How to Grocery Shop on a Budget: 31 Tips

By Stacey Leasca · May 20, 2024 · 13 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right.

How to Grocery Shop on a Budget: 31 Tips

It’s not your imagination: Grocery prices are rising, having gone up 2.2% between February 2023 and 2024, after the sticker shock of an 11% increase between 2021 and 2022.

You may think there’s not much you can do about the high cost of groceries (after all, a person has to eat!), but there are many easy ways to slash your weekly spending on groceries. And, saving at the supermarket doesn’t have to mean skimping on quality, taste, or nutrition.

What follows are 31 simple tricks that can help you shop smarter and spend less whenever you visit the supermarket.

Key Points

•   Grocery prices have increased significantly, prompting the need for budget-conscious shopping strategies.

•   Planning meals, understanding pricing, and avoiding shopping when hungry are key to saving on groceries.

•   Buying in bulk, choosing generic products, and shopping in season can reduce costs.

•   Making a shopping list and sticking to it helps avoid impulse purchases and manage spending.

•   Utilizing online grocery shopping can prevent off-script purchases and facilitate price comparison.

Key Principles Behind Saving Money on Groceries

Before diving into the ideas for saving money on groceries, consider the big-picture principles at work when it comes to frugal living for food. Consider these concepts:

•   Plan your meals

•   Understand pricing

•   Don’t shop when hungry

•   Buy in bulk when possible

•   Choose generic products

•   Shop in season

•   Comparison-shop like a pro; no grabbing the first item you see

•   Stick to your list

•   Buy local or grow your own food.

💡 Quick Tip: Help your money earn more money! Opening a bank account online often gets you higher-than-average rates.

How Much Do Groceries Cost on Average?

The average household spends about $270 a week on groceries; those with kids spend more, or about $331 per week. Using Census Bureau data, the average monthly costs for groceries therefore tops $1,000.

These costs are strictly for groceries. If you eat out or grab takeout (whether a flat white or fancy salad), your total food costs will of course be higher.

How Can I Determine What My Budget Is?

It’s important to set aside an amount of money for food that fits into your overall financial planning. In terms of how to make a budget, you might try the popular 50/30/20 budget rule. With this plan, you take your after-tax income and allocate 50% to needs, such as housing, utilities, health care, minimum debt repayment, basic transportation, and food. Thirty percent is for the “wants” in life, such as travel, dining out, and cute (but not vital) clothes. The last 20% goes to savings and additional debt payment.

If you use this budget or another method, you will want to make sure that your food costs fall in line with the other necessities of life, perhaps trimming from your spending on “wants,” if needed.

Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Now, dive in and learn how to trim your grocery bill and live on a budget.

1. Make – and Stick to – a List

Impulse buys can quickly bust your budget. So before going to the supermarket it can be wise to plan out your meals and make a detailed list of all the things you will need, including any household supplies.

At the store, you’ll want to be strict about sticking to the list. Yes, those pineapples look great and they’re on sale, but are they on your list? No? Then you should probably keep walking. Otherwise, you may well wind up blowing your budget.

Shopping with a list not only helps save money but can also cut down on food waste — the items that tend to sit idle in the fridge or on the countertop are often the ones that never had an assigned meal to begin with.

2. Eat Before You Shop

If you enter a supermarket hungry, there’s no telling what you’ll end up putting into your cart because, since just about everything is going to look good. Some popcorn? Why not? Pomegranate juice? It’s healthy, so into the cart it goes. And maybe some cookies as a little treat.

Walk into the grocery store with a full stomach, on the other hand, and you might be shocked by how much lower your grocery bill is.

3. Plan for Leftovers

In America, 80 million tons of food go to waste every year. One reason that food goes to waste is that it can be difficult to buy the exact amount of food you need to make the meals we’ve planned. This can result in leftover ingredients languishing in the fridge or pantry, and then landing in the trash can.

You can help reduce wasted food (and money) by doubling your recipe and then having leftovers for lunch and/or putting some in the freezer so you’ll have a meal at the ready when you need it.

Recommended: How Much Should I Spend on Groceries a Month?

4. Grocery-Shop Online

Think you’ll be tempted to go off-script if you enter a grocery store? You might want to try online grocery shopping instead. Many local supermarkets offer online ordering, and allow you to choose either curbside pick-up or delivery.

Or, you may want to try one of the many online grocery services, such as Instacart or Amazon Fresh. You can often choose one-off delivery, as well as recurring delivery of staples (like toilet paper) so you never run out.

It can be easier to avoid the temptations when you can type everything you need into a search bar. Plus, shopping online makes it easy to compare brand prices, see what’s on sale, and watch the total tally up in real time.

5. Develop a Green Thumb

Even if you’re not much of a gardener, you might want to try growing one or two of your favorite vegetables in a container or a small garden area outdoors. You can then step outside and pick your tomato or bell pepper rather than buying them at the store.

If you don’t have any outdoor space, you might consider starting an indoor herb garden. If you have parsley, basil, or dill right on your windowsill, you can just pick what you need rather than buy a whole bunch at the market. It’s a fun and tasty way to stick to your budget.

6. Shop at Stores You Know

Having a tried-and-true grocery store may be good for your wallet. Walking into a store you’re familiar with means you already know where to get the items on your list.

Head into an unfamiliar store and you may be left wandering the aisles for what seems like an eternity trying to find your goods. That’s because grocery stores are set up to be a little confusing and to drive consumers to have to do a bit of strolling, as that’s when you’re more likely to make random purchases.

7. Bring Your Own Bags

One quick way to potentially drive down the cost of your grocery store run is to BYOB — bring your own bags. Many cities and states have imposed plastic bag bans. If you show up empty-handed, you’ll be stuck purchasing reusable bags at the checkout.

In areas where plastic bags are allowed, many stores will reward customers who bring reusable bags by reimbursing them about 5 to 10 cents a bag at checkout. BYOBing is also kinder to the environment.

Keeping some reusable bags in your car is a good way to avoid forgetting them at home.

8. Join Loyalty Programs

Many stores now offer discounts for regular shoppers and even secret sale items only for those who’ve signed up.

It’s typically quick, easy, and free to join, though some stores like Whole Foods require customers to be part of its Amazon Prime membership service (which comes with a yearly fee). Still, it may be worth it as discounts at the register can add up to real savings.

9. Embrace Meatless Mondays

Here’s another way to buy groceries on a budget: Buy and eat less meat. Reducing meat consumption and eating more plant-based meals has benefits for the environment, your waistline, and your wallet.

Chickpeas, pinto beans, peas, Brussels sprouts, quinoa, tofu, along with many other beans, whole grains, and vegetables are all excellent (and inexpensive) sources of protein without the added saturated fat that comes with animal products.

You may want to consider going meatless at least one day a week, and then building up to a few meat-free meals per week.

10. Buy Larger Containers

Buying the largest size of packaged, canned, and frozen foods can sometimes help you save money on food. That’s because some of the cost of every grocery item is in the packaging.

If your grocery store has a “bulk foods” section you might save even more by buying the amount of food you need in plastic bags.

11. Think Beyond Fresh Produce

Another way to save money at the grocery store is to buy fruits and vegetables in the frozen or canned foods aisle. The savings can add up, especially when the food is out of season.

If you’re looking to add pineapple to a recipe in the winter, for example, you can save money by opting for canned pineapple over a fresh one that’s not in season. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables also don’t go bad as quickly as fresh, so they may be less likely to get wasted.

12. Try a CSA

A Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program can help you save money on fresh produce, eggs, and herbs. You can look for one using the USDA’s CSA directory and see if they’ll deliver to your front door.

Not only will you be saving money but you’ll be supporting local farmers and eating food that’s close by helps ensure it’s fresher.

13. Clip Coupons

While it’s not rocket science, this tried-and-true technique is still one of the best ways to cut your grocery bill. You may want to consider scanning the local circulars that come in the mail to see which stores are having deals on the food items you need that week. You can also look for manufacturers’ coupons (online and in circulars inserted into Sunday newspapers).

When it comes to how to coupon successfully, however, it’s wise to make sure that you’re only buying items you need and usually buy — otherwise you could end up adding to, not shrinking, your grocery bill.

💡 Quick Tip: Want a simple way to save more everyday? When you turn on Roundups, all of your debit card purchases are automatically rounded up to the next dollar and deposited into your online savings account.

14. Shop in Season

Another way to spend wisely is to cook and shop seasonally. It’s typically cheaper to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season than ones that have been shipped to the store from a far-away place where it can be grown year-round.

Also, since in-season produce is in large supply, it tends to be sold at affordable prices to maintain demand. In-season produce also tends to be tastier.

15. Use Apps

There are a number of rebate apps you can download onto your phone for free that allow you to get cashback on items you purchased. Options include Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Fetch.

While rebates don’t give you a discount upfront (like a traditional coupon), you should see savings in the long run.

If you frequently shop at large chains like Walmart or Target for groceries, getting their apps may help you earn rewards and get discounts for being a loyal shopper. You just need to scan your mobile app when you check out.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!

16. Stock up on Shelf-Stable Items

When your grocery store is having a sale on canned goods, dried goods, or other pantry items, you may want to consider buying multiples. Items like beans, sauces, soups, nuts, peanut butter, pretzels, shelf-stable snacks like unpopped popcorn won’t expire for a long time.

You’ll be able to enjoy the cost savings and will likely appreciate having them on hand when preparing meals.

17. Buy Store-Brand or Generic

You don’t have to sacrifice flavor and taste in order to save money while grocery shopping. While It’s easy to overlook no-name or store brands, in many cases these items are actually made by the brand name companies, just with a different label.

And the savings can be real. Using generic (rather than brand name) products can save as much as 40% off your grocery bill. You can put that extra cash right into your bank account.

18. Shop the Outside Aisles

The inside aisles of the grocery store are where pricier processed foods are typically stocked, The outer edges, on the other hand, is where you tend to find fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and beans.

Shopping on the edge — and filling your cart with nutrient-dense items and fresh, seasonal food — can help your wallet, as well as your waistline.

Recommended: Examining the Price of Eating at Home vs Eating Out

19. Portion Food Out Yourself

It can be tempting to buy convenience items where food is pre-portioned into single servings so you can just grab-and-go. Smaller items can also help you keep from overeating. But all of that packaging tends to increase the cost of the item.

If your kids love crackers, you may want to buy a full-size box and portion them out in zip-top bags or reusable containers. You can do the same with other favorite snacks so you won’t be tempted to eat the whole bag in one sitting. You can also spoon yogurt into small containers for school lunches and cut cheese into slices from a block for easy snacks.

20. Drink Tap Water

To avoid spending money on bottled water, you may want to get a filtered pitcher and switch to drinking tap water. Depending on how much you typically sip, you can save a bundle. By drinking from a reusable water bottle or a glass throughout the day, you’ll also reduce the amount of plastic waste you’re putting into the environment.

Getting your kids used to drinking water instead of juice or soda can also reduce your supermarket bills.

21. Use a Smaller Cart

Here’s a little swap that can help you save: If you’re not shopping for a full week’s worth of groceries, consider grabbing a small cart or, even better, a hand-held basket. This will automatically limit how much you can buy because only so much will fit.

When you have a smaller cart — or a basket that will get heavy quickly — you’re forcing yourself to ask, “Do I really need this?” every time you pick up something to buy in the store.

22. Minimize Trips to the Store

One way you can save money on your grocery bill is to only shop when you need to and to minimize the frequency that you set foot in the supermarket door.

The reason is that the less often you’re physically in the store, the less likely you’ll be tempted to buy something you don’t absolutely need. It can be all too common to go to the grocery store for “one thing” and come out with a few items.

23. Shop Off-Peak

Most of us don’t want to spend our weekends grocery shopping, right? Unfortunately, Saturdays and Sundays are the days when many of us have the time to go to the supermarket — along with everyone else in our town.

Shopping during peak times can hurt your budget in a few ways. You might try to speed through the supermarket crush and be more likely to buy an item at the end of the aisle because it’s convenient, rather than grab a similar product on the shelf a few feet away. This could mean they are buying a more expensive version of what they need.

You might also run into trouble shopping during peak times because you’re more likely to get stuck in a long line — and become tempted by miscellaneous items stocked near and along the checkout line.

24. Calculate the Bill While You Shop

Shopping with a calculator or getting out your phone and adding things up as you put them in your cart can help you stick to your spending plan<. (If you’re shopping with kids, you can give them the job to tally what’s in the cart.) By keeping a running tally of how much money is in your cart, you can save yourself from any unpleasant surprises during check-out. Plus, it can make you think twice before putting any extras in your cart.

25. Shop Your Pantry First

It’s easy to accidentally buy an extra item at the supermarket that you didn’t realize you already had stored at home. That’s why after you write your grocery list, it can be a good idea to double-check pantry shelves, spice racks, the fridge, and the freezer to make sure you truly need what’s on your list.

You may even want to shop your pantry and fridge before making your meal plan and shopping list to see if you can think of meals that incorporate foods you already have on hand.

26. Pay with Cash

Another idea for grocery shopping on a budget: A simple trick for lowering your grocery bill is to set your budget and then only bring that much money in cash, leaving the plastic at home.

This will help ensure that you stick to your list and avoid grabbing any tempting extras. You can only spend what you have in your wallet. Full stop. (A variation on the theme: Use your debit card, not your credit card, to keep your spending in line.)

Recommended: Envelope Budgeting Method

27. Make Breakfast for Dinner

Eggs are one of the most affordable protein sources out there. By making simple breakfast-style food for dinner, you’re offering your family a fun meal and using up some of your (affordable) breakfast foods.

You might consider making an omelet or frittata with eggs, cheese, and leftover vegetables or creating a bacon, egg, and cheese burrito. Not only are many breakfast recipes a delicious dinner option, but they’re affordable and often quick to prepare.

28. Avoid Eye-Level Items

Grocery stores are designed to get you to spend more money, which is why the most expensive products tend to be stocked at eye level. Brands often pay more money for their products to be displayed prominently so you’re more likely to buy them.

Searching high and low when you’re shopping may help you stop spending money (or at least more than you budgeted for). Once you start looking, you may even notice a price differential between the eye-level item cost and the one at your feet.

29. Bake Your Own Treats

Many impulse buys happen in the bakery and snack sections of the supermarket. Before you succumb, you may want to ask yourself if you could bake it at home. You may already have the baking basics on your pantry shelves and could whip up some muffin or cookies fairly quickly. Or, you might want to buy a mix to save time (you’ll still save money).

Before buying chips and snacks, you may also want to consider if there is a more affordable DIY option, like buying popcorn kernels to cook on the stove.

Asking yourself, “Can I make this?” will likely result in saving money and getting the freshest item possible. This way, you can reward yourself without breaking your budget.

30. Hit the Store on a Wednesday

When it comes to snagging good deals, shopping on a Wednesday may be beneficial. That’s because grocery stores tend to restock their shelves and make new markdowns in the middle of the week. Since they’re in the process of changing the discounts, they may still honor the price cuts from last week’s sale as well as the new ones, which could help boost your savings.

31. Do the Prep Work Yourself

Those packaged baby carrots and bagged pre-washed salads make it easier to eat healthier, but if you’re willing to do the cleaning, prepping, and chopping of fresh produce, and even meats and poultry, you can save money.

A boneless, skinless chicken breast package will cost more than buying a whole chicken. You’re paying for the convenience. By setting aside time to prep and chop your foods after you get home from grocery shopping, you’ll likely reap savings.

The Takeaway

A little planning and knowing some money-saving tricks can help you lower your monthly grocery bill and stick to your budget.

By following these budget shopping tips, you may find that you have more money left over each month to pay down debt, invest for the future, or save for something fun. And those funds can grow if you put them in an interest-bearing bank account.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


What is a realistic budget for groceries?

The average household spends $270 a week on groceries, but how much you need to spend will vary on family size, location, and other considerations.

Which store is cheapest to buy groceries?

Which grocery store is cheapest will vary from location to location, but among the most affordable are Aldi, Lidl, Market Basket, WinCo, and Trader Joe’s.

How can I make my grocery bill cheaper?

Some ways to go grocery shopping on a budget include buying in bulk, buying generic products, planning your meals in advance, and using coupons, apps, and loyalty clubs.

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.


TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender