24 Ways to Give Your Grocery List a Savings Makeover

Give Your Grocery List a Savings Makeover

Grocery Cart
Grocery Cart. © Flickr user Caden_Crawford

Spending more on groceries than you'd like to be? The problem may not be what you're buying, but how you're buying it. Flip through this slide show, to see how simple changes to your grocery list could lead to big savings at the register.

Buy Bagged Produce

Bagged Apples
Bagged Apples. © Erin Huffstetler

Whenever possible, buy your fruits and veggies by the bag instead of by the piece. Apples, potatoes and many other produce items get sorted by size, with the largest pieces being sold individually (at a premium) and the rest being sold in bags. 

Buy Lean Meat

Lean Meat
Lean Meat. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy lean cuts of ground beef. When you buy a package of 70% lean beef, 30% of what you're paying for is fat. When you buy 96% lean, only 4% of what you're paying for is fat—​and that means a lot more meat for your money.

Buy Dried Beans

Dried Pinto Beans
Dried Pinto Beans. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy dried beans, instead of canned. If you cook them up in big batches and freeze them, they'll be just as convenient as canned.

Buy Yogurt by the Quart

Quarts of Yogurt
Quarts of Yogurt. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy yogurt by the quart. Then, divide it into individual servings. Save even more by buying the store brand.

Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Frozen Vegetables
Frozen Vegetables. © Erin Huffstetler

Always throwing away spoiled produce? Switch to buying frozen, and you can dole out just what you need, so there isn't any waste.

Don't Buy Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy popcorn kernels instead of microwave popcorn. You can pick up a cheap popper from a thrift store, pop it in a bit of oil on the stove, or if you really like the convenience of microwave popcorn, just toss some kernels in a brown paper lunch sack, fold the top over, and keep making it in the microwave.

Buy Spices in Bulk

Bulk Spice Bins
Bulk Spice Bins. © Flickr user Mr_Hicks46

Buy your spices from the bulk bins. They're usually cheaper, and you can buy just what you need, so you don't end up throwing away stale spices later. If your grocery store doesn't have bulk bins, try an international grocery store, natural foods store or an Amish dry goods store.

Don't Buy Bagged Lettuce

Heads of Lettuce
Heads of Lettuce. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy lettuce by the head, instead of by the bag. You'll get a lot more lettuce and you'll spend less, too.

Buy Big Boxes of Cereal

Cereal. © Erin Huffstetler

When you're picking out cereal, go for the big boxes (or bags)—they typically have the lowest unit price. You'll find them hiding on the top or bottom shelf of the cereal aisle. Grocery stores reserve the middle shelf for the small, expensive boxes because they know that's where you'll look first (and often manufacturer's pay a premium to have their cereals displayed in this spot).

Don't Buy Your Cheese in the Deli

Cheese. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy cheese from the refrigerated section, instead of from the deli. You'll pay less per pound, and it will stay fresh longer. Sometimes block cheese is cheaper than sliced cheese. When that's the case, carry them to the deli, and see if they'll slice them for you. They're usually happy to do it.

Buy Choice Cut Meat

USDA Choice Cut Symbol
USDA Choice Cut Symbol. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy choice cuts of meat, instead of prime. Then, marinade or tenderize to erase the difference.

Buy Family-Size

Ground Beef Family Pack
Ground Beef Family Pack. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy family-size packages of meat (even if you don't have a large family). Then, repackage the meat into serving sizes that meet your needs. You can even freeze some for later.

Buy Whole Foods

Apples. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy whole fruits and vegetables, instead of prepared. You may have to spend a few minutes chopping or shredding when you get home, but your produce will be fresher and cheaper.

Mix Up Your Own Spices

Homemade Spice Blends
Homemade Spice Blends. © Erin Huffstetler

Many spice and seasoning blends are made from spices that you probably already have on hand. Before you add another jar to your collection, check to see if it's something that you can make yourself.

Spice Blend Recipes

Skip Store-Bought Mixes

Don'y Buy Box Mixes
Don'y Buy Box Mixes. © Erin Huffstetler

Many store-bought mixes—cake mix, pancake mix, muffin mix, etc.—are made from little more than flour, baking powder and sugar. Take a few minutes to mix the ingredients together yourself, and you'll save a ton.

Avoid Foods With Added Water

Ham with Water Added
Ham with Water Added. © Erin Huffstetler

When choosing a ham, look for one that's labeled, "No water added," to ensure that you're paying for the weight of the ham and nothing more. Do the same when buying juice. Take a closer look at product labels, and you'll find added water in all sorts of foods and cleaners.

Make Your Own Foaming Soap Refills

Foaming Hand Soap
Foaming Hand Soap. © Erin Huffstetler

Foaming hand soap is mostly water. If you like using it, buy a bottle of liquid hand soap, and make your own. You'll be amazed at how far one bottle of soap will go.

Don't Buy Drink Mixes

Drink Mixes
Drink Mixes. © Erin Huffstetler

Skip the powdered drink mixes. You can make real iced tea, lemonade and hot cocoa for a lot less coin. (and your taste buds will thank you for making the switch). Check the package that your tea bags, lemon juice or cocoa powder came in for a basic recipe to get you started. Then, customize the recipe to your tastes over time. Try adding fresh fruit or herbs to create your own gourmet blends.

Avoid Individual Servings

100-Calorie Packs of Pretzels
100-Calorie Packs of Pretzels. © Erin Huffstetler

Like the 100-calorie snack pack concept? Then, buy full-size packages of your favorite snacks, and make up your own snack packs. You'll get the same portion control, without paying a premium for it.

Don't Buy Boxed Rice

Bulk Rice
Bulk Rice. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy rice by the bag (or from the bulk bins). Then, season it to your tastes. Boxed rice is pricey and sodium-laden. 

Don't Buy Instant Oatmeal

Oatmeal - Quick Oats
Oatmeal - Quick Oats. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy big containers of oatmeal, instead of the instant packets. You'll get a lot more oatmeal for your money, and none of the artificial nonsense. Flavor your oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts or fresh fruit for a filling and satisfying breakfast.

Buy Frozen Seafood

Frozen Shrimp
Frozen Shrimp. © Erin Huffstetler

Buy frozen seafood, instead of fresh. Since both products generally ship to the store frozen, the only difference between the two is the price tag and who does the thawing.

Buy Hamburger Meat, Not Patties

Hamburger Meat
Hamburger Meat. © Erin Huffstetler

Making hamburgers? Buy a package of hamburger meat, instead of a package of pre-formed patties. A few minutes spent forming your own patties will net you a much lower price per pound.

Buy What's in Season

Bell Peppers
Bell Peppers. © Erin Huffstetler

When choosing fruits and veggies, stick to what's in season. It's a simple way to nab the cheapest, tastiest produce.