Grocery prices are rising, but you can still eat healthy and stay full on a budget. It’s challenging to find new ways to save money on groceries. Try these tips to save money on nutritious food.
How to save money on groceries
1. Switch up where you shop
Do you always shop at the same store? If you have discount stores or international markets near you, it might be worth the extra mile or two!
- Dollar stores. Many dollar stores sell canned goods, frozen meals, spices, and condiments.
- Discount grocery stores. Some stores specialize in selling extra products from manufacturers, often at low prices. This can include products that are changing their packaging, extras from local farms, and more.
- Fruit markets or local farmers. Some fruit markets are available year-round, while others are open seasonally from March to October. Here, you can sometimes find great prices on fresh fruits and vegetables, depending on location and what’s in season. In addition, some farmer’s markets offer SNAP Market Match, which offers $25 to SNAP and EBT users. Learn more. You may also have a local farmer near you.
- Asian supermarkets. You may also have an Asian supermarket near you. These grocery stores sell primarily brands found in Asia. Prices for produce, meat, and rice can be much lower. Try Asian Family Market or H-Mart for the lowest prices.
Savings pro tip: At dollar and discount stores, you’ll also find household goods, like cleaning supplies, for much lower prices than a normal grocery store. Try to buy these here, too.
2. Load your cart with vitamin-rich foods
- Think whole foods. Whole foods like meat, vegetables, and fruit often keep you full longer and give you more nutrients and energy. For example, a bag of whole carrots typically costs less than pre-cut or already-cut fruit. For more vitamins and nutrients, consider leafy greens instead of iceberg lettuce or real potatoes instead of boxed.
- Try dry staples. Rice, beans, and lentils are all very healthy and filling. Plus, they last in your pantry for a long time. Look for generic or store-brand items for the lowest prices. Also, check the per-pound price if your store has a bulk goods section.
- Buy frozen produce. Frozen produce keeps more nutrients than canned vegetables and it lasts longer than fresh produce. But remember, no matter how you buy your vegetables, you are still getting great nutrients – fresh, frozen, or canned.
Remember, many processed foods have far less nutrients and may lead to overeating. (Which can lead to overspending!) A frozen pizza night here and there is totally ok. But, if you’re eating primarily whole foods, you will stay full longer and get more nutrients for every dollar you spend.
3. Use technology – it’s your friend (and savings assistant)
Technology helps simplify many areas of our lives. It can also help you save some money at the grocery store.
- Coupon apps. There are many free coupon apps! One like Flipp is a great tool for browsing sales and coupons and making digital shopping lists, too! And they track your loyalty points to help you also save on additional items. (Like gas!)
- Grocery store apps. Many stores have their own apps that connect to your in-store loyalty card. With it you can browse coupons, the weekly flyer, and plan your shopping trip. All from your phone. Some even let you shop from the app and schedule a pickup time, at no extra cost if you spend a certain amount (typically $35, sometimes $0).
- Social media. There are many accounts and social media influencers that focus on coupons and bargain shopping. Take a look and find one that you feel fits with your lifestyle and goals. Some even focus on planning grocery shopping and provide recipes for filling, low-cost meals.
Savings pro tip: Plug your loyalty card info into your coupon app. This way, the coupons you select will be automatically saved to your loyalty account without any printing or clipping!
4. Make a plan before you shop and stay focused when you get there
- Meal plan. Meal planning and deciding what to buy before you go to the store is a great way to save.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it. Take a look at what you have before you go to the store, check sales of the week, and use your meal plan to make your list.
- Eat before you go shopping. Sometimes, this is impossible to do, but it can help reduce impulse buying.
- Shop alone. It’s easier said than done, but when it’s possible, give it a try! Little ones and shopping partners will always have suggestions on what you should buy – and it may not be on the list or in the budget.
Savings pro tip: Take it a step further by planning your weekly meals based on sales at your local market. Check your mail, local store, online, or a coupon app for weekly sales ads before you make your grocery list.
5. Clip and save coupons
Coupons are everywhere! In your mailbox, online, and at your local grocery store. Watch for these weekly and build your grocery list based on what’s on sale.
Savings pro tip: Be careful if you find coupons from manufacturer sites, like cereal companies. These can be limited or not accepted at all stores. Your grocery store likely has coupon guidelines and policies available online you can check.
6. Be smart at the grocery store
- Avoid shopping at eye level. The most expensive things are usually on the shelf at eye level. Compare prices up and down the shelf.
- Buy generic or store brand. Always look for your lowest cost option and ignore the brand.
- Compare prices between stores. If you have two grocery stores near you, watch your receipts to see which store has the lower prices on which items.
- Pay attention when you check out. Be sure your sale item prices show up accurately at the register. And remember to scan all your coupons.
- Check that receipt! Some stores offer coupons or a $5 credit if you take a quick survey. Also check to make sure you weren’t over charged for anything.
Savings pro trip: Bring bags or a bin you have at home. Many grocery stores in Washington charge a fee for a bag. This adds up! One bag fee is about the cost of one serving of cooked rice.
7. Look for resources in your community
It really takes a village. Many programs and people want to help. If your budget needs a boost to cover the food you need, know you have other options.
- Food banks
- Food pantries
- Free lunch programs for kids
- Free meal programs
You may qualify for help paying for groceries based on your income and family size. Apply for Basic Food Assistance online or at your local Community Services Office. If you’re a parent or caregiver, you may be eligible for other food benefits.
You have support just an email away
For more information about resources in your community or getting connected to state benefits for help paying for groceries, you can learn more about CHPW’s Community Support Services team or CHPW members can contact them at [email protected].
You can also explore the following resources: