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How to Save Money on Groceries (advice you haven’t heard before)

You’re here because you want to know how to save money on groceries.

I have some solid advice and a few tricks up my sleeve to help you out. But first I’ll be honest with you. I’m not someone who goes to the grocery store, gets an entire cart of food and pays $6.30 for it.

So if you’re looking for a master couponer or someone who runs to 7 grocery stores every week, you’re not going to find it here. You’re also not going to find advice like ‘shop the ads’ and ‘always buy generic’ because that’s not me either.

What I hope to do is inspire you to think differently about how to save money on groceries. So here goes…

How to save money on groceries (without coupons)

Create your menu based on colors

Then find what’s on sale.

For instance you could decide you want green veggies 3 times this week. So put green veggies on your list and when you get to the store you find out which green veggies are on sale.

Buy what looks good and what works with your meal plan. Just don’t overbuy!

The same works for fruits. Let’s say you want to make sure your family has 4 different fruits on rotation this week. Get to your favorite produce store and pick out the 4 fruits that are on sale or will stretch your budget the furthest.

save on produce - stop wasting food
Photo credit: Nikki’s. Challenge yourself to stop wasting food to save more on groceries.

Related reads:
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How to stop impulse buying

100 Practical and Interesting Things to Save Up For

Stop wasting food

I mean it. Just stop.

If you buy excess food, you will waste excess food (and money).

Let’s say you buy a bunch of bananas every week. And by the end of the week you throw one banana out because it’s just too brown to handle. That’s $.21 (average banana price) each week literally thrown in the trash. So by the end of the year you will have wasted nearly $11 in bananas. Now will this $11 buy you a trip to Hawaii? Of course not. That’s ridiculous.

But what if you threw part of your food away every time you bought asparagus, a loaf of bread, a pound of chicken, a gallon of milk, or literally anything else? My point is it will all add up.

Check out the zero food waste challenge I did for an entire year, and came up with 10 easy ways to reduce food waste and save money.

So make a plan with the food you already have and stick to that plan.

Don’t be tempted at the store to buy stuff just because it’s on sale. This goes for anything, not just food. But since this is an article on how to spend less money on groceries, let’s keep going with that.

Now if you are planning to buy apples for a baked dessert and you find that peaches are on sale and will work in your dessert, then shift your plan. Don’t buy the apples and the peaches. Just buy the peaches and get to baking.

And friend, if you don’t think this is important, try tracking your food waste. Keep a notebook handy in your kitchen and anytime you throw something out, write down an estimate of how much it cost. I’ve done this and the results were impressive. And not in a good way.

save money on groceries with produce and bulk items
Photo credit: Nikki’s. Save even more money at the store with produce and bulk items.

Freeze your extras

Since we just talked about wasting food, let me cue you in on a trick that’s a great way to save money on groceries. I freeze the extra’s of almost everything. I mean it. Super ripe fruit, half a bunch of spinach, one scoop of leftover soup, that lonesome enchilada at the bottom of the pan….literally everything.

Most foods you can re-freeze. So if you only need 1/2 an onion for a recipe, chop up the rest and freeze it.

The best method to freeze produce is to chop it first. Then lay it flat on a plate or tray and place in the freezer for 1 hour. Following that, scoop it into a reusable container (glass jars work awesome!) Just make sure to use it within 6 months.

By freezing extras, you’re eliminating future purchases, using what you have wisely and saving money in the long run.

If you’re still asking yourself, ‘how can I save even more money on groceries?’ then keep reading.

Buy in bulk

I’m not saying to go to Costco or Sam’s Club, although many people love wholesale stores. I’m talking about bulk foods that you can get at a discount because suppliers don’t have to pay to package it.

Find a store that has a generous bulk section. You might be surprised with all the options! My favorites are dark chocolate covered almonds, which I buy at half the price of packaged. You can find anything from dried fruits to trail mix to rice and coffee in bulk.

Just make sure to transfer the food to air-tight containers when you get home so it stays fresh.

how to spend less on groceries - buy in bulk
Photo credit: Nikki’s. Spend less money on food by buying in bulk

Find the right store(s) for you

I recommend to find 2-3 stores that are your regular shopping spots, based on the foods you eat, locations and your values. Each store or chain has their specialty. Discover your favorites and then rotate when you go to them so you’re not going to all 3 every week. Who has time for that?

This helps to save money on food because you’re spending efficiently. You know what’s a good price (and value) at each store. You’re not buying crappy produce and throwing it out two days later, or getting generic brand chips that taste like cardboard. Yuck.

For instance I found a grocery store that has excellent produce, meat, bulk selection and gluten-free alternatives. I typically shop there weekly. My second store is where I buy packaged items and cheap dairy. I usually stop in every 2-3 weeks. The third store is where I find the cheapest-of-the-cheap stuff. Visits here are as-needed.

Related reads:
10 Items to buy that actually save you money
6 Steps to build an emergency fund

Skip the store

I mean, I know I just got done telling you my store strategy. But the months I save the most money on food are when I skip going grocery shopping for a week (or more).

Ask yourself – do you really need to go to the store? Do you go to the store every Saturday morning (or whenever your routine time is) because you need to, or because that’s what you do on Saturday mornings? If you can pull together enough food for the week from eating what you have, make that budget stretch and avoid the grocery store this week.

And there they are. Tips on how to save money on groceries.

Friend, I hope this list has been helpful to you. As a busy mom and avid traveler, I want no-fuss grocery shopping. I love eating healthy and saving money, but I don’t want to spend my entire weekend running around from store to store.

Hopefully this advice has hit home with you. If it has, drop a comment below or share it with a friend!

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Sunday 18th of August 2019

My husband and I just started talking about using what's in our fridge and pantry and not grocery shopping every week.


Monday 19th of August 2019

That's awesome, Kimberlie! It really does all add up!


Thursday 27th of June 2019

Great tips! Thank you for sharing. I didn’t think to use glass jars for freezing extras. I’ll have to try that.


Thursday 27th of June 2019

Thanks Patrice! Enjoy with your newly found savings!


Thursday 27th of June 2019

These are seriously so helpful!! I’ve started putting in so much effort to only go to the store once a week and it’s helped a lot. And I’m trying to freeze anything I can!


Thursday 27th of June 2019

That's awesome, Alanna! I never realized how much I threw out until I started freezing! So glad you're saving, too!


Thursday 27th of June 2019

I just recently realized why my mom goes to 3 different grocery stores for certain things. It’s because she knows where things are cheapest. She apparently didn’t train me very well haha! But I do know to buy in bulk and stick to my list except for one extra treat! :)


Thursday 27th of June 2019

Your mom is a smart lady. :) Also I love your approach about the one extra treat!!

Disha Smith

Thursday 27th of June 2019

I love all of these tips. These are tips I've never heard of. If I'm cooking something and realize that I forgot to buy something from the store, I make the dish without it. That has saved me a lot of money. If I go in to buy tomatoes that I forgot, I'll wander down a few more aisles and buy other things I don't need.


Thursday 27th of June 2019

You are so right! Love your philosophy to just skip the ingredient. Smart!