How Do You save Money on Groceries?

Updated on August 03, 2011
L.M. asks from Hicksville, NY
20 answers

OK ladies I know people say "clip coupons" but I find that I don't get any coupons. I check my local pennysaver, it's always fliers and ads, no coupons. I don't subscribe to a newspaper and don't really want to. Do I have to in order to get coupons? I shop at BJs and Costco and sometimes get coupons from them but hardly ever for stuff I really need anyways. (Occasionally).

And also, how much do you spend on groceries? We spend around $200 per week. That includes diapers and wipes and shampoo and things like that. I have 3 kids. My husband also packs a lunch every single day for work, and I am home with the kids. We don't eat out almost at all. We have a 3 month old, a nearly 4 yo and a 5 yo. I would love to cut this down to $125/week.
Can I???? HOW???

Thanks in advance!!

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So What Happened?

I REALLY appreciate all of your advice so far ladies. I absolutely am going to do a few things - one make a menu plan in advance and avoid doing little mid week trips to the store and 2 also do a cash system for groceries ie on our budget, after paying mortgage and other "musts", how much is left for food and only that. Also veg meals one or two nights a week and so forth. I'll let you know how it goes!!

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answers from New York on

It depends on what types of foods you eat, we find BJ's to be a huge savings - we can get these items there for less than other stores - milk, eggs, bananas, cheese, chips, apple juice, frozen meatballs, pork loin, romaine lettuce, and organic carrots. Ocassionally they have good prices on fresh fruit, but I find the veggies to be expensive.

I stock up when items are on sale. Pasta (name brand) has been on sale a few times recently for $.77 and $.88, and I have over 30 boxes in the pantry.

I really think $200 a week for a family of 5 (including diapers and health and beauty aids) is good budgeting.

I don't find coupons to help much. Most of the ones in the paper are for $1 off 3, I don't want to buy 3, or they expire very quickly.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

I have found shopping smart trumps coupons. I only know a couple people who still coupon but their pantries are filled with stuff they don't actually need but the deal was so good. Okay if you spend 1.50 on something that is 3.00 but you don't actually need it you just wasted 1.50, you didn't save 1.50

Watch sales, when you see something you need on sale buy a mess of it. You will start to figure out how often it goes on sale and know exactly how much you should buy. Granted you have to have storage space but you can save a lot more than coupons and on stuff you need.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Wow, with diapers, wipes, and other basic house hold cleansers.. I think you are doing really well.

My deal with coupons is, that is not what we eat.. I do not do much
pre packaged foods. I hardly use any canned goods only canned tomatoes and I love the house brand..

So I have learned to have an outline of a weeks menu.. Then I fill it in with the best buys of the week. I also take advantage of any surprise specials I come across.

Today I purchased 4 packages of split chicken breast because they were only a $1.00 a pound! I froze 2 packages and had my husband grill the other 2 tonight. Now we have about 3 days worth of chicken.. We had some as BBQ chicken tonight, tomorrow I will make chicken enchiladas and the rest I will make chicken salad..

I noticed this same store had chicken legs in large packages for 49 cents a lb.. If our daughter were still a young child, I would have totally stocked up on those..

They had 5 corn on the cob for a $1.00 so I purchased 10. They had plums for 79 cents a lb and Peaches for $1.49 lb..

Lunch meat ham, $3.79 lb

Fresh made tortillas 20 for $1.79

Fresh zucchini and yellow squash for 79 cents a lb

Here is what my list had on it.. Veggies, fruit, chicken, Bread product, Lunch meat. Rice. Instead of rice I purchased some dried blackeyed peas and some pinto beans.. I made the Black eyed peas in the crockpot today.. I will make pintos tomorrow.

So I was able to fill in the spots with what was on sale..

This weekend I had to run to a different store for some quick items and noticed they had "London Broil" for only $1.99 a lb with the Grocery card!.. It came 2 to a package, So I purchased the smallest package and grilled one and froze the other! This was not planned, but for that great of a price.. we got 2 meals out of 1 of them and the other I will make another time and 2 more meals!

Of course I do not have 3 children at the grocery store with me either so I have a little more time to look around and study the sales..

Maybe you can go to the grocery in the evening while your husband watches the children at home?

Detergent (love Costoc Brand), shampoo, paper towels, ziplocs, deodorant, Tampons.. I try to purchase when they are on sale or I have a good coupon or both.. so that when I need them they are here at the house and I did not have to just purchase them at the regular price..

Just keep an eye out for the sale items. Only purchase what you know or sure you all are going to eat or use.. Planning ahead helps, but also going with what is on sale can also save you a bundle..

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I also order food through Angel Food Ministries... you don't have to "qualify"... it is for anyone!

You order by a specific date, and usually pick up the food a week later. It is pre-set food boxes, mostly frozen.

For example, for $46 this month, you would get about 20 lbs if meats or heat-n-eat food items, and about 10 lbs of frozen veggies. There are several different types of boxes you can order. According to their price checks, you can save an average of $40 or so over the grocery store prices. It has been a real budget saver for us! Also, if you do use food stamps, they accept that, also....

You can go to their website and see if there is a distribution place near you.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

To do $25 per person per week, you have to take advantage of all the sales and watch the discount bins and the mark downs in the meat section.

Where we live, the coupons come in the Sunday paper. The local newspaper has a sale on subscriptions so you can get 52 weeks for $8. I find the coupons in the Sunday paper don't help much.

I look at all the sale ads. See which has the best prices and shop there. I seldom shop at Costco or Sams because I can beat their prices for meat consistantly at the other stores in my area. I've done comparison shopping at Sams and Costco and sams is cheaper on seven of 10 items. They tie on one or two and Costco is cheaper on one or two. Costco's memberrship is also more expensive than Sams. Sams is cheaper on dairy products unless a store has a really good sale. Fruits and vegetables are almost always cheaper at the other grocery stores in my area.

I know what goes on sale when and buy large quantities then. If something goes on sale, like pasta, I know what is a good price and I buy lots of it. That way I use the item, pasta, rice, toilet paper, etc at the sale price until I see it on sale again.

My wife and I spend about $25 per week per person for the two of us. I could do it for less, but one or two of my kids and their families come over for dinner on Sunday every week and bring the grandkids so that ups my weekly food budget.

I have buy prices I have developed over time. Each price is an "or less"
diapers 10 cents each
yogurt 50 cents
cheese $2.25 lb
cottage cheese $$1.50 lb
Chips, 12 cents per ounce
hamburger 80/20 or better $1.50 lb
chicken breasts $.99 lb
leg quarters $.59 lb
charcoal $.25 lb
toilet paper, 2 ply, 150 sheets to the roll, 6/$1
cereal 12 cents per ounce
sirloin steak $2 lb
boneless chuck steak or roast $2 lb
soda 6 12 oz cans/$1
onions, yellow or brown 6 lbs/$1
potatoes 5 lbs/$1
detergent 10 cents per load

Growing tomatoes gives you real good tomatoes and you can save a lot.

Good luck to you and yours

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answers from Omaha on

Try looking for coupons [email protected] and other sites. You can print only the ones you'll use...right from your own computer! Also, check to see if your store does any price matching. I mostly shop at Super Wal-Mart because they will honor other stores sales. Price-matching plus coupons saves me quite a bit off my grocery bill!

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answers from Honolulu on

I make a weekly menu and grocery list, that matches the menu.
And this works for us.
Prices/groceries are high, in Hawaii. Cost wise.

I shop sales and Costo for certain things.
I don't do impulsive buys.
I KNOW my prices, too, and what is a good deal or not.

We also spend about $200/week, on groceries.
We have 2 kids and my Mom that lives with us.
We don't eat out much.

DO a weekly menu. And cater your grocery list, according to this.
ALSO, I don't do recipes that require exotic ingredients.... because that costs more and you don't use it all up, except for that 1 recipe.
I make menus, based on what are staples for us and what we typically buy, and what can be used to cook other entrees.
For example: why buy a tube of anchovy paste, to make 1 entree, when typically I would NOT use anchovy paste to make anything else nor eat it everyday. And that one tube, costs a lot.

