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Lower Your Grocery Bill in 7 Simple Steps

Since food costs are the most flexible of your monthly spending, taking some steps to lower your grocery bill can really pay off. Follow these easy strategies to help you do it.

Lower Your Grocery Bill in 7 Simple Steps | Good Cheap Eats

Food is one of the great comforts of life. Not only does it bring nourishment to our bodies, but it can also bring comfort to our hearts. Food is a vehicle for socializing and for showing care for others. It’s also one of the biggest areas we can overspend.

Due to lack of planning, ignorance in navigating the grocery store, or simply shopping with our stomachs instead of our minds, we can easily spend more than we need to on groceries. The wonderful thing is that there are some pretty simple tricks to help you lower your grocery bill.

While this list isn’t exhaustive, these 7 simple steps can help you lower your grocery bill while still eating well and bringing comfort to those around you.

Lower Your Grocery Bill in 7 Simple Steps

1. Meal plan and make a grocery list.

Having a plan is almost always a surefire way to save money and reach goals. This practice translates to many fields of interest, including food. When I meal plan for the week, based on what’s already on hand, and then shop accordingly, I invariably save money and avoid waste.

If you haven’t ever followed a meal plan, now is the time to start!

–> Learn how to create your own meal plan here.

–> Grab one of my free $10 meal plans here. They are shoppable at Trader Joe’s and ALDI as well as your regular grocery store.

–> Download a Month of Meals – everything you need to eat well and shop effectively for four weeks.

2. Avoid extra stops at the store.

The more times you stop at the grocery store, the more things you will find to throw in the cart. Frequent shopping invariably results in higher spending.

Avoid extra stops at the store whenever possible. Do one good shop at the start of the week and then learn to do without those items you might have forgotten. While it may be hard at first, you’ll be amazed at your own creativity as well as the money you save by not shopping so often.

Lower Your Grocery Bill in 7 Simple Steps | Good Cheap Eats

3. Check the unit price.

We’ve been conditioned to think that bigger is always better. This is not always the case. Costco and Sam’s Club bulk purchases may not be cheaper than individual items at your local grocery store. And the bigger package at the grocery store is not always cheapest either.

Case in point: the carrots pictured above. The 2-pound bag was actually more expensive per pound than the 1-pound bag. Even if you needed two pounds of carrots, buy two of the smaller bags and save a little money. It may not seem like a big deal to save a dime, but every penny counts! Before you know it, you’ll see the savings add up.

4. Buy store brands.

Unless your favorite name brand is on sale and you’ve got a great coupon, the store brand is often the better deal. If you haven’t already, give the store brands a chance. Often times, they are just a name brand item repackaged and renamed.

Some stores, like ALDI and Trader Joe’s, carry a product line that’s almost exclusively store brand. What they save in big advertising campaigns, they share with their customers, lowering your grocery bill dramatically.

(As long as you stay away from the cookie aisle! Both those stores have AMAZING cookies!)

Lower Your Grocery Bill in 7 Simple Steps | Good Cheap Eats
5. Scan the clearance sections.

I am a huge fan of the clearance section at my local Ralphs. Oh my. All my children know that that section is a must on every grocery stop. We’ve found some amazing deals on markdowns. The dairy, deli, meat, and produce sections have clearance stickers as well. Woohoo! is right.

Be sure to check expiration dates before loading your cart, but know that you can find some fantastic deals on items that are simply overstocked, being discontinued or having a packaging change.

6. Avoid the inner aisles.

If you’ll notice at the grocery store, all the fresh food is around the perimeter of the store: dairy, deli, bakery, produce, and meat. The more processed items are in the middle. Hint: the processed items cost more than the raw ingredients to make those items. By shopping the perimeter you can lower your grocery bill dramatically.

I venture into the aisles for coffee, canned beans, rice, and other pantry staples, but I almost always avoid the canned soups, frozen dinners, and other heavily processed items. This is particularly true at stores like Sprouts that have great deals on dairy and produce, but have very high prices on anything canned or boxed.

While it’s true you can find great sales on these items, often these items are unnecessary. You can live without them. Focus your grocery dollar on the most nutritious and economical items first.

Lower Your Grocery Bill in 7 Simple Steps | Good Cheap Eats

7. Use a smaller cart.

Grocery store carts keep getting bigger and bigger. There’s a reason for that. They want you to fill up your cart! If you choose a smaller cart, like the “bachelor buggy” above, you’ll be more mindful of what goes into your cart. The less room you have for impulse items, the more you will focus on what you actually need and have budgeted for.

And, yes, I did buy five giant boxes of Cheerios because they were like $1.50 a box after sales and coupons! 😉

You don’t need to cut out all comfort foods; you can lower your grocery bill with just a few simple tweaks. These aren’t the only ways to reduce your grocery spending, but they are easy places to start. I’d love to hear what tricks you have up your sleeve!

What do YOU do to lower your grocery bill?

