10 Ways to Lower Grocery Costs

Posted on Jan 12 2016 - 9:58am by Susan Bewley

How many of you have been trying to lower your grocery costs? Honestly, our groceries have gotten out of hand during the past year. Honestly, I would love to have a grand excuse on why our groceries have gotten out of hand, but there is really only one answer – business. With my husband starting a new job last year and my schedule being much fuller, we were depending on quick meals or heaven forbid, fast food. Not only did we gain all the weight back we lost from things being so stressful, but  we nearly doubled, if tripled our food budget.

After going through our budget for the last three months and seeing how much we have spent on food, we decided now is the best time to lower grocery costs. I know I’m not the only one in this situation but luckily, we know how to fix it. Actually, it is pretty easy to lower grocery costs, but it does require time, patience, and a commitment.

Looking for ways to not only save money on groceries but get money back? Check out our 10 awesome tips on how to lower grocery costs here!

1. Have a Meal Plan

As someone who loved cooking meals based on our moods and what I had available in the house, I have to say that meal planning was an eye opening experience that definitely helped lower grocery costs. Not only was I able to save money by planning all of our meals, I was also able to determine how long leftovers were going to realistically last us, and plan around it. By dividing out meals throughout the week, I kept us from getting leftover burnout and drastically reduce the amount of waste in our fridge. It also gets rid of those dreaded days of asking what is for dinner since my husband or I could just look at our meal plan and determine what needs defrosting from that.
To help make grocery shopping easier, I am currently using MealBoard. Not only does it color code our daily meals, it allows me to see what I can make based on inventory from our pantry, my current recipes, and creates priced shopping lists so that I have an idea how much I will be spending before I even set foot in a grocery store!

2. Check Ads

Do you check your local ads before going grocery shopping? Even though this would seem like an obvious way to lower grocery costs, most people don’t do it.  I usually base where I’m shopping for the week on who has the best ads. I match my meal plan with sales and sometimes change my plans for the week based on current sales. As well, it sometimes also means I can do a little extra, like surprise my husband with fresh berry cobbler or waking up with blueberry oatmeal from the slow cooker!

3.  Inventory

Did you know that lower grocery costs could start with taking inventory of your pantry? According to the National Resources Defense Council, the average American tosses about 25% of the groceries they buy. Wow! Most of this is from over-shopping or stuffing their pantry so full that they have no clue what is actually there. Instead of giving your hard earned money to the landfill or your compost bin, take inventory of everything, including how much is left in the container/box and expiration dates. Go through this list once a month and try using up what you have as part of your meal planning.

4. Coupons

Before I go any further, let me make one thing clear – I am not a couponer. While they can be a great way to lower grocery costs, you have to be careful. My biggest issue with them is that they usually for junk food or things we normally wouldn’t buy. That being said, I do keep coupons that I find on company websites or by writing to them.

As well, don’t forget loyalty programs. In our area, Kroger is constantly sending us coupons based on prior purchases. By matching these coupons with weekly ads, we have been able to lower the cost of many basic items – such as eggs and coffee.

5. Buy Meat Online

One of the ways I was able to drastically lower grocery costs last year was buying meat in bulk. One of the best kept secrets out there is Zaycon. They sell high quality, low priced meat to consumers by taking out the middle man. You see, all of their meat comes directly from the farm to you, meaning it comes to you fresher, and you don’t have to pay the convenience taxes of it being shipped all over the United States to your local grocery store. Instead of going to your grocery, you pick up a case of meat on scheduled dates, have it loaded in your car, and then divide it out when you get home.
The downside (if you can call it that) is that you get anywhere from 20 – 40 pounds of meat depending on what you buy. For example, you get 40 lbs of giant, fairly lean chicken breasts for $1.69/pound. Usually, I divide the chicken into 1lb – 1.5 packages for convenience and then freeze them to be used in future meals.  Currently, I buy all of our chicken and ground beef from Zaycon at amazing prices, and never have to pay high prices at the grocery store! See what is available in your area from Zaycon here!

6. Ibotta

Did you know apps are another great way to lower grocery costs? Ibotta, however, is unlike any other coupon app I have found to date. It actually gives you money back on everyday purchases, including things you would buy anyways. For example, I can get $0.50 off just by buying  gallon of milk (any brand) or $0.50 off any brand of bananas. With some of their deals are name brand things I would never buy, it has given us back money on things you almost never find on coupons. It is easy to save anywhere from $1 to $10 a week just by using the app and shopping wisely. You can learn more about Ibotta here!

7. Buy in Season

Another fantastic way to lower grocery costs is to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. If you are unsure what is currently in season, check out the United States Department of Agriculture database. They have an awesome seasonal produce guide that is perfect for helping you know what you should and shouldn’t be buying right now. If it is not currently in season or on sale, consider buying it frozen.

8. Experiment with Store Brands

Did you know forgoing name brands is another way to lower grocery costs? What many companies don’t want you to know though is that sometimes the name brand and store brand are EXACTLY the same thing. Most store brands actually have name brand retailers make their products. While some change the recipe, others are almost exactly the same or sometimes better. For example, I am a huge fan of Kroger’s Simple Truth brand (their natural and organic line of products). They are much cheaper than the organic equivalent and many times, even the non-organic equivalent.  Oh, and unlike most natural and organic brands, you can find coupons for these too on the Kroger website!

9. Set a Realistic Budget

Sometimes, the best way to lower grocery costs  is to have a realistic budget based on your schedule and lifestyle.. Usually, healthy eating and very tight food budgets don’t go hand and hand, unless you plan very carefully.

To determine a realistic food budget for you, determine how many days you are willing to cook at home, time you can budget for cooking, and costs for necessities based on your area. Usually, by looking at your receipts and spending for the month, you can easily see where you are overspending to lower grocery costs.

10. Check Unit Prices

Make sure to check the unit price before purchasing any item at the grocery. In most stores, they put the price of the item, as well as the unit price. Most of us assume that larger, bulk items are always the best way to lower grocery costs – wrong! For example, some weeks a half gallon of milk will be cheaper per ounce than a full gallon, based on the sale unit price.

What are you doing to lower grocery costs in your own household this year? Comment below with your own tips!

DisclosureBudget Earth did not receive monetary compensation for this post but may contain referral links or affiliate links. All opinions are my own and may differ from our readers’ opinions.

Would you like to have your products featured in a giveaway event? Want to increase your social media exposure? Contact susan.l.bewley@gmail.com to see how I can help YOUR company today!


Susan Bewley is a professional writer who has been writing content online & in print format for over 10 years. As well, she is an alumni of the University of Louisville with a Masters Degree in Special Education. When not working as an online business consultant or ghost writing, she can be found writing on Budget Earth, on her own novel, or working with various entities in the pet industry.

76 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Sherry Compton January 15, 2016 at 6:37 am - Reply

    Great list and good tips. Checking ads and finding coupons really can save you a lot of money. It’s amazing the different prices you’ll find at different stores.

  2. Jen S. January 15, 2016 at 7:50 am - Reply

    I cut prices drastically by buying store brands and also shopping at Aldi.

  3. Natalie January 15, 2016 at 7:52 am - Reply

    I always check the price per unit! I signed up for Ibotta but I do not use it because it usually does not have the stuff I typically buy.

  4. Nikolina January 15, 2016 at 7:57 am - Reply

    There are some really good ideas among these, though not all are applicable in my country.

  5. Jennifer Corrado January 15, 2016 at 8:43 am - Reply

    I lower costs buy using coupons especially at stores that double them. Always try to buy bulk and sale items. I always find ways to use leftovers and also make meals that lasts 2 to 3 days. I am a stay at home mom and am always looking for ways to save money anyway I can.

  6. michelle January 15, 2016 at 9:42 am - Reply

    So helpful. I truly am looking to save money.

  7. Rachel January 15, 2016 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Thanks for these tips. I love using Ibotta!

  8. Jennifer Boehme January 15, 2016 at 11:02 am - Reply

    Coupons help me along with looking for sales to comp ad before shopping. Good tips.

  9. mel January 15, 2016 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    I’m always amazed when checking unit prices and find that the smaller size is cheaper. For awhile, it was cheaper for me to buy frozen berries in one pound bags, but now the three pound bag is cheaper.

  10. Mckena January 15, 2016 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    I would have never thought to buy meat online. How did you find out that you could order meat online? I am going to look into this. Thanks for the tips!

  11. tiago January 15, 2016 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    don’t do may of the grocery runs but ill pass this along to my family!

  12. Ronald Gagnon January 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Wonderful ideas..but I am an older single guy who just doesn’t make the time to do this and save money…I am a on-the-spot purchaser

  13. Tamra Phelps January 15, 2016 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    I always do the planning, ad checking & coupon cutting from the list. But I had never heard of Zaycon! Thanks for that tip. I’ll check them out.

  14. Andrina Goetz January 15, 2016 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the tips. We are trying to cut our grocery bill.

  15. Molli Vandehey January 15, 2016 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    on some level i know these tips, but i forget when its time.,

  16. Cindy Merrill January 15, 2016 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    On Meal Plan: We eat a lot of soup- homemade: It’s really not difficult to slow boil a chicken with some onions, then use the liquid as stock-I often make Chicken and dumpling stew with this as well: VERY filling and quite inexpensive.

  17. Crystal Rogers Walker January 15, 2016 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    I always use coupons and whatever I can use to help me save money on groceries and all my things

  18. Amber Ludwig January 15, 2016 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Great tips!! I did not realize that zaycon would be a money saver!! Ive been interested in them for a while but always nervous to look at prices!!

  19. Christine January 15, 2016 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    I shopped @ Aldi’s today & then went to my local grocery store to see exactly how much on saved on several items! I always shop sales.

  20. LAMusing January 15, 2016 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Meal planning is the number one way we’ve saved on groceries. We also go to our local 99 cent store first to get what we can from the grocery list, then go to the regular market for the rest.

  21. Debbi Wellenstein January 16, 2016 at 5:39 am - Reply

    These are some good tips. I especially like the idea of checking your inventory first-I tend to overbuy, so this is something I need to do.

  22. Debbie January 16, 2016 at 7:04 am - Reply

    we dont get a lot of coupons in my country. But I would love it if we did thanks for the tips

  23. Kathy Haury January 16, 2016 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Thanks for all of the great ideas. I’ve already downloaded the Ibotta app!

  24. Kristina Potter January 16, 2016 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Planning is key, then coupons. Then of course aldis helps me cut some of my prices in half. Your tips our great thank you

  25. GillisHills January 16, 2016 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    I didn’t realize you can buy meat online. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Betty January 16, 2016 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Appreciate the information on combining sales events with various savings programs like ibotta. Given the week’s sale promotions, I am willing to switch to meal plans that are the most costs effective.

  27. lisa January 16, 2016 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    The cost of grocery shopping has gotten way out of hand. I have tried the store brand items. Some are okay, some aren’t. With dish soap I have to use twice as much. With that, I’ll gladly pay a bit more.

  28. Sue Mullaney January 16, 2016 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    I’m always big on double checking the amount per ounce on prices; for example sometimes you’ll see something the store has something like buy 2 of some smaller sized items for $5 and shows the prices as 40 cents per ounce, but they’ll also carry a larger size item that is priced as 20 cents per ounce so you’re better off buying the 1 larger item instead of the 2 for $5 smaller items.

  29. alicia szemon January 16, 2016 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    another one is don’t go to store hungry because you will buy more! lol

  30. N Bear January 16, 2016 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    I am horrible at setting a budget, and I have never planned meals. We live right next to the grocery store so we usually decide what we are having for dinner the same day and get things last minute. (I know! The WORST thing to do if you want to save money!) I downloaded a free meal planning app though so I am going to give it a try.

  31. Kathy Lausche January 16, 2016 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    I love using coupons! It is like a challenge to see how much I can save!!

  32. Renee Rousseau January 16, 2016 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    I save a lot money buying markdown meat and seafood which I freeze immediately. (I invested in a seal-a-meal) I know the markdown schedule of the local supermarkets and like to buy cuts I would normally not be able to afford. Today we are having leg of lamb.

  33. Jill H January 16, 2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    I try to buy items I use all the time when they are on sale, so I don’t get caught paying high prices. I only have one grocery store locally. I only cut out coupons for items I normally use. I also will buy my meat in family size packages & break down into meal size portions. I buy my meat locally though.

