Saving Money at the Grocery Store

Updated on January 24, 2011
J.S. asks from Gulf Shores, AL
20 answers

I'm looking for advice on how to save more money at the grocery store. I keep reading about families spend less money at the grocery store and want to know how they do it. We are a family of 5 (3 boys, ages 7, 8 and 10 and a 6'2" hubby who eats a lot). Currently, I shop mostly at Aldi, with a few items at Shop N Save. We average $125-$150 a week on groceries. Keep in mind we only eat out 1 time a week, so this is 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 6 dinners for all of us. My son also has a severe milk allergy, so we have to be careful about which products we use. Any thoughts?? Cheap milk-free meals?? I'm trying to slash our monthly budget by $500 and food is one area we seem to spend a lot.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the info--this is our food only budget--no Target/Walmart items. I guess we're doing good--I just hear stories of families eating for $50 a week and I wonder how?? We'll aim to cut $25 a week or so from food and look at the other areas we spend on--we weren't looking to save all of that with food. We just started there, since it is one of the biggest monthly expenses that's not a set priced bill. Thanks!

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answers from Rochester on

if you google walmart free samples, you can get free samples of toothpast, deoderant, soap, etc.. Also I do mypoints and you click on the adds they send you through email and then you get points with the points you get giftcards to walmart or even out to eatplaces. Also I do zoom points and you also earn points with this and get giftcards to out to eat places. It really helps out with the bill! Also I do a graden in the summer and then freeze stuff like peas, and corn and can tomadoes. We do a lot of chili in the winter with the caned tomatoes and it cost about $3-$4 for all 4 of us to eat! I also shop at sams club and I stock up on sales when things are cheep!! Good luck!

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answers from St. Louis on

I visit for printable coupons and sale-coupon match-ups. Also Walmart will price match any sale ad, so I get the Sunday and Monday ads, find what we need that's on sale and take those pages with me. This saves me from visiting five different stores. ALDI is cheap but their brands are unique so they almost never have coupons. I go there for the sale produce though.

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answers from Boston on

I also want to chime in that it sounds like you are doing great. I think that people that spend lots and lots less are eating foods that aren't very healthy. Just some things to consider:

1. Eat less meat. It's probably the single most expensive thing that you eat per meal.
2. Consider switching up breakfast. Oatmeal or homemade muffins/breads are far cheaper than boxed cereals or purchased bread products. Most homemade breads (and pancakes and waffles) can be stuck in the freezer and defrosted very quickly.
3. Make sure that you're buying fruits and vegetables that are in season or that are frozen. Fruits and veggies that have to be shipped great distances don't taste as good, aren't as good nutritionally, and are more expensive.
4. Do most of your price-comparison/generic purchasing/couponing on snacks. There is a huge variety of stuff available out there, and the price range is huge.
5. Find ways to stretch your meals with cheaper stuff. Tacos? Mix rice and beans into the meat (or serve it on the side). Chicken breasts? Instead make chicken kebobs and use whatever veggies are on sale. Instead of serving eggs, toast and home fries, make an egg and potato frittata - same general food, but you only need 1/2 as many eggs.

Finally, don't worry if you can't cut it down tons. I bet you can probably get down to $100-125 consistently. But you have to remember that lots of other stuff you spend money on you want, but healthy food is something your whole family needs.

Good luck!

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answers from Johnstown on

Instead of buying fruits and veggies in the summer, grow your own. You can have awesome luck with tomato plants in pots. That's what we had to do last year since we had a horrible blight (sp?) hit here the year before.

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answers from Honolulu on

Each week, I plan a menu.
Then I make my grocery list based on that, and what we already have, so that we dont' waste food or money. And I STICK to my list.
I make dishes, using what we already have.... and for dishes I do cook... I make sure it is not comprised of expensive ingredients.
That cuts down on our weekly grocery costs.

We also do not eat out much.

I have 2 kids (4 & 8 years old), a Husband and my Mom that lives with us. Plus me. So 5 people to cook for.

We shop at Costco and our local grocery store.
I know my prices, and I buy things on sale.

We have a higher cost of living here... a box of cereal for example costs $7 or more. Milk... organic, can even cost over $8 for a gallon. We buy it at Costco. Much cheaper. For example.

For his milk allergy... is it a milk allergy, or Lactose Intolerant? For lactose intolerance... there are pills you can take. For example.
Or even lactose free milk.....

For non-milk meals... use marinades for seasoning meats. Use tomato based dishes. Make tacos, burritos without cheese etc. Pasta without cream based sauces. Make homemade soups.... very healthy. Make pot-roasts. Make Teriyaki hamburgers.

In Hawaii... the average amount people spend on weekly groceries... are $200.

all the best,

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answers from Houston on

We are a family of 4 with only a 2.5 year old and a 5 year old (just turned 5 a couple of weeks ago). Hubby rarely takes lunch to work and we (me and the kids) eat out for lunch once per week and we still spend around what you're spending, so I think you're doing really well! Of course, we're still buying diapers and that is factored in, but when I initially read your post, I had to ask myself....what on earth am I buying at the store! I think I'm going to have to read some of your responses. I am now also on a mission to spend less at the store! :-)

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answers from Phoenix on

I heard coupon sense is a great organization to do the coupon thing. Has a fee to join though. Many friends rave about this working and saving hundreds of dollars and getting free product too. I think it is $7 a month or you have to commit to buying two sunday papers. Maybe some moms out there know if that works.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Do you spend much on meat? You can get protein and stretch your meat by using more beans. Plus, if you get dried beans, then you really save money. Would you ever eat rice and beans(you could add a little sausage), risotto(not sure how it would be without cheese, but you could mix in ham and peas), or split pea soup (or some bean soup) as a main course? Have you ever made pasta side dishes flavored with meat drippings? I'm just thinking that you could use leftover veggies, some meat drippings, italian seasonings and sauteed onions on pasta and that could taste pretty good--sometimes throw in a splash of vinegar and it tastes great.

Do you have a church that participates in the Angel Food ministry near you? I think you could stretch your budget with some of their offerings.

I think you are doing well with your budget! you could probably teach me a thing or two!

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answers from Denver on

I have had really good luck using: (Stephanie, the writer has a great piece today on realistic couponing & how simple it should be)

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answers from Wichita on

Check out . I am going to start getting food boxes from them to help with our grocery bill. We spend about $150 per week on food & the boxes will allow us to cut 1/3 to 1/2 of what we spend weekly.

God bless!

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answers from Rochester on

I don't understand...125 to 150 a week comes out to be 500-600 a month, but you're trying to slash your monthly budget by 500? So, you are trying to eat free, or feed your family on 100 a month?

Maybe I'm reading it wrong...but that's what it says.

Before I saw that, I was just going to say that 125-150 a week for a family that size for all meals is absolutely reasonable and if you already shop at Aldis, you can't get much cheaper than that.

Honestly, are you asking to get cheaper than that? I am so confused! Your next options head off to things like cereal for lunch and Top Ramen for dinner, served with potted meat.

I am not trying to be funny...

I guess what I am trying to say, is, I think you're already doing a wonderful job on your food budget if that's all you spend for your family, and there's probably not a realistic way to cut that back much more!

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answers from Washington DC on

Use coupons and match them up with sales to stock up on items. You can get soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, cereal, etc for free or close to it.

There are tons of blogs out there that explain how to get good deals and help you find them. There's a show on TLC called "Extreme Couponing" that shows how people can save...its definitely an extreme example, but it shows that its totally possible.

I think your budget sounds about right right. We average $60-$75/week for our family of 3.

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answers from St. Louis on

Wow!! $125 - $150 for 3 boys --esp. 7 & 8-- and a hubby who eats a lot? That's AWESOME!! You spend what I spend on groceries a week for my 3 year old son, hubby and myself.


answers from St. Louis on

I find it hard to believe that food is the only area you spend a lot. Unless you and your husband don't work outside the home gas should be the highest. It is also an easy one to cut when you think about it. Heck I cut fifty a month just by not forgetting stuff at the grocery store. :p

I used to do coupons to the tune of a hundred dollars a shopping trip. I have found buying smarter works better and I don't use coupons at all. Even when my two oldest are home (which makes six including my two younger kids) my budget didn't hit 150 a week. I also refuse to buy sub-par foods like you find at the discount grocery stores. I speak of meat/fish/poultry by the way. I do buy generics but am smart about it. Some generics just suck, ya know? Why spend any money on something your family is going to have to choke down.

We buy all our meats from Costco and sometimes Dierbergs but we do eat meat! We buy the whole beef tenderloins, whole pork loins....etc. Yeah we have to cut the steaks and package them but plastic wrap and ziplocks are a lot cheaper than paying the butcher. Cook whole roasts and slice/package/freeze.

