With recent inflation affecting grocery prices across the board, you may be wondering how to save on food shopping. Groceries are the most expensive that they’ve been in years. And with supply chain issues, many items are also out of stock. If you’re looking to save money, have groceries in your home, and still eat well, keep reading!
Asking yourself, “How can I spend less money on food”?
We’ll get into more details later in this post, but the main key to saving money on food shopping has always been the same. Don’t waste food! Back in the depression era (almost 100 years ago), people used EVERYTHING they could to keep their tummies fed, including weeds!
These days, the average person wastes 1-pound of food PER DAY. That’s 103 million tons of food, or about 30-40% of our food supply each year! So if you want to save money, start with what you have and try not to throw anything away, especially since you’ve already paid for it.
How do I stop wasting money on groceries?
Besides avoiding food waste as much as you can, for super spenders, another tip would be to stop spending.
- Eating out has gotten so expensive, and honestly, is the food better than what you can make at home?
- And, instead of walking into a grocery store with no plan, you need to know exactly what you’re getting and why.
These two simple tips can help you stop wasting money on groceries, and food in general. By being intentional with your food choices, you can save money and still eat the way you want!
What is a good grocery budget for 2?
Want to know how to grocery shop on a budget for 2? Check out the averages below and then money savings ideas further down in this article!
As of 2022, the USDA states that a two-adult household should spend between $458 to $838 a month. This equals about $57.25 to $104.75 per person, per week. This is a bit higher than previous years, mainly due to inflation costs. So it’s pretty on par with what you can spend per person.
What is a good grocery budget for 4?
For a family of four, the USDA states that spending should be about $887 a month. That’s $55.44 per person, per week.
Now, keep in mind that the USDA defines a family of four as an adult couple between 20-50 years old, and two children ages 6-8 and 9-11. And, this is the average. So if you have hungrier kids (or adults!) more than two adults, or live in an area where groceries cost more, you may spend more than the average.
This should not make you feel bad, as we can’t control grocery prices, and your hunger cues are valid and should be honored (according to dieticians — they know what they’re talking about!). But, there are still ways you can cut your grocery budget, so don’t fret.
I wouldn’t recommend eating less. In fact, I’d recommend that you eat regular portions for yourself, especially if you’re looking to keep up with muscle mass and your activity level.
Instead, focus on cheaper proteins, healthy grains (if you eat grains), and cheaper fruits and vegetables. And, be sure you’re eating the right portion size and calorie amounts for your body type and activity level. You can get this calorie count from a dietician, or using a macro calculator.
What is the cheapest healthiest meal?
Anything carb-related is most likely going to be cheap (and can be healthy too, carbs are good for you!). Pasta, beans and rice, and oats are all great and filling foods that are also cheap.
If you’re looking for higher-protein meals you can also add in eggs, tofu, tempeh, and cheaper cuts of meat like sausage and chicken legs. And of course, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables are often cheaper and just as nutritious!
How To Save Money On Online Food Shopping
Funnily enough, you can save money on grocery shopping overall by switching to online food shopping. This is because online food shopping curbs impulse purchases and shows you your total (including tax) so you know exactly what you’re spending. That way, if you go over, you can easily take things out of your cart or find cheaper options.
How to Save Money on Groceries Online:
- Use a free online service (like Walmart Grocery Pickup!)
- If paying for a service, subscribe for the whole year to save on subscription fees
- Check your email for promotions/price changes
- Check online for promo codes that you can use
- Get cash back through sites like Rakuten or Honey (or/and use a cash back credit card!)
- Search for specific groceries and meal plan with those items (ie. search for “groceries under $1”)
- Choose pickup instead of delivery to save on tipping
- Sort items to go lowest to the highest price
There are many ways you can save on online food shopping, but these tips can help you save hundreds over the course of a few months!
Save On Foods Grocery List
Okay, now that you know the quick tips on how to save on food shopping, let’s talk about some of the cheapest foods you can buy. Keep in mind that these will also usually be the store brand, unless you find a better deal on the name brand options
Here are the top foods that everyone should add to their shopping list to save money:
- Canned Fruit/Veggies
- Onions & Garlic
- Canned Tomato Products (tomato paste and canned tomatoes with seasonings)
- Seasonal Fruits & Veggies (Check your seasonal options here)
- Pasta Sauce
- Canned Meats (chicken, fish, spam, etc.)
