8 Best, Cheapest places to Grocery Shop on a Budget
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you purchase something I recommend- at no additional cost to you! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for supporting this blog! Full disclosure here.
How do you save money on groceries? That is something we all need to figure out. We are living in a time where food costs are skyrocketing, and the prices of other items are also increasing. The good news is that there are ways that you can save money on your grocery bill! In this blog post, I am going to share 8 places that offer the best price for grocery shopping on a budget.
How much does an average person spend on groceries per month?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends around 387 dollars a month on groceries. Americans spend nearly 10 percent of their disposable income on food which seems like a large percentage and can be comparable to more of our expensive bills.
This is due mostly to families splitting their food budgets between eating out at restaurants or getting fast food, while the other half is spent on groceries to be made at home. The price of convenience for many food items can add an increase to your monthly food budget, that is not necessary.
In this article, we will discuss the many different store options that can help to reduce your grocery spending and to help find options of all kinds to fit your specific needs and budgets.
Average cost of food per month for family of 4
The USDA publishes food plans based on the average cost of food items that you would buy at your typical grocery store. For the year 2021, it is stated that a family of four on a moderate budget would likely be spending around 1,200 dollars a month. A low-cost plan for a family of four would likely spend around 900 dollars a month. The average leans more toward the moderate budget of spending for average families of this size.
Those of us with larger families may have a harder time budgeting the needs of all of their family members, and especially getting everyone to agree on what to eat. For situations like these, though, there are still ways to curb your spending while getting items everyone in your family will enjoy. We will discuss many ways to help you budget for your grocery needs, by picking chains that will help you stay within a range that doesn’t break the bank but does still fulfill your family’s needs.
If you are looking for more help creating or researching the average budget of your family’s size then Intuit has a great budget calculator that you can customize to your family’s needs in order to help get a better idea of how to budget, using specific age ranges and dietary needs.
How much does the average person spend on household items per month?
The average American family spends upwards of 19,000 dollars a year on household items and expenses, such as repairs, rent, utilities, and general maintenance or needed items for your household.
This factors out to be around 1,600 dollars a month being spent on these items. These numbers can fluctuate greatly but this is the biggest chunk of any family’s budget as our household has to be maintained and the bills paid every month.
How To Save Money by shopping at the discount grocery stores every month!
The grocery store is a place we all know too well, and we visit there quite often to spend our money on food for the week for our families. This can be daunting if you have other bills looming or are a little low on funds currently, but don’t worry there are many easy switches and tips to be made that can save you a lot of money on your trip! Some of the easiest tips are to buy in bulk of the items that will last and you know you will eat, buy generic brands instead of brand names, and to shop in the clearance sections.
The clearance grocery section may seem off putting to some but the things that are sold on clearance usually just have to be used in a quicker time frame than other options on the shelf. Other items on clearance could be due to damaged canned goods, which are still consumable as long as the can has not been pierced or opened in any way, or produce that may not look picturesque.
This is a good tip for shoppers on a budget as these items are perfectly fine to cook with and eat, they just may not be up to the grocery chains standards. Below we will be discussing the best grocery stores to buy from and the services they offer! Another great tip is to sign up for loyalty programs with your grocery store of choice in order to get money off of store brand items and coupons!
You’ll also love:
- How to Save Money on Groceries (without couponing)
- 14 Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store
- How to Stop Wasting Food and Save Money
8 Of the Best places to get Cheap Groceries on a Budget
Aldi is on the top of many shoppers’ cheapest grocery store list and there is a good reason for that! Aldi prides itself on having a tight supply chain which cuts out the prices of the middlemen in the chain that you could be paying for at other store options.
This store gives out weekly discount flyers and sells its own private label products that can be sold to you at the prices they choose because they have streamlined their supply process. You can buy all of the usual essentials, even meat and produce are cheaper on average, and they have options for some dietary restrictions.
Sam’s Club is a popular bulk retailer that famously requires shoppers to have a membership to shop with them. This is all worth it though as this store has everything from produce to things like toilet paper that can be bought in large quantities. This chain is actually owned by Walmart, but instead of being a superstore for everything, its main focus is on food products, which allow for maximum savings and fewer distractions.
Alsi’s is a great option for large families that need more items, and those who can save their items, meal prep, and stock up on canned goods and other items that can be preserved for use over a longer period of time. Sam’s Club also has cheaper starting memberships than other options like Costco, though Sam’s Club has fewer stores worldwide and is only located in the US and in Puerto Rico.
A very similar bulk retailer to Sam’s Club is Costco, and while the membership is slightly more expensive with this store, this chain is more widespread. Costco also offers their own store specific coupon deals which give shoppers access to exclusive deals to use at their store locations. Where Sam’s Club offers a lot of brand name products, Costco’s items are usually cheaper on average as they have some generic or store specific options to choose from.
This is another option for larger families or those who have space to store bulk products and preserve what they will not use in a timely manner. If you have a lot of freezer space or have a large family that regularly meal preps, then this chain will save you a lot of money by buying your foods and essentials in larger quantities. This means less trips to the grocery store because you can buy more in one trip while spending less overall.
Trader Joe’s may seem like a more expensive option than some on this list, and you would be right. However, there are still great deals for this chain, and it is similar to Aldi in its design. This retailer sells private label products and buys their products at lower cost directly from manufacturers, when possible. So, much like Aldi, they can cut out the prices from middlemen that may be imposed on shoppers from other popular chains.
The store saves its shoppers money in other ways, such as, energy-efficient utilities and not having bakery or staffed deli sections. This way they provide you with cheap, private products and don’t charge you to pay for their electric bill. This chain likes to focus on the customer’s needs and wants all of the food bought to be used, which is why they do things like selling single bananas for only 19 cents, that way you don’t have to worry about making an eating schedule around your perishable fruits.
Trader Joe’s even has a very lenient no questions asked full refund return policy, which can save you a lot of money and prevent you from wasting food if you have some picky eaters in your household. Another big draw of shoppers to this chain is that there are options for those with dietary restrictions, and they offer unique products that you can’t get anywhere else. So, if you want unique food and snacks, low prices, and ease of shopping, Trader Joe’s is a great option.
Walmart is a superstore staple that likely everyone has stepped foot into at least once. So, unsurprisingly, they have made the list for stores that you can buy cheap groceries from. While Walmart does not solely sell grocery products, they still have a wide selection of products for those shoppers who use this chain to buy their food.
Due to the sheer size and popularity of this chain, they can afford to buy their stock in bulk at lower prices than many competitors, which helps to drive their prices down for their shoppers. The supply model that Walmart works off of also gives them the freedom to set their own prices and to avoid warehouse costs being forced onto consumers. Walmart can even sell some items lower than they paid for it because the size of their stores leads shoppers to buy other items because of the many options available.
Walmart is one of the biggest superstore chains and its shoppers often buy items that may not have been on their list which makes up for many of the under-cost items that are on the shelves. All in all, this is a tried-and-true store for many shoppers and if you follow simple budgeting tips like couponing, avoiding name brands, and shopping clearance then you are sure to save money on your monthly grocery bill.
Another good tip is that the products set at your eye level in these larger stores, are usually the more expensive and brand name products. If you search the shelves and compare prices, you’ll find that the cheaper options are usually shelved closer to the bottom in an attempt to get you to buy the brand name products, so keep your eyes peeled for deals.
Winco is a smaller chain than Walmart or Costco but does still boast many bulk items for sale. This gives families the option of buying certain products in bulk while continuing to shop for other specific food items as well. In addition to selling bulk items, they also sell certain items by the pound, such as oats, cereal, flour, even dried fruit and other dry ingredients that can be useful for individual shoppers and families.
This way you only pay for the amount of product itself you are going to use and not the brand name packaging or the empty spaces in the containers. Winco has a very popular coupon mailing list that shoppers can sign up for and get further discounts on their products, so all of you couponers will really be able to capitalize on the products at this retailer. Winco does not accept credit cards and they make their shoppers bag their own groceries; this may seem like an inconvenience but it actually helps to drive costs of items down even lower as they do not spend money on the labor of grocery baggers.
