Help W Overspending

Updated on October 14, 2011
J.M. asks from Fox River Grove, IL
24 answers

Another mama's question on here prompted this, but does anyone have advice on how I can save money on grocery bills when we primarily shop just the perimeter departments? We buy very few packaged items and eat a lot of veggies and fruit and it seems like our grocery bills are outrageous. Any tips for budgeting/saving money? Thanks!

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answers from Detroit on

I hear when it comes to fruits/veggies to buy what is in season from the Farmer's markets and you save money! Also, look at the fruits/veggies which cost less and focus on finding recipes with these in them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I seem to stick to the budget better when I plan the meals for the week ahead of time.

We shop at Trader Joes, the sales at Sprouts, and at the Farmer's market.



answers from Los Angeles on

A friend of mine shops at a local asian market for her produce. She swears the quality is infinitely better and the prices are really great too. She uses "the grocery game" online for deals on dairy, cleaning products, toiletries. Costco has THE BEST prices anywhere for cheese, eggs, milk. Produce prices are good, but sometimes the quantities are so large, you end up throwing a lot of it out. Hope that helps.

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answers from Cincinnati on

Only buy fresh produce on the stuff you be eating raw. Otherwise frozen has the same amount of nutrients if you are planning on cooking it anyway. Use meat more as a side then as a main course. Load up on things like frozen veggies, brown rice, dried beans (buy whole chicken not cut up) We also do half are shopping at walmart and half at krogers. dividing our list to differently priced stores is cheaper. i refuse to buy bananas anywhere but save-a-lot because they are 33cents a pd (my hubby is the produce manager at our local store so it is not an extra trip) also little frozen concentrate juice is 1/3 of the price of the premade kind.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Since you don't do a lot prepackaged, the common sense thing for you is to go to your local farmer's markets and join a local food co-op. Buy a lot of extra during harvest time when seasonal foods are plentiful and cheap, then can, dehydrate and freeze for winter months. Or start a garden at home and learn canning and preserving techniques. Even if you live in an apartment building, you can have a very plentiful patio/container garden that will serve you well. Just google container gardening or look up books on the topic on to learn how.

Invest in a deep freezer and buy meat (if you're not vegetarian or vegan, of course) and buy items in bulk and or when they're on sale at your favorite store, or better yet, with another family or two buy a cow, or free range chickens for instance direct from an organic poultry or beef farm and freeze what you'll need for the year. The savings is amazing and so is the quality of the food.

To find farmers in your area go to:

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

Buy fruit and veggies that are in season and local if possible. ONLY buy meat that is on sale - that's how I plan our weekly menu. I get a flyer for our grocery stores weekly sales and buy from that. Meat sales go in cycles, so if split chicken breast is on sale for $1.19 per pound I buy four packs to last until the next sale. This week pork loin is on sale for $1.99 per lb and I will buy two, one I will freeze whole for use when we have company, the other will get sliced into chops and frozen in 4 packs for our family dinners.
And learn to revamp leftovers. A leftover roast can be BBQ'd up for sliders etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I have a difficult time with this too. What I do is try to never buy the pre-cut, or pre-washed, items. Instead of bagged salad greens, I buy a bag of romaine and wash and prepare it myself. Not only do I get more usable lettuce, it stays fresh MUCH longer. I also try to buy bulk. Not like at a warehouse store, lol... but instead of AN onion for a specific recipe, buy a BAG of onions when they are on sale and keep them in the bottom of the pantry in a cool dark place. Same with potatoes. Sometimes it is less pricey to buy "stoplight" peppers than single red ones. (But the quality is sometimes "off" when you do that).
I hope the others had some good suggestions, too. I don't have time to go to farmer's markets much. They are out of the way, not close by at all, and no where NEAR the rest of my shopping/grocery needs. I don't have the time to make an extra 2 hour trip (total) for veggies.

I do, though, shop the frozen section. The frozen veggies can be really good too, and if you watch for sales you can get some quick and easy side items fairly inexpensively. Even the steam in bag ones. My favorite grocery store's store brand frozen steam in bag beans and peas are BETTER than the Bird's Eye ones. And a lot less $$. One bag is a side dish for our family.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

We buy whole chickens when they're son sale at $0.88/lb. Buy/stock up when food/meats are on sale and stick them in our deep freeze.

Do you ever throw veggies away b/c they go bad before you eat them? If so, plan your meals before you go to the store so you won't be wasteful. I actually plan my meals for the whole week and then make my grocery list.

We don't buy candy, ice cream, soda, cookies, juice (except the occasional juice box pkg), etc.

We buy store-brand for lot of items.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Shop the sales. If you don't get the paper with the store inserts go on-line to the store's website to see what's on sale. Plan your weekly menu around what is on sale, ie: if chicken is on sale plan at least two meals around chicken. Then: shop with a list and stick to it! Impulse spending is a sure budget buster. And, search for coupons -- newspaper inserts, store websites, manufacturer websites (like Kraft), or sites like There aren't as many for fruits & veges but they do exist, especially store coupons. Smiths occasionally has a rewards coupon for $ off when you spend $5 in the vege/fruit dept, for example.



answers from Roanoke on

You've gotten some great advice so far. I definitely agree with buying in season. When you do, eat it a lot! When sweet corn is 20 cents a piece, we eat sweet corn every other night! Same with green beans, tomatoes, etc. For fruit, buy in season as well, and buy what you're going to eat raw (apples, oranges, pomegranates)...the others (like raspberries) you can buy frozen. Also, plant an herb garden. Putting up $3 for a bunch of basil or rosemary that will go bad soon STINKS. If you plant it, you can just clip off what you need, and it will keep producing. That's one of the biggest savers we have!

