Saving Money on Groceries

Updated on September 07, 2010
S.A. asks from Chicago, IL
21 answers

I am looking for ways to save money at the grocery store. I am always astounded when I see the total ring up on the register. I have heard people claim they only spend $80.00 a week on groceries for a family of 5, but I wonder how. I already shop at Ultra Foods, use a shopping list and stick to it for the most part, but the total is still staggering. I just joined, but most of the coupons are for processed food. I'm trying to reduce the amount of processed foods my family eats. I'm buying a lot of baby food right now for my 12 month-old and would like to find more "real food" that is soft enough for him to eat so that I can cut costs there. Is anyone a super saver at the grocery store? Can you give me some tips on what to do? How can I plan healthy meals, purchase the ingredients needed to make them, along with milk, yogurt, cereal, produce, stuff for school lunches etc, stuff for the baby...all for $125.00 a week or less????

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answers from Los Angeles on

Maybe focus on a cheaper menu than coupons. What about oatmeal for breakfast instead of boxed cereals? I actually eat mine raw with raisins and milk. Its great and I don't have to wash a pan. My daughter loves it too.

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answers from Spartanburg on

I spend an average of $80 week for a fam of 4, and that includes lunches for hubby. I never bought baby food, if he is 1 then cook whatever veggies you are having at dinner done enough for him. I discovered frozen veges when I really had to trim the grocery bill, they are a good value and go far, I had to experiment with cooking techniques b/c I was used to preparing fresh veges and they are a little diff but I have been pleased. One thing is to make sure your list is based on that week's sales. You can usually access the sale flyer online and make a list from there. We eat meat but I make the meat go far with cassaroles and crockpot recipes, and I make up the difference with lots of veggies and beans. Buy yogurt in the large cartons (32 oz) instead of in individual containers, I only buy those if they are on super sale. Cereal is a ripoff and not overly nutritious, my kids love oatmeal (I buy the generic big canister and make a pot on the weekend, divide and store in the fridge for weekday mornings), and the cereal we buy is generic and in a bag (bulk). I am not making lunches for kids in school, but my husband takes whatever leftovers from dinner the night before, I know I had freinds in school that did the same. I usually spend no more than $8 on a dinner meal with leftovers for lunch the next day. I usually spend $4 a day between breakfast and lunch for me and the kids at home. (I know people doing it on less but this is comfortable for us) We generally don't buy "convience" packaged items, like juice boxes, snack packs, string cheese, pudding/applesause/fruit containers, etc. We eat these items but I buy the biggest generic container I can. A wholesale club can help if you want these items too. We don't regularly buy soda or chips either. I rarely use coupons b/c they are often for name brand products and even with the discount aren't as cheap as a generic brand. I will say I have less "brand loyalty" shopping this way. We have spaghetti once a week and it is a different brand of sauce every week based on the sales. Last week grapes were on sale, so that was the fruit we ate, this week apples are on sale, so no grapes but 5 lbs of apples! Good Luck, it can be done for me it was a transition that took a few months to get good at.

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answers from Indianapolis on

My first recommendation would be to eliminate the baby food.

There's nothing he can't eat at this age (American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations state that you should avoid choking hazards and family food allergens) that the rest of the family isn't having......within reason.

We do a lot of our basic shopping at Sams Club/Costco. We get tons of fruit/veggies each week which can be expensive, but it makes us eat healthier, and it's so much less expensive than at the grocery store.

We get as many common items there as possible. Cereal is a lot less expensive, meat (ground beef, ground turkey, chicken breasts), etc.

We have the savings cards for the grocery stores, but we also shop for items such as pasta and sauce at Walmart where it really is a lot cheaper. Some things you can't stock pile, some things won't perish for a while.

We limit our kids snacks to things like String Cheese, yogurt, fruit snacks (I know they're not healthy) that we can purchase in bulk.

We probably spend less than $100/week on our groceries for a family of 4 (kids 2 and 4 years).

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I have 3 kids and do a lot of entertaining, and have to keep to about $100 a week.

I make my own yogurt--it's much cheaper than buying it. Google "make your own yogurt," there are a million great recipes and they don't require special equipment. Buy produce when it's really cheap--we look for .50 per pound or cheaper, and cut it up and freeze it. We use it in smoothies (frozen fruit, yogurt, orange juice or milk in a blender) for breakfast, on cereal, in pancakes, etc. You can cut up and freeze onions, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, etc. also. When you find ground turkey or chicken cheap, buy a lot, package it in individual servings, and freeze it. Or, make for instance 3 pounds of taco meat and then freeze it for later. I make my own refried beans (I don't "refry" them, though) because dry pintos are so cheap and so good for you.

I also buy whole chickens when they are under .70/pound, roast them in the oven and have the meat for dinner, and then boil them. The broth is perfect for soup or dumplings.

Coupons are key, the Sunday paper is worth $1.00 because you save so much! I don't buy many canned goods, but the savings on paper goods, haircare, etc. add up. We use cloth napkins (got them from my grandma) so we don't buy paper napkins, and old T-shirts as rags, to cut down paper towel use. My kids cut the coupons and sort them, and then I check them against weekly grocery ads.

Also, keeping a price log is really helpful. Make a simple chart with the things you buy all the time on the left and the stores you can shop at on top. Fill in the boxes to see a pattern of where things are cheapest. I buy the same 15-20 things at Costco every month because I know what is cheapest there.

Hope that helps!

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answers from Chicago on

I don't really use coupons, because I buy alot of generic and they never have coupons for that and I think it is still cheaper most of the time then a brand name item with a coupon. One of the best things I have found out to do is to shop at smaller ethnic stores for many of my items instead of the big chains groceries. Not sure what is around streamwood, but here in the city I go to a hispanic grocery (Cermak Produce) for all my fresh fruit and veggies, lunch meat, rice, beans, and tortillas. I go to a local asian market (Hong Kong Market) and stock up on oils, noodles, rice, beans, specialty sauces like soy...I buy my meat in bulk like ground beef, pork chop, or steak when it is on sale and freeze it in the deep freeze from whoever has it on sale. I also buy whole chickens and turkeys and roast them, then shred the meat and freeze in sandwich bags ( I buy the cheap non ziplock kind and just double/triple up) containing about one meals worth. You would be shocked at what you can add chicken or turkey too (omelet, quiche, chili, enchiladas, soup, salad) and when you find turkey on sale buy a few and you can get about 12 meals out of one turkey. (hint: Thanksgiving time means turkey on sale!) Also save the bones for stock, and the drippings for gravy. Getting a deep freeze was one of the best things I ever did. I also make up soups, chilis, stews in big portions in the winter and freeze for quick ready made dinners. I buy bareky anything packaged these days. Rice is way cheaper to buy in bulk and then learn to season and steam your own rice instead of those box mixes. I buy the big containers of apple sauce, yogurt and that stuff and send portions in thermoses or food containers for lunches. Snack sizes are rip-offs and wasteful anyway. (all that packaging and garbage) I never buy juiceboxes. My daughter has a thermos that keeps drinks cold for 12 hours and I buy apple juice in big gallons from Walmart that I water down 1/2 and 1/2 and put in the thermos for school. Hope some of this works for you. For baby you really can just steam fresh veggies and then puree with water and freeze in ice cube trays. Once they are cubes put them in sandwich bags and defrost as needed. Old fashioned oats for oatmeal in bulk.

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answers from Dallas on

At 12 months, your child can eat whatever you do. We spend about $150 a month for food. I buy for a family of two, but we are a family of 3. I say that, because my 16 month old eats what we do and I don't have to buy extra for him. I buy food once a week, shop the sale, and buy seasonally. I shop at ONE grocery store and buy what's on sale that week. For example, meat wise...chicken and quarters and pork chops were on sale. I only bought those two meats and enough quantity for one week. I spent about $15 for one week of meat. I cook them in different ways, so we don't get sick of eating the same things. I bought the fresh produce that is in season right now, because they are cheap. I only buy one weeks worth, so they don't go bad. For all other produce, I get frozen fruits and veggies. They are frozen, at the peak of freshness and are cheaper!! Our lunches and dinners consist of a protein, veggies, and some fruit after. Desert for us, is fruit or a fruit Popsicle. It sounds boring, but we actually get a great variety, since I buy different meats, fruit, and veggies every week. I don't buy special lunch foods, we eat leftovers from the night before. I do keep a pack of lunch meat, sunflower butter, jelly, and bread on hand...just in case there are no leftovers. I also don't buy special snacks. We all eat fruit, veggies, apple sauce, yogurt, or fruits we dry in the oven for snacks. We don't drink much juice and my son only drinks very watered down juice occasionally. (the pediatrician recommended that) We don't keep boxed, processed foods in the house at all. We eat a lot of salsa, so I make it myself, it's so easy! We use eggs for protein in the morning. For example, my husband takes two hard boiled eggs and an apple, or other fruit for breakfast. I don't buy bottled water, we invested in the filtered pitchers. Lots of money saved there!!
Really, I never walk down the grocery isles, unless I have to purchase pasta or canned tomatoes, jalapenos, and spices. Shopping the perimeter and not wasting money on unhealthy, packed foods helps the budget tremendously. I know a lot of woman go to several different store sales and have binders of coupons. I've found, coupons are only for expensive and unhealthy food. Running to many different stores, to get a handful of items at each a waste of gas money and time. A coupon doesn't make most foods cheaper then cooking meals. Good luck!!