  34. Tami Lewis January 16, 2016 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Great tips! Dont forget the number one rule… dont shop with your spouse or kids! Too many extras get thrown in the cart.

  35. Daniela Plume January 16, 2016 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    I love shopping with coupons

  36. kara kudro January 16, 2016 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    I agree with all of these savings tips. The life changers for our family have been planting our own garden and freezing, canning, drying the harvest for cooler months. The savings are astronomical and the joy gathered doing it as a family is priceless

  37. Gabrielle January 16, 2016 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    I completely agree about Kroger’s Simple Truth brand. I buy many of those products and have never been disappointed. Terrific value.

  38. Holly Thomas January 17, 2016 at 5:41 am - Reply

    We save by buying our meat at Sam’s Club.

  39. Eva-Maria Virnas January 17, 2016 at 6:07 am - Reply

    We don’t have coupons here in Estonia unfortunately.
    But we buy in bulk when there are discounts.
    And one chain store offers an opportunity to write your own list of goods that you would like to see discounted. And when many people wish the same they’ll lower the price.

  40. Lisa Johnston January 17, 2016 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Great article, a lot of great money saving tips.

  41. Mia January 17, 2016 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    I buy store brands frequently and in most cases they are just as good. Also participate in the Kroger loyalty plan and load coupons online for items I use.

  42. Rita Spratlen January 17, 2016 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Yes everytime I go to the grocery store prices are higher. I would think it would be hard to feed a big family especially teenagers. I do check the prices and try store brands. Most of the time they are just as good. Not everything though!! I use the coupons in the ads when I first walk in to the store. I stock up on things that we use when they are on sale too. Great article!

  43. Pam H. January 17, 2016 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    I check ads and combine coupons with sales. I stock up in items I use often.

  44. Judy Metcalf January 17, 2016 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    These have some awesome tips I’m sure to be able to follow. Thank you so much for the info.

  45. Jeanna Massman January 17, 2016 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the tips! It’s nice to be reminded about cost saving ideas!

  46. Betty C January 17, 2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    These are great tips, especially ibotta. I also look for stores that will price match.

  47. Judy Schechter January 17, 2016 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    So many great ideas! I started shopping at Aldi and was surprised at the quality of the dairy and frozen items! And I save a fortune there!

  48. Jodi Hunter January 17, 2016 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    I am ALL in for anything that helps lower my grocery bill, it is out of control.

  49. Sarah L January 17, 2016 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    All good suggestions. My biggest savings is from always having a list and not getting anything else. Also I always eat before grocery shopping.

  50. Cheryl Reinhardt January 17, 2016 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    I love coupons, have always used them… great tips, thank you very much !

  51. Sharon January 17, 2016 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    These are very helpful tips and I’ve already done a lot of them. The one I want to get back to is The Meal Planner. I learned that one in Home Economics and used it when I first got married. It saved money time and frustration as well with knowing whats for dinner ahead of time. I will check out MealBoard to help me stay organized and I appreciate the link to the Seasonal Produce as well! Thanks for all the work you put into this post!!

  52. desiree January 17, 2016 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    we had bread store till they closed and then that way you can get the bread cheap like 4 for 1 and freeze it i all so buy blulk some time

  53. Susan Smith January 18, 2016 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Great tips, I do most of those. I buy a lot of store brands which saves us money. I find they taste as good as the the name brands.

  54. Sara Theissen January 18, 2016 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    These are all great tips. I end up spending way too much at the store lol

  55. Sandra Watts January 18, 2016 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    I have been clipping my coupons lately. Will have to try some of your tips.

  56. Melissa Crisp January 18, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing. I’m going to check out Zaycon.

  57. Kara Marks January 18, 2016 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Great ideas for those who aren’t already doing these things. A new tip for me was Zaycon and I plan to check it out. Thanks!

