Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saving Money at the Grocery Store

Photo: Charles Rondeau
Saving money at the grocery store is something most families want and need to do. A while back, while shopping at the same store with a young woman I know, I realized why so many people have such high grocery bills.

My cart included ground beef, chicken breasts, vegetables, fruit, bread, pasta, oatmeal, eggs, flour, sugar, cornmeal, oil, coffee, and tea bags, as well as some dairy products.

Her cart had several packages of chips, icy pops for the kids, several boxes of snack crackers, several large boxes of sugary cereal, and sodas, as well as most of what I purchased, too.

My bill was less than $150. Her bill was over $300.

I know convenience is sometimes a necessity, such as when you are trying to get kids fed and out the door to school, but not every meal needs chips and sodas.

My cart held enough food to feed my small family for two weeks, with one or two trips to the store for milk and bread. Her grocery cart held enough food for her family for about two weeks, too. Had she left off the chips, pops, sodas, crackers, and cereal, and purchased more healthy choices for her family, she would have been able to spend the same money and would have had enough food to last three weeks or more, instead of two.

Convenience Foods Are Expensive
After I got home, I sat down to think about this. When I was a kid, we always had plenty to eat. It wasn't always what we wanted, but there was always enough. Sodas were for trips to the lake. Chips were for hamburgers and hotdogs we ate when we had a picnic. Mom made muffins, oatmeal, eggs, or waffles for breakfast. Even after she started working full-time, she taught us how to use the waffle iron and cook oatmeal so that we could get ourselves ready for junior high and high school.

Around my home, when we have to cut back on grocery money (car repairs or other unexpected expenses come up), we replace meat with pinto beans and cornbread, fresh vegetables and fruit with canned and frozen vegetables and fruit, and leave cheese at the store. We still have plenty to eat, it just takes a little longer to prepare it.

My conclusion? Convenience is expensive. Next time you are trying to save a little at the grocery store, take a long look at your cart and see if there is something you could do without or something you can change to a less expensive item.
Another useful tip is to plan your meals for the week or month, take stock of your pantry and fridge before your grocery trip and make a list of the items you will need to cook the meals you plan. As much as possible, stick to the list. If you suddenly remember you are out of salt, go ahead and get it, but don't purchase convenience items unless they are on the list.

Coupons and comparison shopping can help trim your grocery costs, too, but you are not saving if you purchase an item you don't normally use just because you have a coupon for it. If you are comparison shopping, find a store that will let you use other advertised store prices--this saves money by reducing the amount of gas you need to get to all the different stores with lower prices. Coupons and comparison shopping are great ideas, but you can often save as much or more just by watching what you buy.

The books below might be helpful, too. Click on the image to learn more:

Do you have any tips for saving at the grocery store? Comment below!


  1. Not to mention how unhealthy and lacking in nutrients convenience foods are.

    1. Absolutely. I believe most of the health issues we have in this country are due to convenience foods. Thank you for commenting!