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Save Money on Groceries {a series}

Save-Money-on-Groceries-LARGE I don’t know about you, but it takes constant vigilance to keep high grocery bills at bay. Prices are continually rising, so we have to be on our toes. Like I said years ago, I will not go quietly. At least not when it comes to feeding my family well and still staying solvent. That’s what I’m laying on the table this month: tips on how to save money on groceries.

A Month-long Money Saving Series

Two years ago I posted a month-long series on freezer cooking. Last year, I shared DIY Convenience Foods. This year, I’m going for the grocery dollar. I hope you’ll join in and share what works for you. Over the next month, I’ll be sharing lots of ideas, tips, and tricks for saving money on groceries. Some might be old familiar strategies; some might be new to you. Either way, I’m counting on you to chime in and share what works for you. We both know that what works for Household A doesn’t always work for Household B when it comes to trimming the excess from the grocery budget. One family might really prioritize gourmet coffee and organic foods while another might lean on getting the rock bottom price on everything in order to divert the funds elsewhere. You have to make the best decision you can for the situation you live in.

What’s your biggest grocery challenge?

Save Money on Groceries

This is part of the How to Save Money on Groceries series. Scroll through the archives to get tips and tricks for reducing your grocery total at the checkout stand.

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Comments

  1. My dairy-allergic son has a favorite vegan cheese that tastes good and melts nicely, but is expensive. I refuse to leave him out of pizza night, but haven’t found an alternative that’s less expensive.

    I know this is not a problem for most of your readers, but I bet many with food allergies have similar challenges to their grocery budgets due to buying more expensive, allergy-safe items. I’d love to hear tips on saving on groceries even with allergies!

    • Debbie W. says:

      My son is also dairy-free and I love the Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds. They taste much better than many of the choices out there and they are a pretty good price.

    • Hi
      I appreciate your challenge Kelly. We have been managing with Celiac disease for 8 years now. I definitely agree with refusing to leave one person out for meals. Unfortunately I have no great ideas to share though. We do cook mostly from scratch and eat to avoid gluten. We do also occasionally accommodate my daughter with Celiac to have a separate meal that is special to her and have the gluten alternative for the rest of the family (which is less expensive then having us all eat gluten free) Just need to watch for cross contamination. Avoiding the offending agent and looking for well received alternatives has been the basis of our eating strategy. Good eating!!

  2. June Combs says:

    Hi ~ organic meat, berries, picky eaters, & not taking the time to plan the meals? The stores seem to change too, the store i love but has a reputation of higher prices now has either the same or lower prices on the things we buy?

  3. My biggest challenge these days is picky eaters vs. the sheer volume of food that growing boys can eat. Pounds and pounds of apples, cheese, granola bars, milk, etc.

  4. sourcing meats, understanding the value of different ‘terms’ for meat were big stumbling blocks for me till I got the hang of it. Waste from ‘experimenting’ LOL. What’s ‘worthwhile’ to DIY and what’s not were a learning process.

    great idea for a series – it’s on everyone’s mind these days!

    • Oh Cherie, that’s a good one – “waste from experimenting.” I don’t know how many times I have WAY over-purchased either on ingredients to try a new recipe or finding a “deal” on an item my family has not tried. It’s not a deal if you have to throw it out!?! Case in point, 5 lbs of wild rice that my family hated. I could not even hide in a casserole with cheese smothered on it…lol

      • oh that HURTS Susie! I won’t buy wild rice – I know I’m the ONLY one who will eat it LOL

      • I am with you on the “waste from experimenting”. I love to try new recipes, but with food prices being what they are, I’ve come back to relying on things that I KNOW my family will eat. It’s frustrating. I hate throwing out food.

