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Sticking to a grocery budget

Groceries are not cheap, and sticking to a budget can be difficult. It can be especially difficult to try and budget within the aisles of the grocery store or in the checkout line. This is why sticking to a grocery budget all starts at home, by making a plan ahead of time. This blog will provide you with tips you can start implementing right now to help you save money and stick to your grocery budget. 

Plan ahead 

  1. Take inventory: Go through your pantry, cabinets, freezer and refrigerator to see what items you already have.

  2. Plan meals accordingly: Using these items to plan your meals will save you money and keep those foods from going bad in the back of the cabinet or bottom of the freezer. 

  3. Write it down: Plan out breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks each day. Make sure to include meals you will be eating out, as those will need to be accounted for to make sure you don’t buy too much food!

  4. Refer to an on-going list: Keep a running list on your refrigerator or phone where you can jot down items as you run out. It can be useful to refer to this list when building your weekly shopping list to make sure you stock up on the basics!

  5. Account for your schedule: Meals that are more involved and take longer should be reserved for days you aren’t busy, while crockpot or 20-minute meals are better for busy days and nights. 

  6. Leftovers! When making a recipe, make extras to easily reheat and serve. 

  7. Plan meals around what will go bad first: Buying a mix of fresh, frozen and shelf stable items is usually the most beneficial for your budget. Plan meals using the fresh ingredients first before they go bad and then reserve the frozen and shelf-stable items for later in the week. 

Prepare to save at the store

  1. Sales flyers: Stores sales flyers can be found at the store, in the newspaper, and on the stores website and social media pages! Planning meals around the deals at your specific store can save you money and can help you come up with meal ideas

  2. Use the loyalty programs: Becoming a member of your stores loyalty program is usually free and can get you discounts, coupons and special offers, oftentimes personalized based on the items you buy!

  3. Utilize grocery pickup: Most stores offer grocery curbside pickup where you can order groceries online and then head to the store to pick them up at a designated time. There may be a small fee associated with pickup orders, but this method could save you money if you often stray from your list or have trouble price comparing while in person shopping.

  4. Eat before you grocery shop: This last step in the preparation process can make the entire grocery shopping experience more enjoyable. Eating a meal or snack before grocery shopping will improve your mood, energy levels and help you stick to your list and budget!

  5. Break it down by aisle: The first step to saving money at the grocery store is knowing the ins and outs of each area of the store. How you save will depend on the food items you’re buying.

Aisle Breakdown

Fruits and vegetables

  • Buy in season produce 

  • Buy canned vegetables: Aim for low sodium or no salt added

  • Buy canned fruits in 100% fruit juice

  • Buy frozen fruits and vegetables


  • Choose half of your grains to be whole grains! Look at the ingredient list and choose items where a whole grain is the first listed ingredient

  • Choose rice, pasta, oatmeal, whole wheat crackers and popcorn


  • Low cost protein options include beans, peas, lentils and eggs!

  • To save on poultry and meat, buying the family sized or value packs is usually cheaper overall, and you can freeze any extra you won’t use that week 

  • You can eat seafood on a budget! Look for weekly sales or buy canned tuna, salmon or sardines. 


  • Always check the sell-by date on meat, poultry and dairy products

  • Buying a larger container of yogurt or cottage cheese and dividing it up yourself is usually cheaper than buying the single serving containers 


  • Water is the most cost effective and hydrating option!

  • Consider a reusable water bottle so you have an even more affordable option always on hand. 

For more information including printable resources and recipes: 


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