Cutting Grocery Bill - Pontiac,MI

Updated on February 10, 2013
J.W. asks from Pontiac, MI
27 answers

My paycheck has taken a major hit this past year (like I know may other people have also experienced). Not only have I not had a raise in years, the school district that I work in made big cuts to try to make ends meet with a huge deficit they had so they cut my pay (among other not so nice changes).

So as I look at our budget and spending (one activity that really makes me hate beign a grown-up! LOL) I think we really need to cut back on our grocery spending. We have already cut back in many other areas, and there are some that just aren't going to go away (gas bills, electric bills, etc) so I am not sure where else to look at this point.

I am woindering what are some of your money saving ideas for groceries? We do things such as buy a large pork roast when it is really on sale then cut it and use it in several ways (roats some, bbq pulled pork sandwiches, pork chops, etc). I do buy store brands when possible. We don't eat expensive things, like steak or lobster.

Also, I have never shopped at Aldi's and wondered if they really do save you money. There is one near by where I live. Not super convenient, but if it would make a difference in the bills I could make the trip.

So help me out here! What great advice can I get from everyone? You have never let me down yet! :)

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So What Happened?

WOW! I knew you wouldn't let me down!

I haven't had a chance to actually TRY any of the ideas yet, of course, but am anxious to try some. I am anxious to go check out Aldi's, too!

It also makes me feel better to know I am on rack with some things. I also was curious about the Sam's club, etc. I don't go often, but the hubby does and I feel like he does end up spending more than necessary on some things. I also DIScourage him from buying some things such as salad there. We canNOT eat that much salad between he and I , our 9 year old and 19 month old. I do want to check out their diaper prices though.

I did hear someone say recently, "Remember, the most expensive food you buy is the food you throw away." It may have even been on here that I read it! Simple, yet brilliant, isn't it?

Featured Answers



answers from Philadelphia on

I buy my bulk stuff online from Amazon. I don't do well in Sam's or Costco because I overspend when it's all in front of me. I usually buy Tide, dish soap, body soap, shampoo, conditioner for the year at one time and spend about $65. They have food too but don't often get that.

In the spring/summer I get a crop share, usually runs about $200 for the 3-month season. I pick up a large basket locally every week of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. Whatever is in season. It's organic and enough to feed 4-6 for us. I pick up my eggs there too. Many local farms offer these, maybe look into it if you eat lots of veggies!

I spend very little at the store then because the basics for us are taken care of.

Just what works for us. Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have found the Aldi in my neighborhood to be a money saver. They carry brands we never heard of, but when we tried them, we did like most just as well as the others (Tom Thumb, Kroger, Wal Mart and brand names) that we are used to, and some we actually liked better! The store where I shop as very good quality produce that is really a money saver. Meat prices are a little lower, but quality seems good. I know some who do not like the Aldi store, but if you're willing to try different brands, you might be like my daughter who now shops there exclusively!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Meal plan. That has been the most successful way for me to cut costs. That way I always have what I need (no last minute trips which add up) and I plan around what is on sale. Not to a crazy degree, but at least for meat and produce.

The other thing is to make as much food from scratch as you can. If you can make things in bulk (chick broth for example) it will taste much better, be healthier, and cheaper in the long run.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

Make a trip and compare your bills. Stick to the list vs shopping off the top of your head. Stock up when non-perishables are on deep discount or you have coupons. Coupon. Compare price per quantity. Avoid convenience foods, including precut food and junk food. Have vegetarian meals.

ETA: do not assume that sale = better price or bulk = better. Compare pound for pound or quart for quart and decide what is actually the best value. Sale stickers are not always your best option.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Dave Ramsey is big on using cash only for purchases. He says it's been scientifically proven that people actually feel pain when they part with cash whereas a credit or debit card is not the same mentally.

I've not tried this, but this month I did write down everything we spent on a daily basis and it has made a difference-- if nothing else it made me think about what I was spending and if I really needed it.

Sometimes I wonder if buying bulk really saves me money, because I have found that I seem to be more wasteful. For example, if I'm down to my last roll of paper towels I'll use a dish rag instead, but when I know I've got 10 rolls in the pantry, I grab a handful. Same with other items.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Shop at Aldi. Seriously. It's the best shopping change we've ever made.

You can walk out with a stuffed full cart for about $110. That same cart would be well over $200 at Walmart. Their off-brands don't taste like off-brands. Their veggies and fruits are awesome. I love Aldi. Don't forget to bring your own bags.

I sometimes tell my husband that I wish we'd have found Aldi sooner. We wasted SO much money elsewhere!

I buy soda, cold medicines, dog toys and bones at Dollar General (off brand).

I make my own laundry detergent, body soap, and dishwasher detergent from products I buy from Walmart.

And during the holidays I still watch the ads for deals on meats and whatnot. A couple of weeks ago, I found a deal on porterhouse steaks at a local grocery. Hand cut to order...$4.99/lb. Wow. After Thanksgiving, I got several turkeys, after Christmas, a couple of hams. Before the Superbowl, deals on ground beef and chicken wings.

If you don't already have a big chest freezer, consider getting one.

Best of luck!

C. Lee

ETA: We use the Dave Ramsey cash envelope system. It works and I suggest it. All of our bills come out of our bank account automatically, and then we have cash envelopes for groceries, the kids' allowance, adult allowance and family night.

We don't spend out of our bank account at all. We only use cash. It keeps us from making unnecessary purchases. We also have another envelope. At the end of a pay period, we take the money we didn't spend on groceries, adult allowance, or family night....and put it into the REWARD envelope. This is an envelope that rewards us for spending under budget. We can use reward money any way we like because it's not coming out of our budget and all our bills are covered.

Hope that helps!

ETA2: Our 2-week grocery budget for a family of 4 is $180. This time we spent just $140 of it, and put $40 into our reward envelope. I know there's no way we would have saved as much if we didn't shop at Aldi.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Ido a lot of grocery shopping at Walmart. Can't beat the prices and a lot of their brand items are just as goods as name brand. Once made their brand spaghetti and gave it to my Italian cooking friend. She is old Italian and was shocked that it was just as good. There are still some things that i like I.e. Campbell's soup, hellmans mayo. I save so much. My husband is a big cereal eater. I get the huge bags for $6.00. My, grandchildren could not tell the difference. Mini wheats to them were the name brand. I too love their cereals. So that is my suggestion. You also need to know your prices.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I was couponing like crazy but recently I've just started cooking differently.

Last weekend, I made and froze 8 chicken pot pie dinners. Total cost? Less than $10. Hubby and me are already big fans of using all the parts, so if ou cook differently---butcher our own chicken and then use the carcass to make stock and soup, etc. you can really save money.

And of course you need a good freezer to buy in bulk. And if you haven't gone paperless, go paperless! Buy some nice cloth napkins, a real set of bar towels, and you will save a lot. Also, use coupons on toiletries. I get lots of free stuff at target.

I don't shop Aldi but a local international market that has great produce and great prices.

Stay away from processed foods and do it yourself. It's healthier and way cheaper.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I use cash, I only buy store brand, use a list, coupons. I save a lot this way. I also do not go down the middle isles unless I have to. I spend a lot less.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I do 95% of my shopping at Aldi, and the rest I do at SAMs Club or Kroger. There are certain things (specialty items, brand names, etc) you simply can't get at Aldi. For instance, my husband will only drink 1/2% milk, but Aldi sells skim, 2%, and whole,so I go to Kroger for that (bummer too, because Aldi's milk is so much cheaper!).
The only food I buy at Sams regularly is my meat (I get b/s chicken breat for 1.99/lb), peanut butter and jelly (which we go through very quickly) and oatmeal. I separate the meat into 1 lb portions and freeze.
My grocery bill at Aldi is usually around $85 and rarely over $100 and I'm shopping for a 4 person family.
I didn't read any of the other responses, but if/when you go to Aldi, remember a quarter to rent your cart (you get it back) and reusable bags if you have them. Their bags are cheap (6 cents I think) if you don't. Also, they only take cash or debit. No credit or checks. Just something to keep in mind.
Good luck!

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answers from New York on

Coupons are great! Don't use them to buy snacks and processed foods but everyone needs toilet paper and deodorant! If you pair the coupon with the store sale you will save a lot of money. Also, have a coupon exchange with a neighbor of friend so you can get extras. Like this week Speed Stick deodorant was on sale for 99 cents. I had 3 coupons for 50 cents each, doubled, is free deodorant. Just buy the meat and veggies that are on sale. Like brocolli rabe is usually 3.99 lb but today it was 1.49 a lb.

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answers from Chicago on

I shop at Aldi and I love it! They don't have everything that I need, so I only buy some things there. There hasn't been anything there that we've tried that we don't like. Most everything tastes the same or almost the same as the brand. I'm sure in a lot of cases they ARE made by the brand! We try to buy organic when we can, but I do buy things like pretzels at Aldi.

I cut out ALL extra purchases. I only buy what we need. I make out my grocery list based on the meals for the week. I freeze extras--that has helped me save a lot! I freeze veggies when I don't use them all and use them in soups and stews.

I don't buy pre-packaged foods if I can avoid it.

I also make my own laundry detergent (which is totally inexpensive!) and I make my own liquid soap from bar soap.

I do some super couponing when I have time. However, we don't use toothpaste, we make our own from coconut oil and baking soda.

Once you start making your own stuff, you won't want to buy the brands! I can't bring myself to buy laundry detergent anymore. We make our own salad dressing, which is not only cheaper but much better for you!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I just gotta say....

DITTO!!!! To everything you said!

i will be eagerly awaiting the answers you receive.

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answers from Amarillo on

Try making up a menu of meals for a week or two and then check what you have on hand in your pantry. Make up a grocery shopping list and STICK to what is on the list no extras.

Plan to make twice what you would so that you can freeze and eat later in the week or the next. Cook what you make and leave the quick to go foods alone. Take a day Sat or Sun or Tue and cook many things at once. Make homemade soups, spaghetti sauces, chilis and pastas and portion out for meals or lunches and freeze. Be sure to mark what is in the container and date it so that you can move it in the freezer. If you have a brand or two of veggies you like stock up. Even if the store brand like Albertsons has 10 for $10 or so buy them and use them in your recipes.

If your kids like sweets -- make them.

The area I see many families having difficulty would be with milk as the price for a gallon has risen. You may have to switch to powdered but there are ways to make it taste as good as the fresh.

These are some suggestions from when I had $250 for a month for a family of four (late 70s). I bought 25 pounds of flour and sugar, 32 ounce (2) cans of yeast and one 32 ounce can of baking powder for a whole winter. The local milk man and bread man delivered to the home and I took advantage of this service. We were stationed remotely in Canada in Quebec so nothing was in English-- all French. They were some of the best times and I honed my cooking skills.

Start small and work bigger with these changes.

Good luck to you all.

The other S.

PS This weekend reminds of what my winter days were like with the pending blizzard and amount of snow.

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answers from Rockford on

Lots of ways to save. Buy generic when you can (some things you just can't skimp.) haha! Look in your weekly shoppers for special sales and use coupons when you can. I do have to say, I LOVE Aldi...I shop there weekly. I do save a LOT of money. Part of that is simply because the selection is minimal! They have everything I need, but not all the other stuf I buy that I don't need! And once a month or so, we go to Walmart to stock up on things we can't get that we like (at Aldi). I have the Target Red Card, so save 5% every time I go there for my sundries.

A huge thing w/ saving money...don't buy what you don't absolutely need!

