42 Ways to Save Money on Groceries

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These 42 ways to save money on groceries will have your refrigerator, pantry and wallet all full!

If you’re as frugal as our family likes to be, you’ll know just how far you can stretch a dollar. However, when you go out grocery shopping, the ways to save money are not always as obvious as you may think.

We’re going to show you a few ways that you can save money on groceries.

How to Save Money on Groceries

Whether you’re a homesteader or not, we all would love to save a little money in the grocery store, right? You try not to strain your budget each month, but sometimes you go over.

Using this list, you’ll not only save money on groceries, but you may actually walk out of the store under budget!

1- Set a Budget

meal planner grocery list expense tracker amazon affiliate
Use a meal planner notebook for weekly meal preps, grocery lists, recipes and expense trackers!

You won’t be able to save money on groceries if you’re not sure how much you’re spending in the first place. Make a spreadsheet for your usual buys. Find out how much you’re spending each month in groceries, and you’ll be able to set yourself a budget. Budgeting will also let you know when certain groceries go up in price. You could also track this in a ledger book that you can take with you.

2- Keep a Running Grocery List

In restaurants, the kitchen staff and restaurant managers keep a list of everything they use on a monthly basis. When they get low on something, they reorder it. You can do the same at home. Make that list and put a check by things when you need more. The more well-stocked you keep your pantry, the better off you’ll be. Just remember: If it’s not on the list, you don’t need it!

3- Grow Your Own

Grow your own food to save money on groceries
Grow a garden to cut down on your grocery bill.

If you’re into gardening, this is an easy step to take. If you’re not into gardening yet, you’ll get hooked fast! It’s great to plant your own seeds and watch those tiny little things produce pounds and pounds of food for your family. It’s a great feeling to eat the food you have grown yourself, especially when it’s saving you money in the long run.

4- Forage for Free Food

Learn to identify edible plants in the wild and take advantage of that knowledge. If you’ve got acres and acres of land, it’s very easy to forage on your own land. If you live in an apartment or a subdivision, find a pace to go hiking and forage there (just make sure it’s ok to take plants from that area first). There’s nothing better than free food!

5- Try to Make Your Own Staples

Baking your own bread will help save money on groceries.
Learn to bake your own bread.

We eat lots of bread in our house. When we have more than we need, we freeze it. More importantly, we’re starting to bake our own bread. Figure out what foods your family eats a lot of and make them yourself instead of buying them. The ingredients are most always cheaper than the finished product. Ice cream, yogurt, and even popcorn are good ideas of foods you can make yourself.

6- Create a Freezer and Pantry Inventory

If you know what you already have, you’ll know what you don’t need to buy. This couples with #2- Keep a Running Grocery List. By knowing what you already have, you’ll know what you need. It also helps with your weekly meal planning. Take your inventory list each week, figure out what meals you can cook from that list, and then you know what else you may need from the grocery store.

7- Cook Meals at Home More

Cooking meals at home instead of eating out will save money on groceries
Cooking meals at home is less expensive than buying pre-made dishes.

Obviously, you can cook your food at home for cheaper than you can buy it in a restaurant. If you go out to eat on a regular basis, cut back on a few of these outings and eat at home instead.

8- Cook for a Week or a Month

Maybe you don’t always have time to cook dinner every night. Maybe you do, but sometimes you just want to take a break and do something easy for dinner. If you cook a few meals in advance and freeze them, this will eliminate the “we need to go out to eat for the convenience” mentality.

It’s always easy to cook in large batches when you’re in the mood to cook. If you’re cooking spaghetti, for example, cook more marinara sauce than you will need and freeze it in zipper bags. You could even batch prepare freezer meals and always have something ready to pop into the oven.

9- Plan Your Meals

You don’t have to batch cook all the time. Maybe you’ve got a freezer full of meals, but you want something that doesn’t freeze well. Making a weekly meal plan will help you know what foods you need from the store when you go shopping.

10- Recycle Old Meals (leftovers)

Monday’s pot roast can become Tuesday’s roast beef sandwiches and Wednesday’s beef stew with a few additions. If you have enough food from dinner left that would make one plate full, take it to work for lunch the next day. Too often people toss out the smallest portions of food thinking “that’s just not enough for even one person.” If you add all those tiny portions together, you just might have a great soup, stew or casserole!