Also, if you buy chickens, don't go for the boneless skinless. Buy a WHOLE chicken, and cut it up yourself. It's SO much cheaper to do it yourself versus buying them done already. Sometimes they're on sale (in that case stock up), but it's rarely cheaper than doing it yourself.



answers from Kansas City on

Check with your grocery store and see if they will honor the sale ads from other competitors. I have seen ads that Walmart will honor ads from other stores for same products. Just take all the ads with you and shop the sales.



answers from Los Angeles on

Frozen fruit and veggies to supplement, buy what is on special in produce, when there is a special on meat buy extra and freeze. Coupons really add up for all your detergents, batteries, soaps, hygiene and paper products. There are some veggie, dairy and meat coupons out there. Lots for yogurt, butter, cottage cheese, frozen veggies, cherry tomatoes, nuts etc... You have to get the paper every week and also check out or the coupon mom. Spend time looking at weekly ads before you head out - they usually mail out on Wednesday. My family also eats little packaged food but I coupon a lot and save about 10-15% each time I go. It takes time and planning.



answers from Los Angeles on

My grocery store has a clearance meat section for items that are about to expire. I always check it out and can often save 30-50% off the ticketed price. I then freeze the meat for a later time. I often visit my local mexican market as they seem to have better prices on a lot of produce such as lettuce, cilantro, limes, tomatoes, etc. I buy what's in season and on sale for the best flavors and prices. I also don't buy pre-prepped produce. I buy full heads of romaine and other lettuces; I cut my own carrot sticks out of full size carrots; I slice my own apples. I also like Sprouts as they seem to have great sale prices on produce.



answers from Los Angeles on

I buy all my meat at Costco and separate & freeze. 99Cent store has veges, and I buy veges at food 4 less. I find Target has cheaper prices on other items Toilet paper, paper towels, medicines, shampoos etc...



answers from New York on

Fresh fruits and veggies are going to be expensive. If you buy in season, you will save money and you also need to watch what items are on sale and keep your eyes open for instore coupons. Like there was just 2 for Shoprite that said you could buy organic apples and pears for 99cents a pound. Some frozen veggies are good like frozen green beans, peas, chopped spinach and corn. But the bottom line is eating well is going to cost you. As far as meat goes, the way you can save money is to get creative with chicken legs and thighs.


answers from Dover on

Check the print or online advertisements to a few different local stores & then shop & eat based on what's on sale that week. If you stick with what's in season (& therefore on sale) you'll almost always save money.



answers from Los Angeles on

See what's on sale each week at the different stores nearby. Sometimes it makes sense to shop at 2-3 stores if they are all close to home and have different sales. certain stores around here always have lower prices than others, like Sprouts, Trader Joe's and ethnic markets.



answers from Los Angeles on

where are you shopping? I buy only what is on "special". And, i find Sprouts to be the least expensive chain on produce.



answers from Houston on

Buy fruits and veggies that are in season ONLY. For example, don't buy strawberries in the middle of winter.



answers from Pittsburgh on

ALDI is ridiculously low in price for produce.
Buy the sales (meat and produce) and plan meals around them.
Do you have local farmer's markets in your area?


answers from Washington DC on


Make a menu - even for your organic produce - it doesn't last longer so shop off your menu and you are less likely to waste food.

If you are able to have a garden, then grow your own garden - you can save a ton of money on potatoes, carrots, etc. if you can't grow a garden - buy bigger pots and grow carrots and other veggies in those. Even growing your own tomatoes saves you at least $10 a week!!

Look into farmer's markets as well. you are helping the local economy when you do that.



answers from Los Angeles on

I started saving a good amount by getting all my produce at the cheapest store around, for me it's a place the next town over called SuperKing. Good quality produce, way lower prices than the grocery store.
I still go to Vons or whatever for the other basics (bread, milk eggs, rice, pasta) and there are a handful of things I feel are cheapest at Trader Joes (eg Maple Syrup).
I shop around, I'll go up to three stores in a week if I have time. Other times I just have to stick to one.
I use Costco for all dry goods and buy in bulk (TP, paper towels, diapers, soap, toothpaste).
I also clip coupons and use them. Don't throw away the grocery inserts that show up in your mail on Tuesdays or whenever. They have coupons in them, and you can look in advance and see what's on special so you don't plan your meals and show up at the store thinking you are cooking tri-tip that week and finding uot the deal is on pork loin.
If you eat a lot of veggies and fruit, the key for you will be finding that super bargain produce place. It's out there. I've found it in every community I've lived in, in some form. Ask around.


answers from St. Louis on

Bad time to mention this since it is fall but gardening is great. Over the summer I never bought tomatoes, peppers or herbs. A lot of it I will freeze for over the winter.

We also have two large freezers that we can store bulk meats and such.



answers from Louisville on

I know it's too late now, but next season, go to a farm and help pick. Family farms will let you do that. You might have to pay some, but it's much cheaper.

Then freeze what you pick. Like corn and beans that grow up the corn. Lots of corn and lots of beans. Get those plastic freezer boxes. Cut the corn off of the cobs and put it in the boxes and date them. Then put them in the freezer. Mark the box corn so you know what it is.

Beans too. Maybe you can plant some tomatos yourself. Tie them up on steaks so that it doesn't take much room - cukes too. They dont have to lay on the ground.

Anytime you see a farm that you can pick at, do this. You can eat off it all year.

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