Then, about once a month, I have a "use whatever is piling up in the freezer" weeks. Using up, ONLY what we have accumulating in the freezer. Otherwise, it all goes to waste and why buy more, unless you use up what is stocked in the freezer.

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answers from Seattle on

Coupons don't help me, because they are almost NEVER for the things that I already buy / use. Doesn't help me to 'save' money by buying things I don't need!

I shop at 5 different stores, however, to get the best prices on what I do use/need. Ex... Milk at QFC = $4, Milk at Trader Joes = $1.60. I buy 30 half gallons of milk each month. 120-48 = Buying it at TJ's saves me $72 dollars each month. Toilet Paper comes out to $5 at TJ's, but $2.50 at QFC. So I buy milk at TJs and toilet paper at QFC. I could buy gallons instead of half gallons, but I'd only save 10 cents per gallon. The extra $1.50 is worth it to me to buy halves. The same is true of ALL the stuff that I buy.

And I shop sales like nobody's business

(HULLO DEEPFREEZER!. Seriously. Turkey goes to 11 cents a pound to 33 cents a pound over the holidays. Versus the $6 per pound any other time of the year, and $10-$12 for turkey lunch meat. Oh darn. I wasted a DOLLAR paying for bones. Shucks. I buy 6-10 turkeys over the holidays and line my deep freeze with them. Once a month I defrost one, bake it, slice up the breast meat for lunch meat, freeze it in baggies of 1lb each (I usually get 6-10 baggies). Just saved $60-120 on lunch meat. The rest of the turkey gets used in a bunch of different ways. Ground turkey (burgers, spagetti, etc.) smoked legs, pot pies, etc. All for 11 cents a pound. CHICKEN, meanwhile (in our area) is dirt cheap when it's at $3 or $4 per pound, and is more typically $9-11 per pound. Rotisserie chickens at $5 are cheaper than spending $8 for a raw one. Beef, I would like to buy an 1/8th-1/4 of a cow at some point. Since hamburger is $5 per pound, and steaks are $15-20 per pound... paying $500 (5p/pound) for 100lbs (1/4) of beef is a screaming deal. And $5 per pound is "high" for an 1/8th to a 1/4 of a cow.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Look on-line - things like

there are also other websites that give you access to retail coupons.

if you shop at BJs and Costco - you know that they don't use manufacturers coupons (darn it!!)

I save by sometimes buying a store brand vs the retail brand...Like you - I make a lunch for my husband every day - and since I'm a SAHM and the boys are with me this summer - it's been a tad bit more because we are all home....even if we go out to the pool - I bring snacks because I don't want to pay $1.50 for a bottle of soda! YIKES!!!

Your Sunday paper should have coupons...that's the one that normally/traditionally has them - the only dates that they do not have coupons is holiday least that's the way it is for ours..


3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I use as many coupons as I can too, but like you, don't get a lot...It's just my husband, our 15 mo. old and I...we spend about 100 a wk. ...sometimes a little more or less, so I would say you could maybe cut back a little...but you do have two more kids...hmm.. I am really careful when only what we really need and then a few "extras"...I also plan out meals each week, so only go to the store once...I think stopping at the store here and there makes you spend more, because you see things, so why not buy them! I also try to buy stuff when it's on sale and freeze (especially meat)...I don't think 200 is too bad for a 5 person family..good luck!

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answers from Daytona Beach on

i go to Harvest Time. apparently it is low income? i didn't know that at first but was told it was. i don't know how much you have to make before they say no you can't come in. but they are church run (don't know what kind) and they get food donations from stores going out of business, some that are slightly out of date and some that are damaged. i get a huge banana box of juice (all different kinds that have about 80-100 juices) for $8. i can get snacks for the kids for .25/box. spaghetti sauce for $.75/jar. i got once a 6 pack of tropicana oj that was still in date for $2. the bottles were the 32oz. i get for types of bread items for free. they sell diapers/baby food/animal stuff/laundry detergent/toilet paper/furniture/makeup/toys/etc. other than that i typically shop at walmart. i have 2 kids 7 & 5, me and my husband. 2 dogs, 2 birds, and i watch my niece during the week so i feed her breakfast/lunch/dinner, and my mom stays with me 2 -5 days a week. i spend around $100/wk most weeks including my husbands dip.

