How to Grocery Shop on a Budget

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how to grocery shop on a budget
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Food is a basic human need and one of our essential expenses we just can’t go without. But with the cost of living on the rise, figuring out how to stretch your dollar at the grocery store can make a significant difference to your monthly spending. The average cost of monthly groceries for a family of four is about $975.3.

Whether you are learning how to grocery shop on a budget for four people, two, or just yourself, this article will guide you through the process, ensuring you don’t compromise on quality or variety.

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

When grocery shopping on a budget, planning ahead and prioritizing your spending are essential. Start by setting a firm grocery budget that is realistic and reasonable and stick to it. Focus on purchasing only what you need, and look for opportunities to save by buying items that are in season, on sale, or in bulk.

With these strategies, you can learn how to grocery shop on a budget for two or even more people while still enjoying a variety of quality foods. Continue reading below for more detailed tips and techniques on budget grocery shopping.

1. Allocate a Budget for Groceries

The first step in learning how to grocery shop on a tight budget is to set a clear budget for your groceries based on your actual needs rather than the size of your paycheck. Start by tracking how much you’re currently spending on groceries each month. Once you’ve got that number, set a realistic budget. This way, you can buy only what you truly need and consume, preventing both overspending and the likelihood of leftovers that might otherwise go to waste.

set monthly budget groceries

Note: Your grocery budget should be distinct from the money you allocate for dining out. This separation ensures that unplanned dining out doesn’t cut into your grocery funds, keeping your

budget balanced and accommodating both your essentials and little luxuries.

2. Eat Before You Shop

This might sound like common sense, yet it’s worth reiterating because of how easy it is to overspend on groceries when you’re hungry. In fact, a study revealed that most respondents (76%) admit they tend to overspend when they shop for groceries on an empty stomach.

If you want to learn how to save money on groceries, try grocery shopping on a full stomach. This will help you resist tempting items and impulse buys that might make you exceed your budget.

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3. Create a Meal Plan

Cooking in bulk and planning your meals in advance can be a real game-changer for grocery shopping on a budget. Not only does it support a healthy lifestyle, but it also saves time and money, and simplifies your daily cooking routine. In fact, 29% of Americans already plan their meals for the entire week, making meal prepping a growing trend nationwide.

Dedicate a few hours over the weekend to preparing large quantities of staple items such as rice, roasted vegetables, and grilled fish or chicken. Once everything is cooked, portion the food into containers for a quick and easy grab-and-go option throughout the week.

4. Make a Grocery List and Stick to It

Creating a grocery list before you hit the store is more than just a way to stay organized—it’s a smart strategy to keep your spending in check when learning how to grocery shop on a budget for one or more people. A study by Dole found that 56% of Americans typically use a list, and most of them agreed that it really helps curb overspending.

shopping list grocery stoer

To create a cheap grocery list, start by taking stock of what you already have in your pantry and fridge. Then, make a list of what you actually need, organizing it by categories to make your shopping easier. For example, you could divide your list into the following sections:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Proteins
  • Grains
  • Condiments

When you’re at the grocery store, make sure to stick to your list. If you spot something that isn’t on your list, take a moment to think it over before tossing it in your cart. Give it a try and see how much you could save on your next trip.

5. Buy What’s in Season

Food prices can change depending on the season. When items are out of season, they’re often harder to find and more expensive. To learn how to grocery shop healthy on a budget, choose to buy foods that are in season. This not only saves money but also lets you enjoy fresher, tastier, and more nutritious produce.

Take a look at the table below to find the best produce to buy for every season in the U.S.:

Spring Summer Fall Winter
Fruits apricots, avocado, pineapples, strawberries blackberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, plums, watermelon grapes, kiwi, pears grapefruit, oranges
Vegetables broccoli, artichokes, asparagus eggplant, green beans, tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini brussels sprouts, parsnips, sweet potatoes and yams, Swiss chard, turnips potatoes, pumpkins, leeks, rutabagas, winter squash

6. Purchase in Bulk

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money on groceries, but the trick is only to purchase items you are sure you will use. It’s easy to go overboard in bulk stores, resulting in wasted or expired items. Therefore, shop mindfully and buy only what you need. This strategy works best for staples that you consistently need, such as toothpaste, toilet paper, batteries, and dog food.

grocery purchase bulk save money

However, it’s important to account for these bulk buys in your monthly budget. If you’re planning a big, costly shopping trip every other month to stock up, make sure this is reflected in your budget. Without proper planning, a bulk shopping spree could disrupt your financial plans for the month.

To help you manage your monthly expenses and time your bulk purchases effectively, use Cushion. This app not only lets you track your spending but also offers seamless integration with your Google Calendar. By syncing your shopping schedules and bill due dates directly into your calendar, Cushion makes it easy to see your financial commitments at a glance. Prevent any overlap or missed payments and simplify your financial planning with Cushion.

Related article: 8 Ways to Build an Outdoor Kitchen on a Budget


Learning how to grocery shop on a budget can significantly trim your monthly expenses. Start by setting a realistic grocery budget and make it a habit to eat before you shop to avoid impulse purchases. By planning your meals in advance, buying essentials in bulk, and choosing in-season produce, you can further maximize your savings. Implement these strategies to enjoy nutritious meals without breaking the bank and maintain a balanced budget month after month.

Last Updated on July 07, 2024
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this website is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as financial advice. Consult with a financial professional for personalized guidance regarding your specific situation.
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