Nutrition Articles

How Members Eat Well for Less

29 Tips on How to Shrink Your Grocery Bill

Food is an ever-growing part of our budget. It's a misconception that to eat on a budget, you must eat unhealthfully. SparkPeople members contradict that myth by sharing ways they stay healthy and eat well for less.

"When I make my shopping list, I write on it things like "dinner for 3 days" and then once in the shop, I see what's on special offer. Also, look in the short-dated section in the chill cabinets. I quite often get something for that night's dinner or to put away in the freezer."

"I have a co-worker who goes to the farm and buys a whole cow at one time. Then pays a butcher to cut it up and she deep freezes it. Sometimes they go in on a cow with a friend since it gives you tons of meat."

"I take a list, if it isn't on the list, it doesn't go into the cart. Period. No impulse items. 

I also bring my little calculator to be sure that I am getting the best deal on what I need. And buy generic when possible, if it is cheaper and still good."

"We do not buy boxed cereal."

"We plan our meals for the week, so we know what we're eating and buy only what we need. The exception to this is if there is something we use a lot that is on sale, we will take advantage of the sale price. We use this also with produce - a recipe may call for red bell peppers, but if the yellow ones are cheaper, we get those instead."

"We eat little meat, and save our money for wild salmon and seafood and lean chicken/turkey."

"I've stopped using coupons on most groceries because they evened out the prices on a more expensive brand or tempted into buying things I didn't need.

On the other hand, for things like deodorant, toothpaste, etc, coupons can save a huge amount if you're not picky about the brand you buy. Last week I bought enough deodorant to last me 6 months for under $1.00 after coupons. If you use the little rebate catalogs at the drug store along with coupons, sometimes you can even MAKE money buying toiletries!"

"At the store we buy from bulk bins as much as we can, even buying teas, spices, and granola. We have a coffee grinder we use to grind whole spices, so we don't get both a whole and ground version of the same spice. We reuse our original spice jars, filling it up from the bulk bins."

"We buy quality meats and fish, but use discount grocery chains for pantry items, milk, bread, yogurt, etc."

"Slightly limp or wilted fresh vegetables don't need to be thrown away. Sauteing them will bring them back to life."

"To save at the grocery store, I make a menu, make my grocery list and stick to it."

"Buy cheaper cuts of meat on sale and make broth (with beef, chicken, or pork). Once you chill the broth, skim off the fat and freeze for use in recipes later. Then I "recycle" the meat. I trim any fat, cut it, and toss with diced onion, garlic, oregano, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Toss it on salads."

"My friends and I started a food co-op. Every two weeks we go to a warehouse club and pick up boxes of fruits, vegetables, and staples. We return home and divide them up. My shopping for the month is only about $200. I use to spend over $120 per week before we started 3 years ago."

"Be flexible. If you get to the grocery store and they have something unbelievable on sale, then adapt your menus accordingly."

"I cook on the weekends and freeze single servings of dinners so people can grab what they want and we're not eating the same thing for three days until it's gone. I also reuse plastic bags (rinse and hang to dry)."

"Eating whole foods is cheaper than eating processed foods. You can get a couple bags of chips for the same price as a 5 pound bag of apples. A cantaloupe costs as much as two chocolate bars, and you can get a box of Cream of Wheat for the price of a fast food meal."

"Dry beans are a great cheap source of protein and fiber. Once you soak them overnight, they cook quickly."

"I've signed up for coupons on the internet. I have them sent to a separate email account and only check it once a week. I print what I want and shop once a week. My favorite thing is triple coupon week. I pass a million grocery stores on the way home so none of them are out of the way. My husband and I eat off of the triple coupon groceries for weeks. We only buy non-perishables and go every day that the specials run."

"Look for sales on the items that you normally eat and stock up, such as frozen vegetables or canned foods. "

"To keep costs down, have a couple of 'go-to' meals that you like to eat, are easy to make and relatively cheap to make. My average bill is $150 per month for two people because I bulk shop for those items we eat pretty regularly and I just rotate a few menus. If I want to try a new recipe and it turns out great, I'll add it to the rotation and probably take something else out so I can keep our food bill low."

"Don't waste money on pre-packaged 'fun' foods. Kids like a 59 cent cake mix just as much as HoHos. You can make tons of stuff in bulk and freeze for "quickie" kid food. Sausage/bacon eggs can be frozen in muffin tins so the kids can microwave breakfast burritos on the go. If your kids like flavored oatmeal, add cinnamon and brown sugar to your bulk oats."

"Buy in bulk when you find sales, especially beans, rice, pasta, and meats. Don't throw away meat that your family has leftover after meals. Put it in a plastic bag and freeze it. When I want a quick dinner, I take out a few bags, toss the meat with rice and some spices. Sometimes I add some veggies, frozen or fresh. Sometimes I throw in some beans to stretch the meat a little."

"I do batch cooking. I have a chicken in the crock pot that will feed us for at least three meals, and I also am making a big pot of chili. It helps me save money at the grocery store when I have my meals planned for the week!"

"Every Monday I'm not serving any meat. We are not vegetarians, but I felt that this would be a good way to be a little more inventive in my cooking and save a little on the food budget."

"I save not only cans but plastic bottles. In California we pay extra when we purchase plastic bottles for soda, water, and other beverages. Throwing the plastic bottles away is like throwing away money. I make over $7 a garbage bag full."

"I gave up buying cereal. Toast/fruit/oatmeal etc. are cheaper than a box of cereal that only lasts a few days.

I get my bread in bulk from a bakery outlet and freeze it until I need it."

How do you save money on healthy foods? Share your tips in the comments section!

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Member Comments

  • This year, we found the best way to save money was to grow our produce. We eat so much fresh grown food and that is where we are getting killed at the bank! So, we grow fresh herbs and tomatoes. Next year, we will add a large vegetable garden too. I'm so excited.