10 Steps to Saving Money on Groceries [Part 1]

October 27, 2014

i've gotten a few questions about my grocery budget.  after my next shopping trip, i plan on taking photos and posting my receipt so you can see exactly what i do, along with my meal plan for the month.  in the mean time, here's my top tips for saving on groceries.

(1) you want to really save money on groceries?  eat vegan.  it's as easy as that.  if you look at your bill and how much each thing on your list costs per ounce/pound/whatever, you'll see in a second that you're paying outrageous amounts for meat and dairy.  per pound, compared to produce, grains, and beans, it's the meat and cheese that are killing your budget.  the less you eat of those things, the more you'll save.  i'm not the person to give you tips on cutting back consumption or stretching your meat further, but there's plenty of blogs out there that tell you just how to do those things.  for me, it's just easier to eat strictly vegan.  (i eat cheese when john and i eat out though, that's for sure! mmm nachos.)

(2) you've got to get over eating hang-ups.  really.  carbs are not the devil.  lack of portion control is.  you can eat carbs and starches but they're just like anything else - you have to watch your portions.  i guarantee you, if you've never looked up correct portion sizes before, you'll be shocked at how much you're overeating.  you've also got to be willing to eat seasonally.  you'll spend less on in-season produce, so be willing to try what's on sale.  like, you're not getting fresh strawberries in december.  just deal with it.  usually whatever produce is on the front page of the store's flyer is what you'll be buying that week.

(3) meal plan.  you cannot go into a grocery store and wing it if you want to save money.  you have to go in with a plan.  there's so many great resources out there, just search meal plan on pinterest and give it a try.  you can start with just one week at a time.  personally, i shop right around the 1st for the entire month due to (a) laziness, (b) lack of car, and (c) the fact that i eat anything i can't freeze first and then save the stuff that lasts a long time (potatoes, apples, rice, frozen veggies, pasta) for later in the month.  it's absolutely possible to meal plan for an entire month and only make 1 shopping trip, i do it every month.  and less trips = less opportunities to buy last minute unnecessary indulgences.

(4) meal prep on sundays (or whatever day works best for you.)  that way, lunches and dinners are all lined up in the fridge and you can resist the urge for takeout.  there's also a new thing about how reheated pasta is better for you.  who knows how true it is, but i'm going with it.  invest in matching glass single serving size storage containers.  they're worth it.

(5) cut the processed crap.  yes, those lean cuisine dinners only cost $1 each but... i can make a full week of better, more filling lunches for $4.  total.  for 6 days.  and you're likely to eat not just 1 of those little dinners, you'll need sides.

part 2 to follow tomorrow!

i pin some of my favorite recipes here (not all vegan, i mark non vegan recipes with a j, for john!) and my favorite meal planning resources are under organize.


  1. MEAL PLANNING. Going into the grocery store with a list and sticking to it is so clutch for me. I can cut $25-30 of my grocery bill per visit if I don't just wing it and throw tons of chocolate into my cart.

  2. I love that you brought up portion control! I tried so many different diets before I realized that portion control is the way to long-term success.

    I've been vegetarian for almost five years now, but I do eat cheese and sour cream. I might try going house-vegan for a month in January to see how it affects my food spending. I'm curious!

  3. I used to never pay attention to the grocery bill, thinking as long as I was cooking instead of eating out, I was surely saving enough money. You wouldn't believe how much I spend some weeks! I'd really like to eat more vegetarian/vegan meals but getting the rest of my house onboard with that is a little challenging. And I'm not sure I could ever give up eggs! (But I get farm eggs for $2/doz from a co-worker, so that's not really breaking the budget.)

    1. That's a good price for eggs, they're a good protein! Yeah surprisingly, with the giant portions and leftovers, eating out here in Chicago can be as inexpensive as buying all the same ingredients at the store, you really have to be careful. Meal planning is key. Maybe try vegetarian once a week? Ease them into it.

  4. oh, i wish i was vegetarian! organic meats are what kills my bills every week! i've recently found organic meats in bulk which save me a few extra bucks so i'll take it.

    and 1000000% yes to meal planning! i do that every friday night, make my grocery list and then take that with me to the store on saturday morning.

    also: reuse as much as you can as in FREEZE all left-over food and if you can, ingredients. didn't use up all the sauce or broth? freeze that shit. didn't use up all of the ground beef? make another dish out of it the next day!

  5. I've been a lot better about meal planning lately. I amazed myself this week by planning every night- and I WILL stick to it I swear! Good tip on planning around the front page of the store circular.

  6. A month of meals is on my 101 list. I keep putting it off. But you are so right about meat. I can't believe how expensive beef has gotten. We are mostly eating chicken now.

  7. I save using coupons. I swear by em!

  8. I shop weekly but have a loose meal/lunch/breakfast plan a month out so I can buy what I'll need when it's on sale. I also stock up on things I always use when they're on sale. If there's a great sale on something, I'll buy it and use it in a freezer meal. I always love to have meals prepped in the freezer. I freeze EVERYTHING, and I try not to let anything go to waste - I freeze leftover broth or stock, tomato paste or sauce, etc.

  9. #2. PREACH. seriously. carbs are not the enemy. that's a good point about eating vegan- meat is expensive. pinning this.

  10. I think meal planning is so important and also not shopping with your significant other ;-) They always want to go down the cookie aisle! I told him we need to shop the perimeter only!

  11. I am not sure if we could be vegan but we definitely eat less meat now and it's helped with our grocery bill. to be honest i could eat completely vegetarian (at home), but my husband couldn't. i struggle finding recipes that work for him, but i'm trying! he's definitely open to eating like 80% vegetarian lol. oh and meal planning has saved my life - i've only done it for one week but seriously it's genius. oh and i love all the carbs, but i've personally never had a problem with them. i couldn't live without pasta rice or quinoa!

  12. I love your post- and you're so right about meat/cheese being where stuff really adds up. I will never give up meat, but we've definitely cut back on buying cheese/dairy for stuff at home because 1- we don't need it and 2-its expensive! We do try to do at least 1-2 meatless meals though each week. Going to check out your recipes for more ideas now- thanks :)

  13. Totally agree veggies are so inexpensive compared to meat and cheeses. I cut out cheese and it made a difference.


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