13 Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping On a Budget

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Grocery shopping can always feel stressful as you see the cost of things adding up, but these days, it’s worse than usual. Costs are skyrocketing while income is not.

The good news is, it’s possible to not only save on your food bills but to also eat healthy while you’re doing it. Here’s how.

How to Save Money on Food! 12 Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Budget.

1. Shop the Perimeter

The perimeter of the store is the outside aisles.

Have you ever noticed this?  The “basics” are almost all on the outside and back of the grocery store.


By putting staples at the back of the store (milk, eggs, cheese, and meat) you need to walk through all of the candies, cookies in teeny weeny packages, and chips with sprayed on fake cheese in order to get to them.

Most of that stuff in the middle of the store isn’t good for you–and it’s for sure not good for your budget.

So–avoid. avoid. avoid.

2. Make a Shopping List

Making a shopping list and sticking to that list can be a huge help towards saving money on your food budget.

You know how it goes. You plan on buying

  • Pot Roast
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Organic Veggies
  • Beans and
  • Brown Rice

but somehow you end up with a cart full of

When you have a list written out ahead of time, you’re more likely to stick to it.

3. Shop Without Kids

Again, those grocery store marketing folks are geniuses. They know how to make the packages of sugar-coated stuff and chips and all super appealing to the Little Ones.

4.  Eat Before Shopping

Go to the store on an empty stomach and you never know what you might end up within your cart.

‘Cause EVERYTHING looks good.

5. Check Online Prices

Here are some examples of online places to buy healthy food.

Prices there aren’t always better than elsewhere but it’s definitely worth comparing.

6.  Shop Loss-leaders

Loss leaders are those items that a store advertises in order to get you into the store so you spend more on other things.

Basically the store is maybe taking a loss on those items, but they plan to make up for it on what you spend on the rest of your shopping trip.

Hubby and I were the Loss Leader King and Queen when we were first married. People in the stores would laugh at us with our cartful of 10 cent yogurts and oranges.

Oh well, we laughed later (well, we didn’t laugh, really, but we were glad) when we were able to get out of his 2 masters and a PhD with no debt.  (yes, we did other things besides buy loss leaders, but you get the idea).

7. Eat Beans

Beans are a great protein source and work with almost any kind of diet (did you know 1 cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein? (Source) and are a real bargain. I buy all of my beans in bulk, dried.

– If you like beans, but don’t like how they–ahem– treat you, read How to De-Gas Beans.
– You can typically substitute 1 cup of dried beans for 1 pound of meat in any recipe.

Need some great bean recipes?
How about:

Pizza Hummus
Savory Hummus
Fast and Yummy Bean Dip
Kid-Friendly Lentils (ready in as little as 9 minutes!)

8. Make Your Own Pantry and Other Food Items

–within reason.  None of us can do everything, right?  I mean you could spend your life in the kitchen making

You don’t have to do it all, but if you can add one of these DIY pantry items to your kitchen each week, over time you will save a big bundle!

9.  Waste Not

Leftovers are a regular in our home.   Instead of throwing the “I don’t know what to do with this”, why not put a bunch of little bits of stuff on the table and have yourselves a “Leftover Buffet” :-).

And if the “little bits” are veggies and meats and beans, put them all in a pan for a stir fry, or into a pot of soup.

We sometimes put the “little bits” on top of rice and just have a “throw together” meal.

10.  Join a Whole Food Co-op

I’ve had one of these out of my home for about 11 years now and it’s been a HUGE help for keeping our budget in line.

I’ve done bulk purchases for things like spices, almonds, and other foods, ordering a very very large amount at lower prices and splitting it with other families to keep the cost down.

I mention these companies later in this post in the bulk section, but Country Life Natural Foods and Azure Standard are two great options to consider. You can buy 25-50 pound bags of items and split them with others who’d like to share in the savings.

11.  Garden

We kind of have “brown thumbs” but they’re getting greener as we work on it.

Growing food can take a lot of time and can sometimes end up costing more than shopping for food, but you can also end up with some real savings as you get better at it.

You can start small with container gardening, or try going right into Lasagna Gardening (known for higher yield), and these tips for Gardening On a Budget or Saving Money Starting Seeds can help you save even more.

It’s not really standard gardening, but to save lots of money, you can check out this post on regrowing food from scraps for plants that even the brownest thumbs can grow.

12.  Buy in Bulk

Buying food that you will eat before it goes bad is very often a great way to save money. I’m kind of the Queen of Bulk. Really.

To buy food in bulk, you can shop at a local farmer’s market and ask for discounts when you buy in bulk from them, or try some of these other options as well:

13.  Learn How to Preserve Food

While preserving food doesn’t save in and of itself, if you know how to do this, you are more likely going to be able to buy in bulk (or hunt) and save money that way.

The following tools are all helpful for learning to preserve food.

You can try any or all of these methods, but this post about Which Saves the Most–Freezing, Canning, or Dehydrating has an interesting conclusion.

I hope these ideas are a help for you as you try to STRETCH your food budget. And if your budget is already under control, hopefully you got a tip or two to give you a bit more extra money or food to share with those in need.

Do you have some other ways to save money while still eating healthy to share? Please drop your tips in the comments area….

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  1. Love your post, I have just go read your article and I love the twelveth point where you have mentioned Buy in Bulk. If you don’t want to stretch your groceries budget I suggest you buy your grocery in bulk from the online store where you get amazing discounts and offer.

  2. Love your post. Thanks for taking the time to provide such great tips with supporting links and details. Sharing 🙂

  3. All great tips. We use many of them ourselves. We also buy brown rice in bulk at a local Asian supermarket. It makes it so much cheaper than the regular store. On your tip or reusing leftovers, we came up with a great carrot top pesto sauce using the tops of carrots from the garden. Tasty.

      1. Digestive issues for my son – he seems to react to many things legume. 🙁 We are headed toward GAPS in the next month which of course seriously limits beans also. Praying we get through it, get him (and me) healed, & are able to do beans more in the near future.

  4. Yes! These are great tips and one’s that we use as well. Thanks for sharing! Leftovers and not wasting food are huge in saving on your grocery budget. Stretching everything you’ve got before going to get more helps too. This is a really helpful post 🙂

  5. Hi Adrienne! Great tips! Any suggestions on how to find a heathy food co-op? I really want to buy nuts, seeds, and beans in bulk but don’t know the best place to buy. Thank you!

        1. Hmmm…Well, I have been using Country Life Natural Foods. but they don’t go there. Have you looked at Azure or UNFI? I just found out what the min order would be and then paired up w/ others and I charge 6% to place the order and sort it all. You can do any kind of system you like. Hope that helps!

  6. Great tips Andrea!

    Aldi’s is also carrying organic for very reasonable prices.

    And just one more thing, another recipe for beans is Tico. It is Costa Rican and almost a national dish. Cook two cups of black beans, and save the bean liquid, and cook a double recipe of brown rice. Saute diced garlic, onion, green and colored bell peppers in the quantity desired till softened. Add cumin, fresh cilantro, salt and pepper, and worcestershire sauce to taste. Lea and Perrin is gluten free. Combine the beans, and rice, vegetables, and bean liquid to combine the flavors. Reheats very well. We often serve with the Tico chopped tomato, hard boiled eggs, diced fresh mango when in season and reasonable, fresh diced pineapple, diced avocado, a little fresh squeezed lime juice, and salsa. The go withs are strictly what you desire and have on hand. We’ve had no go withs either and it is still delicious.



  7. I cannot stress more the importance of adding beans to at least one meal a day! Beans are dirt cheap, super healthy, fill you up, take up little space and go with almost anything. My kids for lunch get bean/rice/salsa burritos almost everyday for lunch. Like a replacement to PB&J. Cheaper, healthier, easier (because we make tons in advance)

  8. Perfect timing! I am trying to get my grocery budget in order! Great tips, I would love to heat more about your pantry storage!
    I need to get my meal planning I order…I am a mess at the grocery store right now… No direction!