Nutrition Articles

15 Ways to Save Big Bucks on Healthy Groceries

Beyond Clipping Coupons: Real-World Strategies that Work


Make smart substitutions.
This one may be hard for some of us, but it has the potential to save you a great deal. Think about what you eat, and then think about what may be a cheaper—at equally healthy—substitute. Like breakfast cereal? Oatmeal is usually cheaper. Love soda? Try sparkling water with a little fruit juice mixed in. Snack on chips? Pop some popcorn kernels on your stovetop instead. Be willing to make substitutions on brands and specific ingredients based on sales, too. You may find that a different brand or flavor of yogurt, for example, is a better deal one week. Snag it!

Buy whole foods.
Sometimes, the less processed a food is, the cheaper it is per serving. Apples may cost less than applesauce or apple juice. Canned black beans will be cheaper than refried beans. A block of cheese costs less than shredded cheese. Whole grains like brown rice and oats will be cheaper than processed cereals. Think about the original, whole food that a product is made from and decide if you can eat that whole food as-is or use it to make your own sauce, cereal or juice—instead of paying food manufacturers to do it for you.

Buy in bulk.
Long a staple of natural food stores, bulk or “bag and weigh” sections are now appearing in traditional supermarkets. Items like flour, beans, rice, nuts, and dried fruits are available for less than prepackaged versions of the same foods.

Don’t get stuck in the middle (of the grocery store).
Packaged foods have been condensed, salted, refined, sweetened, or otherwise processed. They may seem like a good deal, providing more calories for less money, but those calories usually aren't very nutritious. Resist the lure of the middle aisles and stick to the perimeter of the grocery store; you’ll save money and wind up with bags full of whole foods. When you do find yourself in the middle aisles, aim your gaze toward the top or bottom of the shelves, where the prices are usually lower. Grocers strategically place higher-priced products at eye level.

Eat your protein without the meat.
Try substituting one meat meal per week with a vegetarian meal to save money and benefit your health. Beans, eggs, and tofu all provide high-quality protein for a fraction of the cost of meat. Find more meat-free protein ideas and inexpensive meatless meal ideas.

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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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