It’s easy to waltz down the grocery store aisle and fill up your basket with things that aren’t on the list. Maybe it’s the fluorescent lighting, strategically placed products at checkout, or that squeaky wheel on the cart that messes with your sanity—and your budget.
But that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to spend like crazy! It’s time to reel it in and learn how to save money on groceries.
How Much Do Most People Spend on Groceries Each Month?
Around here, we recommend spending 10–15% of your take-home pay on food, which includes both groceries and eating out. But (like you probably guessed) most people spend a lot more than that. The average cost of monthly groceries for one person ranges from $162–372. Married couples clock in at spending somewhere between $371–773 each month. And when it comes to a family of four, the average cost for their monthly grocery bill shoots up to $570–1298!1 Yikes!
Spoiler alert: You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on groceries. But don’t just take our word for it.
Here are 30 easy ways to go grocery shopping on a budget
plus some tips from Dave’s Facebook fans!
1. Redefine dinner.
If the word dinner makes you picture a big homemade meal with a nice cut of meat, two steaming sides of fresh veggies from the farmers market, a warm loaf of French bread, and a chocolate dessert—chill out and cut yourself some slack! This isn’t 1952, and supper doesn’t have to be a big feast.
Your kids and spouse will survive on BLTs, omelets or a big salad several times a week. Don’t be afraid of serving simple meals or doing breakfast for dinner to make your groceries stretch! Eggs are inexpensive, and you can whip them up into different dishes like frittatas and quiches if you’re feeling fancy. Or make egg salad sandwiches if you want to keep it simple.
It’s time to shrink your guilt and your budget by rethinking the most misunderstood meal of the day. Freeeeedom!
2. Crunch some numbers while you shop.
If you keep a running tally of how much money is adding up in your cart, you’ll save yourself from any surprises when you get up to the checkout line. Pull out the calculator on your phone and keep track of all those veggies, fruits and other staple items you’re putting in your cart. This might make you stop and ask yourself—wait, do I really need that fancy $5 sparkling water that isn’t on sale?
“Stick to your list and use a calculator as you shop to stay under budget. We’re under $50 a week for our family (two adults and a toddler). No junk food either. It’s doable!” — Amanda N.
3. Round up your grocery cost estimates.
This is a fun little trick to play on yourself when you’re stumped for how to save money on groceries. While you’re walking around with your calculator, round up each item’s price. The $1.59 product becomes $2, that $7.75 item becomes $8, and so on. If you do this for everything in your cart, you’ll still know roughly what you’re spending, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you’re standing at the checkout line and coming in under budget every time.
“I use tally marks to keep track of what I’m spending, and I always round up every item. Even if the item is $1.29, it gets two tally marks. That way, by the time I check out, I’m both aware of approximately what to expect and surprised to still be under what I wanted to spend.” — Jillian H.
4. Raid your pantry.
Challenge yourself to look through your pantry (or fridge) and see what kind of meals you can throw together with the ingredients you already have. Who says you have to stock up on more groceries when there are perfectly good chicken thighs shoved in the back of your freezer and a couple unopened cans of black beans and salsa on your shelves?
“Don’t feel like you need to buy something just because you’re out of it. Raid your pantry and fridge for substitutes first. Make your meal plans around what you already have.” — Carla A.