- Baking items (flour, yeast, etc.)
- Popcorn Kernels
Of course, your area may have more items that are cheap that you won’t find on this list. For example, Florida usually has mangoes, oranges, and other citrus fruits for cheap because it’s a tropical area. California is great about having cheap avocados.
But living in Chicago in the dead of winter may mean that you can’t get these options. So be sure to check your seasonal fruits and vegetables in your area in order to get the most bang for your buck.
Let’s talk about some of the best ways to save on food shopping. For my family of 3, I’m able to still spend around $150-$170 a week on groceries, including other items like vitamins and toilet paper. And that’s in the midwest where nothing is available (or cheap) besides potatoes and corn.
Here are the tips I’ve used to save hundreds each month, even with inflation.
Backward Meal Plan
I have to have a meal plan. As a busy mom in school who owns her own business, I don’t want to spend more time in the grocery store than I have to. But, I also understand that it’s hard to meal plan when there is just so much information out there on different meals, and when prices change so often.
So I’ve recently made the switch to backward meal planning.
Basically, I decide which stores I’m shopping at for the week, and look up their sales flyers.
- First, I shop my pantry and see what I already have, and find items on sale to fill in the gaps to make full meals.
- From that, I plan 4-5 meals (dinners, and leftovers for lunch) as well as 3 quick breakfast items.
- Then if I still have a bit of money to work with, I’ll add in snacks, extra pantry items (for long-term storage), and bulk items for later.
Now, I will say that my family is a bit different. For one, I eat a vegetarian diet at home, and I can’t have dairy at all (I’m lactose-intolerant). I’m also allergic to most of the broccoli family, including cauliflower and brussel sprouts. And my daughter and husband eat pescatarian, with fish once or twice a week, but no dairy. So I have to account for all of our separate needs. But if your family doesn’t have restrictions, this should be even easier for you!
Save Money on Groceries App
One of my favorite ways to save money on groceries is with a money-saving app. I HATE clipping coupons and would rather run 10 miles before I have to do that. But, with apps, I can easily save a few dollars and still keep my precious time.
Some of my favorite grocery apps include:
- Flipp (they have all the sales flyers for almost all grocery stores),
- Target Circle (since it’s 1-minute away from my house), and
- Coupons.com for their digital coupons.
Using these apps on a regular basis easily saves me $5-$40 a week, depending on what I’m purchasing and where I’m shopping. It may not seem like a lot, but that’s at least $260 saved a year, which I can throw towards something else.
These help me save an additional few dollars each week on my groceries. In fact, one time I got almost 5,000 points back in a single transaction, just for trying a new vegan protein that I was going to buy anyway!
Also, check to see if your credit card gives you cash back or promotions on groceries. I know of some credit cards that offer free Instacart for up to a year, or who offer double cash back (or points) in certain periods for groceries.
Cut Back On Meat
I know, I know, as a vegetarian I’m telling you what to do. But seriously, have you seen the increase in meat prices? Beef alone has gone up 20-40% in many areas across the US. And it’s not stopping any time soon.
So, instead of increasing your budget to afford your steak a day…
- try some meatless meals,
- switch to plant-based protein,
- or have a “vegan” day once a week.
Trust me, I’ve made some BOMB.com meals with lentils, beans, tofu, and even mushrooms, and I’m from the south (and I hate mushrooms)! You just need some delicious seasonings and a little patience while you learn how to substitute these proteins.
I know the US is obsessed with “thinness” and “dieting”. But doing this for years and years can wreak havoc on your body and cause more issues than just eating normally. Seriously, other countries eat carbs, normal amounts of protein, and even drink wine. And they’re fine.
Focus on getting your whole fruits and vegetables, enjoying your food vs. wolfing it down, and getting some regular activity in (walking is free!). This makes more of a difference in being healthy than constantly trying a new diet that causes you to overspend on new stuff.
