high quality products for a very reasonable price.
If you don’t have access to a bulk store or Azure Standard drop (or if you don’t like dragging all your kids around) Amazon also has some good deals on bulk items. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends to go in on something with you if it will save you both money.
13 – Grind your own flours.
For all you gluten-free-ers out there, this genuinely saves a TON of money. Pretty much any flour or meal you use (not including starches), you can grind on your own if you have a good blender or food processor. I regularly grind my own brown rice flour and oat flours in my Blendtec, and even make my own coconut flour, for grain-free recipes!
14 – Bake from scratch.
If you’re not a baker, learn. This will seriously save you so much money, as gluten-free and paleo baked goods practically cost and arm and a leg. Buying a good loaf of bread or a pie on sale is still more expensive than making it at home. It may take you some time to get used to, but in the end you will thank yourself… so will your bank account.
If you’re wanting to get started on baking your own homemade breads, here are a few easy loafs to start you off on…
If you can have a garden, DO IT. Not only is gardening economical, it’s therapeutic and a great way to teach your kids – and yourself. Plus, there’s nothing quite as rewarding as pulling a bunch of radishes from your garden.
If you don’t have a yard to build a square-foot or box garden in, don’t give up. You can easily container garden in your kitchen, living room, mud room, bathroom, anywhere there’s a window!
16 – Don’t buy fruits and veggies that aren’t in season.
Example: oranges in the summer will generally be 2 or 3 times more expensive than they will be in the winter. Know the seasons of the produce your family uses; if it’s not in season, you can probably live without it. If you really must have something out of season buy it frozen (NEVER CANNED).
This tip, however, doesn’t usually apply to root veggies, like carrots and potatoes. Their prices rarely fluctuate enough to warrant not buying them ‘fresh.’ Cabbage is usually pretty cheap, too.
17 – Make your own.
I already mentioned baking your own breads and drinks, but this applies to so much more! Sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt… these are all super easy to make at home.
No matter the cost of milk, making yogurt at home will always be cheaper than buying it from the store. It’s healthier too, since you won’t have any of the added sweeteners or other strange ingredients manufacturers of foods will add in. You can make it in the oven, in a crock-pot, or in a nifty yogurt maker, like this one. My favorite way to make yogurt is in my Instant Pot.
Here are some easy recipes/tutorials for foods you can make at home:
Compare and contrast ads from the stores in your area. Most groceries will have on-line ads you can bookmark to save time, or you can always get the paper on the day it carries ads. Sometimes you can couple a sale with a manufacturer’s coupon and save more!
And last but not least…
20 – BUDGET!!!!!!
I have a family of 8 and spend around $400 a month on food. It is sometimes difficult, but it teaches us discipline and the difference between a need and a want. (Note: restaurants, take-out, soda and candy are pretty much, unquestionably, never a need.)
If you haven’t started meal planning, this is a huge help when it comes to staying within your budget. Check out –>this post<– for a month’s worth of gluten-free meals to get you started. If you have lots of allergies to navigate, don’t give up. I’ve written an easy guide to allergy-friendly meal planning that you can check out by clicking on the link below.
I have a family of 7 and cannot even imagine having a budget close to $250 per month for groceries… And while you shared some great tips here, I would love to see your actual grocery list! I always buy sale items and the cheapest stuff I can find, we buy lots of whole foods rather than premade anything, but our groceries are still MUCH more than that- how???? Please show me your list… I want to learn LOL…
Ok – wow. 🙂 I will try my best to help out here.
First off, I want to list are few factors that might help us save verses what you may be dealing with: 1) I live in Montana, where there is no tax on anything and we can go out and shoot our own game during hunting season; 2) my kids are small – my oldest is 5; 3) we eat very simple meals, definitely not 3 course, sometimes we just eat mashed potatoes for dinner! 4) we don't really eat snacks.
That said, here is what we generally buy at the grocery store:
bananas & apples
Bi-monthly or monthly:
carrots, potatoes, cucumbers/cauliflower (whichever is cheaper), whole frozen chickens (or 1/2 chickens), eggs, milk, sour cream, butter, cornstarch, cocoa powder, pasta, corn tortilla chips, frozen juice concentrate, applesauce, peanut butter, tomato sauce, salsa
Bulk items we buy every 2 or 3 months or less:
cheese (mozzarella, parmesan and sometimes cheddar), flax meal, whole wheat flour, tapioca/potato starch, rice, beans, shredded coconut, guar gum, popcorn, toilet paper, honey, garlic, onions, oil, vanilla, ice cream 🙂
Bulk items we buy 2 or 3 times per year:
chia seeds, millet, oats, baking soda/powder/yeast, spices, herbs & teas, organic cane sugar, chocolate chips
Well, I hope that helps some. 🙂 Let me know if you have any more questions! 🙂
We stock up on items when they are on sale. Having items you use on a regular basis helps. Thanks for sharing at the HomeAcre Hop.
Glad to share, Sandra!
These are excellent tips! I think you covered everything. I can’t think of anything to add. Your grocery budget is impressive. I need to work to lower mine. Thanks for the post & the encouragement that I can.
Thanks, Heather! I’m so glad it was encouraging to you. It’s not easy to stick with a low food budget, but I know you can do it. 😉
Coming from a similarly frugal background, I too understand what you are saying. We were frugal by choice not by necessity but economics and “need of the family” than wish of “one individual” were big parts of our family’s decision making process.
Things I don’t understand: people buying canned produce, people buying bottled waters. They seem so wasteful; so easy to dispense with if you do a little more prep or buy a purification system like you mentioned.
Your tips are pretty helpful and the reasoning so sound. I think I will implement the easel board for the inventory in my own home.
As you can see, this is a subject very close to my heart. I hate food waste. I hate spending more than I need.
By the way, meal planning and marking days for entertaining/ special occasions have also helped me a lot. I don’t plan every meal, specially the vegetarian/ vegan ones (since I don’t know which vegetables will be cheap and available in the farmer’s market) but I try to plan most of the master recipes and dinner.
That was long!
Thank you again for sharing this.
Thanks so much for sharing Shreyashi! I’m glad to see other agree with these tips – they’re very important to me, as well. 🙂 Food waste and unnecessary spending are sad. I see a lot of people doing these things simply because they don’t take the time to plan anything out.
These are great tips! I have to admit, I often spend way to much at the grocery store so I appreciate the inspiration! Pinned!
Happy to inspire, Julie! Thank you for pinning. Good luck spending less. 😉
These are great tips! For grating foods, if I need more than a small amount, I use the food processor’s grating blade. It does a nice job, fast, with no knuckles harmed! When I get a good deal on vegetables, I grate and freeze portions for use in recipes, and then I’m more likely to use more vegetables in things because they are so convenient.
Thanks, Becca! Someday I’ll get myself a food processor, it’s on my list of “kitchen dreams.” Haha. Thanks for sharing your tip for freezing grated veggies! 🙂
Hi, I just popped over from the weekend wind down.
I too am a frugal freak, I love a bargain!
I already do quite a lot of these tips but I still have never made my own yoghurt. I didn’t know you can do it in a crock pot – I think I’m going to have to try this.
Thanks for stopping by, Sam! You should totally try homemade yogurt – it’s delicious! 😉
These are awesome money-saving tips. I cringe everytime I go grocery shopping. I use a Berkey filter and I try to buy organic foods in season and buy bulk items when possible. I also try to plan simple menus to keep from over-shopping.
Thanks, Deborah! It can be painful to go grocery shopping and see all the other shoppers spending unnecessarily. Good job doing your best!
These are all great tips! I’m really glad you shared it with us at #FoodieFriDIY this week because this is something I need to work on!
Thank you, Michelle! I’m glad to share and hope you have success in implementing some (or all!) of these money-saving tips!
For me, making a list is my make or break moment! If I don’t, things just get crazy.
