Ask the Readers: How Do You Save Money on Groceries?

By Ashley Jacobs on 24 March 2015 75 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Cynthia, Tabathia, and Mary for winning this week's contest!

Food is one of those expenses that we can't completely eliminate...but we can take steps to lower the cost without sacrificing nutrition. Buying in bulk, shopping at farmers' markets, and taking advantage of sales are just a few ways to do it. What works best for you depends on your needs and preferences.

How do you save money on groceries? What is your favorite tip for someone who needs to feed their family (or just themselves) on a budget? Have you tried any common money-saving tips that absolutely did not work for your situation?

Tell us how you save money on groceries and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For Extra Entries:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:

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If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, March 30th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after March 30th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
     
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
     
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
     
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck! 

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Julie Wood

I use coupons to save money on groceries! I find them on coupon sites and in the newspaper!

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Elena

I save money by using coupons and shopping sales

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Mary Happymommy

I save money by using coupons.

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Sam L

I only shop once a week. I plan my meals around what's on sale. Use coupons if possible. And buy less meat.

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Gina

Use coupons and buy items on sale. Also buy the generic items instead of brand name items. Shop at discount groceries that take overstocks from bigger chains.

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Cynthia

I try to stick to only what's on my list and choose items that are on sale. If apples and oranges are on sale then that's the fruit I'll be eating that week!

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Guest

I look at the ads online before I shop, so I have an idea of which stores have the best deals on things I am buying (I also meal plan, so I know what to get). I've started shopping at Aldi a lot because they have great prices, but i also have to be careful because sometimes their fresh foods are as great as other stores. Hence, I go to Aldi first, since it is on my way home from work, and then fill in the gaps at another grocery store when I'm near one. Then, I don't waste gas going multiple places. I also use coupons if I have them and buy things on sale.

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lisa Raymond

The best way to save money on groceries is to buy the pantry staples and make your meals from scratch. Convenience foods are expensive. For example, a loaf of bread is over $2 in my area. I can make three or four loaves for that much. Homemade tastes better,too.

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Ernest S.

I try to only shop at the grocery store with a basket. That way, it keeps me from overloading a cart full of stuff that I will never consume or don't need.

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Guest

Me too Ernest. Sometimes not even a basket. I'm getting muscles!

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Zachary Snyder

I create a meal plan prior to shopping and stick to it. I also try and buy items that i use in most my regular meal in bulk at sams club!

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KelR1

I use coupons but only on items I would be buying anyway. I don't shop when I'm hungry because that's just disastrous for me. I end up buying junk and/or going home and eating everything right away then complain there's no food in the house. I try not to overbuy produce so I don't end up throwing stuff out because it's spoiled.

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Elle

Aside from fruit/veggies/meat and essentials, only buy items when they are on sale and use coupons to go with those sales.

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Linda

I save by matching weekly sales with coupons for double the savings.

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MELISSA HANSSON

We buy in season foods whenever possible. I shop at 2 local grocery stores once a week or once very other week, buying what's on sale, with mfg and store coupons. I shop at specialty stores once a week or so to buy special/organic/fancier products. I supplement all of that with great deals at Target & the drug stores.

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nicole dziedzic

I save money on groceries by using shopping sales with coupons.

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Kay

My best tip- let someone else do the work for you! Follow blogs that post your local store's circular and list the coupon match-ups, and make your weekly shopping list off of it. You don't even need to get newspaper inserts to utilize the savings as many bloggers will list online, printable coupons that are only a click away. Be sure to buy not just what you need that week, but extra to help tide you over until the next sale so that you're always working to pay the bottom price.

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Amanda Sakovitz

I use coupons when I have time

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Guest

We belong at to a CSA and buy most of our other groceries from a discount grocery store. We buy almost no prepared or processed food and manage to eat all natural and mostly organic for about $600/month.

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Guest

Buy in bulk with neighbors

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Susan P.

I save money on groceries by shopping by myself, using coupons, getting essentials at Aldi's, stocking up when things are on sale and planning menus based on sales.

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Mary Wright

I do my research, make a list and stick to it, use coupons and stock up when prices are best and things are in season.

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Melody

Food spending used to be a big ticket item for me. At one point I honestly spent more on food than I did on housing (thanks to the low cost of living here in Cincinnati). I've since adopted a few strategies, and I now spend less than $50 per week on my vegan groceries.

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jen kline clark

-keep a list of items needed
- shop by the list
-meal plan by circular
-bulk shop on the 5th sunday months and cook what's in the pantry

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Jeff

I buy mainly on sale items

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Susan Smith

I save money by using coupons, buying store brands and buying items on sale.

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lostAnnfound

I match up coupons to the sales as much as possible. I also stock up on frequently used items/goods when they go on sale.

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Olivia

Besides the methods you mentioned, "Buying in bulk, shopping at farmers' markets, and taking advantage of sales are just a few ways to do it", I find alternative sources. A small square foot garden for herbs, asparagus and tomatoes in the backyard. A lady who raises chickens for eggs one town over. Backyard foraging for dandelion wine making. Pick your own places and canning what you picked. Peach jam, oh wow.

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Sue

I'm a vegan and eat clean so no processed foods, sugars, or oils. It actually saves a lot of money eating like this because you make everything from scratch. Plus it's much better for you and tastes better. If you make extra, then you have lunch for the next day and you save even more.

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Donna Evans

I use coupons to save money on groceries. I buy four papers a week and also download them from my computer.

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kathleen viviano

I was a big time coupon clipper in the past, but then I found ALDIS and for the most part I have never looked back. ALDIS prices are frequently 50% less than what I find in "regular" supermarkets and coupons just do not make up the difference -- even when doubled. It helps in my home that we have never really been brand loyal, but, since I started doing more and more of my shopping at ALDIS, my family has begun to express that they like ALDIS brand items better than those coupon-able national brands. A real win-win all around for our budget.

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An G

I look at sales ads, use online coupons as well as printed ones

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allison

Plan my meals ahead of time; stack coupons on top of sales; and buy generics for all but a few items!

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Jane

We eat meatless or use meat as part of the dish, but not the center of attention. We also shop at the market instead of the grocery store sometimes.

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Louly

I read coupon blogs and clip coupons. Saves me HUNDREDS on groceries per month.

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Kaitlin

I look around for deals on different websites to see who has the best price and I use coupons!

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Mitchell Goldstein

We buy store brands for most foods. They offer a quality product at a reasonable cost. Also, having alternatives in mind for the foods you rarely need (usually special ingredients) helps keep costs down. Lastly, we have an idea of the cost per unit of the items that we buy most often; that way, we can take advantage of sales and know that we are actually saving money.

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Guest

Love these tips! Sometimes bulk bins will allow you to buy only the quantity you need for a rarely used recipe. And a $4 pot of thyme, rosemary, tarragon, or such stuck in the ground (or potted up and set on the balcony) can mean no further herb cost for the lifetime of the plant. A well-kept pot of parsley on the windowsill and you've got sprigs for almost a year.

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Christie

Coupons, an app on my phone (ibotta), and shopping the circular. We eat what's on sale that week and stock up when there is something on sale that we eat a lot of. It works!

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Donna Sako

I use coupons, sale flyers, shopping list, price comparison, loyalty cards, only buy things on sale, use my freezer, stock pile when appropriate, make my own homemade foods, do canning, have a garden, and keeping researching for more ways to save.

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Catseye

I navigate between 3 different grocery stores and try to buy what's on sale. I use coupons when I can (there are too few coupons for the kinds of food I buy) and I buy very little junk food like chips, cookies, snack cakes, etc. I always check the clearance shelves for deals, too.

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Betty

I use coupons, store loyalty cards, and plan my menu around the sale flyer. I also stock up on items when I get a great deal, this way I don't get stuck paying full price because I ran out of something.

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Sam

I use Walmart Savings Catcher, Ibotta, coupons, and try my best to stick to my list.

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Dee Dee

I use coupons and plant a garden. I also try to go to grocery store just once a week.

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Bethany

Price match at Walmart, saves gas too!

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Kim

I use a lot of coupons, and also use apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Snap by Groupon.

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suz_glo

I plan our weekly meals ahead of time using what's on sale at the store as the starting point for recipe planning.I also use coupons at a store that doubles them.

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Jess

Rebate apps like iBotta and SavingStar are helpful. I like that SavingStar has a rebate for a fresh fruit or vegetable each week.

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Edith

We read dates on the packages so food won't spoil simply by being out of date. We also wait for sales.

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mary sampson

I always carry my mfg coupons to the grocery store with my list and the supermarkets coupons, I also double the mfg coupons at the store..When we eat out my hubs and I we go for lunch with coupons and always order water and take what we don't consume home..I look at Penneys for the 70-80 percent off section and use the coupons they send me to buy from the coupon I usually get 10/10 purchase or 10/25 purchase..No credit cards at stores, Visa big items and make sure they are good to go and I pay them off immediately..no bills no trouble no headaches at all

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D

I save on groceries by shopping once a week. No exceptions!

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Ann

Coupons and trying to match with sales. We do try to make a lot of meals from scratch.
I really rely on the various coupon blogs.

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Guest

using coupons and check stores weekly ad before shopping. Also make a list and shop for only what is on sale.