Another thing, eat leftovers for lunches or have a "leftover" night for dinner (ours always seem to be Thursday!) LOL! Best of luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New London on

I live in the Northeast ! Actually, we are in the midst of a blizzard right now. So, I have to eat what I have in the house !

I love Trader Joe's. I am not sure if there is 1 close to you, but, I find that some items are very reasonably priced.

I put cash in an envelope every week. When I go through the grocery budget...I am done spending !

I do eat alot of organic foods. Luckily, I have 3 grocery stores near me, so, I go to all 3 and get whatever is on sale. For instance, the organic cereal I eat is 4.69 a box. I buy it when it is reduced to 3 boxes for 9.00. I buy the organic drk chocolate bars when they are reduced to 2.50 each. They are big, so, I cut them in pcs !

A few days ago, I bought a bunch of veggies and made lentil soup. I used 1/2 the veggies to put atop the organic salad I got on sale. Then, I made a big pot of spaghetti sauce to get us through the blizzard and I added a cup of the sauce to the soup...instead of buying crushed tomatoes.

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answers from Dallas on

1. I mostly buy store brands. There are only a few things that I won't compromise on (my bbq sauce HAS TO be a certain brand, for example, and store brand yogurt is just gross).

2. Wal-Mart does NOT have the best prices. If you shop the other stores' sales, you can get things much cheaper. I shop sales first, and then get my staples at wal-mart. Meat, for example, is NEVER cheaper at wal-mart. FYI, I have done Aldi, but their prices are pretty comparable to Wal-mart, and sometimes more expensive. I do like Aldi because it's small, I can get through it quickly and there's less temptation for impulse buying.

3. I have never found that I save money when I shop at warehouses. In fact, in the end, I end up spending much more. So, I avoid those places.

4. Cash only. It's much easier to spend when it's a card you're using.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Fargo on

Aldi is totally worth whatever coals you need to walk over to get there. I recently moved and my biggest complaint is no Aldi. I shop Walmart and they price match. I dont coupon because i dont buy name brand.

I buy meant that is reduced in I "stalk" the meat and check the sell by dates...come back the day before and clean up (win some lose some) last week i bought 12 pounds of ground beef. I then cook it that day....some i brown with onion and freeze in freezer bags (how easy is dinner now??), sometimes i made 2 meatloafs...1 for dinner 1 in the freezer. I do the same with chicken....if its pieces or breast, i throw in crockpot ans debone or shred and freeze. Sometimes its whole chicken....i will bake....dinner one night and debone rest and freeze.

I make my own laundry detergent and fabric softner.

I don't buy cleaning products, I clean with vinegar and baking soda.

I limit my trips to walmart and target....going for 1 or 2 things can be expensive for me. I grocery shop at walmart and stick to groceries and stay away from clearance.....i find stuff and think oh this is cheap....but it all adds i stay away and don't miss what i don't have.

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answers from San Francisco on

I recently discovered a store here called, "Grocery Outlet". I love finding bargains and it is a treasure trove of grocery bargains. Maybe your area has one or something like it. Usually in the rougher parts of town...or more industrial area. They have a variety of name brand items that are close to expiration date so then they are sold to this chain...or simply overstock from other stores. I find all kinds of items offloaded from Costco.

This is my go to place for entertaining items...gourmet cheeses,crackers, special sodas/juices etc.

I have seen our grocery bill go down dramatically now that I shop more here than at Safeway or Costco.

We do weekly meal planning. All meals are home made too. is a lifesaver for me. I type in items from my fridge and pantry...and it searches recipes that have those ingredients. LOVE IT!! Sometimes we will throw in a take out pizza night. from scratch saves a lot of money. THen I post the menu out in our kitchen so everyone can see what we are having each week.

Kids take their lunches to school. Investing in quality thermoses is an idea. They take dinner leftovers often.(Better than it being saved and put at the back of the fridge then thrown out after a week.)

Try NOT going to the store very often. Make one major list and then go. All you will need to go back for is mainly produce. Stick to your list.

Good luck and best wishes!!

