We all could use a few suggestions on how to create the cheapest grocery list these days. Planning ahead is key to grocery shopping on a budget. You have likely noticed that things cost quite a bit more lately—and unfortunately, that includes groceries.
With rising inflation rates, consumers in the U.S. are paying more for everyday items like groceries. Prices for almost everything have risen, and that makes it tough to stretch your dollars.
It’s essential for many of us to watch our spending more than ever, especially on staples to feed our families.
Why you may need to create a cheap grocery list for a month or more
Although some of us enjoy frugality for its own sake, many of us are currently tightening our budgets out of necessity. Here are some of the typical reasons why you may need to make the cheapest groceries list this month and for the coming months.
Inflation has increased food costs
Costs of a wide range of products have risen over the past year or two. Consumer Reports recently noted that the 8.3-8.5% annual inflation rates have been reported. That’s in stark contrast to an inflation rate of just 1.4% prior to 2020.
Thanks to inflation, you’re seeing higher prices at the grocery store, the gas pump, and practically everywhere else. If you’re making the same income as before inflation soared, you have to find ways to cut budget expenses somehow.
You may have lost your job
To add insult to injury, you might have also recently experienced a job layoff. It’s never fun to lose your job, no matter the reason, but with rising grocery costs things are likely very tight.
Unemployment can make it nearly impossible to pay your bills, especially if you’re the sole wage earner of the household. Even in a dual-income household, losing one of those incomes is devastating. Making the cheapest grocery list can help you make ends meet while on the job hunt.
You can pay off debt faster with a budget shopping list
Even if you’re not facing a reduction in income, your income isn’t stretching as far as it used to. You may have less money left to put toward debt repayment, keeping you in debt longer.
Using a strict budget grocery shopping list will help ensure that you can pay your minimum balances. In some instances, you may even be able to put more toward credit card debt or other debt. The less you have to pay at the supermarket, the more you can funnel into debt payoff.
Save for the future with the cheapest grocery list
Finally, another reason you might be looking for grocery saving tips is to save for your future. Whatever your financial situation, you’d probably rather put money aside for your future than spend it all on food.
Of course, you need to make sure your family’s nutritional needs are met. But by using these tips to get the same quality of food, you could save a lot of money by living cheaply.
Then you can put whatever is excess into whatever you want! Save for your kids’ college in a 529b, invest for retirement, plan for a big vacation—you won't spend your whole paycheck on food when you're using the cheapest groceries list.
4 ideas to create the cheapest grocery list
Now that you’ve figured out what your “why” is (and it could just be that you’re sick and tired of overpaying for groceries), here are some ideas to create a money-saving grocery list.
1. Focus on the best foods to buy for the cheapest grocery list
This won’t come as a shock to anyone, but when you’re trying to save money on groceries, what you buy makes a difference. Some types of foods will nearly always cost more. Focus on the lower-cost, higher-nutrition foods to get the maximum bang for your buck.
Buy non-perishables in bulk
One type of food that is great for saving you money is non-perishable items. These are food products that have an extremely long shelf life. Technically, almost nothing is literally non-perishable, but plenty of foods will last for months on end.
If you can buy non-perishables like canned vegetables and fruits, peanut butter, nuts, and dried pasta, those will last a long time in your pantry.
Buying them in bulk, for example, at a store that offers bulk discounts, will also stretch your dollars. These are great to keep on hand for emergencies as well, such as extended power outages.
Purchase items that are on sale
Okay, I know this one is completely obvious: buy stuff when it’s on sale. But seriously, don’t ignore the sale items when making your cheap grocery list.
If you get mailers indicating which products are going on sale and when, try to get to that store on the correct day. Often, you can save on groceries by focusing your shopping on what’s already discounted.
There are plenty of delicious, frugal meal recipes to try out. You may just need to expand your ideas about food to include new ideas.
Buy store brands for your cheapest grocery list
Let me tell you, as a child of the 80s, there were not nearly as many grocery options available. If you ever bought the generic or store brand of something, chances were pretty good that the food was sub-par. Today, store brands are just as tasty as the pricey name-brand items.
If you’ve never ventured away from the fancy name-brand foods, you’re missing out on a huge savings opportunity. Please, try those store brands to save big bucks.
For example, I buy a ton of Frosted Mini-Wheats. Actually, I almost never buy that brand.
At Walmart, an 18-ounce box could be $3.48, or 19.3 cents per ounce. In comparison, the equivalent generic cereal is $3, or 16.7 cents per ounce.
Buy raw ingredients rather than processed or prepared foods
Here’s another tip you may find helpful: save on groceries by buying more raw or whole ingredients. Get ingredients that are as close to their original state as possible.
Purchasing a bag of oranges instead of individual serving cups of fruit is often a much more economical way to go, for example.
This isn’t always cheaper, but it’s a pretty safe bet. Other than cooked rotisserie chickens (which are still remarkably cheap because stores want to use them to draw in customers), most raw foods cost less than if the store prepares them for you.
2. Where you shop makes it easier to buy cheap grocery items
As with all products, food prices vary depending on the retailer you visit. You can cut your grocery budget down significantly by switching stores. There may be other regional or local stores near you, but here are a few of the best inexpensive grocery stores.
Yes, Aldi is at the top of my list! Aldi stores are growing in popularity in the U.S. They offer high-quality, inexpensive grocery items to save you money. In addition to the cheap prices, they often sell great organic or specialty items.