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answers from Austin on

I never purchased baby food for our daughter. I just made her food by steaming it for a long time and then blending it.. No spices, salt or sugar. The fruit I mashed or also steamed it then just fed it to her.. If I made mashed potatoes for her I did a small potato and baby carrots . peas, squash and swirled them up.. I also put portions (not potatoes) in ice cube trays and froze them.. Then I had ziplocs of frozen baby food.. Carrots, peas, apples, peaches, plums, green beans, spinach.. Then I would also make brown rice and add them to some of the veggies and blend that.. These were the things we ate anyway, so when it was on sale, that is the veggies we ate that week

As she got teeth, I could just give her really soft cooked carrots, mashed peas, pinto beans, spinach, and I introduced chicken in small pieces she could chew (dark meat was the softest), fish.. What ever we were eating, but in tiny pieces..

We eat simple food. Much of it is based on the weekly sales. If chicken is on sale, I will purchase quite a bit and grill all of it at once and then freeze it.. In the winter, it can be used in soups. We eat a lot of rice, brown or white again depending on the best deal.. I make it with water, chicken or beef broth and different herbs to give it a different taste each time..

The other day our grocery store had corned beef for $1.99.. I brought it home and cooked it in the crock pot.. I was not planning this, but it was too good of a price to pass up.. I could kick myself for not picking up a couple more..

Roast on sale? Pork or beef, I buy quite a bit and cut it up into smaller portions. Some of the roast I will cut into cubes for future stews or soups.

Ground turkey is sold in chubs in the frozen section. Many times I find it for .99 or less a pound. I purchase it and add it to all ground beef recipes this way I do not need to add fillers to ground beef.

Beans, pinto, navy.. We eat them a lot in the winter.. Sometimes, with pieces of sausage (on sale). I make cornbread, biscuits... If bread is on sale or day old.. I freeze it. Bread is great for a long time in the freezer.

Cobblers as a treat made with frozen or canned fruit is very inexpensive.
IF the store has a big sale on a frozen lasagna.. I figured out it was cheaper to purchase it than make it. And it could be microwaved so it also took less energy than baking one in an oven.. $1.99 Cheese pizzas can be grilled and taste lots better than when baked in the oven.

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answers from Chicago on

One of the best things for you to do is to become very familiar with the pricing cycles of your store. Everything goes on sale in cycles! I am not a good person to rely on for living on a budget, but I am a firm believer in stocking up on the things my family likes when they are on sale. I do the majority of my shopping at the two stores in my town..jewel and aldi. I also buy certain things at sam's. I use coupons, but only for the stuff that we actually eat. I buy my meat, when it is on sale. I have a freezer to take advantage of the sale prices. A couple weeks ago, I came across the best sale ever at jewel. they had perdue, boneless, skinless chicken breasts for only 99 cents a day only. I bought 10 packages! they were only around 2 dollars each!!! So, that is my recommendation to you. get a freezer, watch the sales and by the things your family likes when on sale. this gives you the opportunity to purchase whatever fresh items in the produce and dairy section that you need. when you combine any coupons, with sale items, that is a real bargain!



answers from Chicago on

I don't know that Ultra Food store that you shop at, but if it has a deli counter, get your deli meats and your cheese there as it is much less expensive and I think it's also better to buy it freshly sliced. I bought half a pound of turkey breast and a third of a pound of salami (that's enough for a week's worth of school lunches for my son) for only 3 dollar at the deli counter of my grocery store.
Also, I always buy the store brand. It's usually still cheaper than brand name stuff even if you have coupons for the brand name items.
I never bought baby food jars for my sons. I nursed them for over a year and bought the cereal for them that you mix with water or milk. I started them on the cereal after about six months and when they were around a year I supplemented with regular table food that I mushed up for them. You could also make the baby food yourself, boil some carrots or other veggies and mush them up.



answers from Huntsville on

I'm not super savy, but I do the best I can. Finding good deals, using coupons, etc. really does take a lot of time & effort, and I just don't really have time for that. Also, when I get coupons from papers it's things that my family does not need nor things we want. So no help for us there. Might be a great price on some brownies, but how bout I just don't buy dessert to begin with? lol

I do try to pay attention to the price of things at different stores. There are some things that I know not to buy at certain stores, and what store I should buy it at. We also check out our Publix weekly ads with buy one get one free deals.