Buy In Bulk (When It Makes Sense)
Buying in bulk won’t make sense if you’re a single person (usually). But for some, it can be a lifesaver. For example, I always buy rice in bulk at my local Asian grocery store. Why? Because I can get a 25 lb. bag of jasmine rice for just $19. At Wal-Mart, a 5 lb. bag costs me almost $7, which would cost $35 for the same 25 lbs.!
Some other bulk items I buy include; beans, lentils, pasta, and tofu. I store these in my small pantry and deep freezer that I keep in my 1,000 sq. ft. apartment. So if I can do it, so can you (if you feed a family and it makes sense)!
Utilize Other Grocery Stores
As I stated before, I shop at my local Asian mart. And I’ve saved SO much money by doing that. I love tofu, rice, and fresh vegetables, and they are usually much cheaper at the mart than my local grocery store.
I was able to find bok choy for less than .50 cents a lb. and apples for less than $1 a lb just last week! And don’t get me started on the savings I get by buying coffee there. If you have a local Hispanic, Asian, or other Ethnic store in your town, check out their prices. I can guarantee that you’ll find a few items for less.
We covered this earlier, but basically — shop online if you can. It stops impulse purchases in their tracks. and can keep you on budget. Plus, who likes shopping in stores and wasting time anyway?
I recently watched a video that said generic brand shopping can save you almost 50% on your food shopping.
So being the curious cat that I am, I decided to check it out for myself. I did two Walmart online orders — one with all generic items (except what I couldn’t find generic) and one with all name brands. And wouldn’t you know it, I saved a whopping 30.2%. My name brand order cost me $204.45 for a week of groceries. And the generic shopping only cost me $142.67.
Again, I live in the Midwest, where almost all foods are expensive. And since my husband loves fish and we enjoy tropical fruits and vegetables (since we both come from that type of area!) that’s still a huge savings. And you may be able to save even more in your area.
Buying premade bags of popcorn, fruit cups, and other snacks can add up over time, and usually, you get less than you would by doing it yourself. The easiest way I’ve found to save money is to buy a big value size bag and split it up myself. Less waste (because I reuse my bags) and cheaper in the long run.
If you want to take it a step further, you can also make some of your own snacks.
Some things that I’ve done include…
- Making mini muffins DIY for my daughter
- Mixing yogurt + a splash of milk + fruit puree for homemade yogurt pouches
- Taking canned fruit (in its own juice) and portioning it into separate bowls
- Making jello/pudding and portioning it out
- Popping homemade popcorn and seasoning it
- Prepping a fruit + veggie tray with a dip (hummus, ranch, or fruit dip) for the week
- Homemade Lunchables
And I can whip up most of these snacks in less than 10 minutes for an entire week, so I say it’s worth it! Of course, you don’t have to DIY everything. But skipping the premade snacks more often than not can add up in savings.
But Buy A Few Premade Meals
Listen, I get it — you’re busy. So am I. And since I’m the cook of the house (because my husband does all the cleaning — score!), I’m usually cooking every single meal throughout the week. But sometimes, this mama is just tired, sick, or doesn’t want to cook. So what do I do? Use freezer meals.
Now, these can be homemade when you have time, or premade from the store. But I promise you that they’re cheaper and usually healthier than eating out.
For example, as Latinos, my family loves a good plate of tamales. But tamales can take literally a whole day to make (and sometimes longer!). But I’ve found as close to homemade as I can get in Sprout’s brand tamales. And 4 tamales for $6 isn’t a bad deal when I consider the time saved and that I can add freezer rice and beans on the side for just $1 more. $7 for a meal of tamales? Sign me up!
You can do the same for other meals too, like lasagna or even a meal of just frozen appetizers. These are all easy to make when you don’t feel like cooking and can save your family hundreds (if not thousands) on eating out.
How To Save On Food Shopping: Ready To Save Thousands?
Even with inflation, there are many things you can do to save money on groceries and food costs. Of course, if you need additional help, or can’t afford food, please reach out to your local food pantry and try to sign up for SNAP benefits. You need to eat, and you shouldn’t have to worry about groceries if you’re also trying to pay bills to survive.
But, if you can afford your groceries, but don’t want to spend a small fortune on them, these tips can save you money. They’ve certainly helped my family of foodies save a ton!
AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard
Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.