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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Top 10 Budget Grocery Shopping Tips

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These top 10 budget grocery shopping tips will have you saving money in no time while still enjoying fresh and healthy ingredients.

grocery cart filled with fresh produce and other healthy groceries - budget grocery shopping tips

Shopping for healthy food on a budget is always a challenge.

Have you ever gone to the store to buy your groceries, and then ended up with a huge bill with no idea where the money went?

I certainly have, and I’d often wonder why I’d sometimes end up with a huge bill, and sometimes I’d have a more budget-friendly bill.

I started taking a look at what types of purchases drove up the cost of my groceries and which ones didn’t.

What I realized was that it wasn’t about whether I was buying “healthier” foods or “junkier” foods, it was all about the types of purchases I was making.

Healthy food doesn’t have to be out of reach with your grocery budget. You can adopt certain strategies that will make the healthier options seem totally affordable!

What Groceries Should I Buy On A Budget?

When you’re on a tight budget you want to purchase groceries that are high in nutritional value, yet don’t break the bank.

It’s still possible to buy fresh ingredients on a budget. In fact, fresh seasonal groceries are often less expensive than pre-packaged foods. Items such as chips, crackers, cookies, have a high price tag for what you get.

Instead of stocking up on pre-made meals, or convenient packaged items, opt for seasonal produce, whole grains, bagged beans, and lentils for protein.

fresh produce in white grocery bags

Top 10 Groceries To Buy On A Budget:

  1. Seasonal fruit (bananas, apples, oranges, fresh berries)
  2. Seasonal vegetables (carrots, leafy greens, squash, peppers, cruciferous vegetables)
  3. Starchy Vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn)
  4. Plant Proteins (dried beans, dried lentils, chickpeas, edamame)
  5. Whole Grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread quinoa)
  6. Breakfast Foods (rolled oats, granola, dried fruits, chopped nuts)
  7. Dairy (cheese slices, milk, plant-milks)
  8. Frozen (vegetables such as peas, corn, mixed vegetables, and stir-fry vegetables)
  9. Nuts and Seeds (nut butters, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds)
  10. Canned foods (diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, coconut milk, canned beans)

How Much Should You Spend A Week On Food?

How much you should spend on a weekly food budget really depends on the number of people you are feeding, and the budget you are aiming for.

For a family of 4, it might be reasonable to consider a budget of $100 a week. Or for a couple, $50 a week.

Many of us end up spending more on groceries than we think. However, if you implement the tips below, you will soon find that it is possible to keep to your grocery budget.

What Are The Cheapest Places To Shop For Groceries?

Aldi: I find that Aldi is one of the best places to find healthy groceries on a budget. They have organic fruits and vegetables, dried beans, lentils, pastas, and just about anything you might want.

When I go there to shop, and stick to my list without getting distracted by the packaged foods, I’m able to keep my grocery bill down to a minimum.

Costco: When it comes to buying in bulk, Costco is the way to go! However, it’s not always right for everyone. First of all there’s a cost for membership. So if you don’t shop there often, it can be money wasted.

It’s also important to stay focused and to your list. Stock up on items that you use on a weekly basis. For example, Costco is a great place to get canned beans, pasta sauce, nut butters, rice, and pastas at an inexpensive rate. You end up spending a lot initially, but you’ll have the pantry basics you need for an entire month.

Regional Grocery Chains: There are many different regional grocery chains. Too many to name. If going to these stores, remember to use the tips below to help you save money.

Trader Joe’s: While Trader Joe’s can be on the more expensive side for some things, you can also find many deals on items you might not be able to find in another stores. I don’t recommend buying their produce, it’s usually more expensive than other places, but items such as tofu, beans, trail mix, cheeses, etc are sold at a reasonable rate.

woman in yellow dress picking out a cauliflower from the super market

Top 10 Budget Grocery Shopping Tips

These top 10 budget grocery shopping tips will help you on your way towards budget-friendly healthy grocery shopping!

Tip #1  | Shop the sales: 

Most grocery stores have all kinds of sales going on at any given point in time. Look for the weekly specials, the produce that’s on sale, and any deals (like buy 2 get one free) throughout the store.

Before I go to the store, I’ll browse the advertisements, and make a list based on what is on sale for the week. I’ll also decide on what recipes I want to prepare for the week based on what’s on sale.

Tip #2  | Buy in-season

In-season produce is always cheaper. Produce that is not in season has to be shipped from across the world and that shoots up the price pretty quick.

This site is a great resource to figure out what’s in season in your town (so you can get the best bang for your produce buck!)

Depending on where you live different produce may be in season. However, for most of us living in the United States, follow a similar seasonal growing season.

Another tip, the fruits and vegetables that are on sale are also typically the ones that are in season.

Winter Months: Brussel sprouts, citrus fruits, squash, dates, leeks, persimmons, pomegranate, bananas, turnips, pears.

Spring Months: Apples, apricots, asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, garlic, kale, mushrooms, peas, pineapples, strawberries, spinach, Swiss chard.

Summer Months: Beets, bell peppers, blackberries, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, cherries, corn, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, mangos, peaches, tomatoes, zucchini

Tip #3  | Try coupons

Individual stores have catalogs (usually located in the front of the store) with coupons you can use that same day! You can also find great online coupons — which you can even search for by your area (so you get the best grocery deals near you!)

Many stores also now have apps you can download to your phone, where you can clip coupons, and then scan a code.

Tip #4  | Buy generic

Brand names cost way more. That’s just a rule of thumb. And most in-store/generic brands are just as good! Case in point: Whole Foods’ 365 brand which, especially when on sale, is extremely affordable.

Tip #5  | Buy frozen: 

Frozen produce is just as good as fresh produce, and it works perfectly if you’re looking to spend a little less, especially on out-of-season items.

Tip #6  | Buy bulk: 

The bulk section has become my best friend. Many grocery stores now have a bulk section where you can get everything: spices, nut butters, oils, honey, maple syrup, grains (like oatmeal and quinoa), pasta, beans, cereals, dried fruits, the list goes on. 

And you save a ton because you don’t pay for the “packaging” at all.

In addition, you only buy what you need. If you’re making a recipe that calls for 1 cup of something, all you need to buy is the 1 cup, instead of a whole package of something you may not use again!

Tip #7  | Avoid the middle of the store

Most packaged foods don’t have nearly the same nutritional value as whole unprocessed foods like produce, fresh dairy, fresh meats, and whole grains.

You end up paying a lot more for a lot less nutrition – so my suggestion would be to stick to the perimeter of the store and cook meals at home using tons of spices for flavor!

Tip #8  | Make a list

And stick to it! That way you aren’t distracted by any of the enticing goodies you might come across during your shopping (but that you don’t need!)

It’s also helpful to create a meal plan. Use this helpful meal planning template to stay on track!

Tip #9  | Don’t shop hungry

This relates to Tip #8 above, but basically, if you end up going to the grocery store hungry, you will buy a lot more of those “impulse” purchases that you probably don’t need. Eat first, then shop.

Tip #10  | Choose meatless protein sources

Foods like beans, lentils, etc. are wonderful protein sources and are also extremely good for you! They’re also insanely cheap – especially if you buy them dry and in bulk (although canned is pretty cheap also). Switch to meatless a couple of nights a week and your health and wallet will thank you!

Check Out These Other Helpful Grocery Guides!

I hope this post helped you to find some strategies to make your grocery shopping more budget friendly! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAMand PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

32 responses to “Top 10 Budget Grocery Shopping Tips”

  1. I buy lots of generic things in the grocery. They’re cheaper than the branded one’s. Thank you for sharing these tips.

    • Of course! So glad you found them helpful, and yes, buying the generic / store brand is definitely a way to save money when grocery shopping!

  2. Hi Anjali,

    Loved your advices. My wife and I started thinking about it recently, and we found that #9 and #8 are money & time savers.
    Long story short, I came across an online app which helped us organize our shopping tremendously – http://www.shoplists.net . It helped, not just for our household shopping, I’m using it at work also, sharing lunch buying lists with my co-workers.

    I hope it might help someone else as well.

  3. As it is said above, (#8 but for me it is no. 1) making a list and sticking to it is what makes you buy what you need rather than what you want. I use an application on my phone. it is always with me and automatically sync with my family phones!

    • That makes sense! And yes, having an app or a list on your phone makes it really easy to stay organized! 🙂 Great tip Rico!

  4. Great post.
    My Partner and i live in Australia and food is getting pretty dear hear. We follow these ten steps you layed out in this post. Every one should follow these steps if they would like to save money.

    My wife even started a website where she makes the weekly shopping list,recipes and meal plan for a few of our subscribers. We have a family of 5 and get away with eating healthy and having bit of a treat every now and then on $200- $250 a week.

    If we can do it, so can you…just follow these ten steps and your on your way to saving a ton of money.
    Thank you for sharing Anjali.

  5. Great list. I would also say look out for the bargain section, you know the one where the shops put the food that will go out of date on the same day. I have picked up meat for the third of its normal price and fruit and veg for pennies.

  6. Oooh thank you so much for showing me this, it might just work… now to convince my mom to go shopping with me… that is where the problem lies…. but I actually might be able to switch to beans, cause they’re one of the few things I don’t hate.. plus you cant burn beans can you.

    • Of course!! So glad it’s helpful! Maybe you can convince your mom to go shopping with her by telling her you’ll cook for her with the ingredients you buy 🙂 And yes! You can’t burn beans — they are easy to cook. My veggie chili is super easy to make and uses tons of beans too!

  7. Super tips! Since I stopped eating meat, I’ve discovered a whole world of lentils, chickpeas, beans, etc. Things that I thought was so disgusting. Frozen veggies are awesome because they’re no longer just boring peas and carrots, but Chinese stir-fry, etc. with so many delicious veggies and things like watercress, mini corn, etc. Love cooking with these! Thanks for the tips, I also avoid the middle of the shops and stick to the sides. 🙂

    • Hi Melanie! So glad you liked this post! It sounds like you and I are very similar in our eating/shopping habits 🙂 Avoiding the middle of the shop is key!!

  8. Great tips for healthy shopping on a budget Anjali we love your blog! I like to think of my favorite foods, and then find a healthy alternative….For example,instead of pizza, try making a salad with your favorite pizza ingredients. Instead of salty chips, grill some freshly sliced potato wedges for a healthier snack!

    • Thank you so much! 🙂 Love your ideas for healthifying some of those treats that we all crave — making potato “chips” at home is one of my favorite quick and easy healthy swaps!

  9. Thank you Anjali for the great tips! We have a family of five which includes two teenage boys, and it seems like I am always grocery shopping because my boys are always eating! I feel like every time I leave the grocery store with a cart full of items and get home to unload the groceries, I think, “Where’s all the food?” We spend so much on tolietries. I do look for coupons, however it always seems like you need to buy two of something to save some money.

    • Hi Nicole! No problem at all – I’m so glad these tips are helpful!! And yes – toiletries cost a TON. My advice for that would be to buy in bulk – like at Costco – or on Amazon where they usually have pretty good discounts. Hope that helps!!

  10. Thanks for the tips! This is totally random, but I thought of you when I saw this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqZ6y60ZVNk. It’s a singer on the Voice UK who fuses Indian and Western styles of singing! Anyways, thought you may like that. Love your blog! (And I promise the link isn’t spam, although I guess I have no way of proving it. You’ll just have to trust me!)

    • Haha! Thanks so much – I could tell from your comment that you weren’t spamming me 🙂 haha. But how did you know that I’m a HUGE fan of the Voice in the US! So obviously I loved the video – thanks for sharing it!! And I’m so glad you like my blog 🙂 Thanks again Tom!

  11. Thank you for all the wonderful tips. I’ve been guitly of shopping hungry and bought a bunch of stuff that neither went together or made any sense. I practice most of these but there’s a few that I’ll be implementing on my future shopping trips.

  12. I love this! The one thing that I haven’t really thought about is finding other, meatless sources of protein. What I need to be better about is staying out of the middle of the store, buying in season, and using coupons. 🙂

    • Thanks Crystal! Some of my favorite meatless sources of protein are: organic Greek Yogurt, organic Tempeh, beans (black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo – all kinds are great!), lentils (all kinds), and cheese in moderation 🙂 Also – one tip to stay out of the middle of the store – shop the perimeter first with your list and see if you have anything left over! You likely won’t have much at all – and then you can just prioritize those aisles without having to go up and down most of the aisles in the middle. Hope that helps!

  13. This is so helpful! We are definitely on a budget but refuse to eat a bunch of crap to keep ourfood budget down. Now if only I was creative in the kitchen, then I wouldn’t come home with stuff from the bulk bin and wonder what the heck to do with it 🙂

    • I’m so glad this is helpful for you Nina! If you ever need help figuring out what to do with your bulk bin purchases let me know! I’m happy to send over some ideas 🙂

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