10 ways to save money on groceries

One of the most common things I hear as a dietitian (right up there with “Tell me what I should eat to be healthy” and “I bet you’re super healthy, aren’t you?”) is “It’s too expensive to eat healthily”.

This one kills me because it’s so untrue!

I mean, yes it will be pricey if you’re spending your money on $12 bags of goji berries and $20 packages of maca powder, but you don’t need these foods to be healthy. Good old whole foods work just fine.

And these foods can absolutely be cheaper than the alternatives (ie. takeout or processed foods), especially when you’re armed with the right tips and advice. As a grocery store dietitian I’m right in the middle of the action, so today I want to share with you some of my best unique tips to save money on groceries:

Shopping on a budget? Read this post to find out 10 ways to save money on groceries and still eat healthily!

1. Buy bouillon cubes instead of buying liquid stock. For less than the price of one carton of liquid stock, you can get several cubes that can make around 3 cups of stock each. Also, they come in salt free, vegan, and organic varieties!

2. Beans are a fairly inexpensive protein, but if you prefer to buy the kind in BPA-free cans, they can be triple the cost! A cheaper option would be to buy dried beans instead of canned. If you don’t know how to cook dried beans, this is a really helpful guide to show you how!

Shopping on a budget? Read this post to find out 10 ways to save money on groceries and still eat healthily!

3. Buy whole heads instead of lettuce or bunches of greens instead of the pre-chopped kinds – you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck! Wash and chop them up as soon as you get home to save yourself from having to do it later.

4. Ditch the bottled salad dressings. Make your own instead from ingredients that you already have at home like oil, vinegars, and herbs. Check out this Food Network collection of 50 homemade salad dressing recipes!

Shopping on a budget? Read this post to find out 10 ways to save money on groceries and still eat healthily!

5. If it’s a product you use a lot, buy the bigger size. That’s almost always a better deal than buying the smaller size. To be sure, you can check the price tag on the shelf – it usually tells you the price per 100 g (in a smaller font underneath the price) so that it makes comparing the cost of two different products easier.

6. Opt for the items that are less convenient, for example: plain meat versus pre-marinated meat, unprepared shrimp versus deveined and shelled shrimp, blocks of cheese versus individually wrapped cheese strings, whole carrots versus baby carrots, a 1 kg bag of oats versus a package of single serving oatmeal sachets, a tub of Greek yogurt versus a pack of single serving containers. Companies almost always charge for added convenience!

7. Buy frozen herb cubes instead of fresh herbs. Or grow your own herbs in the summers – the price of one herb plant is about the same as buying a bunch at the grocery store. But the plant will last you all summer and into the fall, unlike a bunch of herbs.

8. Become an oatmeal lover! One serving of plain oats from a 1 kg package is about $0.09 per serving, whereas one serving of Cheerios from a Family Size box is about $0.33 per serving.

Shopping on a budget? Read this post to find out 10 ways to save money on groceries and still eat healthily!

9. Make friends with cheap vegetables, like cabbage and carrots. A head of cabbage is usually around $1.99 or even cheaper when it is in season, and it will last you for ages (like seriously, ages). Likewise carrots can be extremely cheap when you buy them in the 3 lb bags. Also, cool tidbit: Some grocery stores will soon be offering “ugly” produce (misshapen fruits and veggies that are still totally edible) for a discount.

10. Buy your grains, spices, dried fruit, and flours from the bulk foods section in your grocery store. It’s amazing how much more expensive these products are when they’re packaged compared to in bulk! This is also a great way to ensure your products are fresher, since you can buy smaller amounts that you will actually use in a reasonable amount of time.

This wraps up my ten tips for this post, but now I’d like to hear yours!

What is your best tip to save money on groceries?


Filed under food and cooking, nutrition

29 Responses to 10 ways to save money on groceries

  1. Yup, totally buy my own dried beans and then cook big batches and free them. I’d also say to save veggie scrap and then you can make your own veggie broth (if you prefer it over bouillon cubes – I like both, but I like the cost associated with making my own broth!). These are great tips and I hope a lot of people take advantage of them!

