How to Save Money at the Grocery Store

It can be hard to stretch food dollars at the grocery store. This article is all about tips that I use to make my food dollars go further at the grocery store.

Almost everyone loves a bargain! It can be hard to decide if the food item on sale is really a bargain. Some people are using bulk-buying clubs like Sam’s or Costco. I don’t have the space to store the larger amounts, so I concentrate on saving money at my local grocery store. Inside you will find a moneysaving grocery store guide and a bunch of tips to help you stretch your food budget. Food that is in-season can be a smart buy.

What are Your Food-Buying Resources?

Cash, Food Stamps, WIC Program, School Lunch Program, etc., or all of the above?

Many resources are often available and can be used together to help lower food cost. Check into them through your local food stamp office, health department, and school system.

Ways to Lower Food Cost
  • FIRST: Figure out how much money you can afford to spend on food for the month. This amount of money can be divided by 4 in order to get a weekly amount that can be spent on food.
  • SECOND: Plan out your meals for the week. This is the secret to success!! Just sketch out your main meal items on a list. You will have a ready made list when you go to the store and your food will last all week.
  • THIRD: Shop from your meal list first, then add the treats in.
  • Do not shop when you are tired, hungry, or rushed.
  • Buy store and/or generic brands of good quality when possible.
  • Use unit pricing to get best buy. There is a "how to use unit pricing" below.
  • Try to shop at a grocery store rather than a convenience store (like CoGo’s or Seven-Eleven).
  • Look for “in-season” bargains. For example, Ham is a good buy around Easter. Try to buy an extra and freeze it for later.
  • Always keep a “back-up” dinner item in your cupboard. I usually have a can of salmon or beans (my kids like baked beans and black bean soup) and canned fruit or veggies.
Kids and the Grocery Store

It can be a challenge to make it through the grocery store with the kids. It can be a long time for them to behave. They naturally see things they want. It can be hard to say no and not a good idea for the budget to say yes. Here are a few ideas that may work for your family. Peaceful Shopping!!

  • Tell your child what to expect. “We are going to the store. You can ride in the buggy and be my helper. We will get a cookie with our cookie card” They may need to start with shorter grocery store trips to learn what to expect.

  • Praise your child frequently for good behavior. Say things like, “You are being so patient. Thank you. You are a good shopper.”

  • Feed your child before you go to the store. This will help them be less cranky and whiney.

  • Set limits on the treat buying and tell them the limits in advance. Children can learn limits if they are consistent and seem fair to them. For example, when my kids were little I had them take turns at picking out a treat for the week. They always knew whose turn it was!! Every shopping trip does not have to include a treat for the kids. This can get out-of-control really quickly. You are the decision maker about this.

  • It may be best to leave the children at home with an adult. If taking your children to the store stresses you out, arrange for someone to watch them. This may save on your grocery bill too!

Unit Pricing in the Grocery Store:

How to spot a bargain

What is unit pricing? It is a method to show exactly how much a food costs per ounce, pound, quart, gallon, etc. The unit price can be used to figure out which brand or is a better buy. Unit prices are usually located on the shelf right below the food item. For example, if a 16 oz. (1 lb) can of peaches costs 49 cents and a 1 lb and 13 oz. can costs 63 cents, it's hard to figure out which is a better buy. With unit pricing, you can find the unit price for each, and then determine which is a better buy. In this case the larger is a better buy for its unit price per pound is 35 cents instead of 49 cents for the smaller can of peaches.

Peaches 16 oz. (1 lb.) can
Cost = $.49
Unit Price = $.49
Peaches 1 lb. and 13 oz.
Cost = $.63
Unit Price = $.35
In this case, the larger can of peaches is the better buy.

Early Head Start 

Nutrition News

August 2006

From your nutritionist, Ann