5 Tips to Saving $$ on Groceries

Steph Wagner MS, RDN

July 13, 2013

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5 Tips to Saving $$ on Groceries

Oh budgets. It’s a love-hate scenario. Have you read the blog about how I cried on the way home from a shopping trip? Low point.

Eating healthy is challenging. It’s true. And as many blogs as I can write about how easy it is, well they would only be read because it’s not that easy. It’s not naturally easy, or you wouldn’t need to read a blog about it.

Like anything, the more you focus on something, the easier it gets. Let’s say you have to create 30 sandwiches for your nephews birthday party (okay, fine…using an example from yesterday.) The more sandwiches you make, the easier it gets.

This is also true when you are trying to eat well and when you are trying to save money. The more you do it, the more short cuts you find. It becomes so natural, you even have to think about what you are doing to explain to someone the short cuts. For example, writing a blog post with 5 tips. You have way more than 5, yet you’re trying to pin point them all. 

So here we go with 5 Keys you can start today (if you aren’t already) to cut down on your grocery bill while improving your diet:

1. Shop with a List. 

Without a shadow of a doubt. If you feel like you already knew this one, that’s because it works. We all know how big of a difference this makes. If I have to run into the store outside of my weekly visit, without fail, I will spend more than I intended. Have a plan and stick to it. Meal planning on the front end is another post entirely- it can be time consuming but so worth it once your week gets started and you are prepared.

2. Make changes to your meals if needed.

Sometimes I plan on grilled asparagus and end up with grilled green beans. Sometimes the squash is on sale so I skip my plans for side salads. Sometimes the ground chicken is cheaper than the ground turkey- so I swap it. You are still going by your list, but making supplements for a better sale is a very smart move. This is definitely an area that gets easier with practice. If you use my dinner menus, feel free to swap out things I’ve listed. Depending on where I was shopping or the time of year I made the list, it may not be the right season and make substitutions will save you money.

3. Create your meal plan with similar foods. 

I only make a spinach side salad if I’m going to make it twice that week. I almost always make my sides a duplicate during the week. I make the excitement in the main dish and don’t mind having similar sides. Great for budget. I can buy the 4 pack of zucchini and split it over 2 dinners. I can buy a bigger container of spinach without worrying it will waste. Also, I often put leftovers in my eggs. I could make an entire e-book on things I’ve put in my eggs!

4. Shop at Aldi! Okay, personal bias. 

I’m a huge fan of Aldi. I haven’t always been because it intimidated me. What do I do with the shopping cart? What if I don’t have a quarter? What do you mean you bring your own bags? I also felt like they had mostly processed and unhealthy foods – which is all you see when you first walk in. I heard a friend talk about how she does most of her shopping there and decided to give it another go. Now we buy almost 80% of our groceries there! Produce and meat included. We still go to Sprouts each week because we just like it. I love their chicken sausage and some of the produce at Aldi can only be bought in bigger quantities…where I can buy single at Sprouts.

5. Price compare- Save receipts and use phone aps. 

Now it comes down to research. Nothing stinks more than to walk past a grocery store and realizing you overpaid for something at your last grocery store visit. I keep receipts and look back. Sometimes I make notes on the receipt and hang on to it so I can compare somewhere else. You also have to take it easy and realize you can hit every sale item at every store in your area. Maybe the green beans really are cheaper at Walmart right now, but by the time you make another stop, can it really be worth it? Make your store selections based on prices of the majority of things. For me it’s Aldi and Sprouts. You may not have these stores accessible to you, so do your research.

A great phone ap for price comparing is called ShopSavvy. You can scan the bar code and see where the best deal in your area is. It may or may not be the one in your hand. I’ve used this when buying gifts or something I think is pricey. Trouble is produce and meats don’t often have bar codes, so I don’t use it terribly often.

This is a list to get your mind rolling. There are lots of other tips, but 5 is a great number. Maybe you are doing some of these, and maybe others need work! Going into the store is the best key there is. For a $5 pre-written dinner menu and grocery list, click here. Get the first one free when you sign up for FoodCoachMe emails! 

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