Lower Your Grocery Bill in 7 Simple Steps | Good Cheap Eats

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Comments

  1. The not going shopping trick is proving to be quite true right now! Having three young kids, one a newborn, in the house is a motivating factor to not go out and about and to make do with what we have.

  2. Hi Jessica, it’s been a while, I’ve been busy, I flipped a house in 45 days woohoo! it was hard! But it’s done! I had a son graduate from high scool and another one with a broken leg, and my husband got this thing called intercystle cystisis? IC but through diet and alot of bottles of medicine from the health food store, have you ever heard of turmeric force or black seed oil, look them up, I’m taking them too, inflammation no more, haha. My husband is much better. Life is getting back to normal.

    I’m kinda lazy about the grocery store now but when I was on my game, when I would leave to go to the grocery store I visualized myself being aware of every penny and being frugal, and minimizing expenses, I would get the correct mindset? If that makes sense?

    You are so good at everything you do and so focused, good job!

  3. Hi Jessica, Good ideas.

    I especially like the first ‘Make a List’. With or without a formal meal plan make a list with knowledge of what is on hand and what is on sale. Then plan to eat what is on sale, where possible.

    Know what the regular price is and learn to recognize what is really a sale price and what is just promotion. Grocery ads frequently include items listed at the regular price or a price with only a few cents off. There is nothing wrong with buying them at that price, but know that it is really the regular price.

    My store offers what they call ‘manager specials’ they have special shelf tags and are lower than the regular price. They may run several weeks and have a start and end date on the tag. Some are real bargains. But I have found that in the meat department they may not last the full date range.

    I would add learn to make things from scratch because they are usually better and cheaper. Also it helps to learn to vary and substitute when you cook. Beef and noodles is good, but so are chicken and noodles, pork and noodles, tuna or salmon and noodles, or just cheesy noodles with broccoli or spinach. At current prices beef has mostly been replace with pork in our menus.

    Equally important for me is a freezer and pantry with staples I bought on sale. Stock up in reasonable amounts when staples are on sale. Then if meat is not on sale that week, I have reasonably priced meat in the freezer to use. Be aware and use them up within a reasonable length of time. I see people buying canned beans or tomatoes on sale at 3 for a dollar and they are only buying 2 or 3 cans and I don’t understand why. The regular price runs about 89 cents a can. If there is a limit of 12, I buy 12. I try to buy enough in fall and early winter to take me through the summer when they aren’t on sale. You need to have a feeling for how many you can use, but it saves lots of money to be able to use the ones you bought on sale.

    I do occasionally browse/shop the aisle with the boxed helper convenience products and the frozen entrees convenience offerings. I just use them for ideas of what to fix myself, but I don’t buy them. I can make them cheaper and better in my experience, but if I’m in a rut they can help stimulate ideas.

  4. I do what you have mentioned above. As well I have started making a big pot of soup. Then I have a small bowl of soup before lunch and supper. Helps use up all the veg and left overs. makes me have more liquids ( something I don’t think of), and helps fill me up. Soup and a salad, gives me a good dose of fibre, vitamins and liquid.
    Lunch today was a cabbage based vegetable soup ( used chicken stock), and a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread. Supper is another bowl of soup, with chicken thighs ( 2) on rice . ( I have 4 thighs and will make enough for 2 meals and save one for another meal). (the chicken was marked $4.68 and had a $2.00 off, so $1.34 for a Sunday chicken dinner) Oh, most of the vegetables were given to me by my neighbours.

  5. Thanks for the tips. I follow a lot of them. Here are a few more that work for me.
    1. Don’t buy items just because they are cheap if you are not going to use them or if you don’t like them. This took me a long time to learn as I love finding “deals” . That being said, like Alice E. above, when you DO find a great deal on something you use a lot, then stock up.
    2. Eat out of your pantry
    3. It’s okay if you eat the same things over and over. I LIKE oatmeal or spinach eggs for breakfast and don’t need variety. I totally quit buying cold cereal because no one eats it (even if I can get it super cheap)
    4. Grocery shop at drug stores. Our Walgreens and Bartells often have the best prices on things such as eggs or olive oil
    5.. Always buy a rotisserie chicken when you go to Costco.

  6. Are any of the 70 dollar meals plans easily adaptable for gluten free?

    my tips:
    1. don’t shop overly tired or hungry
    2. make a list
    3. for me, send husband. he will ONLY buy list items.

    • The $70 meal plans are all free to download, so it would be best if you checked them out to see if they work for your personal adaptations.

      Husbands who stick to the list are awesome!

  7. I do many of the above-mentioned things. I eat homemade soup nearly every day. I’ve stopped using canned or boxed stock/broth. If the soup cooks for more than just a few minutes, the ingredients make a flavorful broth. If ai absolutely must have stock I either make it or use Better than Bouillon.

    • I used to use BtB but then they changed the recipe. Used to be that it was all real ingredients and then they started adding funny preservatives and stuff. I wish they’d go back to the old way….

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