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answers from New York on

According to Consumer's Reports, people save the most $$ by 1. buying store brands and 2. buying from warehouse clubs, like Costco and Sam's (though be aware of prices - some things are not a bargain).

Some other guidelines I have learned that have helped me include: Make a list and stick with it; Buy with cash; Avoid end items (the things stores show at the ends of aisles to trick you into thinking they are on sale when they are actually not); try to cook from scratch as much as possible; and avoid bringing your kid/kids with you while you're shopping - my son is the source of my worst impulse buys! :)

I have been definitely wasting too much money on food and am trying to get on a stricter budget too. Unfortunately, I don't have time to coupon. Of all the advice above, the biggest thing that has helped me is buying with cash rather than credit card. My average weekly bill has dropped from around $120 to $80 for a household of 2.

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answers from Detroit on

I also do shop and recommend Aldi. Theyre small, and the stock changes (they used to carry the best natural peanut butter-only two ingredients-and stopped!) but I get great deals often. Recently I bout a bag of oranges for 1.53 (other stores are over 3-4), canned chicken is 1.73 vs 3.47.
I haven't had success with coupling, however I have a friend that uses the grocery pal app and I'm jealous of the steals she gets all the time. I don't have a device compatible with the app.

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answers from Chicago on

Aldi is great. I stock up on all kinds of stuff there. The fruit and vegetables are a lot cheaper than jewel and better than Wal-Mart. Remember to bring your reusable bags.

Side note to Kristen: trader Joe's is owned by aldi.... I love them both trader Joe's is more expensive than aldi

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answers from Pittsburgh on

If I really needed to save money on groceries I would most definitely do Aldis. Shocking the deals you can get there. You have to get yourself there ASAP.
I also think really planning out your meals and even snacks would help. And do it around whats on sale.

Lastly-if you want to coupon this site is great for showing you how to get the deals. You can try it for free for one month.

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answers from Detroit on

I used to shop at Aldi and it was fabulous for helping me save money. At the time, I was a single mother making 1800/month take home,pay, abd spending 1600/month between rent and daycare, and receiving no child support or otherwise government assistance. I didn't have anything bad from Aldi's. It really helped me survive that hard part of my life. I was also buying diapers only from Costco. At that time, I think they were $42/200 size 3s. I can't really remember exactly though.

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answers from Raleigh on

My advice is to label watch the price per pound or ounce when comparison shopping. It will list it out on the label below the item in the store. The larger the unit, the cheaper it will be. Packaging makes a big difference. I also am a couponer- not a crazy over-the-top one. I cut coupons for our most used non-store items and then have my mom give me the inserts from her paper. There are just some things we don't go store brand on- like peanut butter and ketchup. Anyway, I wait for the coupon items to go on sale, then stock up. I haven't paid full price for lunch meats or soup in a year. I also combine them with other store coupons.
Really watch wholesale shopping. I have found on certain things that the prices are no cheaper (and sometimes higher) than if you were to buy them in a grocery store or buy store brand. Canned fruits and vegetables are an example.
Finally, set a strict budget. I go in with a budget for my family of 4 or $100 a week on food items. If I get out cheaper, great! If I go over I work that into next week's budget.

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answers from Detroit on

plan your meals. figure 5 or 6 dinners for the week.. and buy what you need to make the dinners. one night can be pizza..(frozen $4 or our local pizza joint has $7 pizza on mondays.. )

breakfast is easy and cheap.. oatmeal.. cold cereal.. waffles all cheap..

lucnh is pbj.. ham and cheese .. simple stuff.

buy regular fruits.. apples oranges grapes and banansa..skip the expensive cherries adn raspberries..

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answers from Chicago on

Shop at Aldi.. it WILL save you. Just watch, find out when the produce is delivered so you can get the fresh stuff.

Also Walmart Price matches.. Look through the adds, for what you need and what you can not get at Aldi, to go WM for and price match it so you are not running to 10 different stores.

Good Luck

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