Ready to shop smarter?
This guide includes 30 tried and true ways to save money on groceries. Don’t use all 30! Pick and choose what works for your lifestyle, preferences and saving needs.
Below these tips are 50+ budget-friendly recipes! Scroll down to see the recipes.
Pick 2-4 of these budget tips to try out. You don’t need to use them all!
- Brainstorm foods you already like and eat that are cheap
Sit down and spend 10 minutes thinking about foods you enjoy that are generally affordable. Think grains, canned beans and produce that’s generally the same price all year round.
- Brainstorm REALISTIC changes you can make to your food routine
How often do you eat out? How often do you cook? Where do your snacks come from? Is there anything in your current food routine that you can realistically adjust to save on food? For me, it was meal prepping lunches instead of buying lunch out 4 days/week at work!
- Cook in bulk to get more out of your ingredients
Food waste = money waste. Meal prep or batch cooking is great because you’re more likely to use up all of your ingredients. Yes, this means getting used to leftovers! Learning to like leftovers will save you tons.
- Make a meal plan and see how it goes
This is the most effective way to save money on food. But the key is planning meals you will actually enjoy! Need help meal planning? Use The Workweek Lunch Meal Prep Program to choose amazing recipes, plan meals and generate a grocery list in minutes. Or check out our free meal planning guide here.
- Take inventory of what you have in your kitchen
Spend 20-30 minutes going through your pantry, freezer and fridge door (or wherever your sauces live). Write a note in your phone of all the types of grains, pasta, beans, proteins, frozen veg and other ingredients you can use to cook. Using what you already have = spending less on groceries!
- Make sauces and condiments from scratch as needed
Instead of buying a new sauce everytime, you can look up recipes to make all kinds of sauces with very basic ingredients that you probably already have
- Don’t shop at eye level at the grocery store
Look on lower or higher shelves – you’ll often find similar items for less!
- Use self-checkout at the grocery store
Sometimes when you physically have to ring up each ingredient in your haul, you’re more likely to catch impulse buys you don’t actually need.
- Order groceries online to know exactly how much you’re spending
When you shop online, you can easily see your total as you shop, which is super helpful if you’re trying to stay within a strict budget. Try it with our $25 meal plan here.
- Be flexible with plans so you can shop alternative items that might be on sale
If you can’t find an affordable ingredient for a recipe you’re cooking, quickly look up an alternative/replacement on your phone in the store. Google is your friend! You can always, ALWAYS swap out ingredients in cooking.
- Don’t be picky with brands
It’s no secret that generic brands (store brands) are generally cheaper than other brands – even if it’s for the same exact product!
- Go with a shopping list and stick with it
Impulse buys are where we get in trouble! Stick to that list and don’t go to the store without one if you’re trying to stay on budget. (here’s how to make a food budget, by the way)
- Shop your pantry
When meal planning for the week or deciding what to cook for dinner, look at your pantry/freezer first and plan meals around what you already have!
- Use Too Good To Go
Too Good To Go is an app where you can get discounted groceries and food items. It’s available in the US, Europe and Australia.
- Look at the sales ads
See what the deals are at the grocery store to save on items you buy frequently!
- Buy non-perishable items in bulk
Grains, pasta, oats, flour, sugar, canned items, frozen veggies etc can all be kept for a long time! Buy them in bulk for cheaper (if you have the space) so you don’t have to buy them every week.
- Freeze meat and fish in bulk
Not buying meat and fish every week is a great way to save on groceries! It’s worth stocking your freezer every once in a while.
- Buy bone-in meat or different cuts of meat
You’d be surprised how much cheaper it is to buy chicken thighs and drumsticks with the bone in than boneless, skinless chicken breast. You can easily take the skin off/take the bones out at home. It’s an extra step, but your wallet will be happy.
- Sign up for deals at your grocery store
Many grocery stores have a loyalty program for members. Usually, this requires you to sign up with your phone number and/or email, so every time you shop you can save on their member’s only deals. I save anywhere from $2-$10 on groceries/week this way.
- Grocery shop once a week (goes hand in hand with planning)
Shopping less frequently is a great way to spend less! Make a meal plan to avoid extra trips to the grocery store.
- Eat more vegetarian and vegan meals
Animal proteins and dairy can be really expensive! Learning to cook with vegan proteins will help you cut your grocery bill down a bit. Tofu and legumes tend to be cheaper than meat!
- Choose frozen berries over fresh
Berries are one of those fruits that can be so expensive when they’re not in season. Opt for frozen instead, especially for baking!
- Buy produce in season
This goes with being flexible – fruit is very interchangeable in recipes and cooking! Be flexible and ready to buy what’s in season to save. Also knowing how to properly store different types of produce will improve their lifespan.
- Shop multiple stores when possible for lower prices on different items
If you have the time, going to different stores for different items can also be a solid way to save money on groceries.
- Shop Trader Joe’s for pantry staples, snacks and freezer items
Trader Joe’s, if available to you, has amazing prices on nut butter, tahini and other specialty items like sauces, cheeses and more. It also has much cheaper snacks compared to the regular grocery store.
