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How to Reduce Your Family Grocery Expenses

Updated on May 27, 2012

When times are tough, we need to find a way to cut all of our expenses. After all the luxury items have been removed, sometimes we need to see what we can do about keeping the cost of our necessities at a minimum.

Here are some tips on saving money at the grocery store. They provide a way to reduce your grocery expenses while allowing you to provide delicious and nutritious meals for your family.

Don't Waste Food

The best way to save money on food is to not buy things you are not going to use, and use it while it is fresh. We waste so much food and have to throw it away. We can save a lot of money on our grocery budget without reducing the quality of our meals, by simply matching what we buy with what we can actually eat.

When my sister buys a new product she wants to try, she adds it to her menu and eats it within the week, while the interest in the new product is still high. While she will stock up while things are on sale, she makes sure that she does not buy more than her family can eat before the expiration date. Another tip that she gave me was to use a permanent marker and write the date on the top of all the cans that she buys. She does this before putting away the groceries. This helps her use the the older cans first, and helps her know when a can might be too old to use.

You can save money at the grocery store and buy fresh and healthy produce.
You can save money at the grocery store and buy fresh and healthy produce. | Source

Eat What's On Sale

Some people plan their menu first, and then go to the store to buy the things they need to make all the meals on the menu. If you do this, you may find out that some or all of the items you need to make the foods on your menu are not on sale this week.

One way I have found to save money at the grocery store is to plan my meals around what is in the house first, since that will not cost me any additional money. This strategy also helps make sure that I am using the food while it is still fresh. Then I plan around what is on sale. Simply look at the sales ads to plan your menu for the week, then go to the store and buy those items that you need to make all the food on your menu.

The things that are on sale tend to also be in-season, so they help give us fresh and tasty produce and other foods as well.

Shop at More than One Store

All stores have sales prices that are really low to bring the customers in the door. Some of these products are called loss leaders because they are even sold below the cost to the grocery store. The store makes up for this loss because the customers tend to buy other things in the store as well. If these grocery stores aren't too far away from each other, or if you can stop by on your way from work, you can take advantage of these sales and get really good prices on groceries and other items. You are generally not required to buy anything else at the store.

Use a Shopping List

I have notepad with a magnet that is placed on the refrigerator. Whenever we run out of an item, or are about to, each of the family members write the item on the list. This helps us to stay organized, and avoid shopping more frequently than necessary. It also keeps me from buying something, just because I don't remember if we still have enough to last until the next time I go grocery shopping.

For more information about a shopping list, see 2Patricias hub.

Use Coupons

Some people do not want to take the time to use coupons, but I do. While coupons do save some money on groceries, I find my biggest savings on non-food items, such as toiletries and cleaning supplies. Coupons and refunds have also let me buy brand name products and try new things for a very low price. Many times, I have gotten things for free by using sales and coupons.

When money is especially tight, I am still able to enjoy trying out a new luxury razor or other treat, simply by combining coupons and refunds. This lets me restrict my spending without feeling deprived.

Coupon Mom provides me with a list of items that are on sale at certain stores and matches them up with coupons. Money Saving Mom keeps me posted on savings ideas and special deals.

Stock Up on Sale Items

When an item is on sale, buy enough to last you until the next sale. This will keep you from having to do without the item, and keep you from having to pay full price for the item. I rarely have to pay full price for an item.

Of course, it is important to make sure you don't overdo stocking up on sale items, since you have to find a place in your house to store these sale items. You also should not buy more of perishable items than you can use before they go bad.

This helps me keep variety in my diet, and keeps me from eating only what is on sale that week. For example, if chicken is on sale this week, but I am in the mood for fish, I can cook the fish I bought last week.

Some of my friends tell me they do not have enough money to stock up. Stocking up should not cost more than your regular grocery budget. The aim, after all, is to save money. When you are stocking up on toilet paper one week, there is another product you are not buying because you have already stocked up on it during a previous week. It really is possible to stock up on products without a big financial start. Most people already stock up to some degree. If money is really tight, you can use the food that is in your house to help reduce the amount of groceries you have to buy the week you first start stocking up.

Use the Unit Cost

Sometimes it is hard to figure out which package is cheaper, since they are different sizes and different prices. Some stores provide the unit cost of each item, so you know how much it costs per ounce. Be sure to use those to find the best deal.

Although bigger packages tend to be cheaper by the ounce than the smaller packages, that is not always the case. I have found that by paying attention to the unit cost, I can make sure I get the best deal.

Be careful to check the units though. The store I frequent will generally use one particular unit, such as ounce, on some products, but a different unit, for others. You want to make sure you are comparing like units. Taking a calculator to the grocery store is helpful. A calculator is almost required when you are using coupons, since it helps you decide which coupon to use, and which size of product will give you the best deal.

Brand Flexibility: Buy the Store Brand

If you stay loyal to certain brands, you are going to have difficulty saving money. You really need to stock up and wait for sales. But if you are more flexible in your brands, then you can have some flexibility in your grocery shopping. For example, if you like Prego spaghetti sauce and only that, you will have to wait until that item goes on sale. But if you are willing to substitute other items like Ragu or Bertolli, then you will be able to get whatever is cheaper.

