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Guest Post: Ten Simple Ways To Reduce Your Grocery Expenses


photo by KitAy

Guest Post by MaryEllen from Centsible Savings

While picking up my milk for the week, I stopped to consider how many people might wonder why I was digging all the way to the back of the refrigerated section. Then I started thinking about how easy it is for anyone to reduce their grocery budget just by following a few simple guidelines. I’m not talking about spending hours every week clipping coupons and scouring the sale papers for deals.These are simple strategies that everyone can use to help keep their food costs down.

1. Look toward the back of the refrigerated section for the latest-dated milk, cheese, meat and other perishables. It certainly won’t help you cut expenses if your food goes bad and you have to throw it out and buy more. 

2. Buy whole milk and mix it with water. It will taste different at first, but you’ll get used to it after a while. If you can bring your taste buds to agree to mixing your milk half and half with water then you’re getting two gallons for the price of one! (Note: Keep in mind that if you have young children, watering down your milk will affect the nutrition of it.)

3. If you’re buying individual fruits (e.g. apples, oranges, etc.) by the pound, pick out the smallest ones. The total weight will be less, and therefore you won’t pay as much, but you won’t notice the difference when you’re eating your apple.

4. Shop early in the morning if at all possible. That is when you’ll find most of the marked down produce, meat, and bread. Even if you can’t shop in the morning, be sure to still keep an eye out for products that have been marked down.

5. Don’t buy too much produce at one time. Produce (especially if it has been shipped a long distance) will not last very long before it has to be thrown out. Try to buy only enough for about one week at a time.

6. If you find a good sale on something you normally buy that has an extended shelf-life or freezer life, stock up. Why wait until later and pay full price when you can buy several now at a much lower price?

7. Be creative and cook with what you have on hand. Make your weekly menus based on what is already in your pantry or freezer. Then you’ll just need to buy a few ingredients to fill in the gaps.

8. Make a list and stick to it when you shop. Unplanned “extras” add up very quickly.

9. Consider how badly you really need something. For example, it doesn’t really take any longer to make pancakes or biscuits from scratch than from a box mix. Yet those box mixes cost quite a bit more than just buying the ingredients would cost. (Cooking from scratch is much better for your health too!)

10. Use coupons. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not talking about spending hours each week on clipping coupons and scoping out deals. But if something is on your list, you should at least check to see if there is a coupon out for it. A good place to check is the coupon database at You’ll be surprised at the difference fifty cents here and a dollar there can make!

MaryEllen is a stay-at-home wife and mom living in North Carolina. In her spare time, she enjoys sharing money-saving tips on her blog.

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  • MJ says:

    #1 Is a great tip, I do that with lots of things. Since there are just 2 of us in my house & we eat different things, many items will go bad if I don’t!

  • I have to amen the “stocking up on sale items” and “coupons”. But one that I have learned is to stock up when I have a coupon. There are some items that I almost always have a coupon for. There are other items that coupons only come once a blue moon. I have learned to buy those items when I have coupons because my chance of having a coupon when I need one is limited.

  • I just posted an article about frugal cooking this morning. I’m inspired by you and all of your creative ways of stretching your grocery budget. I’m slowly getting my family on board with my new found frugalness (is that even a word?) and thought that by creatively using left overs to make new meals, my family wouldn’t even notice that they were actually eating left overs!

    Thanks for all of your inspirations!

  • JessieLeigh says:

    These are some very good tips- Thanks!! And thank you SO much for acknowledging that, while mixing whole milk with water will definitely stretch your dollar, it is not really the “same thing” as skim milk, nutritionally speaking. I’ve seen that myth thrown out there too often and you’re so right that we must keep that in mind when making choices for our children.

  • Liz says:

    Wow! I just stumbled upon your site and I have to say I LOVE it. Thanks for all the great tips!


  • Dear Daddy says:

    Great tips! I especially liked the watered down milk one. Never thought of that!


  • Double “amen!” to making a list and sticking with it. It still takes self-control to fend off those impulse buys or the “Hey! Those look YUMMY!” moments, but my husband’s rule is that if it’s not on the list, it’s not in the cart (unless there’s something else I’m willing to part with). It saves me $$$ every time I go grocery shopping!

  • Great Tips. Also, our Aldi’s has milk for $1.99 gallon. I haven’t found it cheaper anywhere else!

  • LANA says:

    SO true about sticking to the list. Never go shopping hungry. If you do forget something on your list, go back with blinders on, and do not stop for anything else but the forgotten item!

  • Honey says:

    Thanks for this helpful post! I have found #7 to be a very good way to save money. I try to designate a day each week to do the following: meal plan, clean out fridge, and make grocery list/coupon planning. This way, the fridge gets cleaned out regularly so things don’t go bad and become wasted. And you also have room to put your new items away. I would say #8 has exceptions. Sometimes at Kroger and other stores I find something with an “orange sticker” (clearance item) that I can substitute spontaneously for less than something I had on my list. In this case, it pays not to stick to your list-and I love finding those kind of deals. I am always on the lookout for marked down produce/dairy/meat. I once found half gallons of milk for .25!! It can be frozen or in our case we have a big family so it was gone that day!

  • Jackie says:

    Great tips! Another fantastic site is It’s free to join, they have a coupon database that matchups up coupons with sales per store, and a Target coupon generator.

    First time at this blog! My co-author on my blog, Jodi, wrote you guys up as a Places You Should Know today. I’m so glad she did!

  • Honey says:

    I recently went to a “preview” party at Dream dinners. This is where you can make a free meal and learn about DD. I noticed some coupons on the counter for Dixie brand plates and napkins. You never know where you’re going to find a coupon. And if you’re not too afraid of looking silly, look for catalinas on the ground in your grocery parking lot and near the grocery cart rack. I cannot tell you how many coupons I have found for things I use/need.

  • Trina says:

    Hi just wanted to let people know our Wal-mart in Georgetown, KY is no longer taking coupons printed fromthe internet. K-Mart does not take them either. I have found great deals with the coupons from the internet.

  • A says:

    ” If you’re buying individual fruits (e.g. apples, oranges, etc.) by the pound, pick out the smallest ones. The total weight will be less, and therefore you won’t pay as much, but you won’t notice the difference when you’re eating your apple.”

    However, if you’re buying fruits/veggies to use in cooking, you should buy fewer larger ones, because there will be less waste (cores, skins, and other inedible bits).

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