Cutting Grocery Bill

Updated on June 29, 2010
C.N. asks from Haskins, OH
29 answers

Hi ladies - I need some advice on how to save money at the grocery store!!! I have 2 little boys (4,1) and my husband and I and our bill is $800+ a month. To me this seems like a lot. Now, I have to say I don cook dinner for like a family of 5 or 6 bc my husband is a big eater and needs leftovers for his lunch the next day but still I dont think that I should have a bill like that each month. Each sunday I go through the coupons and before I go to the store I look at all the adds to see who has the most of what i need on sale, and then go there. I have tried to read other blogs about saving money at the store and I THINK i follow the basics with the cutting of the coupons, but there has to be something that i am missing! I mean do you just NOT buy something if you dont have a coupon for it and is not on sale?? PLEASE HELP!

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answers from Portland on

I have been having the same issues but we are 2 adults and 4 kids. I found this site. Maybe it can help...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Menus are a great idea, that way you only buy what you need. It's me, 3 kids, my husband and I'm pregnant, and we spend less than 600 a month. I use coupons, but the big thing is what you buy. I have a set dollar amount that I will spend on pop. Large containers of juice, or the frozen concentrate is cheaper than juice boxes, and I do not buy bottled water, I have a filter pitcher. We don't buy cereal, It's cheaper to make pancakes or waffles, and i mean make, not the frozen stuff. but little things like that really make a difference.

Also make a list, and don't buy anything not on the list.

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answers from Cleveland on

I'm embarrassed to tell you my bill is double that and I have 5 in my household. I buy organic and health supplements. I think you are doing great.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Jess had some good ideas.

I had 8 kids and I never spent as much on feeding the 10 of us as you spend on the 4 of you even when I had 5 hungry teenagers at home.

Get a good, energy efficient freezer. When things go on sale buy lots of it only if you use it.

Get the sale ads. Make your menu off what's on sale.

Know which stores have the best deals on what you buy. There are a couple of Mexican run markets in my driving area. I seldom buy their beef. But they consistantly have real good deals on pork, chicken, fruits and vegetables. Sams sells chicken breasts for $1.29 lb or higher, Stater Bros. has chicken breasts on sale for $.99 lb. Stater Bros sells yellow/brown onions for $1.59 lb. One of the Mexican run market has brown/yellow onions for 5 lbs/$.99 Example: Sams is cheaper than Costco on 7 of 9 items I did price comparisons on. Sams and Costco are always more expensive than stores' sale prices on meat, fish, and poultry. Costco's membership is more expensive than Sam's. Sam's is cheaper on spices, rice and milk and most dairy products. Sam's is more expensive than outside stores' sale prices on peanut butter, pasta, sugar, salt and flour.

Know what time of year things go on sale. Turkey, flour, chocolate chips and most baking items are cheaper in the two weeks before Thanksgiving than at any other time of year. I know from experience that my family will use 50 pounds of flour over the next 12 months. I can usually get the flour at half price at Thanksgiving, so I buy 50 pounds (10, 5 lb bags) then. I know that toilet paper goes on a real good sale about 2 times per year. I buy enough to last until the next sale. I do that with almost everything I use. Charcoal for my BBQ grill has the best prices during Memorial Day and 4 th of July. I buy 100 lbs when its on a really good sale because I know I'll use 100 lbs over 12 months.

Make a list of everything you buy. Beside those items, write in pencil, the best prices you see for that item. During the year, every one of those items will go on sale. Erase the price you have written and put in the new lower price. At the end of a year you'll know the best prices in your area for those items you buy. When they go on sale, you'll know wether to buy or wait for a better sale.

The first place I go in the store when I shop (I do about 90% of the grocery shopping in my family) is to the markdown bin. I buy what I need there first. The next place I go is the meat section to look for mark downs. I alter my weekly menus to take advantage of the markdowns. I know which stores mark down their bread, when and how much. When they have a bigger than usual discount I'll buy a couple of extra loves and put them in the freezer.

Plant a garden. Tomatoes are cheap and easy to grow and taste so much better than what you can buy in the stores. Chard is a tasty green, high in vitimin C and once started, can be harvested until a hard frost. Plant a fruit tree. Nurseries in your area sell 4-in one trees (4 different types of apples on one tree.)

There are lots of questions on how to save on groceries. Look up and read the answers.

Good luck to you and yours.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Yikes! I spend no more than $400/month for our family of 5. And we got several big eaters! We eat every meal at home, too.... we go to a restaurant maybe 3-4 times a year.

I used to be a coupon queen but not so much anymore. It can save you money but I also needed to save time. I buy mostly Meijer brand stuff and usually only when it's on sale.

Remember that it's not about what you SAVE, it's about what you SPEND. Who cares if that boneless chicken breasts is on sale for $2/lb... that is still more than $1/lb MORE than a regular whole chicken (normal price is usually well under $1/lb). Likewise, if you "save" $1 using a coupon on namebrand canned peaches, it's not really savings if the price of the storebrand is cheaper. Keep an eye on what you SPEND, not what you SAVE. There's a big difference.

Stop buying convenience foods. Use your crockpot instead - lots of stuff can be made in there and it just takes a few minutes in the morning and it's ready for dinner. You can more more expensive cuts of meat - like whole chickens or just breasts/thighs with the bones because the meat literally falls off the bone when you lift it out and it's fork-tender.

Don't buy small bags of snacks. A big bag of Meijer pretzals can be found on sale for $1 quite often. When you get home, put it into snack-size ziplock bags or small plastic containers then put away. They are easy to grab on a busy day. Do this with all snacks.

Watching ads is key to most things, especially staples, and I rarely buy anything if it's not on sale. But don't fall into the trap of blindly making your menu from the meat on sale... gems can be found, but know your prices! Often you can buy a cheaper equivalent meat for less than the 'sale' meat.

Think rice & beans. Very healthy, very inexpensive and can be cooked in a wide variety of ways so you don't get tired of them. Usually not on sale but are so cheap they don't need to be. A big bag of rice can last weeks/months even if you cook it several times a week and costs just a few dollars. Also have breakfast for dinner once a week... my kids love it and pancakes are very cheap!

Bake cookies and brownies from scratch instead of buying them. I freeze them in snack size ziplocks or plastic containers and then they are ready to grab 'n go for lunch packing. When you make pancakes, make extras to put in plastic bags and store in freezer. No more wasting money on expenives frozen pancakes/waffles!

Buy produce when it's in season - this is the perfect time of year to start doing that because most everything is!

Stock up when you find a good deal (experience will teach you what that is) and then dont' buy that item again until another great deal comes along. Go to the store once a week - everytime you go for 1 thing, you end up buying more than planned. Only buy stuff on your list. Don't be afraid to go without... most recipes are forgiving if you leave out an ingredient or just find a substitute... I treat recipes like a guideline and change them often.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

In addition to the other suggestions I do some of the following:

-Survivor week - learned that one on this site. Only buy essentials like milk or eggs. The entire week's menu is based on what's in the deep freeze and pantry. It helps me empty the freezer a bit and clean out the pantry. It also saves quite a bit of money. We do this about once every two months. Sometimes the meals are a bit "interesting"....but it seems to work.

-Stock up - if it's great price, buy a lot.

-Beware of coupons - Coupons can be absolutely fantastic. But I notice that sometimes I purchase things I don't need or wouldn't buy normally because it's such a "great deal" which makes you spend more.

- Don't be afraid to go to more than one store - I can get milk for $1.69 at one place(Auldi's). Veggies and fruits are fabulous price and great quality at another (Sprouts). And I choose my "regular" store to shop at based on the sales. It may mean a little more planning, but generally I will pass these places when I am out and about during the week, so it's no extra gas.

-Wholesale club - My husband's grandmother and I split the cost of a Sam's membership and she added me to her account (I have my own card). My neighbor pays for half of my Costco membership. She doesn't have a card, but just goes with me (or gives me a list) when I go since our Costco won't "let" us share an account. So I can enjoy both places without any extra cost

- Stay away from convenience foods - Often (not always) a block of cheese is cheaper than sliced or shredded.

- Remember that processed foods are more expensive

-Don't get tricked - Buy one get two free sounds great. But if you do the math, it's often not a deal after all.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

Something that I have heard about, and I am considering using for our family is, It is $5.00 a month (for three months). You select a store, such as Kroger, and it will give you a 7 meal menu (that feeds 4-6 people) for the week based on the stores ads. It gives you a shopping list with the total cost listed at the bottom. They claim that they try to keep the total price at an average of $75.00 a week. If the store you use is not listed, they will do the same thing, but they just can't price it for you. There are also have a few other menu options such as low-carb or vegetarian.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Here are my ideas (they work for us).

1. Make a menu based on what's on sale and stick to it.

2. Shop more than one store to get sale items if needed.

3. Don't buy the expensive cuts of meat. I buy only chicken legs and things (or a whole chicken). As much as I like breasts, it is a treat at this point because they are so expensive.

4. Shop at a Farmers Market for produce if you can.

5. Only use coupons for things on your menu. If it is not something you normally buy, don't clip the coupon.

6. Cook from scratch. Processed food is more expensive and full of stuff your body doesn't need.

We are a family of 5, and I think we spend about $450/$500 on groceries a month. We all eat left overs for lunches and never eat out these days.


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answers from Pittsburgh on

I totally agree with planning the meals in advance even though it's a drag.
What I did was write on index cards (1 on each) a main course that I make and list all ingredients for it (even the simple stuff like hamburgers would be ground beef and buns)

Before I grocery shop I pick 4 or 5 cards and make a list of the ingredients of the things I don't already have for those dishes. (I only pick like 5 meals b/c we might eat out O. night & have leftover s O. night.)

Shop from the list along with reg items like milk, bread, fruit, veggies, etc.

Your shopping will get done fast and your bill will def. be lower!

I also agree with cutting out as much pre-packaged, processed food. bad for you and very expen$ive!

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answers from Cincinnati on

I have found that buying store brand items is much less expensive than buying the name brand even with a coupon. Also the store Aldi (you can go on line to find the closest location to you) has incredible prices. Most of my friends as well and myself shop there. Also once a month I purchase from You can view the items and purchase on line but you have to find the nearest loation to pick it up. It's typically a church that offers these services. I purchase a weeks worth of dinners for a family of 4 for $30.00! Which actually will last me about 2 weeks (but it is also just me and my son). The food is actually pretty good. But you can purchase more than one of these plus they also have additional items you can purchase for an extremely low price.

Good luck!

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answers from Cleveland on

Here's a few things we do:

Buy store-brand (a lot of times it's a brand-name company who makes these products anyway). Make food from scratch - no "kits" or boxed things. For example, you can make a white sauce for a casserole really fast and it's healthier too. We like to bake too but I know it's not easy to find time. We can make pizza dough or bread dough in our Kitchenaid in about 15 minutes and then you can freeze it for later or let it rise slowly in the refrigerator and use it the next day.

We aren't vegetarian, but we eat some vegetarian meals and usually don't eat big portions of meat at any one meal. I actually just don't like spending too much of my grocery budget on meat so that's a big motivator for me! We'll do things like quesadillas with a little shredded chicken or pork (cooked in the slow-cooker during the day), or chili with lots of vegetables and a little ground turkey, salad with sliced grilled steak, bean soup with a little ham, etc. I am an at-home mom, but my little guy is like a living tornado so I don't get a lot of time to cook, but I find that if I can plan ahead, I can make some simple things from scratch. If you think about different kinds of ethnic food - Mexican, Indian, Chinese, etc., there is a mix of rice, beans, or lentils (all super cheap) plus vegetables and then maybe a little bit of meat too. I use dried beans which are ridiculously inexpensive but you do have to plan ahead so you can soak them overnight.

I also have to be strict with myself about not buying more than I really need each week. Sometimes I buy less than I think I need and it ends up being just right!

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answers from New York on

I spend about the same & it's me, my husband (give him leftovers as well) plus my 2 girls (6 &12). The only way to really save in my opininon is to plan the weeks meals & not saying that you have to totally stick to what you're having when. It's just hard to come up w/something & run to the store because then before you know it, you're dropping more money.

Maybe sit down & get some input from your husband and your 4 year old as to what they'd like & once a week make a no brainer kinda meal that doesn't cost a lot but fills the belly. Good luck! PS My mother just came out of my mouth w/the the fill your belly part!!!!!!!!

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answers from Cleveland on

I have 2 teenage daughters and my husband and I. I cook every day!
I shop at aldi's. I usually spend about 200.00 every 2 weeks.
I am telling you...this store is a God-send!
I hope you have one close!



answers from Dallas on

I only buy what I need for the next week or so. I used to buy 2-3 of the same item but I have stopped that practice. I have begun buying store brands - that makes a big difference! Sometimes it isn't cost effective or healthy (if the ingredients are full of sugar or fructose syrup - I don't buy them) but for the most part, the change has been unnoticeable. Those two changes plus using coupons has made a noticeable difference in my grocery bill.



answers from Dayton on

In addition to these suggestions, try and Also, I started taking what we budgeted for groceries to the store in cash - then you CAN'T spend more than you planned. It's amazing how many times you can make do and it never really even makes a difference. Good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

Wow, I really can't imagine how you spend that much unless you only buy name-brand food! First, yes, I just DON'T buy something if it isn't on sale with the exception of a staple like milk or bread (and even with bread I buy whatever is cheapest and I can't think of the last time I just couldn't find anything on sale. Plus, the Big Lots by us always has really good whole-grain bread for $1.50 so I know I can get some there if I'm going to over that way. I also don't use a coupon for something that isn't on sale unless I specifically need that item for something right then.
I don't work, so I figure it's my job to save money. I regularly shop at 2 stores and there are two others I will drive to if there are enough items on sale to make it worth the trip, or if I'm going to be in the area anyhow for something else.

So, what can you do to cut expenses? Plan ahead. Make a monthly calendar of meals. Or at least weekly. Base it on a lot of things you have. Stock up on things you regularly use. I buy 10 cans of black beans when they are on sale. Whenever I find a good price on chicken or another type of meat, I buy a TON and freeze it (seriously, I have 10 or 12 pounds of ground beef in the basement right now because I found it for CHEAP because it the sell-buy date was 2 days away!).

If you don't have the time to pre-plan meals and stock up, then only buy what's on sale on Sunday then come home and plan your meals according to what you could buy. Don't make a menu and then go out and buy everything you need for it whether or not it's on sale.

Here are links to meal planners:



answers from Evansville on

You might also look in to online coupon sites, like Coupon mom. You can print out coupons from your computer anytime :) It's saved me quite a bit and it's saved me time of going through the newspaper.



answers from Savannah on

I've found that meal planning has helped me know off anywhere between 20 - 50 off our bill every two weeks. I spend between 300-400 a month for a family of 4 (2 adults, a 4yr old and a 10 yr old). I only meal plan dinner Monday through Friday too that way if something comes up, I can cook it on the weekend instead. Or left overs can get ate on the weekend or I can trade it for a weekday meal instead. It was also helpful for me a few months back when my daughter was doing softball. So I had 2 practices and 1 game a week to deal with too in the evening!

I also stopped going to walmart for a lot of stuff! I can find better deals in regular stores, some double coupons, some take competitor coupons along with coupons from the sunday papar too.
I don't have a lot of the stores down here (I live in South Carolina) as you do but if you have an Aldis close by, check it out!! I used to live in IN as a single mom and could buy $100 worth of food and my cart would be over flowing compared to Krogers!! Save A Lot is good too. Oh, and food substitutions help too. I make tacos with chub ground turkey (find it frozen for $1 a pound and V8 juice with a tad of water) and fresh ground turkey for hamburger helper type stuff for under $2 a pound which is way cheaper (and better for you) than ground beef. My family couldn't even tell the difference really when I switched!! Boneless chicken thighs instead of boneless breast. And check prices between frozen and fresh too. Most of the time here, fresh is a bit cheaper than frozen per lb! Cheaper cuts of beef like round steak can be made nice and tender by putting some kosher salt on both sides an hr before grilling while leave it set out. Some pepper, garlic and onion powder on it too-yum!

Store brands are great options too. But always check price per oz/lb as even at walmart the name brand is sometimes cheaper than their brand!

I'm still getting into couponing myself and I'm always happy when I've got 15-20 off my food bill in coupons!

Here are some websites I like......



answers from Phoenix on

I find that shopping at Costco, Walmart and Fresh and Easy helps. I get great deals at each store for the things I buy. I've tried coupons, price matching, just shopping at one store, making everything from scratch (bread, pancakes, tortillas, and noodles) and nothing compares to just finding the great prices at the stores I like. I hope this helps.



answers from Cincinnati on

Buy what you can in bulk at Sam's or Costco - things like eggs, milk, freezer items, paper items, juice boxes/Capr Sun. Watch the sales and coupons, though, because if you can pair up a sale with a coupon, sometimes that is cheaper than buying bulk.

Store brand items on a lot of things are good - frozen potatoes, canned veggies and fruits/applesauce, cereals, pastas, frozen pizzas/chicken tenders, etc. Again, watch the sales and coupons, because when you can combine those two things together, sometimes it's still cheaper than store brand.



answers from Dayton on

I always have a list and do not deviate from it. make a list of what recipes you are going to make. Also, and this is my biggest mistake, make it simple. You do not have to be gourmet chef to feed your family.



answers from Portland on

Hi C.,

I'd look at Costco, that will help.

I would also suggest buying as much fresh foods as possible. My husband recently decided he wanted to be healthy, so we stopped buying anything prepared, (Frozen pizza's etc), and our grocery bill has gone down quite a bit. Sounds crazy, but 3+ months & we're saving $150-200/ month!

I know preparing fresh with a family is hard, but I bet you'll save money.

R. Magby



answers from Columbus on

Lots of excellent suggestions!

We spend between $200 and $300 per month, and I don't clip coupons (I found that a lot of times, because I don't want to devote the time & energy to maximize the coupons by using them when the item was on sale, it was just a waste, and other brands were cheaper. We do buy a lot of generic, or bulk buy items (at GFS, for example) and freeze extras in meal-sized portions.

I'm not sure if anyone offered this, yet, but it would be a really good idea to keep a hold of your grocery receipts for the month.

Then, go through that list with a fine-tooth comb. What things really are necessities, and what are luxuries? Are you buying expensive non-grocery products, convenience foods, snacks/candy, cookies, pop?

Seeing what you're actually buying, and then going through and seeing what you can cut out really can be eye-opening. Once you see what you've been doing, you can try employing all or some of the other suggestions shared to help cut back.

I would also suggest reading the Tightwad Gazette--there are some really excellent suggestions/tips/articles in it for helping cut your grocery budget.



answers from New York on

Try getting things in bulk. I get my chicken, ground turkey, frozen veggies and alot of other foods that I use often at Costco. I think it helps.


answers from Jacksonville on

Simplest 'trick' in the book.
1) make a list of everything for the week, and go buy ONLY what is on your list.
2) Do NOT go to the store again before the week is up.

Impulse buys are where most people blow their grocery budget. And the more trips you make into the store, the more "opportunity" there is to buy on impulse. Limit the trips, you limit your impulse buying. Make a list and only buy from that (you could even add a $5 line item for any "impulse" items that are on sale or catch your eye, but you have to stick to the $5 limit on it).

The other thing I do, is shop the same stores regularly, and watch the sales flyers... they come out a day or two BEFORE the sales begin. So don't buy something if it goes on sale in 2 more days... wait for it. You will also begin to notice the "cycle" of the sales at your regular stores. I know that at Publix for example, about once a month, they will have my husband's favorite Kashi cereal on sale, usually BOGO, but sometimes 2 for $5. So I ONLY buy his cereal then. And I buy enough to last until the next anticipated sale. I almost NEVER pay full price for any of our "staple" items, and I don't mean flour and sugar. I mean: cereal, bagels, crackers, tuna, soup, salad dressing, olives, shampoo, yogurt, toilet tissue, paper towels, dish soap, laundry soap, toothpaste, etc. And buy fresh veggies and fruit "in season" when it is plentiful and cheap.



answers from Mansfield on

we are a family of 4. we do most of our shopping at Aldi and Save-a-lot (generic brands but it's the same thing), except for the things we go through a lot of (like eggs and peanut butter). we get those at Sam's Club. our grocery bill is about $400- $500 every 3 weeks. it's less during the school year, though because our boys each breakfast and lunch at school. we don't skimp on food either. no one goes hungry. my husband cooks dinner every night except Fridays and both our boys are in the teen and preteen stages, so they eat A LOT! hope this helps.



answers from Boston on

I think the differences are regional too, so don't beat yourself up. We're a family of four and I spend about $600/month and around here that's really good. I think you could trim some, but you might not be able to cut your bill in half.

You've gotten lots of good suggestions. The only other thing I'd add is to eat vegetarian at least 3 nights/week. Meat is probably the single most expensive thing in your grocery bill. When you do eat meat, make it count. Don't have a piece of meat and and a side - cut up the meat and mix it with a vegetable and/or starch. Use meat as an accent, like cut up bacon for flavor. When you do eat meat, buy cheaper cuts. Boneless skinless chicken is expensive. So is steak. Instead of meat, try pastas, rice and beans, eggs.

I don't use coupons at all, and just "shopping smarter" helped me trim about $75 off our weekly bill. Good luck


answers from Milwaukee on

If you have certain ingredients that you use a lot AND have the room to store them buying in bulk can help cut cost. We do not have room so I do not buy bulk.

I do some cutting of coupons, but the biggest thing is finding the grocery that has double coupon day (so it takes of double) and that has cut my bills down by $60 (could be more if I got the newspaper and had even more coupons).

I do big shopping trips twice a month (so shopping for two weeks). Before shopping I make out a list of 14 dinner meals that I will be making, most of the meals are simple 5 ingredients or less which helps cut down on cost. Then I get anything else needed for breakfast (we mainly do cereal & oatmeal) and lunch (sandwiches, soups, salads, chicken nuggets, fish sticks) as well as a few snacks that are filling and fresh produce. This bill I can usually get what is needed for $150 (4 people for 2 weeks).

Then once we run out of milk or fresh produce I do another run to get those items, once again trying to hit the double coupon day (Wed by me), and can get those items for $50 or less.

In the end I spend about $400 a month for 4 people to eat. My friend does not buy an item unless it is on sale, I do not do that (just not as good as preparing meals without having a plan), she can usually spends only $200 or less a month for 3 people... I have gone shopping with her and I still do not understand how she can do it. She does go to THREE different store to get one weeks worth of groceries, this I simple cannot do.



answers from Muncie on

I shop according to my menu. I plan two weeks worth of meals, then shop only for what I will use. We split our shopping between Aldi's and Marsh (local to IN)(meats, fresh veg/fruit and anything I couldn't find at Aldi's). At Marsh we buy the store brand, unless the item is on sale and it's actually cheaper. We usually only go to Wal-mart for soda.

Have you tried doubling your meal recipes? That might help and shouldn't be too much more expensive.

A bulk food store might be a good idea, especially for cereals that can double as snacks.

I feed a family of 4, 3 adults and 3 year old and we eat out once a week.

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