Produce can be one of the most expensive things on our grocery lists and we want to buy the best, most appetizing fruits and veggies, at Winco that will be no problem. By buying local produce this chain gives you quality and fresh produce at a reduced cost. Finally, when you enter the store itself you will be greeted by the Wall of Value, which is one of the largest sections and contains some of the best deals on items throughout the entire store. This section includes a majority of the store’s bulk items which makes it a great stop for those with larger families or who have the means to store large quantities of food.
This is a lesser-known option on this list, because this store chain is exclusive to the northeast of the United States. What it lacks in its accessibility, though, it makes up for in savings. This store offers cheap prices due to its business model and the chain’s overall lack of debt. The store keeps its employees happy, which results in a lower turnover rate that the store can then use to help provide its customers savings.
The store may not be large but its lack of overall debt helps it to keep its prices low to compete with its competitors, because they don’t have to pay a portion of their profits to debt collectors. Some of the highlights of their savings are on produce and seafood, which are usually expensive options for most of us average shoppers.
This chain is owned by Kroger, and while Kroger may not always be the cheapest option their sister store is consistently on the list of cheap grocery options by consumers overall. Being an affiliate of Kroger also means shoppers will still get to enjoy perks like saving on gas with fuel points they can get from their grocery purchases, which can translate into savings at the pump with their affiliate gas locations.
This chain does have smaller stores, and less flashy setups on shelving and produce bins, but this is all to help bring their shoppers more affordable options. They have low priced produce, but they still have a lot of options that you would find at many of your larger retail chains. Much like some of our other options, Food4Less sends its shoppers weekly ad deals, which attribute to more savings to be had every week.
Much like Kroger, but cheaper, they offer brand names and generic brands to meet every kind of budget. This store also has many gluten-free options and other dietary restriction alternatives. Since this store is more focused on value, they save their shoppers money by having them bag their own groceries and then redirect the saved cost from not having baggers into their deals.
Kroger is not necessarily considered a budget grocery store, however we find that when we take care to stick to our meal plan, we are able to easily stay on budget.
We have been shopping at Kroger as our main grocery store for several years, and have found that buying the generic brands, using digital coupons, and cashing in our gas rewards, has helped our family save hundreds of dollars on groceries each month!
Our main reason for shopping at Kroger is that it’s everywhere in our area, and we are able to find the majority of the items that we eat regularly for a great price. However, we are no stranger to grocery store hopping! We always make the extra trip to grab our Almond milk at Aldi, and find that Walmart offers better prices on several frozen breakfast items, as well as string cheese.
Cheapest doesn’t always mean bad or low quality
Those of us trying to create a budget and stick to it may feel that we will have to sacrifice the quality of our groceries in order to do this, but that is not true! The above list of grocery stores has many options for those on a budget that does not diminish the quality of the foods. While finding a cheap location to buy your groceries is an important step in your monthly savings, it is also important to remember to implement the other tips as well.
Look for one of these stores in your area for the best chance at major savings:
- Market Basket
- Trader Joe’s
- Sam’s Club
Buy from the clearance sections when you can, because it usually just means it may be nearing its sell-by date, but it is still consumable and most products can still be eaten after their “sell by” or “best by” dates, so don’t let retailers fool you into thinking you have to spend more on the same product. Additionally, clearance items may be there just because they don’t pass the grocery chain’s test of judgment on how their items should look.
So, if those ugly potatoes are cheaper than the others that are out front and center, it’s safe to say you can buy the ugly ones, they’ll all taste the same in your dinner. Also, it is important to remember that when navigating through these retailers they usually have the more expensive items at your eye level or in well-traveled locations of the store, be sure that you are searching for the best deals and not grabbing what your eye lands on first! With these tips, you can maximize your savings at any of the grocery stores above, and your savings will thank you.