Frugal grocery shopping tips – $100 giveaway

Money saving grocery tips

Grocery shopping is one of the largest costs for early retirees and those trying to get there, because while other expenses can be cut to the bone, we all have to eat.

The first thing to realize is that grocery shopping tends to be the cheapest of all of our food costs, so there is nothing wrong with spending a bit more at the supermarket if it means spending a bit less on junk food or eating out at work. 

While it’s great to shop around and get the best price possible and to buy long-life staples in bulk – it’s important to understand that you can’t have both huge savings and your old grocery shopping cart – at some point sacrifices need to be made.

The five vital frugal grocery shopping tips that I use every week

1. Create a price book for every non-perishable shopping item 

The basic strategy here is to record the general rise and fall of common items that you buy regularly and to buy in bulk when they reach a particular price point. You might figure out that cans of tuna don’t get any cheaper than 50c per can after watching the price go up and down in your price book over a few months. When they hit that mark or below, buy up!

Preferably buy an amount to get you through to the next sale cycle for that item – every item will have a different cycle, and your price book will tell you exactly how long it is.

2. Don’t shop hungry, and don’t buy snack food

If you don’t buy it at the supermarket it won’t be in your pantry to tempt you later on. Snack food is horribly expensive and bad for your health making it an early retirement killing double whammy!

It takes sacrifice and dedication, but making a shift towards a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, unprocessed carbohydrates, beans, legumes, and so on will do wonders for your health and your wallet.

3. Make a list and stick to it

There is a reason people commonly list this as a top way to save money at the super market. If you can stick to it you become largely impervious to advertising and brand marketing that is so prevalent.

Don’t ever buy anything at the checkout!

4. See how long you can go without going to the supermarket

We do this all the time! Make it a challenge to see how long you can go living from the stuff you’ve got in your pantry and fridge. It’s actually quite fun to get creative with spices and the odds and ends in the cupboard.

It’s one of the best ways to be frugal with your grocery shopping budget because it stops wasting of food and also delays the spending of money at the supermarket. If you can regularly lengthen the time between shopping sessions by eating simple meals at home using pantry items, then you can save a lot of money over time.

5. Try home brand products

I can’t believe that at one point in my life I was embarrassed to take home brand items to the checkout. How foolish I was to be worried by what others thought! If you’re committed to saving for an early retirement or to saving money at the supermarket then you should try plain packaged or home brand items.

These items are for the most part the same as the branded products, even sometimes from the same production line – only they don’t have to pay for a large marketing budget and fancy packaging. The simple fact is that because a large percentage of people will prefer a branded product and pay more money for it the big companies get away with selling the same product for different amounts. It’s really odd, but how it works.

Some products are genuinely different and worth paying more money for. I will buy the following generic versions:

      • Pasta
      • Rice
      • Tuna
      • Canned tomatoes
      • Wine (clean skin or a good cask!)
      • Cleaning products (better yet make them yourself)
      • Toilet paper
      • Toothpaste
      • Milk
      • Flour
      • Beans
      • Frozen vegetables
      • Cheese
      • Sauces
      • Spices

There are many other ways to save money at the supermarket, but the ones I’ve listed above are the ones that I believe lead to the biggest savings for me on a month to month basis.


Win $100 to spend at the supermarket (or Amazon)!

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Frugal grocery shopping tips – $100 giveaway — 25 Comments

  1. Shopping when you’re hungry can be very dangerous. Everything looks so delicious when you haven’t eaten so you do buy quite a bit more. Shopping from a list not only saves you money, but also time because you’re not browsing the shelves. You’re usually in and out.

    • Yeah, shopping hungry really sucks – it becomes really hard to avoid the isles with junk food, and it’s almost impossible not to buy double everything. It’s only when you get home and eat that you realize you don’t need 10 pounds of potatoes and 4 liters of milk, or whatever your stomach told you to buy.

  2. I’m the worst when it comes to shopping hungry! I get REALLY cranky and just want to buy so many things which I know I don’t need, but that will satisfy my hunger the minute I am out of the shopping center. Things like chocolate bars :(

  3. Love the tips! I focused almost entirely on coupons, since that is how we have saved a significant amount of money on our grocery expenses. Of course, with couponing comes other things that you mentioned such as making a list and sticking to it.

  4. Your tips are right on the money. I have never thought about tracking non-perishable prices, but it makes perfect sense. Then you will always know when the best time to purchase those goods. Nice job thinking outside the box.

    • Yeah – we do a bit shop about that regularly too. Tonight we made tabbouleh with parley from the garden, couscous from the cupboard, left over tomatoes which will be nice with roasted spuds and some coleslaw. All using stuff in the fridge and pantry. Hell yeah.

    • Welcome Diane! Mr Diane sounds like a keeper. I found that putting flyers and catalogues on my smart phone is pretty handy so that I can refer to them when I get to the shop, or make a list in my lunch break at work.

  5. Very good points about shopping! Sometimes we just go shopping as a rutine when maybe we’ve got lot of things to finish up.
    I personally keep discount cards and go for generics where generic goods are sometimes better than branded ones!
    I also keep a small reserve of non perishable, I think is a good habit.

  6. This has been a heavy topic the last day in the PF world so today I’ll touch on not shopping when hungry. It’s the worst when I walk into a shop and all I smell is the bakery. My body instantly goes in that direction and I’m on the hunt for a snack. We always try to eat before we shop but when we can’t we just get in and get out. That’s our strategy. Mr.CBB

  7. I lived in Asia for 15 years, and they totally don’t subscribe to the idea of limiting how many times you go shop. They shop daily for their daily needs because they want everything as fresh as possible.

  8. Great Post. I’m curious if anyone is willing to share/ already has made a price book. I think that’s a fantastic idea. I have a general idea of most of the prices of my “essentials”, but – similar to having a general idea of where all my finances are going – having things explicitly layed out makes things a lot clearer. And it’s able to let you know if it’s a good price or a “buy the max amount you can fit in your shopping cart” price!! Thanks for the tips!

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