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How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half | Save Money on Groceries | Money Saving Tips | Spend Less on Groceries

Let’s face it–food is expensive.  The average family spends just over 10% of their household income buying groceries–over $6,000 a year–and even while average wages have gone down, the price of food keeps going up.   When you are just trying to feed your family, that is a pretty scary prospect.

That said, as more and more people are beginning to realize, coupons can be a great way to save money on food.  If you’ve ever watched TLC’s Extreme Couponing, you probably already know that sometimes those savings can be quite dramatic.  The problem is that those dramatic savings often come from seasoned coupon users who have spent countless hours clipping & sorting coupons and searching for the very best deals.

Quite frankly, who has time for that?

How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half | Save Money on Groceries | Money Saving Tips | Spend Less on Groceries

A few weeks ago I was asked by the nice people at WINK News to share some tips for saving on groceries.  They tagged along as I prepared for one of my own shopping trips, and then as I shopped with Kristen, a single mom of 4 who had never used coupons before and was looking for some practical ways to cut her food budget in half.

For Kristen and probably every other average mom (or dad) who is just trying to save some money on groceries, the idea of all that time and energy on a single shopping trip was not only overwhelming, it was unrealistic.  However, as I explained to Kristen, it IS possible to cut your grocery bill in half without spending all your time clipping coupons.  In fact, even if you never clip a single coupon, you can still save significant money on your grocery bill just by changing the way that you shop.

How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half | Save Money on Groceries | Money Saving Tips | Spend Less on Groceries

Like anything in life, you have to find the right balance.  That balance won’t be exactly the same for everyone, but there are 5 tips I shared with both Kristen and WINK that everyone should know:

1.  It’s not about the coupons

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that the producers of TLC’s Extreme Couponing (and every food company and grocery store chain out there) don’t really want you to know:  Extreme grocery savings do NOT, for the most part, come from the coupons.  The bulk of your savings will come from the store sales.  The better the promotion, the bigger the savings, so the FIRST step in saving money on your grocery bill is to SHOP THE SALES.

Always, always, always buy food when it is on sale or at its rock bottom price.  And by this I mean really on sale, as in 30-50% off the regular price, not one of those “Surprising Low Price” items.  (The surprise is that it’s not really on sale!)  Compare the store sale ads in your area to find out which stores have the best sale prices, and keep an ongoing price list so that you KNOW when something is a good price.

This does NOT mean that you should buy food just because it is on sale, but instead be on the lookout for sale prices on the food your family normally buys, whether it be all whole foods, organic, or gluten free.  Almost everything goes on sale eventually.

Don’t assume you know which store has the best deals until you’ve actually checked–you may be surprised at what you find.  Here in Florida, for example, many people assume Publix is the “expensive” store, but when you compare sale ads you will find that Publix consistently has the best sales week after week.  Many people also automatically assume that Walmart has the best prices, but most sale prices at a traditional grocery store will beat Walmart’s “everyday low price.”  While it has not yet come to my area, I have also heard amazing things about Aldi, so if you are lucky enough to have one in your area, definitely take the time to check it out and compare prices.  Because in the end, it is all about the price you pay.

Thus, your goal from now on is to only EVER buy an item when it is at its lowest price.  Period.

2.  Stockpile, stockpile, stockpile

In order to only ever buy an item at its lowest price, you must buy enough of it while it is on sale to last until it goes on sale again.  This is key.  Most items go on sale every 6-8 weeks, which means you need to buy enough to last your family that long. If you buy only a weeks worth, you will be forced to pay more the next time you need it because you didn’t buy enough.

Let me make it more clear with an example.  Say your family eats 2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios every week.  The regular price for Honey Nut Cheerios is $4.50 a box, but when you go to the store this week, you see it is on sale for only $1.99 a box–more than 50% off the regular price!   Instead of buying only 2 boxes like you normally would for your weekly shopping trip, you buy 12 boxes–enough to last your family for the next 6 weeks at less than half the price you would normally pay.

At first it may seem counterintuitive to be buying more than you normally would instead of less.  However, because you are shopping the sales each week, you will be buying a larger quantity of a smaller variety of items, which means your overall grocery bill will still go down.  The goal is to build up your own mini-grocery store in your pantry which you can then use to plan your family’s meals.

How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half | Save Money on Groceries | Money Saving Tips | Spend Less on Groceries

Remember that a well-varied stockpile does NOT have to take up a whole room of your house, and you do NOT need to accumulate a whole year’s worth of food.  Sale cycles generally run about 6-8 weeks, which means your stockpile should contain about 6-8 weeks worth of a nice variety of food.  It also means that it will take about 6-8 weeks before you’ve built up a nice varied stockpile and will start to see the most dramatic savings in your grocery bill.

Furthermore, stockpiling does not mean your family has to only eat a diet of processed food.  There are plenty of healthy options for stockpiling, including beans, rice, whole grain pastas, whole grain cereals, frozen vegetables, cheese & other dairy products, canned tomatoes, & more.

3.  Eat less meat

Going vegetarian just a couple times a week could save you as much as $1,000 a year.  Meat costs usually account for a significant portion of people’s grocery bills, so cutting out even a little will make a big difference over time.  One of the ways my own family has kept our grocery bill to around $200-300 a month is by eating very little meat and honestly I am shocked at the prices whenever I do buy meat!

I have personally been a vegetarian for almost twenty years, which makes it a little easier for me to come up with creative meat-free meals.  However, since the rest of my family is NOT vegetarian, I do make an effort to cook meatless meals that even my meat-loving husband and kids can enjoy.

Here are some of our favorite family-friendly meat-free recipes:

I realize that not everyone wants to become a vegetarian, so when you do buy your chicken, beef, or pork, remember to stick to the principles above–buy only what is on sale, and stock up if it is a great deal.  Be sure to also check out these ideas for more great ways to save on meat.

How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half | Save Money on Groceries | Money Saving Tips | Spend Less on Groceries

4. Change the way you meal plan

If you normally wing it when it comes to meal planning, running to the store several times a week for last-minute dinner items, this step won’t be as painful as you might think.  Instead of running to the store for your dinner supplies you’ll be able to run to your stockpile–a ready-made grocery store right in your own home.  You may even find that maintaining a nice, varied stockpile by shopping the sales once a week saves you a whole lot of time, in addition to saving you from the expensive impulse and last-minute buys.

For those of you who normally plan your meals then make your shopping list based on that plan, this adjustment may be a little harder.  However, you can still make it work if you get into the habit of planning your meals around what’s on sale and around what items you already have on hand in your stockpile.  By minimizing the number of non-sale items you need to buy each week you will find that you can plan your meals in advance and still cut your grocery bill in half.

One great meal-planning resource that I have been really impressed with E-Meals.  For as little as $5 a month you can receive a customized weekly meal plan based on your own store’s weekly sale ad. The simple recipes are delicious and family friendly, and although the service isn’t free, it does take a lot of the stress out of trying to plan meals around what’s on sale.  They even have a great new app that allows you to get your shopping list, meal plan, & recipes right on your phone or tablet. You can also try it for FREE for two weeks!

How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half | Save Money on Groceries | Money Saving Tips | Spend Less on Groceries

5. Learn to match coupons to store sales

It is not by accident that using coupons is the last item on this list and not the first.  Coupons can and do save you a ton of money on your grocery bill, but only if you follow these other steps first.  When and if you make these changes in the way you shop–getting into the habit of shopping for only what’s on sale, buying enough to last your family 6-8 weeks, eating less meat, and planning your meals around your stockpile and what’s on sale–you will see a dramatic drop in your grocery bill, even without clipping a single coupon.

When you begin to match coupons to the things that are already on sale you will see savings that are even more dramatic–50 to 60% off your grocery bill or more!  Doing this consistently, week after week, you can literally cut your grocery bill in half.

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Learn How to Extreme Coupon in just 8 weeks! Simply opt-in below to have the Beginner’s Guide to Coupons Ebook sent straight to your inbox!

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Learning to match coupons to store sales is not nearly as confusing or intimidating as it might sound.  Two years ago I wrote a very easy-to-follow 8 week series called The Beginner’s Guide to Coupons that has since taught thousands of people how to do it, from the very first step of just getting started to making your first shopping list to building a stockpile.   It breaks down the whole process into manageable “baby steps,” complete with assignments to get you going, and it is completely free.

Another great option for those of you who learn by listening, not by reading, is Grocery University.  This incredibly comprehensive coupon course includes 2 hours of downloadable audio files that walk you step by step through the process of saving money with coupons.  The course also includes a 40 page workbook and a bonus rock bottom price database.

One of the most common complaints I hear about coupons is that they are all for unhealthy processed food.  While this is to some degree true, there ARE coupons available for healthier food options too.  There are almost always coupons available for things like yogurt, cheese, soy or almond milk, frozen vegetables, oatmeal, coffee & tea, gluten-free foods, cereal, and basic pantry staples such as pasta, canned tomatoes, and rice.  There are also plenty of coupons available for non-food items such as shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and over-the-counter medicine.

