How to save at the Grocery Store???!!!

Updated on July 21, 2010
J.L. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
18 answers

I would like to hear from moms that save a lot of money at the grocery store ... how do you do it? I do buy store brand for some things, but there are other things that I only buy name brand because of taste or quality. I do try to plan out my meals and I think this is where I end up spending too much. It seems as though I am buying all these different ingredients for different meals, but I wish I could make meals last or use ingredients for more than one thing, which never seems to work out. My husband runs 6-8 miles a day, so he ends up eating a lot and we rarely have left overs unless I am making a big pot of spaghetti sauce or soup. We go every Sunday to buy for the week (however, I end up making another trip during the week and spend about $30-$50) and end up spending anywhere from $120 - $150. It is only me and my husband, my 2 yr old and my 9 month old. I can't imagine how much we'll spend once my kids are older!! Anyway, I am just interested in hearing how other moms plan meals and save at the store.

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S.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Before weekly shopping trips I inventory all the food in the house. Then, I think about what I could make with the food we already have in the pantry and add any thing we need for those recipees to the shopping list. If we need more than one expensive item for the recipee I'll just wait to make it another time. Sometimes I find recipees with similar ingredients and make both that week, but freeze one for later.

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A.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

I have been trying something new... I bring only $100 in cash, and a calculator. If I go over, something has to be put back. And NO mid-week stops allowed!

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W.T.

answers from San Diego on

Besides the usual, cutting coupons, trying to buy things that are on sale, my easiest way to save money is to NOT shop.

Sounds silly, but I will challenge myself to stretch it 2 or 3 days, I've even made it a week. I use things in the pantry I normally wouldn't and clean out my ingredients.Random bag of green beans in the freezer, rice, chili, beans from the pantry, box of instant mashed potatoes in the back that isn't yet expired, but not something I'd use, almost stale tortilla chips.....mix it all up and you have 1 or 2 meals.

Maybe you don't have stuff sitting around, but I always have things sitting around that just don't quite go together and I make it work. I've even managed to skip my weekly shopping a few times with the exception of the farmer's market for fruits and veggies.

Have you thought of doing a couple of meatless meals a week? You can cook a lot doing beans....like chilis for very L..

I hear you on the husband. Mine eats a TON! But even 2 big bowls of chili for him is plenty.

I used to plan out my meals entirely and found I wasted a lot of money buying a few particular ingredients for that 1 meal. Now I just buy my usual stuff and make it work.

I spend about 120 a week....and buy almost all local, organic fruit and veggies, as well as mostly organic foods. I send my husband to costco b/c they have quite a few organic

Last night we had a squash frittata b/c I had some eggs that needed to be used up, extra squash, 1 kinda ready to throw away bell pepper, and had an yummy frittata that my husband loved. Threw some feta on it and it was yummy.

Two nights ago, I cooked up tofu, quinoa, and roasted squash. That was it....we ate it for dinner and a few lunches. It's not my favorite meal, but it's easy. My 2 1/2 year old ate it, I added some dressing for me, and my hubby put a L. garlic chili sauce on it. We were all happy. I didn't love it, but it used up some stuff we had that needed to be eaten.

Our other favorite is taco night. Last night it was sweet potatoes, leftover corn, black beans, and caramelized onions sprinkled with feta. They were all random ingredients, but tasted great in a corn tortilla.

Also, I now make my own pizza dough which saves and also once a month make up a huge batch of waffles and pancakes. I let them cool and freeze them and you have toaster waffles/pancakes. Way healthier than packaged and a TON cheaper. Add what you want and it's a good way of using up those random ingredients of which you only have a tablespoon left.

No packaged salads, make your own. No intants packets of oatmeal, the bulk is way cheaper. Buy bulk when you can. I buy bulk nuts, beans, oats, dried fruits, etc.

Make your own popsicles, breads, muffins, etc.

Good luck mama.

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J.P.

answers from Chicago on

I agree with the first post- try Jill's super couponing. It's a bit time consuming, but worth it. She teaches people to partner coupons with sale items to get things for free or almost free. You might have to stock up on certain items while they're on sale, instead of just what you need that week, but then you don't need to buy them again for a long time. My mom is an expert "super couponer" (she's unemployed so she has time) and she's always giving me free toothpaste, cereal, shampoo, etc. that she gets her "deals" on. Good luck!

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M.M.

answers from Dallas on

WOW, I spend 150.00 every two weeks (that includes toiletries) for a family of four w/ short trips to the store for milk, bread or veggies/fruits. Of course, we aren't buying diapers and don't do much gourmet or special ingredient cooking cooking, just very basic meals mainly b/c my kids palettes haven't matured yet :) I have to say it has actually gotten cheaper the older the boys are - I don't have to buy any specialty foods (baby food, finger foods, all those other foods for babies/kids) b/c they eat 'regular' food now.

What I do to save:
- I don't go to the store when I am hungry.
- I try not to take the kids with me - I don't have the, "Momma, can I get this?" syndrome.
- I buy in bulk when the unit price it better than buying in smaller portions.
- I only buy what I need for those next two weeks - I used to buy 2 of something so I wouldn't have to worry about running out, due to the economy I can't do that any longer and it shows on my grocery bill.
- I watch for sales on items I actually buy, especially coffee since I drink it everyday.
- I stopped buying bottled water and bought a Britta - huge difference!
- I cut my dryer sheets in half and double the amount - 100 turns into 200.
- I use the coupons that come with my receipt on items I actually buy.
- Like you, I buy store brand on items that have the quality & taste I prefer.
- I only buy what I think will get eaten - for example: I buy 1 or 2 apples instead of 3-5 b/c w/ past experience, all of them will not get eaten.

I have found Costco & Sam's really aren't cost effective - many of the bulk prices or more costly per unit than buying in smaller portions. Plus, offsetting the membership cost - it just wasn't good for us. As well, I don't like their paper goods and the choices are just too limiting.

Those are just few things I do to save money...

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J.B.

answers from Dallas on

Wow lots of great ideas. If you are buying diapers for both kids, I think you are doing pretty good. I have tried Aldo but not that impressed and frankly did not feel the store near me was very clean. I don't shop a lot at Sam's anymore but will buy some of their meat when do go so can buy in the larger bulk. I like Market Street for my fruits and veggies as I find they are definitely cheaper than my other grocery stores. For meats, I look in the ads and I look in the discounted bin especially if going to use the meat in the next few days. As to toiltetries and cleaning products, I shop online for green and safer products and find that I save quite a bit of money.

A.G.

answers from Houston on

I cut corners by making most things from scratch. Tomato paste can really go a long way so can a bag of whole wheat flour(you can make pancakes, bread, tortillas, crepes,rolls, cakes,pasta), gallon of milk(can make cheese with it), buy fresh fruit and veggies and keep them in ziploc bags. Basically my best advice is to stay on the outskirts of the grocery store and down the baking aisle, The middle is where you get into trouble.

personally i spend next to nothing on food, I shop my local farmers market and mexican grocery stores for most of my produce. then i go to the high end organic stores for specialty things like bulk nuts, flours, scratch ingredients, wheat gluten, soy powder, etc....

this way i can make it cheap....and healthy, for awhile i spent 20 dollars a week on food,having a kitchen garden can be quite helpful too

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V.M.

answers from Erie on

Are you about to make your own baby food?? if you just grind up a portion of what you are having i'm sure i it would be cheaper, i wish i had done that. Work on potty training the 2 year old, that would cut down on diapers. Some of the pharamacies like rite aid, and walgreens and cvs, that typically have high prices for diapers and personal goods, will have sales or instore coupons that you can pair with manufactures coupons to get really cheap stuff. It's not your actual food budget but i used to spend alot of our grocery money on shampoo, razors, daipers, tampons etc.
How about house hold cleaners, i haven't tried it yet but people on here swear by making their own laundry soap and cleaning iwth baking soda and vinegar. sounds cheap enough to me.

I'd be interested to know what you were cooking all week, i'm in a rut and we pretty much have homemade pizza, taco's, spaghetti, hotdogs/burgers, grilled chicken w rice and steak and potatoes, Very boring.
As far as, making meals stretch, i have the left over pizza for lunches, and if there is chicken or steak left, i usually put it in a soft taco and make myown kind of wrap.