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Nicolle

Buying produce in season and shopping sales!

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J. Pario

We use a list and the weekly circular. We also comparison grocery shop.

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Heidi W

I use to use lots of coupons, but with a recent move to a new city and a newborn, my time is limited right now (and so are my coupons!). So, for now I do what I can using Target Cartwheel and finding deals on Amazon. We're not saving as much as before, but it's what we can do at this stage of our lives.

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Omawalker

My favorite way to save on groceries is to grow fresh vegetables and can or freeze the bounty to last through the winter. Another tip is to buy "seconds" those less than perfect looking tomatoes, for instance, from local farm stands and use them for making sauces, salsas, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.

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Evie B.

I use a lot of coupons every time I go to the supermarket.

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Arlene

Since I live in Arizona, I am able to garden pretty much year round and have been able to grow lots of fresh vegetables and herbs including potatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, garlic, sage, oregano and basil. It's made me more creative in my cooking, too, since I want to use everything I grow. Definitely helps save on grocery costs!!!

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Sheryl

I pay cash!

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Rebecca B. A. R.

Whenever one of the stores that my husband or I work at have a huge markdown sale on something I know we use, we buy them out. I also only buy generic for most things and try to use coupons on other things that I don't get in the generic version.

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Edith

We watch the sell by and use by dates so less food goes to waste. We also shop sales.

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LiisaKR

I stock up when things are on sale.

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Guest

I make sure to shop at cheaper stores and not buy brand name products.

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Liz

I use a credit card with the highest cash back on groceries and I buy gift cards when it's on a rotating 5% category for future use.

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Christina

Meal planning is the best way I save money on groceries, I try to buy only what I need for the meal plan, shop sales flyers when planning for the week, and don't waste food.

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Daniella

I try to buy fruits and vegetables in season.

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Happy Love

I clip coupons, buy mostly what's on sale, and shop with a list.

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Guest

Less groceries=less money

I use up via vegetables by once a week making "hamburger soup" on Mondays -- a pound of hamburger, a can of tomatoes plus all the veggies I can find in my fridge feeds the three of us for two days.

I shop meat sales and freeze what I won't use right away and I use frozen veggies as well as fresh -- especially spinach and other greens that compress down so much when cooked -- can cost $5/pound or up fresh, lose nutrients quickly when fresh that are retained when frozen, and generally cost under $2/pound frozen

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Guest

We are fortunate to have several local stores that do a brisk trade and have bulk bins. I have a perennial herb garden and if I don't grow it, I buy it in small quantities from the bulk bins.

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Guest

I scan the sales flyers for boneless meats that are under $2/pound. Also for fruits and veggies closer to $1/pound or less. And sale prices that are 33% or more savings off regular prices. Having hard $$$ and % targets keeps me honest about whether I am really stretching my money as far as it will go. And I read anything Phil Brewer writes for Wise Bread -- I find his work to be both practical and motivating and his remarks on the rate of return you get from cutting costs on groceries really sold me.

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Guest

I shop the salad bar for small quantities of pricey "recipe" items

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Guest

I found a canned spaghetti sauce that sometimes on sale goes down to 99 cents for 27 ounces -- less than half what I previously paid for jarred sauces.

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Guest

I found a bouillon cube I like that stands in for half a dozen cans of chicken broth at a fraction of the price. Bonus: half a cube on the shelf is much easier to store than half a can in the fridge.

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Andrea G

I save money by planning meals and purchasing seasonal fresh produce, using bulk bins and minimizing processed foods.

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Tabathia B

I use coupons, paper, online and electronic, price matching and comparison shopping

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Lexie

I firstly try to buy as much as I can from Costco in bulk. I do smoothies every morning and Costco has huge bags of frozen fruit that's twice as big for the same price at a regular grocery story. I also buy alot of frozen vegetables, which often have more nutrients than fresh ones and are way cheaper! I think of ways to dress up cheap food (like beans and rice) that are also healthy to save money. I also try to buy as many ingredients as I can, instead of pre-made, frozen, or packaged food. Lastly I get most of my fresh produce from a local co-op, it is not only organic but gets delivered right to my door. You just can't beat the prices at the grocery store! I also don't eat red meat (which is very expensive) and eat poultry and fish on occasion. I stick to eggs and greek yogurt for the most part, which is cheaper and faster than buying meat. I focus on food that's going to fill me up, a bag of quinoa may be more expensive than a bag of rice, but it's going to fill me up alot more! I also use apps like Ibotta and Berrycart to get rebates for things I already buy and of course keep an eye out for coupons and stock up when I can!

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Lynda

my in law's pay fr groceries...

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Thomas Murphy

I use lots of coupons.