Want to save up to 50% on your food bill? I've got tricks, tips, and hacks for grocery shopping on a budget. Get my insider knowledge of the grocery store and food storage tips to save some serious money!
Who LOVES throwing all of their money away at the grocery store? You don't?! Whew, good! I'm sharing some of my best hacks with you today if you're grocery shopping on a budget! Which… you totally should be. Check out how to set up your grocery budget here! Come learn how to spot the best prices and the cheapest products. You'll be feeling like the money-saving champion that you are at the end of it!
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
I get so many questions about how I grocery shop, how I build a stockpile in my freezer, fridge, and pantry on a budget, and how to feed my family of 10 healthy meals, while on a tight grocery budget. Have no fear, Freebs, today's video covers it all! We're talking about grocery shopping on a budget.
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Are you ready? Click to watch below or keep on scrolling to learn these awesome tips for grocery shopping! Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for new videos every Thursday!
Watch the video online HERE, or click and watch below:
Isn't that fun?! But wait! There's more! I have even MORE grocery shopping tips and hacks below! Go ahead and watch. Then let's get to the nitty and the gritty of how you can save up to 50% on your grocery bill!
Alright, you made it! Are you ready to read on for a recap for some great grocery shopping hacks on a budget? Let's go!
Want a super top-secret money EARNING trick for the grocery store that I didn't add in the video? I'm glad you said yes! Use Fetch and earn money by purchasing the items you were going to purchase anyway. You'll be surprised at how fast the money will pile up! It's as easy as downloading the app! Plus, if you use my code FUNCHEAPFREE (no OR), you get 4,000 bonus points when you scan your first receipt!
HOW TO START GROCERY SHOPPING ON A BUDGET
Here are the most important points you need to remember when you start grocery shopping on a budget!
- BUY EXTRA! When something is a good price, I like to say, “Buy 3…one for me, 2 to freeze” (or store). That way the next time you need it, you don't have to run out and pay full-price!
- Only go to the grocery store ONE TIME per week… NO MATTER WHAT. If you go to the store for one item, it will cost you at least $50 in impulse buys. Stay out of the store! Keep your own “store” at home, so you can grab what you need quickly, eliminating expensive impulse trips to the store.
- Use what you ALREADY have to make a full meal. Often times you only need one or two fresh elements to make a complete dish. Everything else can from from your freezer, pantry, or spice drawer. Plan your meals based on what you ALREADY have and need to use, not the other way around. If you are buying 100% of the ingredients for every meal, you might as well just eat out because you are spending through the NOSE to cook.
- Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan! Waiting until 4:30 to figure out dinner will result in pizza or takeout. Or loads of frustration and fist-shaking. No one likes a shaken fist. Get my best meal planning tips HERE.
GROCERY SHOPPING HACKS
These tips and tricks will help you to save a lot of money when you're grocery shopping on a budget. You can thank me later when your pantry and fridge are full without breaking the bank! Alright, let's hit the store!
HOW TO SPOT A GOOD DEAL
Sometimes the name brand goes on sale. So is it a better deal than the store brand, or is it still more expensive? There's a trick to always know how to find the best deals when you're grocery shopping — look at the price tag. Pretty much every grocery store will tell you what the price is for that item, but it'll also show you the price per unit or ounce.
The most important thing to do is to check that price per unit and compare it between all of the brands. This will let you know if it really is the best value!
GENERIC BRAND VERSUS NAME BRAND
Name brand foods are often marked up to twice as much as the store brand (or off-brand, generic, whatever you call it). People assume that the price is higher because it's better quality, but that's not always the case! The price is higher because you're paying for product testing, commercials, advertising… That's a lot of extra overhead that they have to cover.
Did you know that most of the time, store brand food is made in the EXACT SAME factory as the name brand? It just gets a different packaging. This is NOT something that I'm making up! I've been on Rachael Ray four times, and each time she has verified that this is true.
Buying the store brand is a GREAT way to save money when you're grocery shopping. Don't worry about the label, worry about the product inside of it. You'll save at least half of what you would pay for most items — true story! You're welcome 😉
BUY IN BULK
Most of the time, buying the larger package may cost a little bit more upfront, but will save you money in the long run. The price per unit is usually much less in the larger package versus the smaller package. Even if you won't use it all right now, you can package it in smaller amounts and freeze it to help it last longer.
With that being said, make sure that you always check the price tag. Sometimes, biggest is not always cheapest. So just double check the tag for the price per ounce before buying in bulk!
If you do like to buy in bulk, you may want to check out my Costco tips!
GROCERY SHOPPING AT EYE LEVEL IS A NO-NO
My next grocery shopping tip is to not shop at eye level. Because guess what? Companies pay a lot of money for their brands to be at eye level. I'll let you in on a little secret — the cheaper stuff is at the bottom. If you go down a couple of racks, you are going to save so much money!
LOOK AT THE DATES WHEN GROCERY SHOPPING
Usually the oldest product will be at the front of the shelf. If you reach to the back of the shelf, you may find a date that is up to a week fresher. Grab the freshest product that you can! It'll last way longer and will help you to not be wasteful and not have to throw food out that goes bad before you can finish it.