  5. Our biggest challenge is meat. We are unrepentant carnivores and it’s always a struggle to find good prices. I get so tired of chicken, even though I can often find it at less than 2 bucks/pound for boneless/skinless chicken breasts. I buy lean ground beef by the 10-pound tubes whenever it hits my ‘rock bottom’ price and freeze it in hamburger patties, meatloaf, meatballs and quart sized packages of browned/crumbled beef for pasta, chili, etc. – but I would love to be able to do more roasts and steaks. I stretch it everywhere I can, mixing in refried beans with taco meat and plenty of beans with chili and so on. I wish it weren’t so expensive. :/

  6. My household’s biggest grocery challenge is making/finding time to make healthy meals. It’s also extremely difficult to afford healthy foods, when unhealthy frozen pizzas, etc are so much cheaper and easier to make! When we do try to buy fresh, healthy foods, we end up throwing it out, because it goes bad… Any tips on any of it would be great! Thank you so much!

  7. For me the problem is having to go to 4 different grocery stores each week to get good deals and quality ingredients. I like Costco, but don’t like having to use almost all of my grocery budget on a small amount of items. Yet, I don’t like going to Aldi’s for possibly sub standard meat. Trader Joe’s is a good option but their selection is limited.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Agree with “waste from experimenting” lol.
    Sometimes making something from scratch is NOT cheaper (although it may be better quality) It can cost me up to $20 to cook a huge lasagna from scratch once you factor in buying ricotta, meat etc. But the frozen aisle offers sales on a giant lasagna for $6 that my family likes just as much. I have given up on almost all organics, unfortunately, out of necessity. I will not give up my fair trade coffee though.
    It is not always a better deal to buy bulk, either – you have to do the math. The biggest way I save is by having a “price book” – a list of prices where I really know when a sale is actually a good deal. I have been known to walk into Costco with a calculator lol. Do the math on their meat (in Canada) it is not always a better deal!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Walking the line of wanting to eat as 100% pure and natural as possible, while dealing with a season of life that took us to a new location and a reduced income (job loss and moved across country for a new job). God is good and he provides, but it can feel stressful to me these days not having quite decided how much to spend on pricier healthy food products vs. the cheaper conventional stuff, and also just getting a hang of our new location and the best stores and food sources here.

  10. Trying to reduce waste. Using leftovers in creative ways before they go bad!!
    Excited for this series!
    Sarah

  11. We are seniors and at what is considered the national poverty level. My husband is disabled and retired (but with no retirement income) but works part-time and I have cancer (currently on chemo – YUCK!) Our biggest problem is we live in a small, economically depressed area with NO big markets around like CostCo, Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc. Our desire for anything organic has to depend on a health food store and a farmer’s market type store, both of which are extremely expensive! I read yesterday where a woman from Seattle can get a quarter of a grass fed cow for $550 – here, where they have black Angus everywhere, it is $850 for a quarter. I have become obsessed with watching the grocery ads when they come out (we have one small local store and a Safeway store 20 miles away) meal planning like mad and never throwing out leftovers, but it is still very tight. I guess the main problem is trying to eat well and actually have some kind of a life such as eating out once a month and having gas (another huge impact on a budget) to take a drive once in a while (to just get out of the house). I am very much looking forward to this series. Thank you!!

  12. My biggest grocery challenges are living in a small town and having an inconsistent income. Thank you, in advance, as I am so looking forward to this series.

  13. One of the challenges I’ve faced lately is how to cook enough for us to enjoy and possibly have a serving or two of leftovers (which my husband takes for lunch) and not over cook so much that we toss part of what I’m making. I freeze a lot of things for “another meal” but I am now really trying to find recipes that can be adjusted easily to fit any # of portions. I hate throwing out food.

  14. My main problem is that I’m often the only one home to eat. Daughter away in college, son often not home for dinner, husband often traveling. Sometimes I’ll plan/shop/cook something only to find out no one is going to be home to help me eat it. Or there are too many leftovers because the recipe made too much. I frequently cut recipes in half but I still end up throwing away cooked food or ingredients I bought that I never got a chance to prepare before they spoiled.