  58. jennifer peters January 18, 2016 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    Great tips. Its very important to save money where we can

  59. janet aycock January 19, 2016 at 12:07 am - Reply

    these are awesome tips

  60. Julie Martin January 21, 2016 at 8:45 am - Reply

    I price match a lot And use my coupons Also my store card And apps that allow you to take pictures of your receipt And have many mail to your house directly Last year I saved over $300.
    If you Try the store brand Some stores example Walmart great value brand If you are not 100% satisfied with the brand you can return it and get your money back Which is always a bonus for me certain things need to be name brand and other things can be store brand.
    When planning your menu You could see On Monday you might Be having spaghetti So you could Cook extra beef And use it on Wednesday or Thursday For sloppy joes When planning your menu I find Each night if you cook a little extra Almost anything you can we use it in the same week

  61. Julie January 22, 2016 at 10:22 am - Reply

    Great tips! Thank you! I can use all the help I can get! Groceries are super expensive, going to check out Ibotta right now!

  62. Peter Jones January 23, 2016 at 5:44 am - Reply

    Look closely through the choices on offer and compare prices.House brands usually come from the same supplier as the known brands.Always look at the stores broadsheets for bargains.
    Buy what u need and never shop when u are hungry!

  63. KATE SARSFIELD January 23, 2016 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    I’m lucky to live in the country & go to the weekly farmers’ market. When you’re only shopping for 1 or 2, buying in bulk can be difficult, but this way I can get exactly what I want so nothing gets wasted.

  64. lisa January 23, 2016 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    I am all for saving at the grocery store. Sometimes, we over buy and have to toss out frozen foods because they are freezer burnt.

  65. Minta Boggs January 23, 2016 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    Wow! great tips and thanks so much because I always forget to check the unit price. My husband keeps telling me to get a great deal and to always check the unit price but I always forget. I try to price match all the time but since Kroger no longer doubles I get exasperated with couponing. Thanks so much for the reminder with a little patience and organization that I can continue to coupon and get some great deals.

  66. Sandi Tymchuk January 23, 2016 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the tips. While I don’t have online meat available in my area, this would be great (I don’t have room for a quarter or half beef, nor do I use all the cuts, to buy direct from a farmer). I like to make soups from produce such as onions and celery–low calorie, and satisfying, too.

  67. Mary Anne LaRocque-Ouamar January 23, 2016 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    I believe people.should always spend accordingly. But no more than ever with rising food prices, apps for money off are a great new way to save.

  68. Hayley January 24, 2016 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    I’m a loyal Winn Dixie shopper because of the low prices AND the fuel perks you get for shopping, I always look at their ad, their coupons on my Winn Dixie app and make a meal plan and grocery list at the same time. I use the Receipt Hog app but have not yet tried Ibotta, I really need to get on the ball with that one.

  69. mary ortiz January 26, 2016 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    With me being on a strict budget I use all the tidbitsand advice others give. I maximize my income by keeping a log of all my payments first before I do household spending. Hope this helps someone else..

  70. veronica lee January 29, 2016 at 8:14 am - Reply

    These are very helpful tips. I didn’t know you could buy meat online! I will have to check if I could this in my country. Thanks!

  71. lisa January 31, 2016 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    I’m always looking to save at the grocery store.Where I shop, the prices keep rising and the quality lowers.

  72. Deborah D February 6, 2016 at 2:31 am - Reply

    There is no Zaycon in my area. However, I do use iBotta and cut coupons and buy store brands to save money.

  73. Rana Durham February 7, 2016 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for the list . I love all these tips . The next time i am in the store i will be using these tips. Your rock in this article.

  74. Rachel February 24, 2016 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    Great tips. I’ve done them all except buy meat online.

  75. Anne Burner February 26, 2016 at 11:27 am - Reply

    In regards to couponing, I use Swagbucks, so I print coupons from there, earning me points towards gift cards. Each coupon printed from there is worth 10 Swagbucks.

    I’ve recently started Ibotta (why did I wait so long??), but I also use Savingstar – and so far, I’ve not seen any overlap in rebates.

  76. Heather E. March 6, 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    These are all great tips. I like the idea of planning my meals ahead of time, and it works out well when I actually set aside time to do it. The only thing is that I’m cooking for one, which means I end up eating a lot of the same meals over and over. I have been using Ibotta for a few months and really like it. I wouldn’t have thought to write to companies giving them compliments for coupons, though. That’s pretty clever, and it sounds like it would be worth it. What shocked me most about this post was that Americans throw out 25% of their groceries! That amazes me. I’m going to bookmark this list for future reference. Thanks for the post.

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