Woman checking a long grocery receipt leaning to a full shopping cart at store

23 smart ways to save money on groceries

Stick to your list and be wary of features marked “special.”

You run into the grocery store to pick up a few essentials, only to experience sticker shock at the checkout. With everyone talking about rising food prices, you know how easy (and frustrating) it is to rack up a hefty grocery bill. The good news is that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive or stressful.

Here are 23 economical and simple ways to eat well on a budget. 

Choose healthy, affordable items

  • Imported, exotic fruits and vegetables tend to be expensive, so stick with local items. In winter that means squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beets, apples and pears. Use these staples to prepare Carrot apple soup.
  • Frozen no-name vegetables are usually a good buy, especially when they’re on sale.
  • Since grain products have a long shelf life, stock up when the price is low. Invest in a large bag of rolled oats instead of single oatmeal portions, and try oat pilaf as a savoury side dish.
  • Save on bread with day-old whole grain loaves.
  • Save on cereal by choosing store brands.
  • Larger containers of milk cost less per serving, but only buy them if you can finish the contents before the expiry date.
  • Buy bricks of reduced-fat cheese instead of shredded or pre-packaged string cheese.
  • Opt for large containers of yogurt instead of smaller multi-pack containers.
  • When purchasing meat, less tender cuts are more affordable, and taste great when cooked slowly in stews, soup or chili. Try pork shoulder, stewing beef or chuck steak, and trim any visible fat.
  • For poultry, dark meat is less costly than white and has more iron, so choose thighs over breasts.
  • Meat alternatives like canned fish, eggs, peanut butter, tofu, lentils and beans all cost less than meat, so make a few meatless meals every week. Bonus: You’ll be reducing your saturated fat intake, which is linked to better heart health.

Shop smart

  • Arrive at the grocery store with a shopping list in hand, and stick to it.
  • Buy no-name or store brands, which are as good quality as the branded items.
  • Remember that the most expensive brands are kept at your eye level, but great deals can be found if you shop the upper and lower shelves.
  • Watch out for the word “special” – it may mean the grocer has a deal with the manufacturer to promote or display a product, but the price may not be any lower than usual.

Reduce waste

  • Canadians throw out an enormous amount of food, to the tune of $31 billion each year. There is no bigger waste of money than buying food that rots in your fridge.
  • Buy only what you need and make a habit of using leftovers. Try our Cabbage and potato mustard roast then make the leftovers into a yummy soup – the recipe is included.
  • Buy frozen vegetables if you find fresh ones rot too often.
  • Instead of tossing out food waste, consider composting

Clip coupons

  • Check grocery store flyers to compare prices on the items you use most.
  • Use manufacturer coupons from flyers or couponing websites such as save.ca.
  • Spend more time at discount grocers rather than premium chains.

And remember, no matter how sweet the deal is, an unhealthy food that’s high in sodium, sugar or trans fat is never a good buy.



8 Responses

  1. Maureen P

    Great tips. I always stock up when things are on sale and track sales prices so I never pay more than my price point for my regular items. Eg. I never pay more than 1 cent per gram for cheese or $1 per litre of milk. I would appreciate your thoughts on the the health of pork loin. They go on sale for $2 a pound. I cut them for roasts or strips and freeze. They taste great, and this is the cheapest meat source I know (less expensive that ground beef). I eat meat in moderation.

    1. Sharon Hollingsworth

      Hi Maureen and thank you for your interest in the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s blog posts. Glad you found the article titled 23 smart ways to save money on groceries helpful. It sounds like you have a very healthy approach to nutrition and meal planning. You may find the healthy eating information on our website useful, including Canada’s Food Guide which has recommendations on the number of daily servings of meat for children and adults as well as portion sizes. Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out! http://bit.ly/1vqTiVj

      Thanks again for reaching out Maureen and have a great day! Sincerely, Sharon at the Heart and Stroke Foundation

  2. Nancy

    One must be careful when buying no name brands over brand names, as no name brands may contain a lot more sodium than brand name products. A case in point is baked beans. I picked up a store brand and found it contained up to 1000 mg of sodium whereas the name brand only contained 420 – a big difference!!!

    1. Sharon Hollingsworth

      Hi Nancy – it is true that we do need to check nutritional information on grocery store products, not only no name brands but with brand names too. I always try to pick up lower sodium versions of canned foods when they are available. Good for you for taking the time to check! Sincerely, Sharon at the Heart and Stroke Foundation

  3. Stuey

    I never buy stewing beef, instead look for reduced steak of any cut. Take it home and cut and trim it yourself. Usually this is around 50% cheaper not to mention more tender than stew beef.

    1. Sharon Hollingsworth

      Good idea Stuey – I’ve often purchased steak for my stews too. We just need to be sure we’re selecting as lean a cut as possible or as you say, trim the fat off when we’re preparing to cook it. Thanks for your comment! Sincerely, Sharon at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

  4. Nancy

    Nothing knew in this article, just a rehash of very old advice. Newbie is right!! Perhaps get someone with some real life experience to write your advice, not someone fresh out of school.

    1. Sharon Hollingsworth

      Thanks for your comment, Nancy. And yes, many of our readers have likely read much of this information before, but it never hurts to be reminded. Sincerely, Sharon at the Heart and Stroke Foundation

We welcome your comments on our posts, but ask that you refrain from using profanity and remain courteous and respectful of others' opinions. The Heart and Stroke Foundation reserves the right to remove any comments that are not in compliance with this policy.

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