- Utilize freezer to make cooked food last longer
Remember how food waste = money waste? Make your food spend go farther by freezing leftovers for later instead of tossing them (if they taste good of course).
- Buy what you know you’ll use
Even if you see an interesting condiment or ingredient, don’t pick it up unless you have a recipe for it to use right away. Otherwise it will either go bad or sit in your pantry forever.
- If an item you use a lot is on sale, stock up
Take advantage of sales!
- Get creative with swaps in recipes
Cooking is more of an art than a science. When in doubt, Google ways to cut corners in recipes to avoid buying expensive ingredients. There’s always a cheaper way to make the meals you love!
- Invest in your pantry and restock a few times/year
This depends on how much you cook (and if you’re trying to save money on food, I hope you’re cooking frequently!) but investing in non-perishable ingredients you use often can cut grocery bills dramatically. Example: I went to Costco 18 months ago and spent about $150 on oats, sugar, flour, chickpeas, blackbeans, rice, quinoa and soy sauce. I’m still using these items!! I stock up on meat using Butcher Box a few times a year, and rarely have to buy it at the grocery store. This is the main reason my grocery bill is $30-$50 (for one, in Seattle) every week.
50 BUDGET-FRIENDLY RECIPES TO TRY
BUDGET-FRIENDLY RECIPES BASED ON PROTEIN
Black Bean Recipes
- The Easiest Burrito Bowl by Workweek Lunch
- Sheet Pan Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash by the Kitchn
- Black Bean and Roasted Salsa Soup by Budget Bytes
Pinto Bean Recipes
- Pinto Beans & Rice by Good, Cheap Eats
- Vegan Mushroom Pinto Bean Burger by The Spruce Eats
- Vegetable and Bean Tostada by Love & Olive Oil
- Veggie Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas by Workweek Lunch
- Curried Chickpeas with Spinach by Budget Bytes
- Smoky Chickpea Gyros by Beat the Budget
- Root Vegetable Lentil Stew by Plant Based on a Budget
- Tomato Lentil Soup by Workweek Lunch
- Lentil Burgers by Something Nutritious
- Marinated Tofu Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce by Budget Bytes
- The Best Tofu Scramble by The Green Loot
- Cajun Tofu Bowl with Cilantro Lime Rice by Vegan Richa
Chicken Thigh Recipes
- Sheet Pan Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs with Carrots & Broccoli by Eating Well
- Easy Bourbon Chicken by Workweek Lunch
- Mediterranean Chicken & Rice Bowls by Workweek Lunch
- Sheet Pan Eggs by Sweet Peas and Saffron
- Huevos Rancheros by She Wears Many Hats
- Easy Egg Drop Soup by The Woks of Life
Ground Turkey Recipes
- Spaghetti Frittata with Turkey Meatballs by Turnip the Oven
- Turkey Burger with Crispy Fries by Workweek Lunch
- Sheet Pan BBQ Meatballs by Budget Bytes
Canned Tuna Recipes
- Salad Nicoise by Good Cheap Eats
- Meal Prep Tuna Salad Sandwiches by Workweek Lunch
- Tuna Patties by Budget Bytes
BEST BUDGET RECIPES FOCUSED ON CARBS
- Budget Friendly Fiesta Rice with Beans by Workweek Lunch
- Budget Friendly Fried Rice with Edamame by Workweek Lunch
- Jambalaya Red Rice by the Kitchn
- Roasted Vegetable Pasta by A Couple Cooks
- Budget Friendly Chicken Noodle Soup by Workweek Lunch
- Vegan Butternut Squash Linguine by Cookie + Kate
- Budget Friendly Lentil Sweet Potato Curry by Workweek Lunch
- Loaded Mashed Potato Bowls by Budget Bytes
- Vegetarian Stuffed Sweet Potatoes by The Kitchn
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Quinoa Breakfast Cookies by the Spruce Eats
- Vegan Lemon Garlic Mediterranean Quinoa by Plant Based on a Budget
- Broccoli Quinoa Cakes by Feasting at Home
- Creamy Black Bean Taquitos by Budget Bytes
- Breakfast Tortilla Bake by Workweek Lunch
- Quesadilla with Spinach, Chipotle & Black Beans by Serious Eats
- Homemade Sandwich Bread by Tastes Better from Scratch
- Easy Zucchini Bread for Breakfast or Snack by Workweek Lunch
- Easy French Toast by Plant Based on a Budget
- Loaded Hummus Pita by Budget Bytes
- Fattoush Salad with Mint Dressing by Workweek Lunch
- Crispy Pita Bread Pizza by the Matbakh
- Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal by Workweek Lunch
- Creamy Oatmeal Smoothie with Peanut Butter & Banana by Well Plated by Erin
- Bananas Foster Baked Oatmeal by the Blackberry Babe
MAKE SAUCES & SALAD DRESSINGS FROM SCRATCH