Nutrition Articles

15 Ways to Save Big Bucks on Healthy Groceries

Beyond Clipping Coupons: Real-World Strategies that Work

Have you ever experienced a feeling of sticker shock when the grocery store cashier announced your total? Do you wonder how such a large percentage of your paycheck fits into a few measly bags? Groceries are expensive, especially these days, when many of us are struggling to make ends meet and food prices continue to rise. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Fortunately, there are many ways to save money on your grocery bill—without giving up on your desire to eat healthier. We all have a variety of challenges and circumstances, so select the suggestions below that will work for you and your family.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach.
The cardinal sin of grocery shopping, hitting the store when you're hungry, will put you over budget faster than you can say "junk food." If you have no choice but to go to the store without a meal, buy an apple and some nuts (or another snack rich in protein and/or fiber) to munch on while you’re shopping.

At the very least, make a list before you shop. At the very best, plan your weekly menu or list a few main dishes that you can eat throughout the week. This will save you not only money on your grocery bill by preventing you from buy (and possibly pitching) food you don't need, but also time and fuel savings, from fewer trips to the store for essential ingredients.

Buy generic.
Held to the same standards as name-brand versions, store-brand products are usually just as good, and less expensive. Generic products are available for nearly every product you can think of, so be on the lookout for them (and watch your savings add up).

Shop alone.
Sometimes this just isn’t possible, but if you can shop solo, you’ll be able to focus on finding the best deals and taking as much time as you need to make it through the store. In addition, no one else will be begging for items that aren't on your list.

Bring your calculator.
Sometimes the largest container of, say, tomato sauce, isn’t actually the best deal. Unless you like to do long division in your head, consider toting a pocket calculator when you head to the supermarket. It’ll make figuring out the real prices for items a lot easier. As long as you can afford it at the time, buy the brand and size of a product that has the lowest per-unit (per pound, ounce, etc) price to get more for your money.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • LOL! If I'm not hungry when I'm shopping, I end up grabbing just a couple of staples (bread and milk) so I can get out of the store quickly. Shopping only works for me when I have an interest in food. - 9/26/2015 1:35:27 AM
  • Its odd because most of the stores I shop at have the price per unit so its easy to figure out the best price. - 9/25/2015 10:15:44 PM
    My biggest problem is buying too much food and having to throw it away. I will try to follow some of these suggestions so I don't waste money. I especially like the idea of planning what I'm going to eat, and buy only those things. - 9/25/2015 10:08:26 PM
  • I always take my calculator one because i am on a budget and two cause i can totally buy bad things if i dont. - 9/25/2015 10:14:43 AM
    I find that I am now pretty good at buying the best foods at the best prices. But sometimes I buy too much, and I waste money when I have to throw away food. I am now trying to work on using everything I buy. - 7/7/2015 9:16:32 PM
  • I always cook a pot of (dried) beans in the crockpot every week and use them for hummus, refried beans, salsas, pasta, salads, and even to make bean burgers or sandwich spreads. - 7/7/2015 12:39:49 PM
  • I buy generics & store brands for most things, but there are some things it's worth paying the extra money for. For example, all the cheese sold meets the USDA definition of "cheese," but I find a particular brand to be far tastier than the store brand.

    I have also found some name-brand household items perform better than the generic version, so the money saved is a false economy.

    But we each have our own favorites. If it's worth it to you, buy it. If you feel like you're broke all the time, perhaps you need to re-order your priorities. And while I hear a lot of Americans complain about how expensive groceries are here, we pay a smaller percentage of our household incomes for groceries than much of the world does. - 4/29/2015 12:24:46 PM
  • Cvs is the best store for body soap and toothpaste.stock up when those items are on sals - 4/17/2015 9:12:17 PM
  • Most of these ideas are really good - some new to me.
    I like to shop for BOGOs - buy one get one free as much as possible and it saves a lot of $$$.
    Also, we have a lot of trouble getting coupons off the Internet - too many requirements in order to set up downloading them, and my DH is concerned about malware, etc that seem to affect all this. We tried using newspaper coupons but often we find generic instead of name brand at better deals.
    Have not tried the price matching much. For "health" foods we are beginning to explore ordering through places like Amazon for better pricing. - 3/3/2015 11:09:53 AM
  • TO
    e people say its more expensive but when you sit down and factor out what you can do with say that bag of apples...(like make appplesauce instead of purchasing) then it really makes it out to be not so expensive :) - 1/10/2015 2:17:57 PM
  • I like to go through flyers, I use the Out of Milk app for my cell phone. I input each item and the cost (from a flyer or as i pick the item up) and it totals my purchases then i just add the tax...that way at the end of my trip I go through my list and if the total is too high I look and see if I got something that I can really do without, (like the ice cream) and that way it helps me keep on budget and not be so shocked at the checkout line. - 1/10/2015 2:16:26 PM
  • I must be a total freak! I would much rather spend more money on quality food than eat crap! I also like to bike to the grocery store. Having lived in my own homes with huge pantries and then moved into small apartments, riding a bike makes me buy less at a time. If you buy less you waste less! I try to plan out my menus and maybe buy most of my weekly items once a week, but sometimes I know things like fresh produce or fresh fish will need to be bought day of, rather than freeze it or let it sit in the fridge to go bad. In fact just last week I bought too many mushrooms, now I have a few of those to toss, too late I noticed or I would have dried them at the very least. :( - 1/9/2015 7:00:19 PM
  • Where I live there are few coupons other than mfg. coupons on highly processed food and unlike the U S we don't have double coupon or special coupon days. Re: bulk food---you have to be really careful that nuts, seeds, dried fruit etc. aren't totally stale; taste one if you can, other wise you're better with the store brand packaged ones.
    I do most of the things mentioned but no car means either the nearest store, regardless; or counting on friends and relatives to go further i.e. markets. - 1/9/2015 1:07:19 AM
  • It also depends where you are. Here, in Australia, we don't have coupons, nor is there price matching, or shopper reward cards. Produce (especially) is ridiculously expensive when compared to places like the US.

    Also, calling brown rice cheaper... since when? Here, it's almost triple the price of white, and for a smaller amount. - 1/1/2015 12:04:07 AM
    Some of these are valid, others not so much. Brown rice is more expensive than white, black beans are about the same price as refried, soda will cost you as much if not more as bottled flavored water. Gardening can be great, but not always, you need to concentrate on high priced produce, think persimmons not carrots. There is always so much focus on meat, but our meat bill is less than our produce bill. - 11/21/2014 4:10:54 AM

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