10 Tips for Healthy Frugal Grocery Shopping

As a wife and mother on a budget for over 10 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about saving money on my family’s weekly food budget. Let’s face it, when the bills are all due and something needs to give, the grocery budget is the easiest to cut down. So I’ve compiled a top 10 list of my favorite strategies for saving money at the grocery store, while still eating healthy.

1. NEVER shop hungry!

Going to the grocery store with an empty stomach is a recipe for budget and diet disaster! When you’re hungry, you’re much more likely to reach for those quick and easy processed snack foods that we all know are not healthy or cheap. So grab a quick, healthy snack before heading to your local grocery store. It will save you both money, and unwanted calories.

2. ALWAYS plan your weekly meals!

Having a plan for your weekly meals means that you’ll lessen the chances of ordering in, or heading to the nearest drive through for your family’s dinner. If you sit down for a few minutes before you make your shopping list, and plan out what’s for dinner each day of the week, you can spend less and provide healthier home cooked meals for you and your family.

3. Make a list!!

I can’t stress this one enough! Now that you have your meals planned out, go through your fridge, freezer, cupboards, and pantry to see which ingredients you have, and which ones need to be purchased. Include necessary staples like milk, bread, eggs, and anything else your family uses on a regular basis. It may seem redundant to add things you buy every week to the list, but you just never know what you could overlook adding to your cart if you’re distracted or in a hurry. Making a list will insure you have all the foods you need on hand for the week. Saving you time and money by avoiding last minute dashes to the store for those items that were forgotten.

4. Stick to your list!

Now that you’ve made your list, STICK TO IT! If you make a thorough list and only buy what’s on it, you can avoid making those dreaded impulse buys looming at the end of every isle and surrounding you at the checkout lanes.

5. Shop alone!

We all love our kids and our spouses, but lets face it, they can bring chaos to our grocery shopping trips. They have a knack for getting us to cave in to unhealthy and expensive foods increasing our total at checkout and our waistline at home. Not to mention they can be distracting, causing us to forget items, and keeping us from comparison shopping to get the best prices. So when at all possible, leave the family at home and take your time to shop stress free.

6. Shop the perimeter of the store!

Grocery stores are all pretty much laid out the same way. All of the fresh, healthy, natural, unprocessed, lower cost food are for the most part on the outside walls of the store. Like the produce, meat, fish, bakery, and dairy departments. While all of the processed, unhealthy, high priced foods are in the interior isles. This of course isn’t true 100% of the time, and the occasional walk down a center isle can be necessary, but as a general rule it will save you money and provide healthier foods for you and your loved ones.

7. Look up and down before grabbing your item!

Most stores place their highest priced version of a product at eye level. With the hopes we all have blinders on and will grab it because we see it first. But if when you locate the item your looking for you take a quick look above and below your item, you’ll probably find cheaper version, that taste just as great.

8. Buy Generic!

I know, this probably isn’t going to be a popular one! But often times the generic or store brand versions of your favorite foods have the same ingredients as their higher priced counterparts, and taste the same or at least very similar. Seriously, give them a try! The worst thing that could happen is you find out you don’t like the generic and next week you can buy your old favorite brand. BUT, you might find you like the generic every bit as much as the national brand, and you can start saving on those items each week!

9. Coupons!

Most of us don’t like to clip a million coupons a week or scour the internet for printables like those Extreme Couponers on TV. I think it’s also safe to say that we won’t be dumpster diving for your neighbor’s discarded coupons to save a dime. However, if you take a minute or two before heading out the door to glance through your newspaper coupon inserts, you just might find a few coupons in there for items already on your list. Saving a buck keeps it in your wallet, and those dollars can add up over time.

10. Use cash!

Swiping that credit or debit card through the machine is WAY easier then doling out our hard earned cash at the check out line. Figure out how much money you need to pay for the items that made your list, with a SMALL buffer for miscalculations. (to avoid that embarrassing moment when we realize we don’t have enough money to pay for our items) Paying with cash keeps us from adding things to our cart that didn’t make our list, because we simply don’t have the money to pay for them. Paying with paper also makes us much more aware of how much money we’re spending each week, and less likely to overspend.

One last tip is to shop at your local discount grocery store, such as Aldi. This tip didn’t make my top ten because not everyone has a store like this available in their community. While you can’t usually utilize your coupons because most of the items they sell are their own store brand, you can still save a lot of money because their prices are much lower then the big box stores. They stock their shelves with the basics, and you might not find everything on your list, but your staples are there and they’re cheap! So check them out, you might find that you can shave valuable dollars and cents off of your grocery budget every week on the things you need.