Home » Grocery Shopping on a Budget: 8 Reliable Tips

Grocery Shopping on a Budget: 8 Reliable Tips

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With any task today there seems to be an added addendum describing how to do it on a budget. Grocery shopping on a budget is no exception. Every day some other essential item seems to go up in price, forcing you to once again reexamine what fruits and vegetables are considered budget-friendly. Saving money on your grocery bill is a challenging goal, but not an impossible one.

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Grocery Shopping on a Budget

There is no way around the fact that the costs of goods have simply gone up. Everything from inflation to distribution has affected how much you pay for a cut of meat, a quart of cottage cheese or even an egg. To help alleviate a bit of your food budget, here are eight great ways to fill your plate without breaking the bank: 

  1. Meal plan
  2. Utilize your leftovers
  3. Create a budget for your grocery list
  4. Subscribe to grocery store emails
  5. Compare prices and shop around
  6. Grocery shop online
  7. Buy generic or store brands
  8. Buy in bulk

1. Meal Plan 

When you have your meals planned out for the week, you are more likely to stick to buying those specific grocery items from your list. For example, if you know one of your meals will be a stir fry with ground beef and fresh vegetables, you can just buy those ingredients instead of participating in a lot of impulse buying.

Sometimes it helps to start small and just try planning your meals for one day, then when that feels comfortable, work your way up to a week. Once you get in the habit of doing this, you’ll be less overwhelmed when you are grocery shopping and will only buy the items you need.

2. Utilize Your Leftovers 

That bag of baby spinach you buy that goes into the back of your refrigerator to die until next week’s grocery run could be used to make a special pesto or minced into a dip. Food waste is common, but it is also avoidable. Making sure you use everything you buy will help enforce having a more critical eye on what you buy and when you buy it. 

You could even take a free online cooking class to learn how to make things from ingredients you are trying to use up before they go bad. Have some extra parsley? Make a green goddess salad dressing. Too much fresh fruit? Bake a fresh pie. Not only do these little changes avoid waste but they also extend the timeline as to when you’ll have to shop next.

3. Create a Budget for Your Grocery List 

It is time to be strict with yourself as usually all bets are off once you step foot in the grocery store, but be strong. Create a budget and outline only the things you need to buy on your grocery list. It doesn’t matter if there is a new flavored Oreo, it’s not on the list so it doesn’t go in the basket. Here are a few other helpful hints for sticking to your budget:

  • Don’t shop hungry: When you are hungry you are more likely to buy things you don’t need to, so have a snack before you shop.
  • Only bring cash: By just bringing cash to the grocery store, you won’t be allowed to go over your allotted amount as you won’t have another way to pay.

4. Subscribe to Grocery Store Emails 

Most major grocery stores or chains have emails they send out to their customer base which upcoming sales and coupon alerts. Signing up for these email newsletters will keep you in the loop on discounts, many of which are catered to your shopping habits.

Aside from emails, there are a few other ways to get store-specific savings:

  • Daily flyers: When you walk into the store, sometimes they will have store flyers you can scan through to see what deals you can get in real-time.
  • Store rewards cards: If you frequently shop at a certain store, make sure to get the rewards card as that will automatically get you any discounts upon checkout for sale items.

5. Compare Prices and Shop Around 

With so many stores to choose from there is no need to settle on one store just because you’ve always gone there. Bargain hunting from store to store is a great way to grocery shop on a budget. Compare prices from one local store to the next and you may be surprised as to what savings you discover. Not only could there be a huge difference in price points overall, but it is also a good way to see which has better sales regularly.

6. Grocery Shop Online 

Grocery shopping online can save you time and gas money. In addition, it can also relieve you from the temptation of buying things you don’t need. For example, there is no bakery aisle to smell donuts in or sample stations to test your willpower. You can also schedule grocery delivery for a time in your schedule that works for you, which is a good way to budget both your money and your time.

7. Buy Generic or Store Brands 

If you switch to generic brands when shopping you could save more money than you might think. For instance, if you buy a name-brand box of cereal every week when grocery shopping, you are probably spending around $5. This is more than twice the price of the generic brand, which generally costs around $2.50. This may not seem like a big difference but it is a savings of $10 a month, which is $120 a year. Little changes can add up to big savings.

8. Buy In Bulk 

Buying in bulk isn’t a good rule for every grocery item across the board, but for non-perishable items you know you will use, it can be the smart move. Stores such as Sam’s Club, Costco or even Amazon have bulk options that lead to big savings. If you have the storage capability or extra freezer space, this can be a good way to stretch your budget long-term.

Final Take

Setting a realistic budget for groceries and sticking to it takes discipline but will also be a source of motivation when you see the savings start to pile up. By following some of these tips, you could save hundreds of dollars a month. Take the time to pick your plan of action before your next trip to the grocery store.


Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about grocery shopping on a budget.

  • What is a realistic budget for groceries?
    • Your realistic budget for groceries will depend on your family size but here are some examples of a budget range for a family of four:
      • Low-cost budget: Plan on spending $200 to $250 a week.
      • Moderate-cost budget: Plan on spending $250 to $350 a week.
      • Liberal budget: Plan on spending $350 to $400 a week.
  • How can you spend $30 a week on groceries?
    • To spend $30 a week on groceries for one person would mean stocking up on a lot of grains and oats that last a long time and go a long way. You can sprinkle in a few fresh fruits and veggies, but going meatless will also help you cut down on costs.