The important thing to remember is that coupons come last, not first.  Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon–manufacturer’s count on that!  Wait for the sale, then use the coupon.  Changing old patterns and shopping habits is never easy, but with these simple changes you really can cut your grocery bill in half.

Just think of what you could do with an extra $75 a week!

Finally, here are the links to the WINK News segments from November 1st & 2nd:

How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half | Save Money on Groceries | Money Saving Tips | Spend Less on Groceries

359 Comments

  1. November 1 at 09:25AM

    Meal planning has helped us a lot!

    • February 15 at 01:59PM

      Agreed, Meal planning is key and portions. Groceries are becoming more and more expensive, but if your smart you can easily reduce your bill by 30 to 40%

  2. Zoey
    November 1 at 10:10AM

    I started using coupons after I found your YouTube videos & your beginner coupon guide. It helped me SOOOOO much! You are so good at explaining it in a way that makes sense. I always thought it was the coupons but now I see that it is so much more than that!

    • SJ
      November 3 at 01:41PM

      I found Ruth the same way, a little over a year ago. I have reached a point in lack of time right now that I check the coupon previews and don’t even buy the paper unless it has several coupons that I’m sure I’ll use. Following the sales cycles and planning meals ahead according to the sales flyers are what really save me money. The coupons are like the icing – fun, but not the base.

    • Sam T
      November 14 at 11:46AM

      Hello Everyone,
      I just wanted to say I actually was an extreme couponer a couple of years ago. But I have cut back dramatically because after Extreme Coupon show came it the stores and the coupons have change their tactics so you can’t get anything “free” anymore. By biggest and proud hall was $748.61 and I had only paid $7.68 just with sales tax… Now on the show it shows the sales like that and a lot of them actually donate more then half of their haul. But anyways, watch the coupons because now they are expiring before the em goes on a real “sale”. Just a heads up! Now I still can walk out of a store from a $300 with just paying $150 with coupons and sales.. But not like I use too. But, remember walmart also price matches so if your at walmart shop there they will price match the items. Also, remember the dollar tree has expanded their items too which then you just pay the tax. As well as if you have a family dollar General. Hope it helps! Good luck!

  3. Sara Houseman
    November 1 at 10:38AM

    I never watched Extreme Couponing before, but now that it is on Netflix I have watched a few episodes. It is intriguing to think that people can really save that much money, but I was turned off by their huge storerooms of food. It seemed like they were buying stuff just to have it, not because they needed it. To be honest, I never really thought about it being a different way of shopping–I just thought the people on that show were crazy! When you say it like this, it makes so much sense.

    Thanks for this article, I am definitely sharing it!

    • Julie
      January 11 at 03:05PM

      I thought the same thing and then I heard a fairly common theme from the people on the show – when there has been a job loss or financial difficulty, they know they can save money immediately by using their stockpile of food. It’s not a bad idea.

      That said, anyone who does use coupons can tell you the stores on those shows are making concessions for the show. There is no store in my area that will allow you to use dozens (hundreds) of like coupons in one transaction. The most generous will allow 5 per transaction, the least generous will allow 2 (although I have had a manager bypass that for me at the checkout). Most stores have purchasing limits on sale items.

      I have found the majority of my savings in shopping sales and stockpiling. Like the article says – coupons are just icing on the cake. They may push my savings from 50% to 55% or 60%, but the biggest savings are the sales items.

    • Erica
      April 29 at 03:22PM

      They cant. Thats the thing. One person on that show had 10 coupons for free bags of Doritos. Those coupons were fake. Just google search the show and you will find countless articles about the fraud being committed. Coupons can save you a lot. I used to carry a giant coupon binder with me everywhere. But the stuff you see on the show is fake.

      A tip to get healthier food cheaper or free with coupons is overage. Many times a coupon will come out and with a sale you end up with more off the item than the item costs. Some stores will give cash back (walmart does, military commissary stores do) and others will allow the overage to cover other things in the cart but wont give cash back. I love these stores. For example, a few years ago a coupon was released for $2 off Sundown brand vitamins. At the commissary where I lived there were a few varieties that cost $1.19 each. So I bought as many as I could (the coupon had no limits) And got $0.81 for every bottle applied to my other purchases. I used the extra savings to buy fruit and vegetables, meat, diapers for my child, etc. There was another time I found 2 packs of toothbrushes on clearance for $0.50 each. I had a coupon for $2 off a multipack of that brand. Cha ching! $1.50 overage for each! I had 20 of those coupons so I made $30 on that plus 20 packs of toothbrushes! The key is to get your coupons and keep them all until you see a deal or they expire.

  4. Gail
    November 1 at 04:45PM

    I have tried to use coupons a few times but never seemed to save much. Now I finally understand why!

  5. November 1 at 07:54PM

    I shop the sales, use a few coupons – I only clip it if it’s something I usually already buy!
    I also save by cooking in bulk. I can buy higher quality meat, for lower cost if I but ten pounds at a time from my local butcher. Freezer meals are awesome, and have saved us LOTS because we don’t have to eat out when we don’t feel like cooking.

  6. Anastasia
    November 1 at 09:20PM

    Thanks for the great article Ruth!

  7. November 1 at 10:20PM

    Well, you know OUR story and how we (actually The Husband) found you through your couponing videos 17 months ago. Changed our lives and we will always be thankful. I am sure to link to you again and again (as you know). 🙂 Love seeing a new post about it and going to watch your WINK news clips. I love those!! 🙂
    Happy November. I semi-survived my 31 Days! lol
    – Claire

  8. Angie D.
    November 2 at 02:51PM

    Thanks, Ruth! I’m so thankful that I found your site about a year and a half ago; you remain one of my all-time favorite bloggers. I love the tools you provide to empower and inspire us. 🙂

  9. November 5 at 11:23AM

    Thank you for sharing these great tips. I really need to shop the sales. Living on one income is becoming much more difficult because of the high cost of everything. I am a home schoolers, too and as you know anything can become a lesson, especially these all important life lessons. my teenage daughter already shops with coupons and looks through sales.
    Ruth

  10. Catherine
    November 5 at 08:10PM

    Hi! I love that you said you have to find the balance that works for you. We have found that it works best to stick to the 2 stores that have the best prices on our basics overall. We will hit another store if there is something we use regularly on sale- really on sale. As far as stockpile, it’s been difficult in our home. I have 3 kids, 2 are teenage boys that have a lot of friends coming by. Anything that is in the cabinet is at risk of being eaten as soon as it gets in the house.

    • Marley
      August 23 at 01:40AM

      Here is a suggestion… “this is not a self serve kitchen!” You will be fed, you will never “starve”. A lock on the pantry works wonders, then when you need something, look at the inventory of what you have and *go shopping* in your own pantry 🙂 perfect. Also I don’t suggest spending as little as possible, because I noticed that it causes people to eat a little more unhealthy. What I like to do is when I go to the grocery store I usually skip certain isles. I go in the dairy section, but not the frozen section. I buy a LOT of produce and freeze it…I buy the produce for instance that is on sale because the apples are a little bruised or the banannas are too ripe, I cut them and freeze them and then later make banana bread or apple crisp/pie. Today I found 3 apples for 75 cents in a package nicely wrapped by the produce department. perfect. I also buy cheese and butter and ice cream when it is on sale and freeze it all. most of what I buy is store brand to save money also, but that is changing since I am going to start shopping sales more.

  11. January 13 at 02:22AM

    I am so glad I found you. After watching TLC’s extreme couponing I wanted to learn how to coupon. I just don’t get it. But After reading your blog I’m sure I can start to save money. I lost my job and my daughter is in transition from graduating college and changing jobs. I am also starting college at age 51. I really need to get a handle on our food budget. To thanks again for caring enough to share.

  12. Bethany
    April 19 at 03:07PM

    One thing I did that helped was to keep track for a month of what I threw out. Yikes! It helped me realize a few things. 1. I needed to cook half-batches of things – I wasn’t eating leftovers. 2. I needed to be more cognizant of the amount of produce I purchased and 3. I needed to better organize my refrigerator so that things weren’t getting lost in the back.

    • Gloria
      August 6 at 08:30PM

      One of the best soups I ever ate was from a neighbor who put all leftovers in a container in the freezer. Anything mashed potatoes veg. beans rice meat you name it. She would dump it in a crock pot and add whatever she decided it would need. I had never even heard of the spice summer savory but that was the spice she used that day. I use her idea but will never forget that first taste of her soup.

      • August 10 at 06:40PM

        That’s a great idea. I’ve had a jar of summer savory for…I think since 1993, ha ha. Never used it. I make what I call a Vegetable Bin soup every once in a while, take whatever’s in the bin at the end of the week before it goes bad and put it in the slow cooker with a box of diced tomatoes and some rice and/or beans. Sometimes I go hog wild and make dumplings too, yum yum. If it wasn’t 95 degrees outside I might make some right now! 🙂

      • Sarah
        April 23 at 11:01AM

        My mom always made left over soup growing up too. Her budget for food was $50 a week on a one income salary, but a family of four. Impossible these days I’m sure. I had never heard or thought to put them in a container to freeze before, then dump into the soup. I love that idea. If soup doesn’t happen, not all is a waste. Thank you! …My husbands lunch is always left overs, & I’ve started sending my 92yr old grandpa left overs from time to time also when a meal is worthy enough. Now i can also not feel guilty about any other waste.

  13. April 23 at 08:49AM

    These are really great tips! Although it would be hard for me to get started on this. Our grocery budget is a little strict, so in order to stockpile some stuff, we would have to go without other things. I already do it in baby steps though – I don’t buy 6-8 weeks worth of sale stuff, but I do buy at least one more than I normally would.

  14. April 23 at 06:11PM

    This is really great information. I appeciate the NONemphasis on coupons since I have a hard time with keeping up with coupons sometimes. So glad I found you from Fieldstone Hill Design (looking forward to the monthly design series you all are doing!) and now following you through Pinterest. Sharon

  15. deborah
    May 11 at 09:26AM

    This is fine if you can go shopping once a week and have the extra money to stockpile on just a few items each time. I don’t. I live in the country about twenty miles from the nearest grocery store so gas alone would break me! I garden and put my food up by canning, drying, and freezing. This is our big savings. I also cook completely from scratch. Much better than convenience foods made by some factory. Just the thought of what “might” be in their scares the hell out of me!

    As far as meat goes…we go shopping once a month and stock up on each stores sales. I make up menus with these meats throughout the month (or even longer)

    Eggs…I have my own chickens for those and the taste difference is amazing as well as healthier.

    I think your ideas are fine if you have a large budget for food and can afford to stock up like that, but not everyone can do this.

    • Ruth Soukup
      May 11 at 09:43AM

      Deborah, your country life sounds amazing! My husband and I dream of buying land far out in the country someday, and when or if we ever do, we will definitely raise our own chickens and make a lot more of our food from scratch. It sound like your money-saving tips are working great for your family, and I congratulate you on that!
      I have found that for us “city-dwellers” these strategies I shared do work really well. Surprisingly, stocking up on sale items actually ends up costing LESS than simply buying what is on your list regardless of what is on sale. In fact when I shopped with Kristen she was blown away by how much more she was able to buy for much LESS than she normally spent.

      • Anonymous
        September 24 at 10:47AM

        In the long run I don’t think it is a savings to buy processed boxed and canned foods on sale. These foods deteriorate the health of the family and cost more money in the long run. Unfortunately healthy foods are not always on sale. Your overall points are helpful though. Thanks

    • Anonymous
      March 23 at 07:36PM

      We do the same thing…grow our own food and then can, freeze and dehydrate it. We shop the same too. Buy what is on sale in terms of meat and meal plan around that and what I have in the pantry. We eat leftovers or create “leftovers makeovers.” We cook everything from scratch including bread and hamburger/hot dog buns and sub rolls. Processed foods taste terrible to us now. I use coupons but mostly on personal hygiene products. We make our own laundry soap and fabric softener. It is a busy lifestyle but a rewarding one and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world.

  16. Melissa Yepez
    May 22 at 07:54AM

    We live in very rural Vermont and do all of our shopping in New Hampshire at BJ’s. I find buying in bulk and making most items from scratch to be a huge savings for us. Bj’s offers coupons and will accept manufactures coupons, but they don’t offer sales. Sometimes meat is marked down because it’s close to it’s sell date. Do you have any tips for a bulk once a month shoppers like me? Monthly I spend about $600. for a family of 5, plus weekly $25. for milk, bread, and bananas.

    • Tracy Hite
      May 29 at 04:15PM

      i hope you have invested in a deep freezer, buying meat in bulk and portioning out individual 1lb-5lb portions has always helped me. make sure that you date everything and rotate your inventory so that things don’t spoil. have a cooler in the back of the car/truck to keep cold items cold with ice for the long car rides, also milk and bread can be frozen for up to two weeks ( the milk will look a little funny frozen but it is 100% safe)just let the jug thaw in the fridge the night before, the bread also, this may cut down on weekly trips to just twice a month and help save on gas. 🙂

      • Anonymous
        March 23 at 08:22PM

        I would also see if bjs will give you a case discount on meat. Like if you buy 50lb they give you so much off. Sam’s has been known to do this as does my local store.

  17. Donna
    May 24 at 11:42PM

    Here in Australia we don’t have a coupon system, we rely on specials only. I also agree that cooking from scratch saves a lot of money and I get more satisfaction from it as well. After rent and utilities are paid we have 400 a month for groceries, fuel, insurances, entertainment and clothing, So yes we all need to pinch our pennies.

    • Anonymous
      March 25 at 01:43AM

      Yes I agree one way I found too st reach meat out and make it go further it too ground it,like if you have some stripes of meat too put in stir fry vegatables,ground your meat ,you can chop it then put it in your chopper then cook ad normally wood too add too veg ,and put over fried Frick and eggs ,and you end up with so much food you can even freeze some for. Later when not feeling like cooking ,because meat is so exspencive but with chopping it up it goes alot further,maybe it will help dianna

  18. May 28 at 12:48AM

    The only thing I take exception to here is that if you are cutting out meat to save money, you’re losing it on the fake ground beef stuff. At least here in Canada, these products cost as much or more per pound than the ground beef it is replacing. Otherwise, you are spot on!! As a mom with 9 children, it just about kills me to pay full price for anything…..ever!!! 😀

    • Tracy Hite
      May 29 at 04:06PM

      i completely understand that part of cutting meat. as a hispanic we always incorporate beans of all kinds to make-up the “meat” in recipes when we couldn’t afford it. (my mom grew up very poor with 12 brothers and sisters) also just cutting back the meat instead of cutting it completely out is another way to save some money, if a recipe calls for 1lb of beef cut it to 1/2 lb and include a bean or other protein. (beans in bulk last a long time and are much cheaper) also soups that are primarily veggies help and then the beef/chicken is just more of a flavor enhancer.

    • Anonymous
      March 25 at 01:48AM

      So true a sugestion,when you cook hamburgers ,take your thumb and put and indenting of your thumb on the top of your hamburgers and they won’t drink as much I know it sounds silly but it works, and I ground alot of meat too add too foods makes it go at further in meals

  19. May 29 at 12:19AM

    Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Thank you so much. This was easy to understand and totally makes sense. I will definitely be following these steps and checking out the beginner coupon clipping series. I can’t thank you enough!

  20. Tracy Hite
    May 29 at 03:58PM

    also a great way to cut down cost is to just cut out the “convieniece stuff. people with kids, if you bag lunch don’t buy pre-packed items, i/e buy that family size bag of godfish and portion out half-cups in ziplock bags for pennies a bag (this is great when it’s your week to bring snacks to class).
    also buy in season fruits and veggies, (out of season markup on berries is a real $ drainer) and shop farmer’s markets there are always great deals to be made when dealing with people one on one.
    buy bock cheese when it is on sale and shred it yourself, again portion out in ziplock bags. this one is a surprizing $ saver.
    buying bulk and doing portion control is a great way to save tons on a whole bunch of things.

    • teresashineon
      November 13 at 01:04AM

      I have done a lot of research on buying chips in individual bags versus the family size and I always come out cheaper on the individual. The big bags always have waste at the bottom, and also the amounts are more monitored with the individual. I am talking about when you have teenagers. I do sales and coupons, but with a family of 6 we still spend $600+ a month on grocery’s. We do a lot of social which adds to the cost. This is a great site! Thanks for all the good ideas!!

  21. Melynda
    June 5 at 12:25AM

    I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned swinging by your grocer’s clearance section. The varieties are endless, but you can get good deals from meat to mascara…and use coupons on top of that. Maybe not for beginners because you can get carried away and be tempted to purchase things you don’t really need but it’s helped me. Thanks for your tips!

  22. Joelle
    June 6 at 12:38PM

    These tips only work if you don’t have a budget that you have to stick to. I am a single mother with a very strict budget for groceries; I can’t afford to “stockpile” something just because it’s on sale. Coupons don’t really work because I rarely find coupons for things I actually want and need. Does any one have any useful tips for making a strict budget go further?

    • Mal
      June 7 at 10:37AM

      Hi Joelle, I find that bulk stores where you don’t have to buy huge sizes of things are really great for budgeting (like the Bulk Barn), you can get staples like beans, rice, spices, nuts & even ‘treats’, and you only need to buy the exact amount you want/need. Especially the herbs and spices, they are a fraction of the grocery store prices. After that, make your meal plan based on the best food you can get for the best price and don’t get sucked in to buying things you wouldn’t buy just because they are on sale (ie, if you don’t eat Pop Tarts, don’t buy them just because they are a dollar).

    • Anonymous
      November 12 at 04:02PM

      One thing I did several yrs ago was to think like WIC. What foods do they give you on that program? Start listing them on a paper. Those are your cheap ways to get that particular nutrient. You could get lots of milk or a little cheese…milk is the cheaper way to get your protein and calcium at cost per serving (1oz cheese=1cup milk for 100% of protein and 66% of calcium). They gave out beans and tunafish, not meat. They even pay for fresh produce now…but not potatoes as there’s not alot of nutrient value in those (and becuz we all eat tons of those already lol). You can get hot cereals on WIC too but I don’t recommend any of the cold cereals. Only get the unsweetened hot cereals too. You can buy 100% wholegrain bread only; don’t waste your precious food dollars on refined grains. I think the juice allowance is bad but at least they make you get 100% juice, no sugar added juices. I would recommend whole fruits over juice. WAY too easy to drink juices, juices, juices. Hard to eat the amount of oranges you would drink in just 2 glasses of oj. I think it would be something like 8 oranges (for 2 NORMAL glasses) and you get no fiber so you’re not filled even. Besides the amount of sugar you’re eating, “natural” or not. Juice is nature’s pop at our house, very rare and limited diluted amounts.
      So that was a good start for me to think “on the cheap”.

    • Anonymous
      December 22 at 04:20AM

      Joelle it seems like stockpiling costs more, but if you do it correctly, it does not. For example, my family uses a lot if peanut butter. Skippy is currently buy one get one free at my store. So $3.59 for 2 jars. I also have a coupon for $1 off each jar. I am getting 2 jars for $1.59. So to buy 4 jars would actually cost less than the 2 I would have bought anyway. This is when you stockpile. Another example is when whole grain pasta was but one get one free. 2 boxes cost $1.79. I had a coupon for $1 off 2 boxes. So the total for 2 boxes was $.79. 4 boxes cost less than 2 boxes would have. Stockpiling correctly should not cost a lot more, and sometimes even less, than you are currently paying. Non food items are the same way. Quilted northern toilet paper, which my family loves, was buy one get one free and I had a $1 each pack coupon. I got 24 double rolls for less than $8 with tax. That is less than I would have paid for half of that if I only bought at regular price. These are just examples of how stockpiling saves money. Hope this helps 🙂

    • Anonymous
      December 21 at 09:45AM

      It is hard to get started for sure. You could save maybe by meal planing if you don’t already.
      Cook meals like..home made soup, cook dry beans more often. Hamburger stew is a real money saver.

      • Anonymous
        March 23 at 08:28PM

        I am also a single mom of 4 kids who eat like grown-ups and it is possible to stockpile and save. Have a soup night. Cut just $5 and buy dried beans and rice to start. Then a little bit more the next week. It’s harder to see the ways to cut when you’re already bare bones but you can do it!

  23. Mal
    June 7 at 10:32AM

    Thanks for the tips, except I don’t agree with the emphasis on eating whatever packaged foods you can get on sale. The way I see it, I can pay the farmer or I can pay the hospital, so I’m not going to buy Cheerios, regardless of how cheap they make them. When meats and vegetables I can freeze (or are already frozen) go on sale, I totally stock up, but I find that really only the packaged foods have huge margins that can be cut in half, if you’re buying whole foods, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room.

  24. ~ joey ~
    June 9 at 11:47AM

    I do all of these things to reduce our family’s food bill but I still do not see how you can eat a balanced healthy diet on $200/month. Stocking up on packaged and canned foods is only going to cost you more on health care bills later. We are a family of four, vegetarian/vegan, do not buy packaged foods, and grow as much of our own food as we can. We buy in bulk, stock pile on sales, use coupons, and u-pick from local farms but our food bill (including toiletries) is around $1000/month.
    Do you have low cost recipes or a meal plan that we could see so I can see where I’m going wrong? Many of our friends are wondering why their food bills are so high as well so we’re eager to hear more of your secrets!
    Many thanks,
    Joey

    • Leandra Cate
      July 7 at 09:38PM

      I have no relationship to this blog. This is my first time reading. But I just did a little math on some of her suggested vegetarian recipes and if that’s what she’s cooking, you can’t get the materials for that for $200 a month, not in my area, anyway. My family of 2 spends about $320 a month on groceries and we do all the things she suggests here except stock up on meat (we’re vegetarian) or buy processed foods like cereals. Also we eat about 70% organic, so maybe that inflates our budget. Fresh veggies and fruit are expensive but important for your health. Rather than obsessing about each penny spent on food I would save MUCH more money by going carless or at least carpayment-less, living in a smaller house, buying 2nd hand everything from toys to books to clothes. Just my 2 cents.

    • June 20 at 08:53AM

      Wonderful article not much new information for me but still very possible. Yes coupons help some but sale ads are the way to go. As a registered nurse vegetarian and mother of 6 I want my family to eat healthy at any cost. It was when the cost was 400$ a week that I reevaluated our budget. With my aid of my stockpile I spend about 125-130$ a week tops at local grocery stores. I then spend $50-60 a week at Aldis on milk and produce which is about 4 bunches of bananas strawberries watermelon, bag of apples, three things of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, and potatoes. A gallon of 2% milk 1.59$ which is usually buy 5 a week versus our local gas station at $4.99 a gallon. It is possible to save now I work part-time two nights a week because we are saving on our groceries which has also eliminated our childcare bill. Be open minded and try if you really do want to save money.

  25. Alaine
    June 16 at 07:28PM

    I shop at Publix, stocking up on BOGO’s with coupons, we don’t eat much processed food, just some items. I’ve changed my laundry detergent to what’s on sale with coupons also. Also I shop at Aldi and find many great deals on the “other brands” and they also will at times have regular brands. Produce selection at Aldi is very fresh and a lot cheaper, I do try to support the local fruit stands when I can also. I’m thinking of finding a co op in my area for food savings also.
    Thanks for your article!

  26. June 17 at 02:16PM

    Hi, I came here via Pinterest and wanted to drop by to say these are great tips!
    I follow all of these except one: meal plan – I never end up cooking what I plan, because most of my food depends on my mood. And because of that I used to buy too many vegetables, in case I felt like cooking any of those. Most of the times half of the vegetables would rot, having me throw ’em away. That is one thing I have stopped – now I buy limited produce and variety each week, and try to get creative with the less quantities and choice (I was born a vegetarian).
    I have learned how to store the groceries well and keeping track of expiry dates, so now I shop on alternative weekends only. And my grocery bill per month is in fact less than $150 per month I’m sure!
    Also, I totally agree with # 2 … Stuff that has a long shelf life is worth stocking up on especially if bought on sales/discounts. Wish someone could make my husband understand that! 😀

  27. Pamela Gammill
    June 19 at 11:22AM

    Toiletries and cleaning supplies can really eat up a grocery budget. I now make my own laundry soap and I clean my house with non-chemical cleaners. I use vinegar and baking soda for most things and vinegar is amazing! My windows and floors sparkle. I also make my own deodorant from coconut oil and baking soda. I love it and it’s so cheap. You can google recipes for making all your cleaning supplies and you’ll be amazed at how much you save. (And you’ll be healthier also!)

    • Hélène
      November 12 at 04:40PM

      I have the ultimate EASY hypoallergenic homemade laundry detergent. If I wasn’t needing to keep things as pure as possible, I’d just buy Sun brand or whatever else was super cheap. They work as well as Tide, etc. I use stain remover regardless. The small amount I need doesn’t seem to bother sensitive skin.
      Get a box of washing soda, borax and baking soda (walmart has big boxes if baking soda right in the laundry aisle, but i buy mine at aldis as u go there anyway, cheaper). Either mix the washing soda & borax together in a container, cup for cup or measure it out each time you do wash. Add baking soda to each load also, or mix half a cup baking soda per cup of washing soda/borax. IE if you mix up 4 cups washing soda and 4 cups borax and want to add in the baking soda, mix in 2cups of it.
      NO PREP, no “goo”, no 18 steps and using the kitchen appliances.
      I also use citric acid for brights/whites. I buy it on amazon. I do only about 1 load a week of brights so the bags lasting me FOREVER. You could use lemonade koolaid too if it’s cheaper. I use 1/2T citric acid per large load.
      I do not mix the ingredients together at all, becuz I’m OCD lol. I measure them per load. I have found 1/2T baking soda does a large load (it’s just for smells, so you could leave it out or go up to 1T per load if needed for super stinky stuff). I use 1T each washing soda and borax for large loads. I only wash large loads. I was using 1 1/2T each and read recently a recipe that only uses 2TSP combined per load! That’s all 3 ingredients…I cut back to 1T each and it’s fine. I don’t think I’ll go lower. It’s pretty cheap 🙂
      Also, I add 1T of soap per load…I use a cheapo detergent right now but for super sensitive skin, use 1T Dr. Bronner’s. I can barely afford to use that as bath soap (and I dilute it in half already) so I don’t use it currently as laundry soap. Most recipes I’ve seen do not call for this soap addition. It makes sense to me tho so I add it in.
      You can get pretty jars to store your ingredients or mixture in and print up cute labels. I use containers I got as food products originally and take my permanent marker to the front. I’m that cheap lol
      I’ve used this for months now; my clothes are definitely all rinsed out of detergent from when I was using actual detergent. They still get clean so it’s not the residue cleaning them as some scoffers claim.

  28. Mandy
    June 20 at 08:16AM

    Eat less meat, and eat more processed garbage aka pasta, grains, and rice . Yep saving money at the expense often family and my own health. Sounds like a plan to me ! Ugh — SMH !

    • Anonymous
      July 26 at 03:58PM

      Actually there are plenty of cost effective and very healthy prepackaged foods.
      Quinoa as a rice alternative is high in fibre and protein, cooks exactly like rice.
      Depending where you live Smart Pasta carries noodles that have 11g of fibre and 9g of protein
      Per serving. I am a university student; I can either have my text books or fresh produce and good meat.

  29. Carla
    June 29 at 09:23AM

    Over and over I have seen our local stores refuse to honor coupons if the item is already on sale. You can either get the coupon price or the sale price but you may NOT put them together on the same item. I’ve seen your advice many times before and it always baffles me. Who actually allows this?

    • Laura
      October 6 at 01:08AM

      I beg to differ. Major grocery store chains will always allow you to use a coupon on a sale item. Most will allow you to stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon on top!

      • Anonymous
        January 11 at 01:52AM

        This is not allowed in California. Even when going to the Major grocery stores they will not allow you to use a coupon on a sale item. I hear other states you can.

        • Anonymous
          August 16 at 02:03PM

          I’m in California and have used coupons on sale items for years.

  30. Anonymous
    June 29 at 12:54PM

    good ideas unless you trying to avoid GMO food and all things processed

    • August 6 at 03:19PM

      I agree, there is no way you can follow this and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I don’t see anywhere fresh fruits and vegetables. Stockpile?? You can’t do that with produce. I barely have anything in my pantry because I don’t use the “canned”, “packaged” “mystery” foods. How about organic tips?? $200 a month for groceries? My goodness I do well over $200 per week. Guess I’ll need to look elsewhere for tips.

      • Laura
        September 12 at 01:18AM

        Totally agree with both comments here. We too eat non-gmo and organic. We also avoid all soy like the plague… which immediately rules out like 95% of anything processed. (You’d be surprised where they slip that crap into your food!) Does anyone have tips on saving money while avoiding processed garbage and GMO’s?

      • Anonymous
        October 5 at 08:01AM

        Agreed. There is absolutely no way you can save mi eh like this if you eat healthy.

      • October 5 at 08:03AM

        Agreed. There is absolutely no way you can save money like this if you eat healthy. Grass fed beef, organic fruits and vegetables barely go on sale and when you eat meals made from scratch you want the freshest produce. Raw organic nuts and seeds are also priced much higher and they do not go on sale.

      • March 28 at 02:52AM

        When I worked at Albertson’s (I conesfs years ago) the cashiers were told if it says manufacture coupon to take it. It just meant that Target or Walmart or whoever just wanted the customer to think they had to go there instead of look for the cheapest price. At that time it was corporate that told me that, and that we want them to shop here not there so take it.

      • Anonymous
        October 11 at 04:49PM

        wow you orthorexic people are insufferable. it’s ok to incorporate “some” processed foods into your diet, and I’m sure 1/2 the foods you think are bad for you aren’t really. All of the high horse comments about how if you eat like this you’ll have “hospital bills” are soooo annoying. Eyes on your own plate. P.S There is no evidence that GMO foods are worse for your health.

        • Anonymous
          April 28 at 05:34PM

          Weston Price and Joel Salatan, read them. They are not orthorexic, nor are those who follow their ideas on real food.

      • Anonymous
        April 28 at 05:28PM

        This is crazy. I spend an astronomical amount to eat mostly organic and grass fed meats. I spend more on food than my mortgage. The last time I could spend $200 a month on food was when I was 19 and ignorant on food’s importance on health. Read Weston Price.

  31. Milena
    July 10 at 10:50PM

    Loved the article!!! Speaking of Publix, have you figured out how often they do BOGO? I feel like I can really stock up during their buy one get one sales but I never when to expect them!

    Thank you!

  32. July 12 at 11:32PM

    loved all the article i have not figured out everything yet i’m a new to couponing

  33. July 13 at 02:13AM

    Hi all, here every person is sharing such experience, so it’s good to read this blog, and I used to go to see this webpage all the time.

    • May 14 at 11:36AM

      Well i always tends to use coupons no matter how small discount it gives.It really makes you feel better even to save a single penny.You said about stockpiling but how can we stock pile food items that will get spoiled like eggs ,meat etc.Other than that i really enjoyed reading your post

  34. Donna
    July 15 at 08:35PM

    I am willing to spend some time searching for coupons. One of my issues with coupon sites is everything they make you download plus they do too many add-ons if you ar enot careful. I do not want to clutter up my computer. Any coupon sites that are easy to get coupons.

  35. Tini
    July 28 at 10:34AM

    Hi! I found your blog via Pinterest, and I found this post super helpfull.
    We’re a little family of two (plus Cuba, our dog, but he has his own food all set up already haha), and everything you say is the pure truth regarding saving money on food.
    We live in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, and there are no cupons over here, but everything else you mention, applies: Leandro doesn’t eat meat but sparefishes, so our freezer is constantly full of fish, lobster, octopus, etc. I do eat meat and chicken, but never buy meat (I’m lazy when it comes to cook meat and cleaning after, on top of the price) and just some half chicken monthly.
    We stock as you say, and, believe me, it makes the whole difference. We do one montlhy big grocery shopping, for around R$200,00 (pretty much some… $100,00 dolars, maybe less), and it lasts the whole month. And it’s not just groceries, it’s everything: cleaning products, toiletries, etc. Sometimes lasts even more than that, but it doesn’t matter: from the 1rst to the 5th day of every month, we do our montlhy grocery shopping religiously. And to be honest, we haven’t even paid R$200,00 in quite sometime. That was the first big one we did, and then our grocery began to stock, so lately it’s been around R$150,00 or so.
    We do some shopping during the month, of course, like milk, eggs, cheese, but it tops R$50,00 at the very (VERY) most, plus tons of fruit and veggies weekly (there’s this farmers market we love), and thats may be, R$20,00, R$30,00 if we go fruit crazy, and most of the times one shopping lasts a week and a half, so by the week we buy just R$10,00 or R$15,00.
    I don’t know where your traffic comes from, but I can certify that your methods applies in economies beyond the American one. Stocking is THE way to saving.
    Nice to meet you!
    Tini.-

  36. July 29 at 12:03PM

    When I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked on the
    -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I get 4 emails with
    the exact same comment. Perhaps there is an
    easy method you can remove me from that service?
    Thank you!

  37. August 8 at 09:19PM

    I agree with you 100% – Stockpiling is the key 🙂

  38. August 9 at 12:39AM

    Thank you! I need these posts. I’m horrible at meal planning and saving money when it comes to the grocery store. My poor husband has stopped at our local grocery store after work every single day this week so we can definitely benefit from these tips.

  39. Kimberley
    August 19 at 12:26PM

    Also check out e-coupons if you store has them. It automatically loads the coupon(s) to your store savings card. No paper to keep up with and the savings automatically ring up at the register.
    Also, one of my local grocery stores also puts $0.05 off towards a tank of gas every $50. That’s not including some of their “bonus” buys which will add extra off towards gas.
    Last week they had a great sale. BOGO chicken and pork. My grand total before savings was $139.81. I paid $93.17. My freezer is stuffed and I saved $0.18 off per gallon of gas (up to 20 gallons)! This was without clipping any coupons, which I must say if I took the time to clip, I probably could have saved a bit more.

    • Ruth Soukup
      August 19 at 12:47PM

      Great tip. Thanks Kimberley!

  40. Mary
    August 27 at 04:18PM

    Coupons are great to use if you can get ones of products you actually use. They use to be great with doubling if they were under $1 but many stores in my area have recently cut out the doubling. I used to use them with the sales and get great bargains. But I am not using a lot of processed products anymore and trying to cook from scratch. I also have been buying more organic which is more expensive though sometimes when it is on sale it is a better price then the regular stuff.