Plus, you no longer have to use cash, so it’s easy for credit card shoppers like me.
While you may frequent Walmart for its household goods, kitty litter, or school supplies, groceries are also quite inexpensive there. Often your cheapest grocery list will be even cheaper at Walmart than at other stores.
The dollar store may not sell a full selection of groceries, but you might be able to pick up a few of your staples there. Whether your region is covered with Dollar General, the Dollar Tree, or Family Dollar, chances are you can buy certain foods cheaply there.
Having a membership may help you save money (aka Costco)
Certain stores require that you have a membership to shop there. Costco is one example, and for many families, the $60-$120 membership fee is well worth it. You’ll want to weigh the value you can get out of the membership before joining.
Think of how convenient the store is, whether it carries enough food products you’d buy and whether there are other saving benefits.
Other stores, such as Kroger, offer free membership. You only need to sign up to start saving money. That’s another good option; even if it’s not your only supermarket, you may as well save when you can.
3. When you shop can help you find low-cost grocery items
As any good bargain shopper knows, finding cheap grocery items (or anything cheap) also comes down to good timing. Most retailers, grocery and otherwise, put certain things on sale on different days, times of day, and seasons.
Keep your budget shopping list in line by paying attention to when you shop for groceries. This means watching for storewide sales, noting expiration dates on coupons, and finding other date and time-specific deals. (And don’t forget that meal planning can help you save money and reduce food waste.)
Sale days can result in the cheapest groceries list
Shopping on sale days could save you money right off the bat. Especially if you're looking for a cheap grocery list for a month or so.
By knowing that certain supermarkets put most products on sale on Wednesdays, for example, you could aim to shop then for the best discounts.
Watch your local newspaper mailers for sale notices and follow your favorite grocers on social media. That way you’re informed of when certain foods will be marked down.
Double coupon days
There may be some grocery stores that offer double coupon days as well. These might not be quite as frequent as other sales, but it’s worth looking into. If you’re a couponer, you might as well use those coupons on days when the store doubles their value!
Don’t forget the special times when certain foods go on sale. For example, around Easter, you can buy a spiral-cut ham for low prices, and the day after a holiday, popular holiday foods might be marked down.
4. Money-saving apps can help you save on grocery shopping
In the digital age, be sure you’re not missing out on savings from useful grocery apps. There are plenty of free apps that save you money upfront or provide rewards after purchase. Either way, you come out ahead!
Ibotta is a money-saving app you can download to save on everyday items you buy at popular retailers. With the Ibotta app, you can save money whether you prefer shopping online or in the actual store.
When using Ibotta, you can select handy tools like offer alerts for nearby retailers. Rewards may be earned in the form of gift cards or cash back and are available at tons of stores like Target and Walmart.
Here’s another money-saving app option: Fetch Rewards. My family uses this one to earn dining gift cards. It’s free to use, and you can earn points to redeem for gift cards based on purchases you make at stores and restaurants.
Rakuten can help you make a cheap grocery list for shopping at places like Target. Like similar apps, Rakuten offers members cash back for specific types of purchases. Rakuten currently has a $10 bonus for new members as well.
Target has its own savings app as well and can enable you to get exclusive deals and discounts, which is great when you're looking for cheap grocery items.
If you’re a frequent Target shopper, you can follow a budget shopping list for groceries as well as hundreds of other items.
An example cheap grocery list for you
What you buy in groceries depends on you and your family’s preferences and dietary needs, of course. And you may need a cheap grocery list for a month or a week depending on how often you shop.
But here’s an example of the cheapest grocery list you might try from discount stores.
Cheap groceries at Aldi:
Here are some examples and estimated costs of super cheap groceries you can find at Aldi stores.
- Clancy’s Big Dippers Tortilla Chips, 10 oz., $1.79
- Red Grapes: $0.95 per pound
- Peaches: $1.29 per pound
- Little Salad Bar Chopped Salad Kit $3.49 per package
Cheap groceries at Walmart:
Check out these inexpensive finds that Walmart stores have.
- Honey Wheat Bread (Great Value), 20 oz., $0.98
- Large White Eggs (Great Value), 18 ct., $3.24
- Toasted O’s Cereal (Great Value), 12 oz., $1.34
- Marketside Organic Baby Spinach, 16 oz., $4.96
- Long Grain Enriched Rice (Great Value), 32 oz., $1.38
- Garbanzos (Chickpeas) (Great Value), 16 oz. bag, $1.28
- Organic White Quinoa (Great Value), 32 oz., $5.47
- Chunk Light Tuna (Great Value), 12 oz., $1.76
- 1% milk (Great Value), gallon, $2.38
- Old Fashioned Oats (Great Value), 42 oz., $2.58
These are just a few examples of prices local to where I live. Obviously, prices may vary by region, and your preferred food and drink items will be different from mine.
But by following the more general tips of when and where to shop, you can keep your grocery list and costs down.
Stretch your dollars with these 4 basic tips for creating a budget grocery list
You'll save money when you follow the basic guidelines of shopping at less-expensive stores, knowing when certain items go on sale, and maximizing your coupons and rewards.
Even though you can’t control how expensive foods will become, you can be savvy enough to lower your grocery expenses each month.
Our Clever Girl Finance articles offer plenty more frugal living tips, and our free finance courses can help keep you on track with your money goals.