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answers from Cincinnati on

I think you are doing great. I spend more than that and there are only 3 of us and 2 of us don't even eat meat. I have no idea how these ladies can keep their grocery costs so low. To answer your question about coupons, you just need the Sunday newspaper that you can pick up just about anywhere. That is the one that generally contains a ton of coupons in the inserts. For some reason, most of the food I buy never has coupons but I grew up with my Mom and grandmother who practically made a game every Sunday of making out shopping lists. They clipped coupons and read through the grocery ads to determine which store had the best sales and they made their lists. My mother would squeal with delight telling me how she bought cereal buy one get one and had a double coupon on top of that lol

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answers from Washington DC on

I think for a family of 5, you are not over-spending. I don't use coupons either b/c I don't buy a lot of prepackaged items nor do I need 3 boxes of cereal at one time. We are a family of 3 and I spend about $80-100 a week, but that is for everything and we eat a lot of fresh fruit and veggies.

I buy milk, bread, sliced cheese and most meats at BJ's. The milk, cheese and bread is cheaper there and the meats are a little less but not a huge savings.

I try to stock up when things we use are on sale. In the cooler months we eat a lot of soup, which is usually easy and cheap to make.

Some times I bake a ham and slice that up instead of buying deli ham, which can be expensive.

I make a weekly menu to avoid buying extras, but it also ensures I have what I need for each meal. That avoids extra trips to the store, which also saves money. I try and go to the store only once a week, but sometimes I have to go a second time to get more fruit.

Shampoo and other toiletry items are usually much cheaper at Target and Wal-mart. I try to buy those items there, but that doesn't always happen. I'm not going to make an extra stop for one bottle of shampoo. The savings just wouldn't be worth it.

If you have an interest in and space for, growing some of your own veggies is helpful. In the warmer months I buy fruit and veggies from the farmer's market -- items tend to be cheaper there, but not always so you have to know your prices.

Good luck!

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answers from Medford on

Find out what day the local paper has coupons and sales ads and go to the newspaper box outside a store and buy one. It will cost very little, like 50cents,, and will have all the coupons. You dont have to subscribe to the paper to go buy one anytime you want. Ask your neighbors if they have any coupons they dont use and see if they will give them to you. I give mine to my neighbor. Watch for sales, give the kids generic snacks, not name brands, water instead of juice and milk between meals. Use less shampoo and conditioner, mayonnaise on 1 slice of bread, not both for sandwiches. Pancakes for dinner once a week is fun and cheap.

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answers from Amarillo on

I used to make menus up for the month (5 weeks) the 5th week was my "wild week" of what was left or what could be made from left overs. The kids and I would eat leftovers from the night before for lunch and I would make a new meal each night except Friday (that was eat out the frig night). Make larger quantities and freeze for another meal.

We were living outside the country and everyone even locals bought large size items because when it snowed you might be housebound for several days before the roads were plowed. Twice a week I made homemade bread. Cookies and things were made from scratch.

Just sit down and figure out what your family likes for meals and rotate them into a monthly menu. Then go shopping and STICK to the list. If it is not on the list don't buy it. Have healthy snacks, popcorn, fruit and such - chips are full of air and oil and leave the soda at the store.

We were able to buy items in large quantities as a group and we did and we would split items if the size was too much for one family to use within a year. I would have paper towels and toilet paper falling out of closets but by the end of the year they were gone. Frozen foods were bought in the dead of winter because they would stay frozen on the way back from the commissary. I almost lost a case of applesauce once it was the best tasting because of the ice crystals in the jars.

Try to buy what you need in volume like others have said -- pasta, rice and dried beans are life savers.

I did diapers three times a week and had a clean house (made a schedule up to keep up with it) and we would go out for daily walks in the spring through the fall before the snow fell.

The other S.