  41. Kimberly Wenzel
    September 2 at 07:22PM

    Thank you for the great tips, although I strongly disagree with encouraging people to eat less meat! I am a cattle producer and we are proud of the healthy, nutritious product that we produce!! A great way to stockpile meat, is simply to work with your local producers and local butcher to purchase and custom process beef or pork. In our area, we have a local operation that does something similar with poultry. Yes, there is a significant cost upfront, but you will save over the long haul! Plus, if you need meat in smaller amounts, local producers will often work with you if say you only want to purchase 1/4 or 1/2 of the product. Or, you could join together with friends or relatives to split up the pounds of meat harvested, thus splitting up the cost. Do some checking around, even if you don’t know who to talk to, you likely know somebody who knows somebody. 🙂

    • Anne
      September 3 at 11:21AM

      I think the point is that people eat more meat than they need to generally–three times a week is usually plenty for a balanced diet. (Always best to go through local suppliers, obviously!) 🙂

    • Anonymous
      March 23 at 08:40PM

      Have done this before and loved it! !!!! I am stumped in my current area though. If you see this can you email me please? funfrugalmom5@gmail.com

  42. Anne
    September 3 at 11:19AM

    As a born and bred Floridian (transplanted to Europe), Publix is the best supermarket, ever. Period. 😉

  43. Anonymous
    September 4 at 01:25PM

    Have you ever heard of starvation? Or countries, in which people are longing for wages you mentioned in the 1st chapter?

  44. Brittany
    September 4 at 05:07PM

    There’s a lot more to saving money on groceries than sales and coupons! How about shop local farmers markets or grow your own small vegetable garden? Shop at Aldi and other non-name brand grocery stores, bake your own bread, can your own produce and even garden goods with neighbors? The big secret that the producers of extreme couponing don’t want you to know if that the shoppers cheat. They use expired coupons, they match bar codes to things that aren’t actually on sale and they use more coupons than the store allows. I never saved money on groceries with coupons unless it was a special item because coupons are only good on expensive name brand items. Stop buying name brands and switch to generic and you’ll cut your grocery bill in half!

  45. Kathy
    September 11 at 09:04AM

    You can buy organic fresh veggies and fruits and stockpile on a tiny budget. I also dont want processed GMO foods, but you can still do this plan. You buy them on sale ( sometimes Safeway has organics cheaper than non-organics) then chop and freeze! It will take a while to get all you need, but start small, say onions are in sale this week, but a bunch, chop and freeze in portion sized baggies. Next week it’s apples and celery, buy a bunch, make chunky applesauce ( to be used in breads, pies, or mixed in yogurt) and chop and freeze the celery for soups. Next week it’s zucchini and bell peppers, same thing, but a bunch, along with your other ” regular shopping ” and stockpiles few things at a time, it will pay off after a couple of months . You can do this with bread, milk, cheese, meat etc. you don’t HAVE to buy gross food, wait unroll what you use is on sale then stock up!

  46. Sarah Lentz
    September 13 at 11:35AM

    I hate clipping–and keeping track of–coupons, so this article is a boost. I like to shop sales,
    too, but your idea of buying ONLY what’s on sale and stockpiling what you know you’ll need
    when you hit a sale will definitely help. $200 a month??? I would LOVE that! We are a family
    of six, with one still in diapers, so our monthly number will probably be bigger, but it’d be great
    just to cut our grocery expenses to no more than an average of $100 per week. Then we can
    reassess and see how we can reduce it still more (if practical). I’m going to talk to my husband
    about this (when I get the chance), and implement these ideas right away. It’ll help us pay off
    debt more quickly. We’re also downsizing the toy collection, so your other articles about that have
    been helpful, too. 😉

  47. Sue
    October 5 at 11:59AM

    Planning works but stockpiling doesn’t when you eat healthy and natural. It’s hard to stockpile veggies/fruits. Do to health issues, I eat only meats, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and drink water or tea and while the meat I can freeze and the nuts and seeds will last, the rest I’d rather have fresh which also keeps some diversity in our meals with different veggies and fruits throughout the year. You CAN save money by NOT buying processed/boxed junk food and eating natural foods instead, you just need some planning.

  48. October 14 at 07:52PM

    Terrific tips all around. Thanks! It’s great that you mentioned eating less meat too. While not a vegetarian, when I got serious about getting my finances in order, I found that cutting meat made such a big deal. Substitutes like beans, lentils, and tofu, are so much cheaper and maybe more important, they last longer so you can really take advantage of sales.

  49. Ivy
    October 31 at 06:15AM

    I absolutely LOVE your advice! It’s simple and pro-active. Money is always a little tight in our home, but not nearly as tight as how I grew up. I used to watch my mom stretch a dollar until it bled and I could similarly do that when I was single but it always involved unhealthy choices. Now that I’m married, my husband is an active duty soldier and I’m a realtor (so my income is a little sporadic at times) and we’re looking to start a family this guide is the perfect how to on getting our food bill under control early. Thank you and please keep the hits coming!!! 🙂

  50. November 2 at 11:05AM

    Great article! I have one tip you should add to the “shop sales” section.
    – Shop at Walmart! They pricematch and do not require you to have the ad! So find all the best sales at all stores, write down the price, and take it to walmart!

  51. November 18 at 07:19AM

    I like your tips on stockpiling items and sale and meal planning. I’ve recently realized that I spend way too much time shopping each week looking for items that I need. A bit of planning ahead of time can really help. In addition, by mixing that approach in with buying and stockpiling items and sale, and planning meals around sale items, will definitely cut down on costs. A triple whammy!

  52. November 18 at 11:34AM

    Please realize while your system is great for the person who eats out of cans and boxes the people that eat real food can’t shop this way. Eating organic whole food requires growing it, or finding it. Most companies don’t give many coupons if any at all. I drive to between 6 and 9 markets weekly to find my food in Hawaii. Almost no sales and the food is more expensive anyway due to being organic and in Hawaii. The best way to cut grocery bills is to grow and not support those food corporations. Than EVERYONE’s food bill would go way down.

  53. Keri
    December 2 at 03:39PM

    I am a couponer and it is refreshing to see an article that points out other basics of couponing! If you just use coupons, even if they double, isn’t going to really help unless you shop sales. A nice, brief introduction to how it all works. Well done.

  54. Alicia
    December 8 at 09:31AM

    I have read through almost all of the comments and it’s interesting to see the many responses. I guess you have to take it with a grain of salt, because quite a few people pointed out this wouldn’t work for their lifestyles- and that’s ok – but this isn’t meant to suit every single person, so be respectful. My thoughts are I really enjoyed the article for a different point of view and I’ll ponder it a bit to see what I might be able to incorporate into my lifestyle. Im with several people who mix it up with some gardening, ALDI, bulk bins and stockpiling a bit when I know for sure it’s an amazing price. I sometimes buy a huge pork tenderloin and freeze it into small sections or when chicken breast went on sale $5 for the name brand I bought 3 bags (just 2 of us here). Anyway I enjoyed reading this and seeing how other people live and make it through the comments section. Stay happy & healthy!

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  56. Lyman
    December 17 at 10:19AM

    Great tips! Just wondering about how to save in natural food stores and whole foods. I don’t eat gluten or chicken so I find it difficult to save with my diet. I welcome tips for saving when eating whole foods .:-)

    • Joan
      June 8 at 08:40AM

      I have a gluten free husband. What I have discovered is that using very basic foods, meats, vegetables and fruit along with beans and rice is the easy way to go gluten free on a budget. I don’t think GF processed foods like bread and pasta taste good so we just don’t use them. Stick to a small portion of meat and use natural products to round out the plate.

  57. Suzanne
    December 27 at 12:49AM

    I totally agree with Tip #4- meal planning according to the sales has made a huge difference in our budget. Once you get the hang of it, it’s kind of fun, like a personal challenge to see just how much you can save. (Or that could just be me!) I also like the idea of going meatless a couple of nights per week. That’s been an issue for us, because we live in a small town a ways from a decent store. The local places and Walmart just don’t carry good produce. But we fi-nal-ly got a good co-op in the area, so I’m looking forward to trying this suggestion, too!

  58. Ashlee
    January 2 at 09:51AM

    I really like your approach of sale items and your more realistic stock piling is probably great tips for a lot of people. I am curious, do you have any tips no matter how small the savings, for those of us that have no space at all to stock pile. I barely have enough space to buy 2 jars of tomato sauce let alone 6-7 to get my family through till they go on sale next. I also move every 2-3 years making it difficult to maintain a stockpile. Would you suggest couponing (I usually find very little I buy and try to only clip what I buy normally) as a better alternative for those of us with limited space and budget. Thanks any input will be greatly appreciated.

    • J
      March 24 at 01:25PM

      Look for other places to store the food. Under your bed. In two medium sized plastic container boxes stacked one on top of the other next to the sofa. With a piece of fabric thrown over it, it will look like an end table. Put up a new shelf in the kitchen or laundry room. It just takes a little creativity.

