Top Tips for Saving Money on Groceries

Saving Money on Groceries

Do you ever look at your grocery receipt and cringe a little? Let’s face it: food prices are going up, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely helpless. Get smart and show your grocery bill who’s boss with these practical tips.

  • 1. Set your budget.

    Figuring out how to save money on your groceries can be a real challenge. As a guideline, try to set your food budget to be about 10 - 15% of your total take-home pay. For the average household, this gives enough wiggle room to have enough variety to keep your family from falling into a food rut.

          Collect information. What is being spent on food and what is spent on non-food items?  Save grocery receipts and total these to get the monthly costs.  

    Look at the types of food you are buying. Be a conscious shopper. How much of your grocery bill is for bottled water, snack (junk) foods, convenience foods, beverages, paper products and cleaning products. What changes can you make? 

    Set goals for yourself.  

    Start with small changes. 

  • 2. Know where to find the savings.

    Grocery savings are hiding around every corner, but you have to know where to look.  

    While planning your list, keep the following in mind: 

    • Think seasonally. Fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they’re in season. If it’s winter, consider buying frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. Foods can be more nutritious when they’re frozen at their peak. 
    • Find budget-friendly recipes that use affordable ingredients, or are forgiving enough let you make some sneaky substitutions. 
    • Plan to buy whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. You’ll save money breaking things down or prepping them yourself.  
    • Look at getting inexpensive cuts of meat. These gems will make a delicious meal for your family if you treat them right. And, you get more bang for your buck. 
      • Beef – Chuck/shoulder, shank, round & stew 
      • Pork – Shoulder & pork chops 
      • Chicken – Whole chicken, legs, thighs & drumsticks 
    • Look into using a pressure cooker or slow cooker, or giving these cuts time to marinate or braise. 
    • Check out our information on using affordable cuts.
    • Find out if it’s cheaper to get large numbers of some food items or to buy it in bulk. Some items, like canned goods or meat, can be cheaper when you buy in bunches or in family packs. But, buy lots only when it makes sense. It’s not logical to buy a big pack if it’ll go bad before you’re done. Do this only as needed. 
    • Make your baked snacks from scratch. Buying cookies or muffins is expensive, so plan to make them yourself and store them in the freezer. We’ve got some winning recipes on our website.  
    • Start cooking meatless at least once a week. Beans, lentils, grains and seeds are highly nutritious and cheaper than meat. Eating at least one vegetarian meal a week can cut down on food costs.
    • Try Breakfast for Dinner – a great option for stretching food dollars. Easy, economical, quick, and you can also use up leftover meat and vegetables. 
  • 3. Make a menu plan and map out your meals and snacks.

    Yep, this step takes a bit of work, but taking even a little time to plan meals saves you time, money and frustration.  

    Menu planning… 

    • Allows you to shop for exactly what you need 
    • Encourages planning according to sales.  
    • Ensures you cook at home more. 
    • Makes meals healthier and with more variety.  
    • Avoids last-minute trips to the grocery store and splurging on items you don’t need. 
    • Stops food waste by inspiring you to buy only what you need. 


    As a first step, download our menu planner sheet.

    Don't feel like planning? Use one of our prepared Weekly Plans.

  • 4. Consider where you shop.

    Scout out budget-friendly stores that have lower food prices or shop on discount days. Some grocery stores have 10% off your grocery bill on the first Tuesday of every month.  

    Find stores with good generic or store brands. Some stores brands are the exact same quality as the brand names, without the added cost.   

  • 5. Get organized before you go.

    Take twenty minutes and make a grocery list. Better yet, teach your kids to do it.  

    Use your shiny new menu plan and check:  

    • Flyers, online or in print.  
    • Grocery, coupon and discount apps.  
    • Foods you already have at home. 
    • Keep an eye on what you already have in your freezer and pantry and make plans to use it up. 
  • 6. At the store.
    • Shop by yourself, if you can. Kids are easily swayed and have a lot of say in what goes into your shopping cart.  
    • Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Eat before you go on your grocery store adventure or pack a snack. 
    • Stick to your list and resist the urge to impulse buy. You’ll end up eating healthier, too!
    • Bring a calculator. Use your phone’s calculator to check your totals before you hit the checkout line. You’re not likely to reject an item when the pressure is on.   
    • Don’t snub the store brands. If they’re cheaper, they might be worth a buy. 
    • Be flexible. If there’s a great in-store sale on something, can you substitute? Can you substitute the boneless thighs that are on sale for the chicken breasts called for in your recipe? 
    • Bring your own grocery bags. Most grocery stores charge extra for plastic bags nowadays. 
  • 7. Get organized when you come back.
    • Put groceries away in amounts you know you’ll use. Break meat into meal-size amounts and refrigerate or freeze. Labelling packages properly (item, date, amount) will save you a headache down the road. 
    • Wash and trim vegetables (if necessary) before refrigerating. Do enough for several days. 
    • Put “purchased on” dates on items without best-before dates. Label any items once you open them too. They don’t always last to their best-before date. Organize and rotate canned goods in your pantry according to best-before dates, so that the oldest cans get used up first. 
    • Keep a well-stocked pantry with staple items. For ideas on how to stock a proper pantry, check out our Emergency Pantry page. 
  • 8. Creative cooking
    • Stir frying and casseroles are great ways to make a tasty meal with smaller amounts of fish, meats or poultry 
    • Home-made soups are less costly per serving than purchased 
    • Rice and noodle mixes can be costly 
    • Leftover cooked rice or noodles can be incorporated into a stir fry, salad, or wraps. 
    • Hot cereals are less expensive than cold cereals. 
    • Pop your own popcorn instead of microwave popcorn packages or potato chips  
    • Keep bread frozen and only thaw out as you need it. If bread loses it freshness, use it to make croutons, crumbs or use for grilled sandwiches or French toast.  
  • 9. Decrease food waste

    If the amount of food waste in your home is a concern, do not worry. We put together tips on how to maximize using the food you have, to make sure it does not spoil or get thrown away. 

  • 10. Dining out

    Dining out or ordering-in meals can also increase food costs. Chart on a calendar how often you order prepared foods to become aware, and then make changes. 



Cost-Effective Recipes

Here are some of our favourite, cost-effective recipes that can help you get started on your money-saving journey:

  • Beef
    • Easy
      Slow Cooker Pot Roast
    • Easy
      Slow Cooker Southwestern Beef Stew
    • Medium
      Beef and Bean Burritos
  • Pork
    • Medium
      Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
    • Easy
    • Easy
      Pork Souvlaki Pitas
  • Chicken
    • Easy
      Slow Cooker Teriyaki Drumsticks
    • Medium
      Spicy Oven Barbecued Chicken
    • Easy
      Chicken Broccoli Casserole
  • Meatless
    • Medium
      Cuban Black Beans and Rice
    • Medium
      Black Bean Lasagna
    • Medium
      Ethiopian Vegetable Stew