  15. Stephanie M. says:

    My biggest challenge is trying to realize that I live within 10 minutes of 4 major grocery stores. I tend to overbuy fruit and veggies and then it’s a challenge to eat them all before they go bad. I am right now learning to control myself and only buy the produce that we will eat in the next few days and just go back for more when I need it.

    • Danielle L. Zecher says:

      I have this problem too! Including Sam’s Club, there are 5 major stores within 10 minutes of home and work, but I still find myself thinking “might as well buy it while I’m here”, and then we’re not always able to use it up before it goes bad. Though, I did recenetly try making Jessica’s Velvety Vegetable Soup to use up some veggies that needed to be used. It was fabulous, and took care of the veggies. 🙂

  16. Tiffany R says:

    I have changed our buying habits lately and the challenge is getting everyone on board. I am buying less junk food and more real food and the kids are not always receptive. I figured out that I am the one who stocks the shelves around here and if I don’t want them to eat it, I shouldn’t buy it. So, my challenge would be buying enough good food without going over my budget.

  17. I have been really trying to use up what is stockpiled and make sure things don’t go to waste. The price of meat is getting ridiculous and I just see it getting worse. The hubs likes his meat! I’m retiring next year and I’m trying very hard to stay within budget on the food bill.

  18. How do I know whether a sale price is a “good deal” or just a special that’s being publicized? If I’m already at the store, I can check the usual price for that item and see what I’m saving, but if I’m meal planning from the flyer, it’s harder to know. I tried keeping a price list, but I can go months in between updating it — and with the way meat and cheese have been climbing recently, my “good price” may not ever come around again.

  19. My challenge is trying to find a balance. Most of the time I’m cooking for just myself. When family unexpectedly drops by, I may need to prepare a meal for a crowd (8). I love having them cover over but keeping enough food around to allow me to feed them while not wasting that food challenges my budget and planning.
    Like everyone else coming here to read, I want the best value for both my time and money. I read the grocery ads very closely and often visit more than one store and wonder if I’m devoting more time to this than I should.
    I saw earlier posts of people wondering if they were getting the best price and it reminded me of one of my pet peeves. A sign on the grocery shelf announces New Low Price!–well, it’s announcing a price change alright but that price is often an INCREASE. Kroger here (Virginia) does it all the time and I spotted one instance where Harris Teeter did this last month. Grr.

  20. You know, I have a few challenges…. 1) saying no to eating out and 2) we don’t use many coupons because we eat healthy. There are others, but those are two big ones now.
    I am going to make better use of your new cookbook and some cheap/easy meals.

    Blessings,
    Em

  21. my challenges are a super picky 5-year-old daughter and husband and teenage stepson who are bottomless pits. My hubby is huge meat eater, it’s not a meal if there is no meat involved, but he gets tired of chicken (the cheapest meat) very quickly. Stepson is semi-picky and prefers convenient foods to the point I have to set limits or he would eat everything in a day and not leave anything for anybody else (I have quit buying certain thing and started making things like muffins from scratch for him to eat). He also will not touch beans, saying they are “too mushy and gross”. My daughter is very picky and inconsistent. She may eat a banana one day and then won’t touch another one for weeks. She does not want to try new things and refuses to try meat. I do meal plan. I try to alternate stuff I know my stepson likes with stuff I know he isn’t a big fan of, rarely do meatless meals and try to alternate chicken and some other meat for my husband, and try to include one thing that my daughter will eat but that due to her inconsistency is hit and miss. Sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed making a meal plan that my mind just goes blank.

  22. My biggest challenge is finding the time to meal plan, grocery shop and actually cook the foods while working a full-time job and everything it takes in the evening around the house just to keep it going. I really appreciate those posts with a meal plan!

  23. Ideally we’d love to go all organic, but this isn’t realistic. I have a hard time prioritizing what to go organic on – meat, dairy, fruits and veggies? There’s plenty of info out there, but can be overwhelming. 🙂

  24. my problem is super picky eater…my middle son, of three boys, has a very short list of what he will eat and that can shorten at any given time. he won’t try new things, either.

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