35 Frugal Grocery Shopping Tips

Supplement your vegetables with what you can easily grow yourself e.g. tomatoes, potatoes, beans, lettuce.
Keep your shopping budget in cash and only bring that cash when you go shopping. That way you will not overspend.
Make a shopping list before you go shopping. Find out what items you really need. Think about what you’re going to cook between this and your next shopping trip.
Know what price the things you buy normally sell for. If you can’t remember, keep a list of the most common items. That way you will know whether the bargain you see is really a bargain. Keep a spreadsheet, if you’re able to.
Buy the cheap meat, but buy the premium meat when it’s on special. Buy the smaller portions. Substitute meat with beans, tofu etc. whenever possible.
Meat that has been packaged (marinated, stuffed, wrapped etc.) is about twice the cost of preparing it yourself.
Buy fruit only when it’s in season.
Avoid packaged meals. Do your own cooking.
Ask the deli staff if they have cheap off cuts for sale. Make sure you consume these quickly, they might have been in the shop a longer time than usual.

Eat before you go. If you go shopping when hungry you’ll buy all sorts of junk and spend more than you wanted to. Supermarkets are starting to cook food in-house (bread, chicken) because they know you will be tempted by the smell.

Article continues with a whopping 25 more grocery tips:

Recognize that sales tickets are sometimes used for non-sales items. Items marked ‘sale’ or ‘discounted’ are often only reduced a few cents.

Words such as ‘premium’, ‘finest’ or ‘extra special’ carry no legal meaning. On the other hand, ‘basic’, ‘value’ and ‘saver’s’ are not necessarily the cheapest, even if they carry stark packaging.

Keep a list on your fridge so you can write down what you need as things run out.

Buy discounted bulk amounts only when its what you could reasonably use. There is often a temptation to use more when you have a lot of something. On the other hand, you don’t want things that will go stale before you use them.

Frozen veggies can be cheaper, but the taste is not as good.

Avoid buying lunch packs. It only takes minutes to make the same thing yourself and you’ll save a bucket of cash.

Keep a store of batteries, toilet tissues and light bulbs at home. So you can buy them in bulk and not have to pay extra at the corner store when there’s an emergency.

Read the store catalogues for bargains before you go shopping. Compare prices at different shops. Don’t buy something just because it’s discounted.

Check your receipt in case there was an error. Supermarkets often mislabel their shelves.

Fruit and vegetables are often discounted just before the shop closes before an Easter or Xmas holiday.

Don’t bring your children. Do the shopping when they’re at school. Even if they don’t demand special items, they distract you from the task.

Avoid buying fizzy drinks or ‘health drinks’, ice tea etc. Soda water is cheap and you can add cordial, fruit juice or other flavorings (in small amounts) if you have to.

Don’t go down the snack aisle, just don’t.

Know when supermarkets bring out their discounts (usually a couple of days after they deliver their catalogues, where I live).

Experiment with generic brands. They are often cheaper only because the quality is lower, but this is not always the case.

Work clockwise through the supermarket. This helps you avoid the little psychological tricks they play on you. Choice reports shoppers save $2 per trip when they go against the flow.

Scan the upper and lower shelves. Supermarkets take advantage of the fact most people view most items at eye level.

Clean out your cupboards and fridge from time to time. It’s amazing what you might find hiding at the back of the shelf.

Ask an assistant what time they normally discount perishables before the shop closes.

Local grocers and delis are often cheaper than the big supermarkets.

Try not to grab a basket or trolley if you’re only planning to buy a few things. It will discourage you from buying more from impulse.

Don’t look at things you don’t need. In Why We Buy Paco Underhill says we are more likely to buy the things we see, touch or taste. Supermarkets put big displays in aisles exactly to block you and make you stop.

If you normally buy a premium brand, try the next cheaper one and see if it tastes as good. If it does, why go back to a more expensive item?

Don’t buy cold foods in swollen packets. It can be a sign the food is going off. It happens when food has been stored in a warm place which causes bacteria to grow and produce gas.

Examine cold food for mould. Some moulds can grow even at refridgeration temperatures.

Bring an insulated container for meat and other cold foods. Buy them last and don’t leave them in the car longer than necessary.


Do you have any tips for grocery shopping that I’ve missed? I’m sure there’s plenty more that I haven’t thought of. I’d like to bring the number of tips up to 50. I have more lists of frugal tips still to come.

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