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K.H.

answers from Washington DC on

I would also like to know how to save at the supermarket! We are a family of 5 (kids are 7,4 & 2) and I spend around $200/week , then like you midweek go in and buy more milk , fruit and a few other L. things. I plan my meals , but try and plan meals that are pasta or rice based so I always have those items in the house , then some of the other things vary. We go to Costco to buy items such as laundry powder , bathroom & kitchen paper , diapers & wipes , meat , pasta so that keeps some of the weekly cost down , I have a card for Giant that get's you money off when items are on offer , but other than that I am at a loss , I hate spending such a huge chunk of money of grocery stuff!

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A.C.

answers from Columbus on

You might want to visit this post--very very similar and lots of good suggestions:

http://www.mamapedia.com/questions/8357218673882103809

I also recommend visiting www.cannywomen.com. They have free downloadable sheets for inventorying what you have in your pantry, fridge & freezer.

Try using up what you have on hand, and then restocking.

Also, for things like bread, if you have a freezer, try visiting a bakery outlet. There is a Pepridge Farm (sp?) outlet here in Columbus and we stop by there maybe 2x per month to stock up on bread (we go through 2 loaves per week), getting it at $1.79 for really good bread. Just check what brands your local stores carry, and then google "bakery outlet" and the brand name to see if any are in your area, or visit the brand's website.

Another thing to do is cut back on meat (serve more veggies/starches) and go vegetarian for one or more meals per week. Beans & rice (ie black beans & rice burritos), whole grain pasta with veggies, using TVP or alternative sources of protein (tempeh, etc.).

Buy dry staples in bulk: Get the big bag of black beans & cook it up & freeze it in meal sized portions; buy the 5 or 10 lb bag of rice if you have a place to store it. Also, check your local ethnic food stores - they sometimes will have items cheaper than your local grocery; I was able to buy 4lbs of black beans for $5, when at our grocery, the biggest bag we have is 1 lb for $1.99; same goes for rice & lentils.

Keep fresh fruit on hand for snacking between meals. It's cheaper & healthier & goes further than a bag of chips. :)

I also second the "make your own baby food" idea. We did that and saved a ton on baby food.

J.S.

answers from Chicago on

I plan our weekly menu from the sale flyer (no full price meat or fish). We always shop with a list. If it isn't on the list, we don't buy it. We stock up on basics when the sale is good (10 for $10 or buy one/get one). We joined our grocery store's preferred program and that helps. They'll send us instore coupons.

We also cut coupons from the Sunday paper. Couponmom.com is a free website that you can print coupons (pick and choose).

I have a binder full of recipes along with some recipe books that I peruse for ideas. I grow fresh herbs on my patio so if I need them for cooking, I don't have to spend any money. Spices are good for a year so if I buy something special, I know I can use it again a few months later. And I try to pick recipes where I don't have to buy a lot of special ingredients. So that means not using very many Rachel Ray or Cooking Light recipes.

T.E.

answers from Dallas on

I've been doing the grocery game since November, and found it to be very helpful. http://www.thegrocerygame.com it's cheap for a membership and has a 30 day free trial. If you sign up, if you wouldn't mind putting me as a referral, I get free months for people who I refer. My referral email is [email protected]____.com

I also found that shopping Kroger has saved me a ton of money over walmart. I never would have guessed, but it's true! I use their 10 for $10 sales a lot, and use coupons. They double their coupons!

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A.A.

answers from Chicago on

J.,
Check out jillcataldo.com
Iheartwags.com and iheartcvs.com.
These websites are very simple when you first start out trying to cut your grocery bill. The Jill Cataldo website is amazing-you will kick yourself for not doing it sooner. The biggest way to cut spending is with coupns-at first it can be time consuming, but if you stick with it you will spend next to nothing!!! There are also TONS of blogs out there that give suggestions on how to save money. Good luck

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E.M.

answers from Johnstown on

Buy ONLY what you need. Don't impulse buy. Coupons are your friends. Semi-homemade--eat some prefab'd items along with some homemade ones. Although totally homemade is best--it's also incredibly expensive (making my mom's spaghetti sauce costs $28 every time! Needless to say, that doesn't happen too often around here ;) ) Hope this helps :)

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K.B.

answers from Harrisburg on

Sign up at www.coupons.com and print coupons to help save. Use a coupon organizer that fits easily into your purse.