    • Joan
      June 8 at 08:34AM

      I have turned a linen closet and a bathroom cupboard into pantry space. Look for places not traditionally for a pantry.

  59. January 3 at 10:01AM

    One way to save on fresh produce is to sprout you own; alfalfa, radish, wheat, etc. plus super vitamin rich!
    There are ways to save on meat as well. Ever heard of Confessions of a Butcher-eat steak on a hamburger budget and save$$$? It’s on Amazon. We get free elk from hunters who get tired of it…plus my hubby works at a grocery store so he brings home amazing deals. Love our garden and freezer. Gotta plant more raspberries for healthy smoothies this next year.

  60. Julie
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    Does anyone know any food savings for Maui Hawaii? Yes I chose to live in a expensive state but I need help living on a budget.

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      Plant your own papaya trees. You should get some fruit from them in less than a year.

  61. Laurel
    January 7 at 09:45PM

    Oh my gosh, so many comments! I didn’t read through them all. Geat tips in your post. I am not a big coupon user as I usually forget about them. I would be interested in giving it another try. But where do you get coupons? The only place I know of is the Sunday paper and we don’t buy the paper.

    Laurel

  62. January 8 at 10:12PM

    Wow; really, just over 10%? We must not make much, then. We have a pretty average-to-low per-person grocery budget (which is WAY higher than what we were spending even 2 years ago, but the prices have gone crazy…and we’ve gone gluten-free in the meantime which throws a wrench into the works). But we spend closer to 20% of our income on food than 10%.

    • Ruth Soukup
      January 9 at 11:13AM

      It is just an average so it can vary a lot from family to family. Gluten free definitely adds some extra cost!

  63. Alison
    January 10 at 01:50PM

    I already left one comment, but I do have one more thought to add. My husband and I have just been talking about your bulk buying suggestion. Using your example of purchasing 12 boxes of Cheerios at once, as we totally get your point, it is very clear that to start this kind of bulk buying from the beginning you need to already have a chunk of money to get the ball rolling and that means spending WAY more than $200. Reason being I can’t rely on my next grocery trip consisting of only 5 different products. I would run out of food, other than Cheerios, in a week. It seems it would take a year just to get the stock pile of all the different ingredients you’d need to have a complete pantry of ready-to-make foods. Does anyone else see this as being the case?

    • Anonymous
      January 11 at 02:02AM

      I totally agree. If I am on a fixed income and a very low one at that, I cannot afford to spend what little money I have to start with on an item that is on sale like this. Also, in my area here in California a sale on an item is like fifty cents off!! lol literally it’s ridiculous.

      • J
        March 24 at 01:12PM

        The idea is to only buy from the sale items. Plan all your menus from what’s on sale, and there should be enough money left to buy at least a few more sale items. Over time, you can build a stockpile, even if it is just with a few things added on per week.

  64. Angela Riemann
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    Ruth,
    Can you tell me exactly how to get started stockpiling? Do you have to have extra money in the beginning to start this? You mention in your article that it takes 6-8 weeks to have your stockpile. Please explain how to get started or maybe you have this somewhere on your website. I’m a little slow and need the guidance! :-). Do I start Emeals along with stockpiling? Please help! I am trying to get this under control and not go to the store three and four times a week! It wears me out. We are on a tight budget and I need to do something. Thank you so much!

  65. January 11 at 09:10PM

    I live in Walmart’s backyard (Bentonville, Ark.) and pretty much know that store inside and out after shopping there for over a decade. If you really want to save money on your grocery bill you need to consider shopping at a discount grocer like ALDI. No two ways about it.

  66. January 22 at 11:39AM

    Thanks for sharing! I already follow most, if not all, of these tips AND I just started getting into freezer meals. 🙂

  67. Pullar, L
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  69. February 11 at 06:46PM

    Yes I’m what some call an “extreme couponer”, only in Canada where it’s a little harder, but similar. We also don’t find fresh produce coupons often but saving money in every other facet of your expenses leaves a little more room for the fruits and vegetables. I also have a blog to help Canadians navigate the fun that is couponing. 🙂 Wouldn’t change a thing!

  70. March 7 at 10:04PM

    Thanks for these tips. Whenever I go to the grocery store, I end up spending more than I intended. I’ve never collected coupons but we do get them on our local newspapers. Is it true that these “coupons” are just advertised price. Whenever a store has a clearance on packaged items (oatmeal, cereal, protein bars, rice packages) I usually grab a good amount because they aren’t as perishable and I stock them. Whenever there is “want” for oatmeal at home, well we have them. I still have oatmeal at home and I think I would never have to buy some in the near future. And I eat them!

    Thanks for these tips! I’ll make sure to be a smarter grocery shopper.

    • Jaime
      March 11 at 01:56PM

      Good tips! I’ve seen a lot of feedback from folks who think coupons = unhealthy processed etc. I would challenge that. I think the wind is a’changing and about time too. Maybe somebody’s getting the message? 🙂 Now it’s possible that we are just fortunate in our area stores because coupons on fresh produce and vegetables are common – these are store coupons – some print out of the catalina machines by the registers and most are available online. Meijer and Kroger are the stores coming to mind that have these offers on a regular basis. It’s great! Another store that I didn’t realize until recently – had store coupons and accepts manufacturer coupons – is Whole Foods. Who knew? If eating organic, non-processed is the goal – or you have certain dietary restrictions like needing gluten free – it’s nice to save a bit here and there. http://moneysavingmom.com/ regularly posts info on Natural and Organic Deals – listing sources or links for coupons on those types of items.

      I have also seen mainstream coupons for things like clementines, watermelons, etc. They are few and far between, but if you are watching coupon blogs for your store’s sales that weeks it only takes moments to scan the sections of their list for any deals like that on produce.

      If you have an Aldi near you – use it. LOVE, love, LOVE Aldi. They run loss leader deals on produce, 5-6 diff types, every week. They also carry organic produce now and have many healthier options than they used to.

      I stockpile by spending a small amount of each trip’s budget on something I know I’ll use eventually. $5 let’s say. So maybe this week it’s an extra package of lunchmeat that goes in the freezer and a bag of lemons that I zest (freeze that) and juice (freeze that in ice cube trays). In this example I got the lunchmeat for $3 or less using sale + coupon and the lemons were on special at Aldi for $2 for a good size bag.

      I can get Kraft cheese cheaper with a sale plus coupon than even Aldi prices – but only sometimes. I buy it and freeze it until needed. These deals only come around so often – you take advantage of it when you can. If you are just getting started, it can be hard to stockpile much – but I try to remember the old tale of the tortoise vs. the hare!

      My best advice – learn, learn, learn! Read as much as you can on sites like this and find others via Pinterest or search engines. If you find a good article like this, read the comments – often times I find the best tips or tricks hidden there!

      Just because something seems out there don’t rule it out forever. Canning used to intimidate the heck out of me – but water bath canning is pretty simple and low risk if you pay attention and follow instructions. There are many, many, MANY resources for learning how to can properly. And on how to get setup with the equipment/supplies cheaply!

      Even if gardening and canning isn’t something you want to tackle – using your freezer is the next best option. What about dehydrating? I haven’t done that yet but I am SO looking into it. When fresh mushrooms go on sale I buy them to freeze but love the idea of dehydrating instead.

      I could go on and on and probably have too much already! If you’re frustrated or overwhelmed at trying to save on groceries – don’t give up. Take it slow – try for 1 deal here or 2 deals there. Gain confidence, learn what works best for you – you’ll do great!!!

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  73. Renee
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    Thank you so much for the vegetarian meal ideas for families! I’ve been wanting to cut back on meat and wanting to make a meal here and there that is vegetarian, but didn’t know where to start! I’ve been a bit concerned lately at just how much meat we are eating each day. I mean, really, do you need to eat that much meat? I think we are overdoing it in Western society and need to cut back on our meat consumption. Thanks for giving me a starting point for how to do that!

  74. March 16 at 07:28PM

    How wonderful that I found you. I read some of your post about getting rid of the kids toys. I do try to get them to donate around Christmas and before their birthday because they just do not have time to play with them. After reading your post I will definitely be going through their rooms again. As for saving on groceries, I am going to go through the sale ads before I shop tomorrow. I do have an Aldi and when you get one you are going to love it. My trouble area is the products they don’t sell that I never seem to buy on sale. I know to save money you have to try harder and that is my goal this year. Thank you.

  75. Cathy Sorrell
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    Please send me info on saving money on food. Plus I like all of your tips on everything!!!!!

  76. March 21 at 10:08PM

    This is seriously the best article I’ve read on grocery saving tips. I will actually try this. Thank you for explaining it so well!