CHOP, DIVIDE, AND PACKAGE THINGS YOURSELF
When grocery shopping, it's really tempting to go to the section of the store that has all of the chopped and pre-packed fruits and veggies. The work has been done for you — those fruits and veggies are just sitting there, waiting for you to buy them without having to lift a finger to prepare them. But don't fall for it! You are going to pay AT LEAST double for those prepackaged foods!
Oh and here's a PSA for ya, when things are pre-chopped, they get chemicals put on them to keep them from going brown and mushy and gross. I don't know about you, but the last thing that I need is to put more chemicals in my body! So say no to the pre-chopped and buy it whole. Buy it, chop it, and package it yourself. Not only will you save money, but you'll stay away from the chemicals, too!
SMART FOOD STORAGE TIPS TO PREVENT WASTE
- Cheese – You guys, cheese freezes beautifully, and it's just too expensive to just throw out. And it's so easy, especially if your cheese is individually-wrapped, like string cheese. You can freeze an entire brick of cheese, but it's probably something you should shred first since it can become crumbly once thawed.
- Milk – Don't store milk in the door of your refrigerator! It's one of the warmest spots! Always store your dairy on the shelf or toward the back of your fridge where it tends to be coldest.
- Bananas – Separate your bananas from the bunch and place them in a basket individually when you get them home to prevent bruises and smashing. This also helps when kids damage fruit trying to remove one banana from the bunch.
- Cottage Cheese and Sour Cream – Tired of your dairy going bad after just one use? Flip the containers upside down in the fridge to create an airtight seal at the bottom, which helps keep the product fresh and prevents mold.
- Butter – You can freeze butter and then take out a stick at a time as you need it. It freezes perfectly!
- Vegetables – Moisture is the enemy of fresh fruits and veggies! Take produce out of the plastic bag. Then line your produce drawer with paper towels. Adding paper towels helps keep your vegetables fresher longer.
- Avocados – Keep avocados separate from your other fruits and veggies! Avocados produce ethylene gas, which can make other fruits and vegetables ripen faster.
- Brown Sugar– Stick a piece of bread in clumpy, hard brown sugar. After a day or two, it makes the brown sugar soft, powdery, and beautiful again.
- Cookies – The same bread trick works for cookies that have gone hard and crumbly! You can even use the heel of the bread! Get a much of the air out of the bag as you can, seal it, and voila! In a day or so, you'll have soft, wonderful cookies that taste like new!
- Berries & Fruit: Don't wash them until you're ready to use them. Even then, only wash what you plan to use. Have some damaged fruit? Cut off the step and damage, freeze the fruit, and use it in smoothies!
- Lettuce – Have a clamshell or a bag with chopped or separated lettuce? Throw a paper towel in the container or bag to absorb moisture. Then store the container or bag upside down.
Pro Tip: Write the date you buy your items directly on a food's package with a Sharpie so you're always rotating out the oldest items first. This is especially helpful when the “Use By” date isn't immediately apparent.
GROCERY SHOPPING AND SALES
A big part of grocery shopping on a budget is understanding sales. Are you one of the crazies like me that runs to an item when you see that glorious sale sticker that lets you know that something is at a discounted rate? I've got a few tips on how to grocery shop the sales stickers so that you know when to buy and when to pass.
STOCK UP WHEN ITEMS ARE ON SALE
When you find a sale item that is a REALLY good deal, stock up on it! This is one of our most important notes. If it's something that will keep in the pantry, or you can freeze and it won't go bad before you use it, then buy as many as the budget will allow.
My “formula” is to buy at least three — one for now and two for later. That way, you're saving money and slowly building a stockpile. This keeps you from running to the store the next time that you need this item and paying full price. You've got your own little stockpile and you can focus on shelf cooking!
What is shelf cooking, you ask? Read more about it on my sister site dedicated to everything shelf cooking! It's a thing, it's in the Urban Dictionary, and it's something that everybody should be doing, so get on it!!
DON'T BE TRICKED BY GROCERY SALES STICKERS
Now, I know that I just told you to stock up when you see a sale, but don't be tricked by a sales sticker. Just because something says that it's on sale doesn't mean that it's necessarily a GREAT deal worth impulse buying and blowing your budget.
Don't be led to buy an item, whether you need it or not, just because you're excited about the sale! If you're only saving 20 cents, then it probably isn't worth buying it unless you were already planning on it. Do the math to make sure that it's worth it!
LOOK FOR SALES STICKERS IN THE MEAT SECTION
Another great tip when you're grocery shopping on a budget — keep an eye out for the sales stickers in the meat section. I promise that they're not trying to sell you rotten meat! They don't want you to sue them, so they're not going to sell you something that has gone bad.
These sale stickers just mean that it's getting close to their “sell by” date and they want to move that product off of their shelves. Buy what your budget will allow and take it home. Then you can either plan a meal around it before it goes bad or you can freeze it with a vacuum sealer, or in freezer bags, for later.