11- Don’t Throw Food Away

Homemade chicken broth from kitchen scraps to save money on groceries
Homemade chicken broth made from kitchen scraps.

We save ham bones to add flavor when we’re cooking beans or greens. Bacon grease gets used for sautéing veggies for soups, stews and casseroles. Chicken carcasses, fish carcasses, beef bones and veggie ends (carrots, onions, celery, etc) boiled in a large pot of water will make healthy homemade stocks and broths. There’s usually something you can do with the “remnants” from cooking. Be creative!

12- Cut Your Own Food

Instead of buying pre-cut carrot sticks, celery and other veggies, buy the whole product and cut them yourself. It costs about 4 times as much to buy the pre-cut stuff. It may not be as convenient to cut your own, but this article is about saving money, not time.

This goes for meats, as well. You can typically cut up a whole chicken cheaper than you can buy the parts. If you’re unsure of yourself as a butcher, this book will help you learn to butcher just about any meat you can think of!

13- Volunteer at a Food Bank

You can probably find a food pantry in your town or somewhere nearby. Go do some volunteer work there. On Fridays at closing time, there’s often large quantities of food that didn’t get distributed that would otherwise be thrown out. The people who run the food pantry may let you take home such things as strawberries, bananas, and other produce items just to keep them from going to waste. Be sure to take eco-friendly shopping bags with you!

14- Pack a Lunch

Planning a trip? Taking the kids to the park? Take your own food with you instead of eating out while you’re away from home. This not only saves you money, but your food quality will also be much better! This handy soft-sided cooler will help keep your food cold until you’re ready to eat it.

15- Eat First, Then Shop

A quick breakfast before heading to the grocery store.
A quick breakfast of liver and eggs before heading to the grocery store.

“Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.” If you do it just once, you’ll know why. You end up buying what looks appealing to you right then rather than sticking to your budget and grocery list. Don’t go if you’re tired, either. You won’t add things up as well, which will cost you extra at the register.

16- Take a Calculator

Some grocery stores have calculators built into the shopping cart handle, and most stores have already calculated the unit prices of every item in the store. There are still some that don’t offer either. It might take you longer to shop, but if you calculate the unit prices, you’ll know what’s the best buy for your money and save more in the end. Besides, if you have a cell phone (and who doesn’t, right?), you already have a calculator with you.

17- Use Discount Stores to Save Money on Groceries

There are some great stores that buy surplus merchandise from the larger grocery chains. They have these items discounted for you, and they’re the same exact thing you would be buying from the bigger stores. You can save a ton buying from the smaller discount stores without sacrificing quality. Aldi, for example, has great selections on most groceries, the quality is fantastic, and the prices typically beat other grocery stores.

18- Buy in Bulk

Vacuum seal bulk foods in smaller packages to save money.
Vacuum seal bulk foods in smaller packages to save money.

My mom told me once after I moved out that I needed to move back home. She said they were spending more for food just buying for her and dad than they were when I lived there. Of course, she meant they were paying more per unit. The more of something you buy, the less the unit price usually ends up being. Again, you can prepare meals and freeze them, or you can split the uncooked food up, vacuum seal it in bags and freeze it. Just thaw it a day in advance, and it’s ready to cook the next night.

19- Avoid Impulse Purchases

Every grocery store has gum, candy and other items at the register, stuff hanging on strips in an aisle, and the dreaded “bargain bins” at the front of the store. These will blow your budget out of the water. If you didn’t plan to buy it, and it isn’t on the list, just don’t buy it! If you REALLY need that item, budget it in for next week’s shopping trip.

20- Make Fewer Shopping Trips

The more often you go shopping, the more you are likely to spend. Some people go to the store three to four times a week. Some only go once a week. Try to cut your frequency in half, for a few months, then in half again. This will focus you more on buying large quantities and staying closer to your list.

21- Investigate & Ask Questions

What’s the price difference between the bag of dried beans that sells for $.89 and the can of beans that sells for $.99? Just a dime? No. The bag yields 7 cups of cooked beans, $.13 per cup. The can yields 1-1/2 cups of cooked beans, $.66 per cup. The canned beans – as inexpensive as they are – are five times more expensive than dried beans. Apply this logic to everything you buy. You can make marinara sauce and boil pasta for much, much cheaper per serving than that can of spaghetti rings on the shelf (and it’s healthier, too).