Go to specific product web sites to print coupons when available for items you use often.

Buy in bulk for big sales.

Join a warehouse (Sams, Costco, BJs) to buy in bulk and save, but be aware of prices around town so you know you're truly saving, which means breaking down your bulk items by pound or ounce to compare.

Make a specific list of exactly what you need when shopping. Stick to the list and do not impulse buy!

Create meals that take fewer ingredients. Check online for meal ideas.

Buying less expensive items doesn't always mean less flavor. Sometimes just adding a bit of seasoning can make a difference.

You can omit some things that may not be necessary. Does spaghetti really need onions if the sauce is already seasoned? Do you need garlic bread or salad on the side? How about just a pickle.

Making from scratch can be less expensive. For example, that salad is less expensive if you buy a head of lettuce vs the bags of ready cut lettuce.

Join all the grocery store bonus clubs (and pharmacies) and get their cards that hang off yours and hubby's key rings. For example, Giant will give you money off gas for every $100 spent. And my hubby will pick up milk on the way home and that goes towards the amount. And you can get better deals with the cards. You can sign up online for each stores flyers to be emailed to you weekly so you can see who is having what sales and stop by each store if they're within reasonable distance.

My hubby is a runner as well and does not eat much more than the average person, and he's a stocky person. You may want to talk to him about his eating habits if he's eating that much more food.We're a Marine Corps family and rarely see Marines eating that much food unless they're heavy weight lifters eating tons of protein. He can fill up inbetween meals with healthy snacks.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HarrisburgPAChat
events and chat within 2 hour radius

C.T.

answers from Detroit on

what i do i sor my meat (chicken,hamburger,pork chops etc.)i go the meat market and buy big quanities and i break the meat down into smaller portions and pu tthem in the deep feezer. if i were to buy these quanities at the super market i would pay 100-200 more! i also buy certain things in bulk such as speghetti sauce, shreaded and sliced cheese( which cna also be broken down and put in the freezer), ketchup, and other things that are in heavy rotation. that way when i go to the grocery store i only have to buy L. things ad i also try to catch the good sales at the supermarket and i always clip coupons. sometimes i have up to six children running around and they may have a friend over and everyone has to eat! so i have to cut corners and make things easy for myself and make things last! so even if you don't have a deep freezer somethings can still be broken down and put in the freezer for later use. hope you can use something i mentioned. good luck.

M.S.

answers from Pittsburgh on

This may have been posted, but one of my sisters started doing the "Menus that Save" blog (http://www.menusthatsave.blogspot.com/), that links each week's menus (along with recipes/instructions) to what's on sale at Giant Eagle. After 2mos, she has saved over $200 each month and highly recommends it.

Currently, we're on a buy all the meat/chicken/fish for a year program with a butcher (and only buy perishables as needed) - but that ends in October. At that time, we'll most likely go to the above mentioned technique. Initially, the buying for a year thing worked, but it is still so easy to over-buy or impulse buy each time we go get perishables. With the menus that save technique, you stick to the list and save.

I have celiacs and some of the recipes/items purchased have to be modified, but its still so easy to follow.

Good luck!

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R.D.

answers from Washington DC on

We plan our meals out too. What I do is sit down with my kids and we pick 10 meals for 14 days. And I write down the meal, plus all of the ingredients that I need. Then the kids go on a hunt and let me know what we actually need (we many not need more oil, garlic, ketchup, etc.) But still, I budget $400 every two weeks and generally end up spending about $350 - but I shop at a Commisary where the prices are a LOT lower. At least on things like meat. Others are more. But anyways, this has helped us save a L., but still, I'm going to try some of the other suggestions I saw on here and see if that helps too. Good luck!

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