Healthy on a Budget: Saving in the Grocery Store

I assume the most useful Healthy on a Budget theme this week would be navigating the grocery store.  If you’re hosting a big holiday meal or two this year, you may be spending a little extra in the supermarket.  Goodness knows I’ve made waaaaay too many trips in the past week or two!

  • If you missed last week’s Healthy on a Budget, check out my Pantry Staples.


1. Check out weekly circulars first.  If you only go to 1 store, this doesn’t take long.  If you alternate between multiple stores, it takes a little longer to see which is your best bet.  Do this before making a store list so you can plan meals around what’s on sale.


2. Don’t drive yourself crazy.  When you look at multiple circulars, it can be tempting to hit up multiple stores.  Making a few stops can be worth it, but driving around usually defeats the purpose.  You may save $1.50 on cereal, but you’ll spend that same amount on gas, not to mention your time.  This also increases your chances for impulse buys.

3. Look beyond the label. Healthy items aren’t always the ones labeled “organic” or featured on Dr. Oz.  Generic items are often all you need.  Simple is a good thing!  I can‘t afford special steel cut oats with flax and organic dried berries.  However, I can buy basic old fashioned oats, bulk-bin flax, and frozen berries to throw together myself.

4. Coupon with care. I like coupons.  Really.  But I don’t love coupons.  I often find that I can work the regular sales and generic brands better than I can work the Sunday paper.  The problem is often having to buy 4 boxes, 3 cans, or whatever else.  Plus, coupons are often for things I shouldn‘t buy.  Pop Tarts, I love you, but don’t tempt me from the comfort of my own home… even if you are only $1.00/box.


5.Math is your friend. Luckily, most stores do the math for you by listing the cost per ounce (or whatever unit of measure) near the price.  If it’s not there, figure it out!  Numerous times I’ve seen smaller items on sale for less than their bulk-size counterparts.

6. List, list, list.  I mentioned my weekly list before, but it is sooooo important for me.  I bet you aren’t as awful as I am, but here’s my shameful scenario:  If I don’t make a list, I won’t buy enough food.  This leaves me either (A) going out to a restaurant or (B) running back to the store mid-week.  When I go back mid-week for items; I’m probably going to buy 1 thing I need, 10 things I don’t, and forget that other thing I came for.


7. Look beyond the obvious. The best deals aren’t usually staring you in the face.  The cheaper goods are often placed well above or below chest level.  Stores put the pricier items at eye level, or should I say, at grab-n’-go level.

8. Don’t shop hungry!  Does this get anyone else?  Just me?  I can’t shop hungry.  It’s a recipe for disaster.

  • Got any tips for a grocery shopper on a budget?

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18 Responses to Healthy on a Budget: Saving in the Grocery Store

  1. Nichole says:

    I needed this – especially during this busy shopping time of year.

    Coupons, I never do them. I should – people can make some serious savings.

  2. yes #8 is def true.. I can never go hungry, because it is always bad news bears. I love this tho thanks 🙂

  3. I definitely can’t shop hungry! That’s just a recipe for disaster!

  4. Great tips. I’m definitely not really looking forward to grocery shopping for the holidays. I’m horrible with sticking to a budget around this time of the year because I get way too frustrated and just end up throwing caution to the wind. Oh, and coupons are like the bane of my existence… I just can’t do them.

  5. Thanks for the tips!! I’m unfortunately horrible with coupons! I’m the type that cuts them out and forgets to take them to the grocery store. Or even if I take them, I forget to use them! HA

  6. These are all awesome tips! I definitely agree with just buying basic items and making your own meals from scratch instead of buying packaged oatmeal, frozen dinners, etc. So much cheaper and healthier!

  7. Yes to the list! I wander around the grocery store like a lost puppy when I don’t bring a list and often come home missing essential items, with lots of extra items I don’t need and know way to make a respectable meal out of the items I did pick up. I also agree with not going to the store hungry — that never ends well.

  8. great tips! I always look at the circular… see whats on sale and then look at my coupons and make a meal list!

  9. excellent tips! We are really on a tight budget these days and this really helps

  10. I’ve got one… Don’t shop at Whole Foods – LOL! Shop at Trader Joe’s!

  11. I am totally OCD about my grocery list. I have an app on my iPhone that I update all the time so I don’t forget anything, Also, I think that checking weekly flyers is one of my favourite activities…yeah, I’m weird 😛

  12. I do the circulars, planning/lists, and only sparingly use coupons too. Works for me! Plus I love shopping at places like Trader Joes that often have really good prices for quality foods.

  13. “Math is your friend”. I love it! (I’m a math teacher)

    I’ve been cooking my own beans rather than buy canned. It’s so much cheaper!!

  14. Pingback: Healthy on a Budget: What to avoid | Love, Sweat, and Beers

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