Groceries on a Budget

Updated on March 04, 2010
N.W. asks from Austin, TX
24 answers

My family of 3 has grown to a family of five and my grocery bill keeps growing. I need to find more thrifty ways of grocery shopping. Any suggestions on how to save a buck to two? I used to spend about $150-185 a week for my husband, myself and our son. I had twin boys since then and now that they are eating solids my grocery bill is closer to $250 and up. Help!

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answers from Baton Rouge on

Get a separate freezer and stock up on sale items. Also, clip coupons! I save $10-$15 with coupons on my major shopping trips.

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answers from Kansas City on

I'm wondering what the heck you are buying? I'm feeding twice as many, and even sending food to my oldest son and his wife, and spending $200 tops.

Less prepared foods is a good place to start. Watching sales ads, and shopping from those. For instance, you find whole chickens for 79 cents a pound, buy more than what you need for one meal, buy several. Never pay full price.

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answers from Chicago on

I have the same issue. My grocery bill was growing like crazy. I went from $100 a week to almost $250 when my daughter was born. I look at the sales and plan around those. I sop at multiple stores and do a circle trip so that I don't waste time and gas. I also try to buy non-perishables in bulk--like pasta, sauces, etc--when on sale. For laundry and cleaning supplies I also check for good sales and buy more. I look into and other coupon sites for any specials that might be mentioned. I buy frozen veggies on sale and use them for soups and stuff like that. We also took a good look at what we were eating before and what gets wasted. The average family wastes over $600 in groceries per year.

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answers from Boston on

There is a website called the grocery game that I find very helpful. They track all the sales for you. Certain items go on sale every 4 weeks or every 6 weeks. They tell you when to stock up and when to use certain coupons. I don't have time to clip coupons on a regular basis so I take the coupon flyer, put the date of the paper I got it in and file it. She tells you what paper the coupon is from and I pull the flyer at that time. I have one of those pendeflex things sorted by month.
I like doing it online too because then I can see my total and if I need to put something back it's a lot less embarrassing. :)
I also earn 2% - 35% cash back on all online purchases. Try this site below. Register as a preferred customer and you can earn cash back too. It's free.

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answers from Chicago on

One thing you didn't mention is the age of your children. If your twins are still eating baby food, you will save a ton of money if you make your own. I did it for my twins: it's actually easy to do if you have anything from a basic blender to the Magic Bullet (well worth the small cost), and if you make a lot of food on a given night (or on the weekend) and freeze it in ice cube containers to use throughout the week. There are all sorts of great baby food recipe books, and you can even find recipes online. The only baby food I bought at the store was cereal, green beans and applesauce (the last two aren't really any more expensive to buy premade than to make yourself).
As another mom mentioned, it's very helpful to make out the week's menu ahead of time, write a grocery list and stick to the list. Another big way to save money: have at least one "meatless" dinner a week. Beans and lentils are a great source of protein, and featuring them in one dinner a week can save you a lot of money. Good luck!

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answers from Miami on

OMG I have been using this AMAZING website!!!

I started the end of January and I have shaved my families Groceries and personal items down to $407 this last month for a family of 4 and my pantry & Freezer is FULLY stocked!!! I cant believe how easy it was!!! I spend about 2 hours a week working on it and save at least $100 per week if not more in free stuff!!!

Her name is Jenny and she is FA-NOMINAL!!! Check out her page!!!!! and its all FREE!!! for all she does for us!!!

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answers from Lynchburg on


As usual, you have gotten some great suggestions from the mom's here

I have 7 kids...6 teens at the moment...and the single GREATEST savings for ME was a freezer. I shop the the 'family' size meats...and divide (if needed) and freeze. I then only shop once or twice a week more for veggies...fruit...and milk...(LOTS of milk!...I have often wished zoning was different, as I would BUY a cow!)

I also use a bread machine, and serve bread with every dinner. I have tried beans and rice...or soup and salad as a dinner...but the kids looked at it as an appetizer! lol...Now I use beans & rice as a 'side'...and serve less meat...and for 'soup'...I thicken with it a 'stoup' (from rachel ray) and with rice or noodles...goes well (with a side salad).

I had tried gardening...but seems I have a 'black' thumb when I plant outside...but you might consider that. Many folks are very successful...and produce can be pricey. Fortuneately, I have great neighbors, and they share their bounty!

I buy some things from Sam's (flour, sugar, yeast and some paper goods are cheaper for me) But I track the unit prices, and compare. I usually find the 'store brands' of many things (cereal for example) cheaper...and just as tastey.

Lastly, I recently MADE my own detergent as I saw a recipe here...and was ANNOYED at the price of detergent...have been using it lately...will let you know how it goes!!

Hope some of this helped!!



answers from Baton Rouge on

Wow what great remarks : If you can afford it buy lots of non perishables when they on sale - Example: canned drinks $4.28/12 cans on sale $2.98
$1.30 x 20 + $26.
If possible grocery shop once a week. - Saves on gas and wear and tear on the automobile.
If you shop at Sam's n WalMart, be careful as some of Sam's prices are higher. This is because Sam's does not have the variety of suppliers as Wal Mart.
If you can aford it and have freezer space watch sales for meat items. They usually put chicken on sale for packages of 10 lbs.
Regarding babies, I have a Braun's gadget with puree, chopper and mixer attachments. No matter what you cook you can puree any thing and make baby food. If something is to thick ad olive oil ( which is good for you).
I also suggest you talk to a dietician. In lieu of meat for protain there are other things, example Peanut Butter. Good Luck God Bless



answers from Orlando on

You should make rice, and beans part of your diet. You can cook three times a week, and make white rice. Jasmine, or Basmanti rice are the best. Goya beans soup (black, red, white, etc.), and you just have to blend it with a little warm water. The rice is one cup of rice, and two cups of water. Mac & Cheese, Pasta, PBJ sandwiches, oatmeal, cream of wheat, and bananas are all cheap meals. You do not even have to have meat with the rice, because the beans is full of protein. It is almost impossible to eat healthy, because it is so expensive. The junks are cheap, but the healthy foods are extremely costly. I no longer have small children, and am so thankful to God. I honestly do not know how some families manage, and let's not forget about diapers or toiletries. Good luck!



answers from Austin on

I didn't read any other responses, but this is what I do.

1. Meal plan. For the week, two weeks, month....whatever. Write out each dinner, side and several options for lunches. Keep breakfast simple. Cereal, oatmeal or toast.
2. Decide on a budget and take ONLY that much to the store. If you have been spending so much, you might try just taking 100 with you. And a calculator if you can't keep it in your head. With 3 under 5, I wouldn't!
3. Look in your cabinets and freezer. Write down EVERYTHING that is there. If this is time consuming......that means you have too much. I thought we were running low, took a good look at my supplies, then was able to only buy fruit and veg for the week. We had frozen meat for a few meals and plenty of pasta and soup. In other words: Shop from your pantry. You will be surprised by what you already have.
4. Keep it simple. With little ones and just you and husband to feed, you don't have to be elaborate. Think protein, veggie, starch (fruit optional. We always eat a lot of it during the day). So: Spaghetti with meat, corn. Or baked potato's, salad and chicken breasts. Both of those meals should cost less than $6 dollars each for the family. If its more, you are doing something wrong. Buy your meat in bulk and freeze.

I spend about $80 dollars a week on a family of four. I try to avoid buying processed stuff, but generally will buy granola bars on sale, fruit snacks and crackers.



answers from San Francisco on

That does sound like a lot to me. We have 2 teens in our house and my young children 60% of the time plus another child on wknds and 2 adults. About 250/week.
Number one, reduce the packaged foods.
How much of what you buy is produce?
Do you cook in a crock pot?
A classic favorite- buy a whole chicken, roast/bake it (375 for 1.25 hrs)- good w/ potatoes, yams, carrots, onions, parsnips, etc- and carve it up, eat dinner, a little leftover for a snack, on top of pizza, etc and then throw the carcass in the soup pot /crock and add water, onions, fresh or dried herbs, maybe bullion, etc.veggies, etc and now you have soup! Whatever is leftover after that meal can be frozen if you're bored w/ the chicken by that time and when you whip it out for lunch a week later, you'll be glad to have it.
And good ol' beans and rice. Seriously, beans are not hard to cook! And they are the best from scratch over rice. Easy, cheap, yummy. Add in a little greens or a salad and Viola!



answers from Austin on

I've been checking the ads for the best prices before I go and trying to plan meals around the ingredients that are the best deals (and are still nutritious), rather than picking recipes and then having to buy ingredients that aren't on sale. I still try to stick with a list so I won't impulse buy. Planning on snack food is good to do as well. I start in the produce section and try to fill up the cart with fresh fruit and veggies before heading to the aisles (processed foods generally cost more) If I can stick to the outer loop of the store I can avoid alot of the pre made items and my bill stays relatively low. I try as much as humanly possible to only go once a week. Every time I have to go back for an item I forgot and have to have my bill goes up way more than for that one item. We go through 8 gallons of milk a week and our boys aren't teens yet. I'll be reading through ideas from your question for ideas for our family too :)


answers from Charlotte on

We have a family of six, a 6 yo boy, twin 4 yo boys, and a 8mo girl. Our grocery bill can be outrageous also. I buy staples every two weeks and fill in weekly. I buy store brand whenever possible. Sometimes I have to go to 2 or 3 different stores to get the best deals. Before I go, I look at Food Lion and Harris Teeter's online ads to see if anything I need is on sale. Everything else I usually get at Wal-Mart, they have the lowest overall prices.

For example, Food Lion had canned veggies on sale last week for $0.35/can. I stocked up. Also, I plan my meals around what's on sale that week. If chicken is on sale, we're eating a lot of chicken this week. I also invested in a deep freezer so I can stock up on things on sale and freeze them.

