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10 Tricks and Tips to Budget Friendly Grocery Shopping and Meals

10 Tricks and Tips to Budget Friendly Grocery Shopping and Meals

Before you can enjoy an exquisite delicacy that you made, before you can enjoy a Thanksgiving feast, and before you can even enjoy a mediocre sandwich, you have to prepare it.

Some foods and meals take a long time to prepare such as a dinner for 5 or basically anything that requires a Crockpot. Others can be as simple slapping something in-between two pieces of bread or just grabbing and eating. Unfortunately, the items that are “grab and go” are typically unhealthy or don’t fit into the budget.

Just as you need to prepare for the best and most enticing meals that you look forward to enjoying, you will need to put as much time in preparing to buy the groceries as you do cooking them if you want to remain within your budget. Here are 10 tricks and tips to lower your grocery budget.

budget friendly grocery ideas1. When creating a budget, don’t just figure how much you will spend on groceries each month, figure out what you will spend each week and aim for spending below the budget amount.

2. Stretch the meat and poultry. Instead of cooking chicken breasts, cut them in half or go after the chicken tenders and only have one with a meal. The same can be done with any meat. Make the hamburgers smaller or cut the bratwurst links in half. *Remember, you are not only making meals last, you are making the money last too.

3. Eat in season. Not only do products such as strawberries, grapes, alfalfa and other fruits and vegetables cost much more during their off season, they often lack the significant taste you love. If a meal calls for an ingredient that is not in season, either postpone the meal or swap the ingredient out with something that is in season and will still arouse your taste buds.

4. This trick only a few can do. What really makes getting meals on a budget so difficult is not necessarily the price of foods, but it is the variety of foods you want. Very few people can enjoy the same meal three times a week or even the same meal three times a month. The necessity of changing up what you have for breakfast, lunch and dinner is directly related to the flux from being on budget, to not. It’s really quite simple to develop a food plan that is within a budget, what will exhaust you is to do it each week while trying to eat something different. Try making two weeks out of the month focused on having the same food which means you spend the same low amount on groceries.

5. Limit the favorites. The majority of the time, the favorite kind of food is the expensive kind. The other type of favorites you may have to sacrifice if you are on a tighter budget is the brand of food you get. If you really want to save money, go with the generic brand. Honey Bunches of Oats for example is $4.45. A generic brand can be as cheap as $2.43.

6. Another thing few people want to do to stay on a budget is to finish eating what they have in their cabinets and fridge already. Don’t let the frozen bag of corn stay in the freezer for 3 weeks or the bag of rice in the pantry. Save the few dollars on buying new groceries for the week and finish the ones you still have.

6.5 Noticing what you rarely eat or like to make will act as a reminder to not buy those things again. Money spent on food that won’t get eaten for months or eventually thrown out is a waste and does not do any good to your budget.

7. The one time it can be beneficial to have large amounts of food leftover is when you catch a great deal on nonperishable’s and decide to stockpile. The key is to make sure you will eat what you purchase and that you are not buying it solely for the sale.

8. Avoid eye level groceries while shopping. Clever minded markets place enticing, but expensive items where you will see them. Make sure you take time to grocery shop rather than making it a race.

9. You’ve likely been told before but need to hear it again. Never go grocery shopping when hungry.

10. What’s worse than going over your budget is going under it with unhealthy and under-valued food. Understand that a budget won’t work if you exchange your good health to do it.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • AlwaysAMama May 18, 2012, 10:40 pm

    This post has some excellent tips. Eating in season can save a ton on produce. I save a lot on groceries by looking at the ads and planing meals around the meats and products that are on sale.

  • wiredinsomniac May 19, 2012, 2:15 am

    One tip I use if I must have name brand is price matching. When name brand may be on sale at a store further out I will get their circular take it with me to a store that price matches. Not only does that help you save on groceries also gas so it is a Win,win.

  • Patricia Coldiron May 20, 2012, 5:41 pm

    Another excellent tip to stretch meat dishes is to buy cheaper cuts of meat, such as flank steak instead of filet mignon, and larger packages of ground beef, that can be stored in the freezer in smaller ziploc bags for later use. I buy the generic cereal, and enjoy it just as much as the name brand.

  • sundcarrie May 22, 2012, 12:01 am

    There are a lot of great ideas here! I have my own chickens and we eat a lot of eggs. We get a lot of requests to sell the eggs and I am thinking that we will start doing that to pay for the cost of the chicken food since we can’t eat the amount of eggs they produce. We live in the city but we also love to grow a small garden during prime months and eat as much as we can from that as well. I know those are not options for everyone but it can help those it is an option for.

  • andrew320 May 28, 2012, 1:24 pm

    “Stretch the meat and poultry. Instead of cooking chicken breasts, cut them in half or go after the chicken tenders and only have one with a meal.”

    This is one tip my fiancee and I have started doing since we started our mild transition to vegetariansim. We get a chicken breast, cut it in half and put it in our stews, our Indian/Thai dishes and pastas. Not only are you saving money, but you’re also limiting your intake of meat.

    “Honey Bunches of Oats for example is $4.45. A generic brand can be as cheap as $2.43.”

    Another important tip for EVERYONE. I always choose a no-name/generic brand rather than the more expensive brand name. I’ve been doing this for years and it’s rare that the brand name is cheaper than the no-name or generic.

    I have one tip, never go on a full stomach because you won’t buy any food at all then, which will prompt you to go to convenience store and spend even more money.

  • S.O. Price May 30, 2012, 2:05 pm

    It’s becoming more and more important to find ways to decrease a grocery bill. Especially in the past few months every grocery shopping trip I’ve taken has consisted of me raising my eyebrows over sticker shock on a previously reasonably priced item. I’ve seen an item go up $1.50 in the span of a week.

    I’ve always made an effort to buy those items that are on sale and have tried to stock up if it is a staple or non-perishable. I am becoming even more diligent about this and try to find coupons on-line to match up with sale items. If an item can be purchased in a larger size it usually is less expensive and if necessary I can open the package and freeze the excess while storing a reasonable portion in the refrigerator. Cheese works great with this method. I’ll buy 5 pounds of cheese for $11.99 and put most of it in the freezer.

    Buying generic as mentioned in the article, is a great idea as well. I also make use of any store card perks. Some on-line web sites have partnerships with grocery stores such as Kroger and with one swipe of my Kroger card I can get money back for certain purchases through my account at http://www.savingstar.com.

    Some items I’ve simply had to resign myself to the fact that I won’t be able to buy them anymore. I refuse to pay $5.50 for a 6-pack of ice cream bars. I try to focus on items such as brown rice, beans and vegetables on sale while avoiding high-priced items such as meat. I do like to use spices to add flavor and I find that dollar stores have a fairly good selection of spices so they don’t break my bank.

  • Holly September 30, 2012, 8:30 pm

    Thanks for these fab tips! It makes sense and using some of these strategies when planning my weekly grocery trip will help save money. I definitely like tip 4, try and always make two weeks out of the month the same food, therefore you will spend the same low amount. Great advice!


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