18 proven ways to save money on your groceries

1. Budgets are your friend

Based on your income, you shouldn’t be spending more than 10 to 20 per cent of your monthly income on groceries. Go to the grocery store with a number in mind and stick to it as best as possible. See below for recommended budgets:


Bring a calculator with you so you don’t lose track of what’s in the cart.

“What should my budget look like?”

Thrifty Plan Low Cost Plan Moderate Plan Liberal Plan
Male 14 – 18 years $175 $244 $310 $358
Male 19 – 50 years $188 $243 $304 $374
Male 51 – 70 years $171 $229 $286 $344
Male 71+ Years $172 $227 $280 $347
Female 14 – 18 years $166 $207 $251 $309
Female 19 – 50 years $167 $211 $260 $331
Female 51 – 70 years $165 $206 $253 $309
Female 71+ Years $160 $204 $253 $304
Family of Two
19 – 50 years
$391 $499 $621 $777
Family of Two
51 – 70 years
$370 $478 $596 $719
Family of Four
Couple, 19 – 50 years
Two children, 2 – 4 years
$569 $725 $895 $1,111
Family of Four
Couple, 19 – 50 years
Two children, 6 – 11 years
$653 $860 $1,068 $1,299
Source: USDA in American dollars, convert for CDN$

2. If budgets are your friend, than lists are your spouse

Wandering around aimlessly in a grocery store is how your cart gets filled with wants, and not needs. How many times have you walked up and down the frozen foods section, trying to remember what you have in the freezer? With a list, you know exactly!

This great app allows you to keep running grocery lists with people in your family, so there aren’t multiple lists or forgotten items.

3. Eat before you shop

We’ve all been there. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is torture. We linger in the chip aisle, grab things we otherwise wouldn’t need or want and we always come out spending more than we meant to.

Do yourself a favour and shop after a meal or at least bring a snack with you if you expect to be hungry. This way, your mind will focus on future needs, not present ones.

4. Make, bake and grow your household staples

Try baking your own bread and muffins, making your own tomato sauce and soups, and growing your own herbs and spices.

It takes a more effort, to be sure, but it’s also better for you! Many of prepacked items at the store (including all these listed above) have preservatives, added dyes and flavouring.  Pinterest is your friend in this regard.

5. Don’t throw food away!

Try and find another use for it. Chicken bones can be used to make homemade chicken stock, use bacon grease to sauté veggies or just start composting so your unwanted or uneaten food can become fuel for more food.

Photo by: Floordeboor

6. Food prep for the week

Make a giant pot of stew, freeze or refrigerate it individually and BAM, you have lunches for the rest of the week while those suckers at work are buying unhealthy and expensive meals.

Focus on meals that get better as they sit, like stews, soup and kale salads. Not only does this save money, but it saves a ton of time trying to throw lunches together first thing in the morning.

For more meal prep ideas, visit Floordeboor’s blog!

7. Always make extra for leftovers

Like bulk meal prepping, eating leftovers saves a ton of money and helps with food waste! Eating leftovers is one of the best ways to prevent food from going into a landfill or down the garburator.

If you paid good money for something, it’s a waste not to get the most out of it you possibly can.

8. Don’t waste money on pre-cut anything

Sometimes, sacrificing convenience for saving a little money is totally worth it.

Just look at carrots: Baby carrots are runts and rejects classified as too small or too disfigured for regular sale. Manufacturers file them down, wash them in chemicals to strip the peel, wash them and package them for a larger profit. If you take the time to wash and cut yourself, you’re not only getting healthier, tastier carrots, but cheaper carrots too!

This rule can be used for a whole host of things, including prepacked salads, cellery, bread… you name it!

9. Bring food, don’t buy food

Whether it’s a road trip, a trip at the zoo or just a walk around the neighbourhood, pack snacks from home instead of relying on unhealthy and expensive fast-food alternatives. Find foods that travel well and fill you up like granola bars, oranges and nuts.

Our Wishlist10. Buy non-perishable staples in bulk

If Budgets are your friend and lists are your spouse, Costco is your mistress. Here is where you can get that tomato sauce in double the size for half the price! If you do intend on being a Costco junkie like most of us, then make sure you have the freezer, fridge and cupboard space for it.

11. Keep your eyes on food only

Some grocery stores have branched out to include clothes, cosmetics, school supplies and more! Thought this may seem convenient, it sure is expensive. Keep non-food purchases to box stores or department stores which usually have better deals. This also helps separate food budgets from other household budgets!

12. Limit trips to the store

You should to do as few shops as possible to make sure you’re eating what you already have. By using lists and budgets, you should be casting a narrow but well-placed net around all the food you’ll need for the week, but if you forget something, try and wait until your next shop so you’re not tempted to over-purchase.

13. Find where the deals are

It’s no surprise that some grocery store chains are more inexpensive than others. Spend some time wandering the different options to see what store works best for your needs. One store may be more expensive, but have great produce. Another may be inexpensive, but low quality. There’s also everything in between, so a little exploring goes a long way.

Also, find their flyers online or in store and list the best deals for your next trip. If you come prepared, you’ll leave satisfied!

14. Avoid buying water, always

We in Alberta have some of the cleanest water in the world, even surpassing most bottled waters in cleanliness, taste and safety!

Do yourself and your budget a favour by sticking to the tap. Add a bit of ice or lime juice if you have an issue with the taste.

It’s always a good idea to carry a water bottle around with you, too!

15. Buy no-name or store brands

Store brands, always cheaper and usually very similar in taste to branded food, give you the chance to buy more for less or your favourite splurges for much cheaper. They also go on sale more often than major brands.

 16. Watch the register and don’t be afraid to be a pest

If a sale item isn’t ringing up on sale, you’re likely to catch it before your cashier does. Not because they’re trying to swindle you, but because they’re trying to do their job fast so the line behind you moves faster.

According to a 2010 ABC News report, consumers lose $1 billion to $2.5 billion dollars because of scanner errors each year. If you’re counting pennies, this is an especially important tip!

There’s nothing worse than spending time and effort finding deals just to have them disappear at the till.

 17. Store food properly

When you follow the care instructions on food labels, your food will stay fresher, and tastier, longer!

18. Know the difference between “best before” and “expiry”

“Best before” dates are somewhat arbitrary dates that manufacturers and grocery stores use to keep product cycling through the store, it’s called manufactured redundancy. Because of “best before” dates, a lot of food ends up in landfills unnecessarily.

Just because a product is past its “best before” date, doesn’t mean it’s gone bad. For example, canned items (excluding tomatoes) can be eaten up to two years after their “best before” date if they’re still sealed.

The only things that actually “expire” are drugs and medicines, baby formula and meal replacements.

What are your money-saving tips?

Comment below and let us know!

One Comment

  1. jeanie

    Posted on January 28, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Fresh food or leftovers go in the freezer if it’s not eaten within a couple of days. Even if there’s no time to properly prepare veggies for freezing, other than washing, they’ll still be good for cooking with. Even frozen lettuce is good chopped up in soup.

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