    • Chelsea

      Good call on making your own veggie broth! I always make stock when I have a chicken carcass, but for some reason I’ve never thought to save my veggie scraps. Definitely going to have to start doing that!

  2. HYP

    11. Take some food from your Mother’s kitchen

  3. Becoming an oatmeal lover DEFINITELY helped my budget! I went from no oats to oats in some form almost every day (muffins, pancakes, oatmeal cakes, and plain old oatmeal bowls) and cut down on breakfast and snack costs tremendously. Plus making my own oatmeal muffins for when I’m on-the-go is much cheaper than buying any gluten- and nut-free bars, even if I could find ones that fit both those criteria!

    • Chelsea

      So true! I never buy packaged snacks anymore and just opt for making my own. Partially because it’s cheaper but also becuase homemade just tastes way better!

  4. #8 had me laughing as did #9! I love cabbage! I save money using my student discount by shopping on Tuesdays (Loblaws) or Wednesdays (Bulkbarn) and I also love the Flipp app! Your list will not only help people save money, but also eat healthier as many of the options are more ‘natural’ and don’t contain the same preservatives/additives (salad dressing, more ‘convenient type meals’)! Great post :)

  5. this really is an awesome list. i try to buy as much bulk products as i can, especially if i know i’m going to use them. i’ve been avoiding most packaged goods as the price tag and the ingredient list aren’t work it! i also shop at this local produce stand and buy their “day old” veggies which are really just as good!

    • Chelsea

      I wish my grocery store had a day old veggies shelf! I’m sure they’re in better shape than some of the old vegetables in my fridge lol! I still plan on using those old veggies though. ;)

  6. Great, great tips! I’m always surprised when I hear that is cost so much money to eat well. Buying groceries and cooking at home is always less $ than dining out. And the bulk barn is my BFF––they have really interesting grains, nuts, and beans there too.

    • Chelsea

      Love Bulk Barn too! Although I always come out of there spending way more money than I had planned, so I don’t know how good they are for my wallet. ;)

  7. I bought cabbage today! I plan to be eating it for three weeks. ;) I totally agree with the spices in bulk. So much cheaper. Love the bouillon tip! That’s new for me.

  8. Love these tips, Chelsea! Another one to add to the list is to buy produce that you remove the skin. It’s no surprise that organic varieties of produce tend to be more expensive but if you’re removing the skin, you can get away with buying the regular varieties without the risk of ingesting pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals!

  9. These are really good tips. I also think people assume if you want to eat healthy you have to get everything at Whole Foods (whole paycheck) which obviously isn’t true. I love buying produce at farmers markets and its supa cheap.

  10. Great tips buddy- Mum and I always tackle the ugly table because um…..they are perfectly fine. Silly pretencious Australians.

    • Chelsea

      Lol! My grocery store doesn’t even have an ugly/day old produce shelf. :( I hear that some grocery stores here will be featuring discounted ugly produce soon though, which makes me excited. Not just for cheaper prices, but also to help reduce food waste!

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  12. Great tips! I recently started buying more carrots cuz the last foreverrr and you can do a lot of different things with them if you’re willing to get creative

    • Chelsea

      I buy big 2-3 lb bags of carrots and they seriously last me a month! I’m always using them in stir fries, salads, and just straight up roasted in the oven.

  13. Fantastic tips, and I’m grateful I use a lot of them. I could always learn a little more though.

    I actually make my own veggie stock with leftover bits and bobs of veggies. I freeze them all (carrot shavings, bell pepper trimmings, garlic skins, onion parts, etc) until I have enough to fill a one gallon Ziploc bag. Then I add them all to the crockpot, fill it with water, a couple teaspoons of salt and a bay leaf and let it cook all afternoon. When it’s done, I strain it and freeze it. It makes a holy crapton which is awesome. Plus it’s made out of leftovers so it doesn’t cost me a thing. Win!!

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