food shopping on a budget

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Love it or hate it food shopping is part of our daily lives and one of our biggest expenses but it’s actually one that’s within our control and something that you can get more for your money if we change our habits. In fact, when I started really investigating my own budget and trying the tips below I was able to save money! To see what you think, can you too learn how to do food shopping on a budget and save yourself money?

1. Set a limit so you can do food shopping on a budget

budget quote

First things first, look at your current spending habits; how often are you shopping? How much are you spending, and what are you spending it on? Then look at the information and decide what budget you will stick to.

Tip 2 will help you stick to this, but first of all, you need to know what your budget is and what you can afford to spend each month on food shopping. A study showed more than 39% of Americans overspend on their weekly grocery shop in a recent report.

To beat the statistics, you need to really understand your budget and make it into something you can realistically follow.

Want to know more about budgeting? Check out these 15 budgeting tips

2. Using a bank account that shows you your food spending

StarlingBank Personal Account Product SPENDING INSIGHTS

Bank accounts like Starling categorise your spending, which you can access in a handy app. This means you can keep track of real-time how much you are spending on groceries. The best part is that having an account is free, and it’s likely going to help you stop overspending because you will know exactly how much you have spent so far.


3. Meal Planning, the key to shopping on a budget

meal plan

Meal Planning, the dark arts of being organised. This one takes some practice, but actually, it’s fun once you get the hang of it. First, start by listing your favourite meals; if you live with others, do it together. What do you like to treat yourselves with? What meals are easy to cook if you’ve had a long day at work? Our favourite night is Saturday night; my husband loves it because he knows it’s steak night.

When you have this, get some paper and write the days of the week down and plot your meals in and just like that, my friend, you have a meal planner. If you’re techy like me, you can also get some cool meal planning apps. See my post here about my favourite meal planning apps.

4. Don’t do grocery shopping when hungry

Never shop when you’re hungry. You WILL spend more and probably end up wasting the food you overbought. Have you ever done that? Called on the way home from work or skipped a meal then gone shopping?

Food shops prey on this and think about what you smell when you walk into a Grocery store. Could it be the bakery or fresh produce that instantly makes you feel hungry? What happens next is you spend more money!

5. Take a picture of your fridge

budget food shopping

Take a picture of your fridge and cupboards before you go if you don’t have time to make a list. This way, you won’t end up buying products you don’t need. I’ve done it plenty of times where I had come back and bought the same thing I bought the week before because I had forgotten I had bought it.

6. Make a grocery list

Food shopping on a budget is easiest when you have a list. You really work the system because you decide where you go in the supermarket. Don’t follow the whole route around; this is designed to make you spend more money. Have you noticed all of the offers on the aisle ends that are irresistible as you walk around? Don’t be fooled; stick to your list!

Bonus tip: If you live in a house with others, I would recommend setting up a shared shopping list so when someone notices you have run out of something, you can add it to the list.

7. Drop some brands it makes food shopping on a budget easier

Take the brand challenge, and this is an easy one to do and again can be quite fun to play with yourself and your family. So what do you do? Look at what you are buying today and buy the level down or non-branded version. Then test your family. Can you tell the difference?

Let me give you an example. I recently switched my coffee. I love coffee, and Kenco Millenco is one of my favourites, but the price kept going up; in fact, the majority of the time now, it retails at £5 for 100g, so what did I do? I tried the supermarkets own brand. The supermarket dressed it in a tin just like Millenco, and it cost £2.50, that’s half price, and honestly, I can’t tell the difference! Roughly I buy this product every 3 weeks, so that’s a saving of £43 a year just on my coffee! Seriously give it a go.

8. Do this with toiletries too

Don’t forget to try the brand challenge with your toiletries and cleaning products too. You don’t eat these products. If they work, why pay more?!

9. Shop online

Shop online as a new customer, it’s common for grocery stores to put out introductory offers to entice new customers, and it’s usually a sizeable discount. It’s not a long term saving, but it will a short term way to save a little money on food shopping.

10. Stop the waste

Cut back on Food waste, and you will automatically save money on your food shopping. How much food are you wasting today? Do you know the difference between all of the labels? Here are my tips to read and make sure you are not unnecessarily throwing food away

  • The use-by date: means what it says you should bin this as you could be risking food poisoning.
  • Best before date: this is where it could still be edible depending on how past the date you are. Best before is simply the manufacturer saying to you that’s the date they believe the product is at optimum quality.
  • Display until and sell by: believe it or not, this is a message for the supermarket staff, not you, and again the product could be fine depending on how far past that date you are.

11. Become a leftover food wizard

Learn how to make more meals with leftovers. Again another fun way to make something different for you and your family and make your food go further. A book I invested in for some inspiration is save with Jamie Oliver, a fantastic book to use leftovers from common meals. There are over 120 recipes! i.e. I made a fantastic smokin’ chicken chowder from my Sunday Chicken Roast before getting this book; the leftovers would have just gone in the bin. Want to know more I’ve also written a post here on Jamie’s money-saving meal book.

12. Get FREE vouchers

I had to save the best until last, but did you know you can earn free vouchers by completing surveys? Using an app like Swagbucks, you can get free vouchers for watching ads and filling out surveys.

They operating in lots of countries like US, Canada and UK and you can spend them at places like Walmart, Amazon. You should absolutely check it out and grab yourself some free vouchers today!


Sign up to Swagbucks for free here.

13. Compare Supermarket Prices

Last but not least use comparison sites to compare supermarket prices.

These sites let you know if you could be getting better value elsewhere, so make use of them.

14. Wait For Supermarkets to reduce their prices

If you want to be really frugal you could shop when supermarkets reduce their prices. Grab a few bits for massive discounts!


Food shopping is a massive expense for any household, but it doesn’t have to be as big. By following the steps listed in this guide, hopefully, like me, you can save some money on your grocery shopping.

Did you find any of the tips useful? Share this article if you did so together we can help more people save money.

Feel free to leave any of your tips in the comment below so this article can be updated with lots of ideas.

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food shopping on a budget

About the author 

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is a passionate advocate for financial freedom. She is the founder of MeMoreMoney, and a featured Personal Finance expert in GO Banking Rates and Yahoo! Finance. Mary loves to make money simple and understandable for everyone. Her goal is to help people make simple changes so that they have more money to live the way they want.

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