To save even more money, you can try the store brand, which tends to be cheaper than the name brands, and usually tastes just as good.

Consider the Total Cost of the Meal

When you are considering your menu, it pays to calculate the total cost of each meal. You can make meals for the whole family for less than five dollars by using the menus provided by Erin at $5 Dinners. Using her menus helps save money and keeps you from having to come up with your own menus!

Day Twenty-Seven: Hub 70 of 100 Hubs in 30 Days
Day Twenty-Seven: Hub 70 of 100 Hubs in 30 Days

Reduce Your Grocery Budget

There are many ways you can reduce your grocery budget without skimping on delicious and nutritious meals or reducing the quality of your life. Using the tips outlined here will help you provide fresh and healthy food for your family while saving money on groceries.


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    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you timetraveler2 and providing your input. Shopping at discount grocery stores is another great idea.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      8 years ago from USA

      I have used these shopping techniques for years and can add one more: if one is available, shop at a discount grocery store. I have been saving 40% on my grocery bills for years just doing that! Loved this hub. Voted up and useful!

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you moonlake. Going to the store when you are hungry can cause you to make more impulsive decisions - especially towards foods that are quick to eat, but not necessarily nutritious.

    • moonlake profile image


      8 years ago from America

      All very good tips. I have to make sure I never go hungry because than I buy what I shouldn't because it looks so good. Voted Up.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thanks MelChi. I've have done that too and learned from experience, to buy only what you can use. Planning ahead with a grocery list and then buying the groceries at the lowest prices with coupons saves a great deal of money.

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 

      8 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      This is great advice! It's so easy to go to the shop and buy things on sale and in bulk and stock up because it's a great deal - only to find that you have to throw half the food away because you never go around to eating it.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you Tracy Lynn, for reading, your comment, and your ideas. It is true that there aren't a lot of coupons out there for natural foods like you mentioned. Although cheese and soy milk have coupons.

      I save my money on the other things that can be bought at the grocery store, such as laundry detergent, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, shampoo, cleaners, and the like. (I make sure I compare prices and deals with drug stores). Getting those kinds of things at a real discount (and especially free) gives me more money to spend on the food items.

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 

      8 years ago from Virginia, USA

      I am with JimmieWriter, I am in awe of anyone that could write 100 hubs in 30 day, my head is surely spinning at the thought.

      I also agree with JimmieWriter about the coupons. I mostly see coupons for products that I never use. I cook very healthy meals for my family and the natural things we buy like potatoes, carrots, whole grain flour never have coupons.

      I agree with your tips and already use most of them. The one tip that doesn't seem to work for me is shopping at different stores. I don't really like shopping as it is so I simply try to do the best with going to one store.

      Well done hub, voted useful.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      JimmieWriter, thanks for reading and commenting, and for the compliment. Publishing 100 hubs in 30 days was tough, but I did it.

      Thanks also for your ideas about saving at the grocery store. Using the cheaper stores does help a great deal, especially if you are not using coupons, and looking for the double coupon deals.

      I like how you know which stores are going to give you a better deal on specific items and go there. I hope you are using the coupons for the shampoo and deodorant - they are almost free with the coupons, especially when doubled.

    • JimmieWriter profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      8 years ago from Memphis, TN USA

      100 hubs in 30 days? My head is spinning! What an undertaking. And this is a darn good hub, too! :-)

      I don't use coupons because I find that except for deodorant and shampoo, they don't save me money. My secret there is not to even cut out a coupon unless I know I will need that item before it expires. This has helped with coupon clutter and temptation to "save" 50 cents when I don't really need that item.

      I do stock up! This is a key point. It takes a bit more investment upfront, but saves in the long run. Plus it's so reassuring to have a stockpile of food.

      I absolutely HAVE to use a list. And I do shop at multiple stores. However, I love Aldi. It's cheap and small, so I'm not tempted to buy too much. There is generally just one option for each type of food. One kind of butter, one kind of sour cream, etc. No decision overload like at Kroger. My second stop is Costco where I save BIG on TP, laundry detergent, and trash bags.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Tamara, your questions are so good, that I wrote a hub "What is Your Time Worth" to answer your question more thoroughly. Thank you for posing them.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      I think it would depend on how far away the stores are, and how convenient they are to get to. It would also depend on how big the sale is at each one, and how much total I wanted to buy that week. I wouldn't go to a store to save a few cents, but if it was going to save me a great deal of money, I would go to it. I also would only go to several stores if I have a great deal of willpower to only buy what is on the list and nothing more.

      There are several stores that are close to each other where I live, and they are all on a straight path, (and are all on the right side of the street so I don't have to get stuck in traffic). I go to four stores in one week probably about four or five times a year, mainly around Christmas, or when I really had the time to scour all the sales. The shopping itself doesn't take me a lot of time once I have a plan. Generally, I go to 1 or two stores a week, sometimes three.

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 

      8 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      What is the break even point of going to different stores? Hitting two stores to take advantage of sales can save money. Is hitting four different ones too many?

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thanks Victoria Lynn. It is easy to get carried away with the sales and wind up with more than we can use.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      All good tips. A well put-together hub. One thing I have to remind myself is to not overstock in my deep-freeze, as it's a waste to overdo it and let things go bad! Great hub!


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