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How to Save Money on Groceries

Saving money on groceries doesn’t have to be hard work. Making just some small changes can net big rewards to your pocketbook. Simple changes in the way you plan and shop can help you reduce the amount your spending on groceries.


Preparing a weekly menu of what you would like to eat is the first step in effective grocery buying. You will want to list entrees as well as any side dishes, salads or deserts you are planning to prepare. This meal plan can be as simple as the chart below:

Day of the Week     Breakfast          Lunch               Dinner            Snack(s)

Monday                   Cereal and     Sandwich, Chips,    Meat Loaf,        Carrot Sticks

                                 Fruit                 Apple            Mashed Potatoes,

                                                                             Green Beans





After you have your menus planned, make a list of ingredients you will need to prepare each meal. There is no right or wrong way to make a list. It is mainly a listing of all the foods you will need to cook the meals you have planned for the week. You may want to group them in the order they appear in the store or by category such as meats, fruits and vegetables, canned items, frozen foods, cleaning supplies and miscellaneous items.

Shopping Tips to Avoid Overspending

Avoid displays meant to tempt you.
Grocery stores spend quite a bit of time planning how to tempt you to impulse shop. You can avoid temptation by sticking to your list and closing your eyes to those tempting displays. Also, be aware that sometimes the best buys are displayed on lower and higher shelves. If a product is at eye-level, it may be more expensive than the items that are located just above and below it. Just remember, your mission is to look high and low for the best prices.

Don’t go to the store hungry.
To avoid overspending while at the grocery store, don’t go to the store hungry. If you are hungry, stop for a small snack first before starting to shop. The cost of the snack will be much less than the extras you would have purchased if you were starving!

Shop at off peak hours.
It is a good idea to schedule shopping at off peak times. If you have to be at the store during peak hours, then you will be in and out faster by having a list and a plan.

Shop alone.

When possible, shop alone. If you have to shop with children and family, help them help you. Assign your children price checking jobs. This will help them with their math skills and also distract them from checking out the candy, cookie and toy aisles. They can also be a big help in reaching those items on the bottom shelves. Use a trip to the store as an opportunity to help teach them how to be a savvy shopper.

Shop only once per week.
Try to make the adjustment to shopping just once per week. If you have planned well, you will have everything you need for the week. This will help reduce impulse shopping and should be a big cost saver. If you must go more than once per week, stick to your list.

Can I save money by shopping at multiple stores per week?
Some smart and energetic shoppers have found that by shopping multiple stores, they can save money. The most important aspect of their savings systems involves knowing what prices each store charges for common purchases. Then through that system they are able to identify a good sale price and stock up.

Knowing prices is the first step in saving. Sometimes the store brand is the cheapest price and sometimes coupons can help defray the cost of some items. You can find out most prices by analyzing your itemized grocery receipts. If you would like to know more about making a price book, check out the book called The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.

If you do not want to take the time to shop at multiple stores you can still save on groceries. Find a grocery store with good overall prices, and then take these additional steps to save money:

  • Avoid purchasing convenience foods and empty calorie snack foods.
  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat that can be cooked using a slow cooker method.
  • Calculate the cost of meats by serving rather than per pound.
  • Buy larger boxes of cereal. Look at the price per ounce.
  • Consider buying whole chickens, vegetables, fruits, and cheese rather more processed versions. It is generally cheaper.
  • Prevent food waste by purchasing only what your family can eat.

With a small amount of planning and a little discipline you can cut your overall food bill and reap the rewards of that extra money.


Content provided with permission from Money Management International, a non-profit community service organization that provides confidential financial guidance, free consumer credit counseling services, educational resources, and debt management assistance.

For more information or to discuss financial concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.


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This content was last modified on: 04/29/2011

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