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  80. Susan Shore
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    I think I can help those with strict budgets. Here are my thoughts. It seems to me that the $200 comes after you have slowly learned to stock up from sales. I believe it takes time to get your bill down to $200, and you may only get there if you have a comparable sized family, but that said, you will most likely still make a significant dent in your grocery bill . Also, for those with strict budgets, it might take time, time, and more time. If you can some how just stock up one item per sale by using some less expensive substitutions elsewhere, I think it could be done. The substitutions don’t have to be forever. What is happening when you stock up is that you have to buy less groceries each month because part of what you are using that month was bought previously. Then since you are spending less now, you have a little more to spend on future sales. And, it carriers forward a little at a time until it levels off at some lower amount later. I hope this helps–it just my ideas. This is my first time here except earlier today! It’s a great site! Thanks for all the great info on saving.

    • Chandra
      July 19 at 07:09AM

      This is a very good reply. I often wonder how stock piling will help me but laid it out better for me to see it won’t be right away. I have 5 kids and need every way I can save on groceries. I also have hardly any space for storage. The pantry in my home is very small compared to the size of my home SMH.

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  164. Valerie Queen
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  166. October 28 at 11:15AM

    These are some great, realistic tips. I don’t have the time or energy to coupon, but we definitely need to cut our spending on food. Thanks for sharing, Ruth!

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  170. Britteny
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    My biggest issue is that the only feasible grocery option we really have is a Winco. They do not usually except coupons. Nor do they have advertised sales, or sales in general.

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  172. February 16 at 02:28AM

    Thank God it’s not about the coupons.

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  175. March 7 at 09:42AM

    Hi,
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  176. April 20 at 03:20PM

    I share your opinion about Publix. We also live in Florida and I find the best deals at Publix. I have heard so many people say they are the most expensive, but we save a ton at Publix. Thanks for sharing your great tips!

  177. May 21 at 05:22AM

    A good meal plan should fit in with your schedule and eating habits.

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  179. Anonymous
    June 27 at 11:37AM

    Stockpiling is good, I agree. But it really doesn’t fit my lifestyle now. My husband and I do not eat anything from a can, nothing, at all. We only eat fresh veggies, no milk, and very little cheese. Yes we do eat meat, tried the veggie only thing, and while I don’t eat much meat, I only eat it on the weekends, when I cook for leftovers during the week, my husband makes up for my lack of meat eating. So my point is, it is hard to stockpile when you do not eat processed food. I can’t eat all the chemicals in the canned and processed food. And we live in an apartment, so we don’t have a very big freezer or a garden. Both of which I hope to have soon when we get a house. I do shop the sales that week, so that helps. While I can’t stockpile like you, because I refuse to eat all the canned and processed food, you can save shopping the weekly sales. But I would rather save less and eat better because I will never go back to eating all that processed food again. Food taste much better not out of a can or frozen in a box. And yes, we both work full time jobs, my husband sometimes up to 60 hours a week as a electrician, and yes you still have time to eat healthy and not out of a can or a box.

  180. July 28 at 05:10AM

    I’m stuck in a very small town with only one grocery store. The fresh

  181. Helen E
    August 15 at 10:32AM

    Coupons is such a forreign consept to us.. (They do not exist here in Norway). We do have sales though, but the best way to save money is to shop only once a week.

  182. KD
    September 2 at 07:39PM

    Any ideas of how to save on groceries for families with food allergies? I have yet to see less meat recipes that don’t use cheese as a substitute. Life is not easy with allergy kiddos, and can be really hard on your budget.

  183. Hales
    September 14 at 01:40AM

    just anted to say great post!! I am a recovered couponer, and I use all these tricks to keep my budget in check. I just wanted to give my two cents on some things. First of all, a $200 food budget is not realistic for everyone, so people calm down. Here you live, the number of people you are feeding, and your socioeconomic status all play into that. She was just saying that you can use these tips to lower your food budget. Second, you can absolutely use these tips and coupons to buy whole, real foods. I get coupons from Kroger all the time that are $x off coupons by department, like “$5 off hen you spend $20 in the meat/seafood department.” I can use those to buy organic just as easily as nonorganic. I also plant a garden and can produce bought in bulk from farmers markets ( I just got 69 pounds of tomatoes for $30- organic, all canned and ready for any tomato dish I desire!!) If you want to eat healthier, awesome: just realize you’re either going to have to give up time or money to do so. It’s just the world we live in right now

  184. October 19 at 03:45AM

    Having a grocery lists is always a big help when saving money, also buying on sale food items and discounted ones also helps from cutting your budget. by the way you have a very great post, thanks.

  185. Carolyn
    October 28 at 09:21PM

    I barley have enough money to buy a weeks worth of groceries each week. How does someone on an extreme shoe string budget stockpile? Any suggestions?

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  190. January 18 at 02:51PM

    I loved this post. I did some comparison shopping in my town and was surprised at how different prices can be for the same product. I’ve also learned to buy off brand instead of using coupons. Off brand is usually cheaper than buying the brand name with coupons.

  191. Kayla
    January 25 at 11:50PM

    I just wanted to say that “you do not need to stockpile for year” is actually untrue in my opinion. The church I belong to highly recommends preparing your homes with a year supply of food that way if anything were to ever happen; natural disaster, financial burdens, anything that could keep you from going to the store, you are prepared. Just thought I’d share that it’s a better idea than not! Have a great day!

  192. February 11 at 12:40PM

    Thanks for these tips. I’m really bad about meal planning and need to do it more. It also helps reduce waste of too many leftovers if that’s in your meal planning. I used to plan every Monday night as leftovers night. Let’s face it, who wants to cook on Mondy! Not me!

    One way our family saves a TON is by purchasing our beef from a local farm. We can buy a 1/2 cow (about 300lbs) for about $350. We eat meat every night and it will last our family of four (and biweekly dinner get togetherness w/ 10-15 additional mouths) for a full year! That’s just over a dollar a pound! We can also purchase chicken and pork from the same people. Finding a local dairy, farm, or feedlot can save a bunch and allow your family to have meat every night. Sure going vegetarian may be good for you, but my husband would sooner die and go without!

    The other plus to having all this meat on hand is freezing lots of premade meatloaf! It’s great to use for last min dinners for other families too. Just defrost the night before and cook! I also do lots of premade meatballs, lasagna and a few others. Just spend one day to put together 10 one each in foil pans and you’ve saved a bunches of prep time for another day.

    I hope this helps some of you out there. It’s been a life saver for us.

  193. February 20 at 01:37PM

    Regarding point #2, another factor to take into account when stockpiling is the expiration date on the product. Only buy as much as you will consume before the product perishes or then your savings will be for naught. I talk more about this in a recent blog post of mine: http://moolamom.com/2015/12/14/go-go-getter-gains/. Hope that tip helps you in your own planning!

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  195. Melissa
    March 14 at 11:17AM

    Coupons are a joke. They are for processed, boxed and Name Brand foods. If you buy fresh fruit/veggies or meat, there’s never a coupon for that. The store does send out coupons, which I find helpful, but coupons in general are not a great way to save. Thanks for the article!

  196. April 16 at 02:50PM

    I agree with all of this, Ruth. I shop at Safeway because it is the most convenient location for me. Most people think Safeway is way too expensive but if you download their electronic coupons on your phone (basically another way they do sales) and shop the weekly sales, it’s amazing how much can be saved! I love watching the register go from $480 down to $276 (for 2 weeks of food for a family of 4 and 4 pets)! The cashiers and bag people know me by now and always say, “watch this, watch this!” when I enter my Safeway card in anticipation as the savings start adding up. They know it will be impressive!

  197. May 9 at 09:37AM

    Amazing tips Ruth! I love the tools you provide to empower and inspire us.

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  199. August 1 at 03:21PM

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  200. September 13 at 04:56PM

    I have to buy groceries for 2 seniors on a fixed income. My husband gets his check on the 3rd of the month. That is a set date that we can target for.But, my check comes on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, which means my checking comes in between the 15th and the 22nd; mine is at the whim of the calendar. Is there a way you can show or explain how we can make a budget work when our pay dates are not consistent month to month. (My check is the largest and our monthly bills we try to pay then which isn’t always doable when the utilities want their money normally between the two checks.).

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    I from Louisiana, normally I shop @ Kroger’s. The have a card that I can put store ecoupons on. For example, they had the store brand salad dressing on sale for $1.49 then there was the sale if you used your kroger card you got it for $1.00. I also had a ecoupon for $.25. On line kroger also has savings center that keeps track of the things you buy & will offer then @ the sale price later, even though it is not on sale.

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  205. February 11 at 05:55PM

    Very informative article. Thanks!

    I found the advice here very refreshing, especially the idea of stockpiling to save more. I’ve not considered that before. It’s a great advice that seems very doable and one that I will try to implement in our shopping.

    Usually, articles like this one come down to couponing, and it was nice to see that wasn’t the main focus of your post. I have to admit that I sometimes envy the idea of couponing that you have in the U.S. (and certain other parts of the world). We don’t really have that where I live. We have sales on weekly basis, so your advice will really help. And for this, I thank you. 🙂

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