How to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill

Photo Credit: Robin DeGrassi James via Flickr

Photo Credit: Robin DeGrassi James via Flickr

One of the largest expenses that most students have outside of tuition and rent is groceries. Here are some tips that can help you both save money without resorting to ramen noodles and eat healthy without forking over hundreds of dollars:

  • Budget: Have a specific grocery budget for the week and stick to it. One great way to do this is by shopping with cash.
  • Make A List: Set aside some time each week to plan out your meals and make a specific grocery list. Try to base your meals on what is in-season, on sale, and what you already have on hand. Then organize your list according to the layout of the grocery store, you’ll save time and money by avoiding impulse buys!
  • Coupons: Check the Sunday paper or your local grocery store website for this week’s deals. Check out Couponsuzy.com or CouponMom.com both sites feature printable coupon deals organized by region. Check out this post on couponing for more tips and tricks.
  • Buy In Season: Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, they are cheaper and a lot fresher. Try going to a farmer’s market, you can find good deals and the produce is fresh! Or, support a local farm by joining your local CSA.
  • Going Organic: It can be hard to buy organic on a small budget. You may not be able to buy everything organic, but you can be more conscious about where you get your food. Check out your local co-op, join a CSA, or go to a farmer’s market. Or, try out one of my personal favorites Trader Joe’s that features tons of organic food and products at lower prices.
  • Buy Less Meat: Meat is often very expensive. Try cutting down on your meat consumption by eating vegetarian for most meals. If you find a good deal on a large amount of meat, re-portion it into individual servings and freeze it for later use.
  • Store Brands: Don’t neglect the generic store brands, often they are the same product as the name brands. Sometimes the store brands even offer organic or all-natural options!
  • Avoid Prepackaged Foods: They may be convenient but they really add up. Instead of buying prepackaged cookies, why not make your own?
  • Check Unit Pricing: One of the best tips for finding a good deal is to check the unit pricing on items. This will quickly help you find the best deal.
  • Watch the Scanner: This will help you keep track of costs, make sure your coupons actually went through and it will keep the cashier more alert.
  • Limit Your Trips: Make fewer, larger trips. While shopping around can be very good, it can cost a lot in time and gas. Check out what you can get for the best price at different grocery stores in your area and make trips once a month to those stores for specific items.

Join the Conversation: What tips do you have for saving money on your grocery bill?

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3 thoughts on “How to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill

  1. Great comments! I have also found that many large chain grocery stores have an app for your smartphone. I have Food Lion and Harris Teeter on my phone and can instantly scroll through the sales so I don’t miss anything. Sometimes they even offer sales to people using the mobile app that aren’t available to anyone else.

  2. Another great free online resource is http://www.thegrocerygame.com

    And it doesn’t seem like much, but many stores will give you money off if you bring your own bags. Don’t forget to check your store’s coupon policies – Rainbow will double up to 5 manufacturer’s coupons (of up to $1 each) on Wednesdays and some Saturdays. That can be an extra $5 each week.

    When I lived in the cities, I did the majority of my grocery shopping at Aldi. With or without coupons, it was almost always the cheapest option.

  3. Thanks for the comments Aaron and Andrea! Those are great tips! I also wanted to pass along some links that a friend shared with me today:

    http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/dirty-dozen-foods#slide-1
    As a way of reducing the cost of organic food, I’ve seen a list of foods that are particularly impacted by pesticide use. The idea is to buy these organic and add others as you are able to afford it.

    http://www.thirdage.com/womens-health/when-to-go-organic-7-foods-that-count
    This is another way to look at it…not from a pesticide residue point of view, but from a nutritional point of view.

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