Nutrition Articles

15 Ways to Save Big Bucks on Healthy Groceries

Beyond Clipping Coupons: Real-World Strategies that Work

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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.

Plan!
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

  • I would love to grow a garden, but I don't have a yard. I live in an apartment without a balcony or any good lighting. So I would have to buy supplies to indoor garden and I just don't have the time. I wish I could though. Some of those tips are great though! - 8/10/2014 4:29:09 PM
  • OVERCOMING36
    I price match. Our Wal-mart stores match the prices of Items on sale from other stores within a 20 mile radius. I combine that with coupons and save some money. I plan out my list and try not to go over my budget. - 7/12/2014 11:28:14 AM
  • I can walk into a store hungry and it's not an issue. I walk into a grocery store thirsty and there is an issue. I will go quickly and grab foods without thinking, so that I can get out and get water. For me water is my trigger and fortunately the main store I shop at has water cooler for the public. It's knowing your own personal triggers. I know others who do fine until they see a sale especially if it's chocolate bars up at the till. Know your own triggers and then set up a plan to move through those triggers.

    In my community (northern) meat is cheaper than eggs, cheese is out of reach it's so expensive and tofu - that would break the bank account. It's knowing what is and isn't economical in your community.

    Buying generic, it is not equal at all times to brand names. In my community many will not buy a specific generic brand because the food is inferior. Example: tuna fish, all is not created equal with canned tuna.

    Despite the article stating "it's easy" container gardening is an "art unto itself" and not possible for many of us that live in apts that either do not have balconies or where it's not safe - not everyone has the privelage of living in safe neighbourhoods. Stating that, if your area has a community garden, take advantage of that as those are usually secured and safe, so that you can grow vegestables through the summer.

    I wish articles would stop telling folks to shop only the outside of the grocery store. The interior of the store holds all the items for baking, holds items for making soups and stews and has all the canned goods, rice and crackers that one needs. When you live in northern rural areas, canned food is a necessity in the winter. Plus the interior holds the cleaning supplies and coffee. It's simply shopping smart rather than avoiding.

    Last I used to use a calculator when I was first learning budgeting and it's very effective. My roommate and I would put in the amount we had to spend, then minus as we filled the cart. It kept us on budget and when combined with a list, it was v... - 10/18/2013 12:51:40 PM
  • This falls within the "clipping coupons" category: USE YOUR REWARDS CARD! Some stores reward you with savings on other things you buy that might have nothing to do with your groceries - like GASOLINE for your car!!

    Every two weeks, I do my big grocery shopping at one store, collect the rewards points, then go fill my tank (using the points I just earned). I have saved 10-20 cents off PER GALLON when I fill up after a grocery shopping spree. Pairing these two bi-weekly errands together has probably saved me up to $100 per month!! :) - 10/18/2013 12:01:20 PM
  • THEBGB
    Under the 'buy in bulk' section the first sentence starts "Long a staple of natural food stores..." Think you were going for 'Lots of staples of natural food stores'
    Pro-editing!!! - 10/18/2013 10:07:24 AM
  • Growing a garden is hard work, there's getting the ground ready, planting (getting the right plants for your climate) watering, weeding and hoping the pests do not come and ruin everything you have tried so hard grow. With the time and cost of everything you need I'm about to give up my gardening, just have not had any good pay back out of it for the last 2 years. - 8/2/2013 10:57:50 AM
  • If you shop at a major store, make sure you sign up for whatever savings cards they offer. My store has all sorts of deals that I can view online and add to my list. A lot of times there are personalized deals on things that I buy all the time, like bananas. It's worth it to check the site once a week to see what there is. - 8/1/2013 6:46:44 AM
  • Good article, especially for newbies; and some good reminders for some of us who know better, but slip now and then. - 4/29/2013 1:04:12 PM
  • My fiance loves to look at the price lables on the shelves. Where we are they list the cost of each item per 100g. So sometimes that sale item is actually not such a great deal and we go for the regular price item because, in the end, we're actually saving. We're huge on no name generic brands as well and grab the discount meats and breads and shove them in the deep freeze. (i don't eat much bread anymore myself but it's good for the kids to have around).
    - 3/12/2013 12:29:45 PM
  • SJWEBB
    I do once a month big shopping with a list organized by the layout of each store and a time schedule to get done and then fresh foods weekly the rest of the month. Being on a schedule helps me not stray. I'm willing to shop at several stores and break my list out based on what I buy at each store. I've switched my vegi and fruit shopping away from the local chain stores and to a smaller place and am always pleased with how much I get for my money. I don't always shop the sales since we live out of town. Often times buying in bulk and re-packaging things at home saves me enough money to balance out more gas to shop the sales. - 3/12/2013 12:19:39 PM
  • When you are gluten free, everything triples in price. Hard to save. ; ( - 3/12/2013 12:10:17 PM
  • I agree with Bluekitty. Nothing I don't already do here. The suggestion on checking clearance can be a setback too. I recently was looking at a package of close to date ground chuck that was discounted from $3.99 lb to $3.59 lb, yet it was on sale for $3.49 lb. I started checking other "discounts" and found this practice was quite common! - 1/31/2013 9:16:39 AM
  • I have yet to read one of these articles that teaches me something new. I keep hoping for it. - 12/1/2012 5:49:57 AM
  • TRUELIFEDIVA
    Another money saving tip is to peruse the clearance section of the bakery, meat, and seafood counters of your local grocery store. Items that are near the experation date are often 1/2 off or better. I just repack in single servings (ziplock bags) and freeze. I save tons of money this way :-) - 12/1/2012 12:01:43 AM
  • Have always shopped like this. Keep whole wheat flour, oatmeal, steel cut oats, etc. in freezer so can buy in larger quantities. Freezers and cupboards are full because I buy when on sale. And I don't leave food there too long, just keep rotating. - 11/30/2012 7:59:59 PM

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