22- Food Only, Please

Paper goods, cleaning supplies and cosmetics are probably going to be less expensive at big-box stores like Target or Wal-Mart. This also helps you to track your grocery costs separately from other living expenses. You can always make your cleaning products and use linens instead of paper products.

23- Avoid Processed Food

Check the labels - the more ingredients it has, the more processed it is.
Check the labels – the more ingredients it has, the more processed it is.

The more ingredients you see on the label, the more the food is processed and the less nutritional value it has. Not only will you be healthier for buying whole foods (like potatoes, bananas, and apples), but it’s actually cheaper, too. You’ll be avoiding tons of chemicals and preservatives and saving money at the same time! Your health and your wallet will sing praises unto your name!

24- Don’t Buy Water!

No matter how cheap you find it, bottled water is expensive compared to tap water (and it’s no better than tap water, either). If you have a well, you’re probably even better off! If you’re not sure about your water at home, invest in a decent water-filtering pitcher or a home water filtration system. Any way you go, you’ll be saving money over time.

25- Don’t Buy Disguised Water, Either

Pretty much anything you buy nowadays has added water – bottled juices, canned broth, applesauce, popsicles… all the major ingredients are water. Why buy these when you can make your own? Again, you save money and have healthier ingredients in the same whack.

26- Don’t Buy “Designer Salt”

Seasoned salts (including garlic salt and Lowery’s seasoned salt) are all basically salt with added spices. Why not make your own? You can actually make a lot of your own spice mixes (like taco seasoning mix and ranch seasoning mix) and control the amount of salt in them, too.

27- Use Coupons

Use coupons to save money on groceries.
Use coupons to save money on groceries.

This one’s a given, right? If you have a coupon to save money on something you normally buy, use it! What you should NOT do, however, is buy something just because you have a coupon. You can’t save money buying things you don’t need, no matter how good the discount on the coupon is (unless you’re one of those extreme couponers that get 500 of them for free).

28- Get a Loyalty Card

Store loyalty cards let you get added discounts on your groceries on top of clipping coupons. You can even go online and add coupons to your loyalty card. No matter how many or few times you visit a store, if you can get a free loyalty card, get it. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll save.

29- Buy Store Brands

Most of the time, store brands are just as good as the brand name foods. Sometimes they’re the very same thing. Experiment and find out what’s good for you, and buy the store brand as often as you can. You’ll be paying a lot less money for the same product.

30- Shop Several Stores

Get familiar with all the stores in your area. You’ll soon learn that one store always has the best prices on the better-quality meats, while another may have better prices on frozen and canned foods. Figure out what you need from each store on each trip, and plan your driving rout accordingly. You’ll save money on gas this way, as well.

31- Don’t Buy Anything in Individual Wrapping

Just like #12′s “Cut Your Own Food” and #18′s “Buy in Bulk,” this one will save you so much money it’s unreal. Whether it’s something frozen or otherwise, anything that is individually wrapped can most likely be bought in bulk for much cheaper and wrapped at home in individual wrappers. Stop paying for the excess packaging (and labor it takes to package it).

32- Know a Good Deal When You See One

If you’re keeping track of what you buy like I mentioned in #1 and #2, you’ll likely have a good idea what most of your shopping list costs individually. When you see something at a lower price, get it while it’s on sale and store it until you need it.

33- Always Use the Produce Scale

Always use the produce scale.
Always use the produce scale.

Don’t try to guess how much a pound of mushrooms amounts to. Weigh everything before you put it in your cart. You’ll be able to accurately tally your groceries as you add them to the cart and stay within the budget you have set.

34- Avoid Lavish Displays

Cheese is usually less expensive in the deli than it is in the delicious-looking display of hors d’ourves in mid-aisle. Don’t let the store sucker you with their marketing strategies.

35- Buy Cold Cuts in the Deli

Believe it or not, plastic packaged cold cuts are typically more expensive (and more laden with chemicals) than what you find in the deli. You can have the deli cut your meat for you, or you can do that yourself at home with a deli meat slicer.

36- Watch the Cash Register

Approximately $2.5 billion each year is made in scanning errors. Either through scanning errors made by the cashier, or through the store’s own fault for not changing the pricing on sale items in their system, these stores are making a killing off our lack of attention. We trust them to charge us the right amounts, but we need to be checking them to make sure they’re not making mistakes. Their mistakes don’t cost them, they cost us.

