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How to Save Money on Groceries

Can you save money on groceries in today’s economy? Yes, but you have to be smart about your grocery shopping. I’ve prided myself in finding ways to save money at the grocery store. Below you’ll find some of my best tips to help you get through tough economic times when food prices are at an all-time high.

Cart on grocery aisle with dollar sign

Smart Grocery Shopping: How to Save Money Without Sacrificing Quality

In today’s economy, where prices seem to only go up, saving money on groceries is more important than ever. With a few of the strategies I use and a bit of preparation, you can significantly cut your grocery bills while still enjoying delicious, healthy meals.

We rarely go to restaurants any more because it one meal costs almost as much as a week’s worth of groceries. But I’m fine with that. In fact, I’ve had some fun figuring out how to cut our food costs without having to sacrifice deliciousness. Here’s how I do it:

Plan Meals

I start by planning my meals for the week. This step is crucial as it helps to buy only what you, reducing both excess spending and food waste. Check what you already have in your pantry and fridge to avoid buying duplicates. Use this inventory to plan meals around ingredients you need to use up.

Have a list of budget-friendly meals, like this crowd-pleasing hamburger Tater Tot casserole. One casserole can feed a fairly large hungry crowd. Or you can divide it half portions and freeze half of it for another day.

hamburger Tater Tot casserole

Make a Shopping List—and Stick to It

Once the week’s meals are planned, I like to make a detailed shopping list. This list keeps me focused and helps to avoid impulse buys, which often tend to be unnecessary and pricey. You can use a shopping list app to help you organize your list and keep track of what you need vs. what you have.

Shop Less Often

I try to reduce the number of trips I make to the grocery store. Shopping once a week or even bi-weekly, with a well-planned list, can significantly cut down on impulse spending. It also saves time and transportation costs. 

Another way to cut impulse spending is to find a grocery store that delivers for free or a very low fee. I’ve noticed that when I order online, I’m not as tempted as I am with all of the tempting items in the checkout area.

Buy Store Brands

I generally opt for store brands when possible. These products are usually significantly cheaper than their name-brand counterparts and are often produced in the same factories, which means that the quality is usually the same or close to name brands. For many staples like flour, sugar, salt, and even spices, the store brand offers substantial savings.

If I’m not sure whether or not I’ll like a store brand, I purchase it in a smaller amount. So far, I haven’t been able to tell the difference much, if at all.

Use Coupons, Loyalty Programs, and Apps

I often take advantage of coupons and store loyalty programs. Digital coupons can be loaded directly to a store card, and many stores offer automatic discounts to loyalty members at checkout. I also use the Ibotta and Fetch apps, which provide cash-back options or gift cards for purchasing specific items.

Buy in Bulk

For non-perishable items and products that I use regularly, I often buy in bulk. Bulk items sometimes (but not always) have a lower cost per unit and can save you money in the long run. Be sure you have enough storage space and that you’re purchasing items you’re certain you’ll use. Also be aware of the shelf life of bulk items.

Choose Seasonal and Local Produce

Seasonal produce is not only cheaper but also at its peak flavor. Local markets can offer better deals on fruits and vegetables than big supermarkets. Additionally, by purchasing locally, you support community farmers and reduce the environmental impact associated with long-distance food transportation. Also check the freezer section and compare the price per pound or ounce to the fresh produce.

vegetables and fruits at a produce stand

When I go to a farmer’s market, I look for my favorite veggies. One delicious but budget-friendly meal I make with fresh ingredients is this eggplant parmesan. It’s flavorful and very filling, and I feel good about serving it to my family.

pan of eggplant parmesan

And sometimes the people who run the vegetable stands are willing to discount what’s left at the end of the day. The only issue with that might be not having the best selection.

Avoid Pre-cut, Pre-packaged Items

I find that pre-cut fruits and vegetables are convenient but often cost much more than their whole counterparts. Spend a few extra minutes chopping and preparing produce to save a significant amount on your grocery bill.

Check Unit Prices

I always look at the unit price, usually listed on the price tag on the shelf. This tells you how much an item costs per ounce or pound and helps compare different brands and sizes to find the best deal. This way you can avoid what is now called “shrinkflation,” a way for food companies to trick you by decreasing the amount of food in a package while charging the same price as before.

Make Inexpensive Soups and Stews

I am a big believer in using my slow cooker or Instant Pot to make delicious and comforting soup with inexpensive ingredients. For example, one bag of dried lentils and a few other items in my pantry deliver this amazingly filling and wonderful lentil soup. I make this in my Instant Pot, but the same recipe also works in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. It just takes a few hours longer.

Lentil soup in a bowl

Find Ways to Save on Meat

Meat is typically one of the most expensive items on any grocery bill. Either use meat sparingly or purchase as much as you can afford when it goes on sale. Then take it home and freeze it.

Another tactic I like to use is to purchase a cheaper cut of meat and find ways to make it taste good. My slow cooker and Instant Pot come in really handy when I find less marbled (and usually tougher) meat. Cooking it long and slow or with pressure has a tenderizing effect.

Embrace Leftovers

Very rarely do I throw food away. Instead, I wrap up leftovers and either refrigerate or freeze them. Before you put something in the freezer, make sure it’s in an airtight container that you label with the contents and date. It should be good for at least two months in the freezer. If I’m eating the food within a couple of days, I refrigerate it and then heat it up when I want to eat it.

A Few More Budget-Friendly Dishes

As I already mentioned, I like to have some inexpensive recipes in my dinner rotation. Here are a few we enjoy:

Air Fried Chicken Thighs – When I purchase chicken, I often reach for either the thighs or drumsticks because they’re much less expensive than other cuts. Plus I think they have more flavor.

chicken thighs in an air fryer

Flavorful Meatloaf – Hamburger meat is probably one of the least expensive ways to purchase beef. When I make this meatloaf, no one ever feels that they’re being slighted just because it doesn’t cost a fortune. In fact, it’s often requested.

plate of meatloaf

Stuffed Shells – Here’s an easy but yummy recipe that is kind to your pocketbook. This dish from Julia’s Simply Southern will make everyone happy to join you at the dinner table. Make enough to freeze for another meal!

Honey Glazed Chicken Legs – Everyone in the family absolutely loves this main dish! You can serve it with a side salad and some mac and cheese for a balanced meal. Both of these dishes make wonderful leftovers!

3 honey-glazed chicken legs on a plate

Burrito Casserole – The foundation of this recipe is frozen burritos. So when they go on sale, I load up. This dish is absolutely packed with flavor, and it’s easy to make! 

burrito casserole and burrito on a plate

Money Saving Strategies

By using these strategies when shopping for food and preparing meals, you can make your grocery budget go further. Remember, saving money on groceries doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality and taste. With careful planning and smart choices, you can enjoy nutritious, satisfying meals while keeping your finances in check.

Do you have money saving tips for buying groceries? If so, please share in the comments. I’d love to hear about them.

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