Also, if you have an Android (or iPhone) phone, you could download free apps to help with shopping. I like GroceryIQ for a shopping list - you can even save certain items to be bought at a specific store. Also, I have ShopSavy. You can scan a barcode of a item and it will tell you the lowest price it knows of from online. And depending on your area & the item it might even tell you a local low price & what store that is. It's saved me some money several times!



answers from Chicago on

Another website to check out is They have grat deals on there for the grocery store as well as other deals at different stores. Also, look at - she is the coupon queen and knows her stuff. My mom went to a couple of her seminars and has learned a lot and saved a ton using her methods!!!! Her methods take time so if you have the time, it's a great way to save a lot of money.



answers from Los Angeles on

I never really kept a log of how much I spend at the store which is bad and I think I should start doing it soon. It is only me, my husband and my one year old right now and my husband comes home late and not that hungry usually. I don't usually cook a big dinner since there is only two of us eating and my husband never seem to be hungry when he gets home from work so in that way we don't spend that much.

I do buy my one year old organic yogurt which he loves so I won't cut back on that but sometimes I find a good deal at certain stores that has it on sale. I sometimes would go to three different stores to get groceries because each store has something on sale I usually look at the market circular to see what's on sale for the week and shop accordingly. I sometimes shop generic brand which is cheaper and try to cut down on buying junk that we don't really need. I've been buying alot of baby food for my son too so I know it can add up and they are not on sale all the time. I just started feeding my son table food and cutting back on baby food. i would basically feed him what I would make myself like eggs, sandwiches and mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. We try to eat whatever I cook for my son so I don't have to cook two different type of meals.

I think bottom line is stick with the essential items to buy and stock up when something you buy all the time is on sale. Using coupons help too as are buy one get one free items. Definitely cut back on processed foods as they cost more.



answers from Harrisburg on

1. Shop at the farmers/produce market for vegetables

2. Shop at a meat shop for meats - Buy one type for each day (or the same kind for everyday (pork, chicken, fish, beef)

3. Buy the dry stuff at Costco, Sams in bulk

4. For milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt those are constant and you can cut coupons for those, but for juice (make your own at home- lemon, apples, pears, pineapple, orange, grapes - all make good fruit juices you can blend with water and sugar and make a big batch for the week.

5. Plan your meals so you don't buy what you don't need

6. Bake your own bread


answers from Houston on

What those people do, is they use coupons, at the same time a store is doing a special price on an item. So, they will get like a double or triple coupon on a product that is already reduced. The few moms I know who do this, save tons of money, but they spend several hours a day 'couponing', filing, going around to different stores for all of the best deals.

They seriously order several copies of the redplum (it comes in the newspaper) so they can use multiple coupons. And then there are websites that show when each coupon is at it highest peak of savings for when the store is running its' sale... then that is when they go and use them.

I have some info around here somewhere on the websites they use, if I can find it, I'll update my post.

One way to save on the baby food, is to make it from scratch,plus it is healthier. Here is a great book for that:

Cleaning products and stuff like that can be bought at the Dollar Store.



answers from Chicago on

Purchase all of your meat on sale and if possible with a coupon. Only buy in season fruits and veggies fresh and if you need something else buy frozen on sale..stock ahead on any and all sale items. Buy the cheapest rice and a sheap rice cooker in it I make everything from rice to applesauce to when my babies needed it baby food. I have on hand rice, dry beans, dried fruits and dried veggies from my garden to round some meals out. Also start an herb garden from seed, they are cheap and easy. Now is a great time to plant a small cool weather garden for small cauliflower, lettuces, small carrots. Make sure you plan ahead this winter as well and start some seeds in some containers you would have recycled with dirt from your yard so you can have some fresh/very cheap produce to start your year. We worked hard last year and had producing plants 9 months of the year and ended up with a chest freezer full of food for a cost to us of about 35.00. We never buy deli meats, we make chicken and slice it or roast beef, turkey(especially cheap around cooler holidays) and ham. We watch for deals on milk from wherever they may come pharmacies, convenience stores, no processed cereals, we use alot of oatmeal, rice. Cut up veggies for the lunch box like celery, carrots, broccoli and the trimmings go into a pot for making soup, if you buy a whole chicken(jewel just had them for .69lb and I had a coupon for 1.00 off) break it down and debone it add the bones to the pot for soup, save meat bones when you make roasts/hams as these are a part of the richness of foods.

Lastly make a menu for the month and then make a grocery list for the menu...adjust what you are having according to sales that come up.

Good luck.


answers from St. Louis on

I have started being more vigilant about our food budget as well. We budget for $600 / month and that includes diapers and wipes.

First of all, I suggest stop buying baby food - too expensive and if you can get your baby to eat regular table/finger foods, that is cheaper and you can just give him what you are eating (we do this for my 1 year old). Or if he still is really into the pureed stuff, just puree what you are making and give him that!

That being said, I plan ahead and make 4-6 meals on the weekends (Sat/Sun lunch and dinner and then 1 extra meal). That way we have nicer meals on the weekends but then end up with leftovers for 1-2 meals during the week. I also only plan on making 2-3 'meals' during the week. The other days we eat at my parents house but those nights could be breakfast for dinner, cereal or soup/sandwiches (which most people always have around!).

I go through the ads each week from the local grocery store and buy stuff to make meals with what they have on sale. I also go through our pantry and see what we have and plan meals around that. We used to have 4-6 cans of veggies, fruit, ravioli, frozen goods, etc. Now I ONLY buy for one week. If we have 1-2 cans of veggies, 1 can of fruit, then that is good and I buy fresh fruit and veggies. I make sure we have enough to get through but we don't have a lot of leftovers.

I do not make things in bulk nor do I really buy in bulk, but that is just the way I do things.

I can't seem to get my budget under $600 a month but I always aim for around $500 or less....and I spend only $38/month on diapers and wipes because I signed up for the amazon prime ($80/year) and get free shipping on diapers and wipes (and get them at a discount). For example I get the large box of pampers (usually $40 at Sam's) for $38 by signing up for the subscribe/save and they send me a box each month. I do the same thing with the wipes and get them for much cheaper.

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

i have a 10 month old and i'm trying to find ways to feed her "regular food" too. i have tried noodles and she likes them or mashed potatoes. have you tried cooking your own veggies and mashing them up?? i'm trying to find ways on cutting back on my grocery bill as well. i try to stock up on stuff when it is on sale. so one week my bill might be higher then usually but then the next week it is a little lower because i already have some of the ingredients for lunch/dinner. don't forget about the sunday papers for coupons and check out the store's website for more coupons. i know target has coupons on their website but then you are using up ink to print them so click and choose wisely. good luck!!



answers from Dallas on

I used to coupon, and saved a bunch, but it was way too time consuming. I used couponmom, but it never really paid off all that much for me, I saved more doing it by myself.

Now I shop one store, whoever has the most stuff I need on sale. I make my list, then go to and search the coupon database for the things on my list - they have printable coupons loaded so I can just print them out and go. I also make sure to use my shoppers card for discounts and load e-coupons to the card (cellfire does this, and you can check your store website to see if they do as well) which you can typically stack with the printed coupon. I definately average less than $125 week usually around $100. My kids are 6 & 8 and my 8 year old eats like horse.

Pantry staples and school snack stuff that I can't find on sale I get at Aldi's, it's a great alternative if you have one near you. I also buy generic at the regular grocery store when it's on sale. I buy most of my produce at either Aldi's or whatever Sprouts has on sale - yesterday I bought bulk snack fixings, 3lb lean ground beef, 3.5lb chicken thighs, lots of fruit & veggies and spent $25 - $12 of which was meat. I use the snack stuff (granola, yogurt raisens, peanuts, pretzels, rice chex, etc etc) to make a big bag of snack mix for the kids lunches.



answers from Chicago on

local resource: She holds free seminars at all the chicagoland libraries. She tells you how to shop at Jewel & others cheaply. Before her, I never went to Jewel. She matches sales and coupons. She also lists free things. It's worth looking at. I don't have the time to do it weekly, but I do peek at her site when I have time. Just one tip, if you do start to use her, pay attention to the date the special starts and stops. Her website updates doesn't always match the sale dates.


answers from Phoenix on

This isn't really a grocery tip but I cook Mon-Wed and make enough to have leftovers for everyone on Thursday (I bowl so this is easy for dad to reheat whatever is in there!). Fridays we either have pizza or a big salad or something easy since it's "family movie night". Then we sort of wing it on the weekends. But Thursday is one less night I have to cook and all the leftovers get eaten so I think that is a good idea. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

Hi - we have 4 adults and 3 kids in our house currently. We spend $75-$100 per week.

I go to the frugal websites, and this week I got these items for FREE:

30 bags of natural kraft shredded cheese
10 packages of nitrate free oscar hot dogs
12 containers of cool whip

So I have seen it really pays to do homework for about an hour each week.


Often times I make money at walgreens on with the register rewards deals, and I can use those rewards to pay for produce or other deals at jewel.

This week for the next 2 days is a GREAT TIME to get those free items at Jewel. School yourself in it. Its fun - like a game.

For baby food, I always mix my own in the blender - steaming veggies or dinners, etc.


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