ONLY GO TO THE STORE ONCE PER WEEK
I'm telling you. This tip alone will change your life. One thing I ask people is, “How much does a gallon of milk cost?” Because every time you walk in for a gallon of milk, you walk out with a cart filled with things. Walking into the store is going to cost you way more than it should.
Set aside one day per week to plan out your meals (for me, that's Sunday), then pick one day per week to pick up your groceries or have them delivered (for me, that's Monday). If I run out of something, I get creative (remember Shelf Cooking?). Use substitutes, do something different, and get creative with those foods and leftovers!
FOCUS ON HOW MUCH YOU'RE SPENDING ON GROCERIES IN GENERAL
Most people are overspending on their groceries. One of my best money-saving tips is to set a grocery budget per week (not per month). I recommend $100 per person per month (with a minimum of $300). For a family of five, $500 a month is a lot to manage. So break it down to $125 per week. This will help pace you throughout the month and will help you stay on a budget a lot easier than a big number once per month will.
GROCERY SHOPPING PRICE NOTEBOOK
How do you know if something is a good price if it doesn't have a big sale sticker on it? Sometimes it's really tricky to keep all of the “good prices” straight in your head. I mean, we've got more to worry about than the price of chicken, right?
My best tip for this is to keep a price notebook. It can literally be a little notebook that you carry around with you while you're grocery shopping at the store, or you can keep the notes in your phone (hello, technology!).
Whatever it is that you use, put down the prices for your typical grocery items that you buy. This lets you know what your basepoint is for each item. Then when you're at the store and you see something that's below that amount, you know that it's a good deal and that you could probably stock up on it. The more you do this, the more you'll learn about your prices and you'll be able to snag all of the good deals!
STORE LEFTOVERS SO THEY ACTUALLY GET USED
A lot of food goes bad before it even gets the chance to be used. Why? Because we tend to stick those containers in the fridge all over the place. Then they eventually get lost and pushed to the back.
I recommend setting aside a shelf in your fridge that's strictly for leftovers. By keeping the leftovers together, you can pull out the items from that shelf for leftovers night or for lunch, and go at those foods until they're gone. You can even visit our “ways to use leftovers” section of our Shelf Cooking site for some really clever ideas!
LEARN WHAT FREEZER MEALS YOU CAN MAKE
Alright, this is it. This is the big kahuna. This is the big mother lode grocery shopping hack of all hacks. Head to the freezer section, not to buy anything, but to LEARN what you can make and freeze at home! You will pay two to three times more for the pre-made frozen meals at the store than what you would spend making it at home.
Start off by finding an item in the freezer section. Take note of what ingredients they use to make that food, buy those ingredients at the store, and take them home to make that food yourself for a fraction of the price.
This is literally how I know what I can make and freeze at home! If it's frozen at the store, then you can freeze it at home. Don't buy it, make it yourself. It's more affordable, will probably be healthier, and now you've got a freezer stocked with homemade food! Huge win for families everywhere!
GET HELP WITH YOUR GROCERY SHOPPING
If you don't have time to go grocery shopping, but still need groceries, try out one of these awesome services that might just help you to prevent impulse buys! Plus, another benefit? You see your grocery total as you go which makes what you put in your cart very intentional.
You can easily order your groceries online from Walmart and have their personal shoppers gather them and load them up in your car. Or for a delivery fee, a personal Instacart shopper will do your grocery shopping for you and deliver your groceries right to your doorstep. Want to EARN MONEY being an Instacart Shopper? Sign up to do that here.
Also, I love Fetch Rewards! Whenever I go grocery shopping, whether it's physical receips that I get from going to the store or e-receipts that I get from ordering groceries online for delivery, you upload or scan that receipt into the app and it automatically gives you rewards. I love the Amazon gift cards, but there are also gift cards for shoes, entertainment, and more! If you download the app using my code FUNCHEAPFREE (no OR), you get 2,000 bonus points when you scan your first receipt!
So there you have it! Those are some of my tips and hacks for grocery shopping on a budget. Do you have any? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!
I also just had to include one of my best grocery haul videos from 2017! I'm not going to blab long, because the video definitely speaks for itself. So without further adieu…
What do you think? Doesn't seem too tough, right? With a little creativity, and a lot of trial and error with freezing things, you can master the art of Shelf Cooking and save at least HALF on your grocery bill each month.
Have you checked out ShelfCooking.com yet? Our brand new site is dedicated to helping you cook delicious, nutritious, and budget-friendly meals for your family without spending too much time in the kitchen!
Basically every parent's dream, right? Join our Shelf Cooking Community today!
If you need more help with your budget, don't forget about my Secret Sauce online budgeting program, Budget Boot Camp! It's a super fun video program that makes money easy to understand. All you need is a screen and you're set!
And don't forget, if you don't save AT LEAST what you paid for the program, I'll refund every dime. You've got nothing to lose! Use the code FCFBLOG to get an extra 10% off, because I love you 😉
Do you need more food and grocery ideas?
- Learn how to store groceries and other food hacks!
- Check out even more tips on how I grocery shop HERE.
- You can cut down on your grocery bill and waste by inventorying your freezer, fridge and pantry before going to the grocery store.
Peace out, Freebs!