Health & Wellness Articles

Members Share How They Save Money on Groceries

Over 30 Tips to Shrink Your Food Bill and Still Eat Well

14SHARES
Most people spend about 10% of their take-home money on food, but it's a misconception that you can't buy quality, healthy foods on a tight budget.

SparkPeople members contradict that myth by sharing the many ways they stay healthy and eat well for less.

 

  • "When I make my shopping list, I write things like 'dinner for 3 days' and then once in the store, I see what's on sale. 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."
    --NELLGWYN
     
  • "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 so she can deep-freeze it. Sometimes they go in on a cow with a friend since it gives you tons of meat at a lower price."
    --TEEBOP6
     
  • "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."
    --DEMIKIT
     
  • "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."
    -- TRILLIANTOO
     
  • "By eating less meat, we can save our money for wild salmon and seafood and lean chicken or turkey."
    --MARYLOUK
     
  • "I've stopped using coupons on most groceries because they evened out the prices on a more expensive brand or tempted me to buy things I didn't need."
    --ANARIE
     
  • "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 own spice jars, filling it up from the bulk bins."
    --TRILLIANTOO
     
  • "We buy quality meats and fish, but use discount grocery chains for pantry items like milk, bread, yogurt, etc."
    --CSTEVENSON
     
  • "Slightly limp or wilted fresh vegetables don't need to be thrown away. Sautéing them will bring them back to life."
    --WYLDMOONWOMAN
     
  • "I always thought I couldn't afford to buy the healthy foods that I knew I should be eating. Then, when I got serious about losing weight, I stopped buying cookies, candy, donuts, chips, and such. Lo and behold, I had enough money to buy fresh fruit, veggies, whole grain cereals and pasta and more!"
    --WANNABE46GRAM
     
  • "My friends and I started our own version of 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."
    --OLIVEME
     
  • "Be flexible. If you get to the grocery store and they have something unbelievable on sale, then adapt your menus accordingly."
    --JENNIW70
     
  • "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)."
    --KIKISMOMMY
     
  • "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."
    --OLIVEME
     
  • "Dry beans are a great, cheap source of protein and fiber. Once you soak them overnight, they cook quickly."
    --WYLDMOONWOMAN
     
  • "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."
    --MYABERT
     
  • "Look for sales on the items that you normally eat and stock up, such as frozen vegetables or canned foods. "
    --OLIVEME
     
  • "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."
    --NUBIENNELADY
     
  • "Don't waste money on pre-packaged foods. If you like flavored oatmeal, add cinnamon and brown sugar to your bulk oats."
    -- CRMAGNO
     
  • "Buy in bulk when you find sales, especially on beans, rice, pasta, and meats. Don't throw away meat that is left over 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."
    --CRMAGNO
     
  • "I do batch cooking. I cook a chicken in the crock pot that will feed us for at least three meals, and I also am make big pots of chili. It helps me save money at the grocery store when I have my meals planned for the week!"
    --1LBATATIME
     
  • "Every Monday I don't serve 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."
    --AM.GIRLINBRAZIL
     
  • "I save empty cans and plastic bottles to get a container deposit refund. In California, throwing plastic bottles away is like throwing away money. I make over $7 for each garbage bag full."
    --OBLAIDON
     
  • "I gave up buying cereal. Toast, fruit and oatmeal are all cheaper than a box of cereal that only lasts a few days. I also get my bread in bulk from a bakery outlet and freeze it until I need it."
    --1LBATATIME
How do you save money on healthy foods? Share your tips in the comments section!

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Member Comments

  • We joined a CSA this summer and while I'm sometimes overwhelmed with so many fresh vegetables that I have to clean and cook, our dinners are healthier and we're eating better
  • I LIVE IN A REMOTE PART OF IDAHO AND FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES COST A TON! SOMETIMES MORE THAN MEAT! SO SOME PEOPLE HAVE STARTED A PRODUCE CO-OP SUCH AS "BOUNTIFUL BASKETS" THAT PURCHASES IN WHOLE SALE LOTS FROM THE GROWER DIRECTLY AND THEN DIVIDES AND SHIPS THE LOT BETWEEN THOSE WHO SIGNED UP. I PAY $16.00 FOR A LAUNDRY BASKET OF FRESH PRODUCE! I AM SUPER-FRUGAL, SO THIS HAS BEEN A BLESSING FOR MY FAMILY OF 6!
  • I quit buying food in boxes, and started making healthy meals from scratch. I watch cooking shows and get recipes off the internet. It doesn't really take that much more time and my family enjoys the homecooked meals more.
  • YOGAYARNIE
    I bought a bread machine for $5 at a garage sale. It's a fairly quick and easy way to get high-quality breads. You get the quality and flavor of the more expensive grocery breads, without the price.
  • JLOAGOGO
    I always go to the ethnic grocers- Hispanic and Asian markets, in particular, have fresh veggies and fruits on the cheap! The selection almost always includes all the usual plus some interesting and tasty fruits and veggies that you may never have heard of. Get creative!
  • This is great! Make a food list of what you really need. Then go to smartsource.com it will ask for your zip code. Then turn your printer on cause this is great. after zip is added it will show you all the circulars in your area your pick the sale items like walgreens eggs are 99 cents this week. etc but wait this is the best part. you click on the items it sets up a food list but the items are all split up buy store. and if the item isn't on sale you show manager the list and he has to honor it. Or give you a raincheck. the printed list also does the math for you and tells you how much you are going to spend and how much you saved. Its is the best I have ever seen i do this all the time.
  • With the kids grown and mostly gone, it becomes time to rethink how much I cook,what to cook,and how to save money. My sweet hubby bought a food saver for us last year. It is a life saver as well as a big money saver! I can buy in bulk, I can also take advantage of using coupons for bulkier buys when available. One word about coupons: they are valuable when you know how to use them. The little bit of work and organization it takes goes such a long way in the long haul. My daughter regularly saves double and triple what her groceries would cost without this learned skill!
  • I make a menu for the week, I shop at a store called Aldi's and if they do not have what I need I then go to a big store. I have my list made up and coupons for the bigger stores but I mostly get everything at the one store. I make my own laundry soap and that has saved me loads of money, I hang my clothes whenever I can and this year I will be doing my own fabric softner in the dryer. I also like to buy locally when I can.
  • 6REBECCA
    I'm not a vegetarian, but many of my meals are meatless because it's so much cheaper to use beans than meat. Canned beans at the store I shop at are about 70 cents/lb. Also, buying what's in-season for fruits and veggies is cheaper and tastes better. :)
  • RISRMC
    I buy boneless skinnless chicken breast on sale, cook what I need and then freeze the rest. Then when the price doubles, I don't need to buy it, I go to my freezer and use what I have.
  • I think one of the problems our culture has is the attitude that we should buy the cheapest food possible. Food is what fuels us. I agree with others that said cutback elsewhere in your life.
  • I have a bread machine on my bench and make 50/50 wholemeal, costs us only a few cents to make instead of $1 to $5 per loaf. Save time and not be too tempted to over indulge on fresh bread by making the bread over night, set the timer so that the bread is ready in the morning. We have cereal for breakfast so are not tempted to eat the hot bread by it's delicious aroma. If you take sandwiches to work just put the ingrediants into the machine before you go to work so that you have it ready for the next day. Takes less than five minutes to measure ingrediants.
  • I got a food saver, Now i cook healthy meals and portion them out and freeze. This helps me to remember how muck i can have and gives me more to choose from. Cooking in bulk aslo helps to save money nothing is being throw away. All left overs are still good and i need to shop much less. I have saved over 75 to 100 bucks a shopping trip.
  • I keep 2 gallon-size Ziplock bags in the freezer. One bag gets vegetable peels and trimmings (onion skins, carrot tops, celery leaves, etc., no potatoes, though). When it's full, I toss it into a pot with water and boil for a few minutes. Free vegetable broth!
    Whenever we have leftover cooked veggies, I toss them into the other bag. I add those to casseroles and soups.
  • Every so often, I make enough pizza dough for 4 pizzas which I then freeze. It makes a very quick and inexpensive dinner when we are short on ideas and energy. It is much easier to do than it looks. I also found a very simple sandwich bread recipe. I bake two loaves then freeze one. For both, most of the time is spent doing other things while the dough rises.


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