I buy certain items that we use a lot of and keep forever (diapers, waffles, paper towels, etc...) at Sam's Club. Buying in bulk is worth it if you use a lot of an item and if it will keep for a while.

Bottom line, shop around, if products you already need are on sale, stock up on it, and always try out the store brand. If you like it, keep using it, if not, go back to the brand name.

Good luck, I got a feeling as our little ones continue to grow, so will our grocery bills :)



answers from Los Angeles on

I give myself a budget, meal plan and shop for my groceries online. This keeps me within my budget most of the time. I live in the UK and its quite inexpensive to have your groceries delivered here (£3.50) so I can pretty much keep to about £50-£75 / week for a family of 3 (one of whom is 1 year old). Look into that as its so much less hassle to have them delivered to you and you can see all the deals as well all listed in front of you, rather than having to hunt for them.


answers from Jacksonville on
Check your local sales papers regularly. Most grocery stores put out a weekly flyer with the coming week's specials. Educate yourself about when the flyer comes out and when the ads are effective.
Make LISTS and stick to them.
Familiarize yourself with the "regular" price of items at your favorite grocery store and at Walmart/Target. Just because something is "on sale" at one store, doesn't necessarily mean it is a good deal.
For example: I shop at Publix here in SE Georgia... and I know that 50% of the things I routinely buy will go on a BOGO (buy one get one free) sale if I wait long enough. When something we use/eat goes on a BOGO sale, I stock up.. even when we're not out yet. My husband's favorite oatmeal (Kashi) is cheaper at Walmart -- but if it is on sale for BOGO at Publix, then Publix has the better price. So I keep stocked up from Publix's BOGO sales, but if I get caught 'with my pants down' and we run out, I will buy one box at Walmart to get us through until the next BOGO or 2/$5.00 sale at Publix.
Know your local stores' policies on coupons and BOGO sales. Publix doesn't require you to buy 2 of something to get the discounted price on a BOGO sale. You can buy just one and only pay 1/2 price...Not all stores handle it like that. Some stores you pay full price for the 1st item, so if you only purchase one, you get NO discount. Some stores will honor competitor coupons, too. Some stores have double coupon days. Know which of the stores you shop do these things.

Biggest tip: Make a meal plan for the week, then make a grocery list, and stick to your list. If at all possible, only go to the store once per week. For every trip you make into the store, you add several dollars more than you planned to spend onto the shopping trip. So the more trips you make, the more unintended purchases you make.



answers from Lawton on

Get a copy of your stores circular and make your list off of what is currently in your fridge/freezer and what is on sale that week. If your grocery store doubles coupons, searching those out can be rewarding as well. Although right now good coupons are very few and far between it seems.



answers from Jonesboro on

I have a family of Five also and I only spend $374 a month on groceries. I am not for sure how I do it. But instead of buying weekly I buy monthly. It seems to help the food stretch longer and that is with me providing 3 meals a day plus 2 to 3 snacks. Good luck is all I can say you will figure out how to cut down on the grocery bill. Also try buying your veggies frozen they are still fresh but last a lot longer.



answers from Tulsa on

check into angel food I have been doing it for 5 years as a single parent. add extra potatoes and rice and beans to fill them up faster. go to the website and it will tell you where to order near you.



answers from Detroit on SERIOUSLY IT IS THE ANSWER!!!


answers from Dallas on

buy it monthly and in bulk like in sams or cotsco buy almost everything there it will save you money



answers from Baton Rouge on

Eat less meat. You don't need meat at every meal. Beans, nuts, eggs, quinoa, and dairy are great protein sources. Instead of giving everyone a whole chicken breast for dinner, cut a couple into bite-size pieces, stir-fry or put in the crockpot with vegetables, and serve over rice.
See if there is an Angel Food Ministry in your area. $30 buys a box with enough groceries to feed a family of four for a week - meat, frozen and fresh veggies, eggs, milk - the specific items vary from week to week. There is no income requirement, there are various types of boxes (combo, gluten free, all veg, all meat, seafood, etc.). You can order as many boxes at a time as you like. You pay when you order, and any orders not picked up are donated to food banks or soup kitchens.



answers from Tulsa on

I don't know where you live but the very easiest way to save money is to shop at Aldis. You have to pay cash and bag your own groceries but it's half the price of Dillons/Krogers.
Our family of five spends less than $100 a week and that includes the pets. I use coupons religiously and often won't buy a name-brand item unless it's on sale AND I have a coupon. I only buy maybe one or two pounds of meat a month and no packaged meals at all. We also have a huge garden so that's a trememdous help; we also harvest our own eggs from a small flock of chickens. I make my own bread and most of the cereal (granola). I get bulk grains at an Amish-run business. I also shop early enough in the morning that I get nearly all of our produce, dairy products and random lunch meats on clearance.
For me, saving money is my job since I am a SAHM.

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