37- Leave Your Kids at Home

For that matter, leave your spouse at home, too. Other people with you at the market are usually more of a distraction than a help. Whether they’re asking you “can we get this, too?” or wandering off, they mean no harm, but they’re costing you more money than you may realize. If you must take them with you, give them something to do while you shop… like counting the lines on the UPC codes of the foods you’re buying.

38- Go to Your Local Farmer’s Markets

Shop at your local farmer's market.
Shop at your local farmer’s market.

Buying directly from growers is not only a great way to learn about new foods you wouldn’t normally buy in the grocery store, but it typically means lower prices. The people who grow and sell these foods have almost always eaten them, too. Ask them about that new fruit you’ve never tried. Bonus: You’re supporting local agriculture!

39- Stock Up After the Holidays

November and December are the best months of the year to save on groceries. There are more coupons issued in these two months than at any other time during the year. The day after Thanksgiving, stores practically give turkeys away – if they have any left. This is when an extra freezer or fridge comes in handy. You’ll find some great bargains after the holidays. It’s a great time to stock up on bargains.

40- Own a Freezer and/or Extra Fridge

While you may not be able to afford one right away, after you start saving money with these tips, you’ll eventually be able to buy yourself an extra freezer or fridge. Then you can save even MORE money on groceries! You don’t even need a brand new one. Find one on the internet or in local yard sales or used appliance shops. You’ll thank yourself later when you have tons of fresh foods stored in bags and frozen for later use.

41- Buy Frozen

Fresh produce is appealing, but items such as broccoli, green peppers and strawberries are considerably cheaper when purchased from the frozen aisle. Most frozen items still carry the same health benefits as their fresh counterparts, and you don’t have to worry about learning the proper way to freeze these items. If you can’t get it at a farmer’s market, you’re better off getting many items frozen.

42- Know Your Enemy

Modern supermarkets (and all other stores, too) are designed from front to back and top to bottom to make you want to spend money. Staple items like milk tend to be at the back of the store, causing you to have to walk through the entire store just to get what you need. Expect tinted lights above meat and produce, automatic sprinklers and mouth-watering displays. Remember that the basic foodstuffs are usually located along the outside walls and more processed foods are on the inner aisles. This knowledge will not only save you money, but your health, too!

What ideas do you have to save money on groceries?

On our Facebook page, we recently asked our followers to name three ways to save money on groceries. Feel free to let us know there (or here) in a comment your favorite tips.

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20 thoughts on “42 Ways to Save Money on Groceries”

  1. Love these tips! We’re all about making the most of the food we have. It’s been really helpful to start looking at food a different way. Instead of just seeing the broccoli florets, for example, I start to look at what would normally head into the trash can to see if there’s another use.

    The more we do this, the more we realize we can get a little more out of our fruits and veggies especially.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. The effects of inflation have 2x-3x the cost of food, we all need tips on how to save money on our grocery shopping. Luckily for persons like SDHomestead who has a backyard garden can grown their own food, and groceries can potentially be cheaper😆 🤣. Wish I had a back yard

    Reply
    • Luckily, you can grow food wherever you are. As limited as you may be, there’s always something you can do to grow some of your own food. Barring that, the other tips on this list should help reduce that grocery bill. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Great list here! I like the volunteering at a food bank tip – nice way to help others and prevent things from being wasted. We invested in a deep freezer this year and purchased 1/4 of a cow from a local farm which has saved us a bunch.

    Reply
    • Pig and cow shares are such underrated ways to get good, healthy meat for a great price! It’s even better if you can process it yourself. Smoking hams and bacon, grinding your own ground meat… learning to butcher meat will help cut your cost even lower. 🙂 Kudos to you!

      Reply
  4. These are all great tips. I try to buy in bulk once a month and then top up on fruits and veggies every two weeks.

    In the summer, I grow as much as I can to help reduce spending in the market.

    I have to get better with couponing.

    Reply
    • Even if the food you buy in bulk is perishable, there are a number of ways to preserve it. Freezing, dehydrating, canning… the possibilities are endless. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Great tips here! I have one to embellish on a bit and that is comparison shopping. I shop between 4 different places: Safeway, Fred Meyer, Walmart and Amazon. I keep 4 tabs open and I get the best deals that way. At SW, FM and Walmart, I have to buy $35 to order for pickup. It’s easy to discard the place that doesn’t give me the best deal.

    Reply

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