Agreed, Morgan! And that kinda crazy is no good. 😉
There are some great tips here. I have been meaning to write a similar post as catering for allergies can be expensive. I think meal planing is really key, I always spend so much more when I try to wing it! #freefromfridays
I agree, Emma. When I don’t meal plan, I spend more and get more stressed, as well!
All very excellent tips. Buying in bulk, taking inventory, using the water filter, buying in season, having a garden making your own yogurt is all things I do myself that saves a lot of money. We buy many of our bulk items at Costco which is great if you have one near you. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & tweeted!
Thanks, Marla! I’m glad to share. Thanks so much for pinning and tweeting. 🙂
This is a great list of tips! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Glad to share, Michelle! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
These are great tips, Raia! And we’re a Breyer’s family too. 🙂
Haha! Glad to know I’m not alone in my rebellious indulgence. 😉
Wow, $400 for a family of 7?! We spend $600 for a family of 4! I menu plan, we never eat out (our daughter has food allergies), we buy mostly organic, I make our own cookies, etc, and cook almost everything from scratch. We shop sales, use coupons, Sam’s Club (we don’t have a Costco), and usually frozen vegetables because they are cheaper. I’d love to see what your list/menu looks like for the week, so that I can maybe make a few changes. Thanks for linking up with us over at The Wednesday Showcase this week!
Glad to share, Joanna!
We eat very simple meals – definitely not 3 course – and the only organic we do is meat and carrots. I would love to do more organic, but we don’t live in a place where it’s readily available. 🙁
We eat a lot of cheap foods, like carrots, cabbage, and potatoes (except me – I’m allergic to them). I don’t handle rice or oats well, but the rest of my family eats a lot of them. We don’t eat much bread goods, except pancakes, and don’t eat a lot of pasta. Smoothies and soups are my life-savers. You can pretty much put anything in them and they’ll still taste great. 😉 Our snacks include apples, carrots, and homemade cookies.
Here’s a look at this week’s meal plan:
S: smoothies, bbq nachos, soup
M: oatmeal, pancakes, burgers w/ cheese and carrot sticks
T: eggs, sandwiches (on sourdough) w/ carrot sticks, soup
W: smoothies, mac ‘n cheese, whole roasted chicken with carrots and potatoes
R: oatmeal, smoothies & carrots w/ hummus, rice & beans (I’ll just eat beans & leftovers)
F: bagels (my fam’s 1x a week gluten splurge – I’ll have a smoothie), baked flounder w/ green beans, sourdough pizza & carrot sticks
S: eggs, baked potatoes, beef & veggie stir-fry
Please feel free to ask more questions, if you have any! 🙂
Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂
These are great tips! I’ve got to work on sticking to my list. I am very diligent when it comes to making one, but I see sale items and new products and recipe ideas, then I end up with quite a bit more than I planned on. I’m pinning this so I can re-read before I go to the grocery store next time. Thanks for sharing at Inspiration Thursday!
Glad to share, Lela! Sticking to a list can be a challenge when you’ve got a creative cooking mind. 😉 You can do it! 🙂
I have that grater for years and love it. These are great tips and I need to implement these more than I do. Thanks for sharing your tips on Merry Monday.
Glad to share, Erlene! Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂
$400 a month? That is amazing! We too are gf and are a family of 7 and I spend way more than that. I need to follow these tips for sure!! Thank you for sharing on the Faith Filled Parenting LinkUp.
Glad to share, Christia! I hope you are able to implement some of the tips!
very useful post, thanks for sharing this wonderful tips for hearth and soul blog hop.
Thank you, Swathi! Gad to share. 🙂
Every time I have to go food shopping, I cringe as I think about the high prices I encounter on the healthy, organic, nonGMO natural foods and related items I prefer to buy so I am so delighted that you shared your valuable Tips for Saving Money in the Grocery Store with us at the Healthy Happy Green and Natural Party!.Thank you so much for sharing your gems and for your support! All the best, Deborah
Glad to share, Deborah! It would be so wonderful if organic was more affordable!
These are all great tips! I need to try grinding my own flour one day…
Thanks, Bethany! I enjoy grinding my own flour, it makes me feel all pioneer-y. Haha. 🙂