I don't know, maybe I am a snob but I won't compromise on quality to reduce costs, I prefer to work a bit harder on the prep. To each their own, ya know. I am Sicilian by heritage, I swear my grandma rolled over in her grave when I read the meat dripping pasta post. :(

Like others have said your budget looks good, I can't see how you could cut it back any further without compromising quality and the health derived from that. Good luck with your budget I think at some point you will realize you just can't cut any more. Sometimes it just takes X amount to take care of your family and you must accept that. :)



answers from Las Vegas on

$150 with 3 boys sounds like a good budget. You don't mention if you use coupons, but every bit helps. I don't have time to shop different stores to get the best bargain, but I use about $6 in coupons per month. Also Walmart will price match, but that is time consuming as well.

Do you use bar soap? Open the boxes and put them in the drawer outside their box. It will dry the bars out, they will last longer, and still work just as well.

Instead of Oxyclean detergent for stains, I found an old bar soap "Zote" it is pink and works just as good on stains and whites. You have to lather it up, but it is working in no time. The wrapper says it can be used on all your laundry (if you have the time). I find it at Walmart for under a $1, you can't beat that! Someone on here suggested only using half a dryer sheet. I tried and it works just fine! Clip them suckers in half! Do the same for the SOS pads, but quarter them, they only last for one use anyway. As well, cut the bathroom sponge in half. They always rip and you end up with two in the long run. There's at least $10 savings for a month right there.

If you can't save the money in groceries, save it elsewhere. I get car wash coupons from our water company. I save $3 on a $5 carwash. There's $6 for the month.

Do you have a smart phone? The app Dexknows will help you find the cheapest gas prices in your area. Use it.

I have learned to use a lot more scrap paper, rather than pulling out the note pad. I print coupons on the back of a used envelope. All I will do is clip it out anyway.

Use coupons to go out and eat. I usually plan our Sunday lunch or dinner right around what ever is offered. It works well enough for a simple lunch or dinner.

And be content with what is on sale. I went to the shoe store thinking boots would be on sale, I am well overdue. The cheapest pair in my size was $139.00. I had them in my hand, but walked around and found a cute pair of shoes for $29.00. They're not boots, but my feet are all shiny and I got something new.

Rather than purchasing a bottle of water on the road, get a water bottle. Only put water in it. That is most often what I do. I know for sure I previously bought a bottle every Sunday. There's another $5.16 for the month.

I also recently purchased cloth napkins for home. If they are good enough for a nice restaurant, then why not at home. I am not real strict on using them, but just think of how many times you just wrinkle a paper the trash it goes.



answers from Providence on

I think thats great for a large family!


answers from Rochester on

Actually, that sounds like you are doing a great job to me! I'm aiming for about $100 a week average and not quite there yet, but I use coupons a lot to determine snacks/cereals and use them for things I normally buy. I watch for sales flyers and buy in bulk and plan meals around that (mostly burger and chicken breast meals one week, etc.). I try to plan leftovers to bring to work for myself since my husband usually eats dinners at work (he works in a group home), but we also are feeding growing boys and a 6'2" hubby as well. If your grocery spending also includes your other household supplies, paper products, etc., that is awesome.

With gas prices going up everywhere, another consideration is just making sure you combine all of your trips so (except when you have to) you rarely just drive to the grocery store. That is going to be tough for us since we both like to do the shopping as a family, but that means someone coming home first and then the family going out.



answers from Kansas City on

I don't know if you're still looking for answers, or if anyone else wrote about this yet, but I would check out This girl is AMAZING!!! She spoke at my MOPS group and I learned so much from her and have already seen savings. She is doing a workshop tonight, but she does them often. If you friend her on Facebook she lets you know about deals and specials too.


answers from Kansas City on

I'm actually surprised you are able to keep it that low. Our budget $100 for a family of 4. Granted, I buy the hormone free chicken and milk which are expensive. One suggestion would be to make meals that can be leftovers. Good luck!


answers from Kansas City on

I have slashed our grocery budget by shopping at Aldi store first then going to either Walmart or a grocery store and using coupons for named brand stuff or buying store brand and price matching. We don't get the Sunday paper, but get the Sunday ads for free and it includes the grocery ads and coupons. This will help with price matching. I always go to Aldi first though because they have great prices on thier brands and also have great prices on some name brand items too. Hope this helps some. Good luck and God Bless.

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