PS Best time of my life because germs freeze at 30 below.

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answers from Phoenix on

I spend very little for groceries. i don't do coupons or make lists. I wander the isles and look for clearance and sales items and build my menu around that. and i always get our same favorites and look for them on sale. for example, i noticed canned tuna was on sale for .40 so i bought about 20 of them. and i load up when meat is on sale too and keep it in a big freezer. i also buy store brand and not name brand. good luck.

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answers from San Antonio on

Plan your meals. I often cook 2 chickens at a time, buying them when they're on sale for 88 cents a lb. We have a deep-freeze where I stock up on meat anytime it's on sale (on sale to me means $0.88/lb for chicken, cheap cheap turkey on sale during thanksgiving, $1.97/lb for pork chops, whatever pot roast costs these days cheap). We don't buy steaks or hamburger meat. But anyways - back to the chicken. We cook two of those for dinner one night. Eat on that with a side-dish. Then use that cooked chicken to make other meals. You can stretch meals by adding rice, potato, or pasta, all of which are fairly cheap. I make fried rice, a noodle dish, enchiladas, tacos, soup, chicken salad ...... almost anything with that cooked chicken.

Coupons? I don't have a newspaper either. My parents will clip their coupons and give me the rest. Sometimes I find things. Sometimes I dont. The key is to only clip coupons or buy what you'd normally buy. Just because you have a coupon for 50cents off something, and that makes it a good deal, doesn't mean you need to buy it. Same goes for sales. "Hmm. Toaster Strudels are on sale, plus I have a coupon." Great, but were you planning on buying them before you got to the store? Buy two packages and even with your coupon you will spend $2-3 on it. So it'll all add up, all those impulse buys.

For our family of 3, we spend about $100 a week or so on groceries. We are the same as you and don't eat out. Husband takes leftovers for lunch every day. I don't buy make-up, if that makes a difference. My son is still in diapers and pull-ups, so that $100 includes that too. We don't throw away ANY food. We plan it so that we don't have too much and eat what we have.

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answers from Reno on

I have a family of 4: me, my husband and two teenage sons. We spend $175/week on food. Here are some tips that helped us.

If there's a store brand, buy it. I don't buy name brand anything anymore. Most of the time, I can't tell the difference or I like the store brand better.

Cut way back on things like chips, candy, ice cream, etc. They're not healthy anyway...

When it comes to meat, the first place I look is the "reduced for quick sale" section. I can usually pick up some decent meat that way and freeze it for later. Also, I tend to buy larger pieces of meat and use the extra for leftovers. Or, buy bulk and freeze for later.

Only buy the fruits & veggies you're going to eat within a week so nothing goes bad and you have to throw it away.

Eat vegetarian one night a week. For my family, that's been & cheese burritos.

Last but not least, really assess if Costco saves you money. My husband and I did a serious side by side comparison of Costco prices vs. our local grocery store. Turns out we could save money by shopping at the grocery store on EVERYTHING, including cereal, toilet paper, paper towels, even meat. There wasn't a SINGLE thing that was cheaper at Costco, even when you adjust for the volume discounts. When you factor in the gas for the 40 minute drive to get there and 40 minutes home again, well, it was easy to let that membership go. I haven't missed it in the least. You may consider doing an item by item comparison, too.

I haven't clipped coupons in years. The coupons didn't make the name brand stuff cheaper than the store brand.

Good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

I just saw video of the Economides (America's "cheapest" family). They plan a month's worth of menus before shopping. @ grocery store they stock up on mark downs that fit their menu plans.

Also, check weekly grocery store sales. I got 4 boxes of cheerios and 2 gallons of milk for $10 @ last week's sale in my area.

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answers from Appleton on

I would suggest, like many other Mom's did, is to make a weekly menu. That will definitely cut down on a lot of the extras. Also watch sale ads when you create your menu. I don't get a paper either, but I am able to go online to get the sale ads, so then I create my menu off of that. I will stock up on meats when they are on sale and freeze them. I freeze a lot of food and then once a week I make sure I make something that is from the freezer.

Best of Luck!!

1 mom found this helpful
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