Budget Grocery Shopping Tips

Q. How do I cut costs at the grocery store?

A. Make a grocery list before you go shopping; it will get you out of the store faster and prevent you from spending money on things you don't need.

Take advantage of sales! Check out the weekly grocery store ads before you go shopping and stock up on items that can be stored. Canned goods, pasta and grains have long shelf lives; poultry and meat freeze well.

If a convenience item significantly reduces your time and hassles in the kitchen, it may be worth the extra cost. But anything that can be done quickly and easily at home, such as bagging small portions of chips and slicing cheese, can save you money.

Grocery Shoping Savings
Save money at the store without cutting on taste.

Try These Recipes
  • Simple Salad with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette

While pre-cubed, pre-pounded or pre-seasoned meats or poultry can save you preparation time, they cost a lot more than plain cuts of meat. If you can spare a few minutes to cut, pound or season your meat, you'll find the savings are significant.

The more work done to poultry, the more it will cost you. If you have the time to remove the skin from the poultry yourself, or if you will be cooking bone-in pieces instead of boneless, then the poultry you purchase will be less expensive. Look for family packs whenever possible, as the price per pound is much lower, and it's very easy to repackage the poultry into cooking portions.

Coupons do count! A few dollars per week adds up to real savings over the course of a year. File all your coupons in a convenient place where you will remember to bring them to the grocery store. They'll do you no good stuck in a drawer at home.

Follow the basic rule of shopping: If your family won't eat it, don't buy it -- at any price! Even if you are tempted by rock-bottom prices, these products will be no bargain if nobody likes them.

Q. What are some cost-saving cooking techniques?

A. Budgeting begins at the supermarket and continues at the table. The challenge is to squeeze the maximum amount of food that you can get out of whatever sum of money you can afford to spend -- keeping in mind, of course, to eat as healthfully as possible.

For snacks, make enough for each person to have a normal serving, but no more. Serving proper portion sizes not only helps control the food budget, but also helps to control blood sugar.

To adapt recipes to your budget, see chart below:


Original Substitution
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with 1 teaspoon molasses
Baby spinach
Chopped fresh spinach
Phyllo dough
Low-fat biscuit dough
Goat cheese
Nonfat cream cheese with 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Fresh mahi-mahi
Frozen fish fillets

­Prepare sensible meal portions. For example, buy a chicken or roast that is large enough to give each person four ounces per serving, with little or no leftovers. This helps discourage overeating. If you do cook planned leftovers for another meal, cool, bag, and freeze the planned leftovers to avoid the temptation of overeating.

Buy produce that is seasonally available and, when possible, buy in bulk. Farmers' markets, farm stands, and natural foods stores often offer substantial savings on seasonal and bulk items.

Cooking with certain ingredients can raise the cost of a recipe. If you know how to substitute expensive ingredients for less-expensive ones, you'll be better able to adapt your recipes to fit your budget.

Serve healthful, filling, inexpensive side dishes. Vegetables, spinach, and beans will stretch your main-dish protein serving even further.

Visit these sites for more shopping and saving tips: