When you are grocery shopping on a budget, it takes some advanced preparation before you go to the store. But don't worry, you're about to become a pro at this!

Learn how to do your grocery shopping on a budget - Tips from Shelf Cooking

There's nothing worse than going to the store unprepared and realizing you have no clue what you need. Add in the fact that you're trying to save money and you're pretty much guaranteed to blow it!

If you're grocery shopping on a budget and want to be successful and save money in the grocery store, there are some critical things that you need to do before you go grocery shopping.

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Now don't start freaking out and thinking that you'll never have time in your busy schedule to figure this out. You CAN do your grocery shopping on a budget and be successful without it taking too much of your time!


This is the first step, and it’s part of how you're going to save so much money! When you are grocery shopping on a budget, all you need to do is be aware of what the good deals are for the week and base your meals for the week off of those. How do you know what the good deals are? There are three basic ways.


You know what we're talking about. They're the ads at the front of the store when you first walk in. You may get them in your “junk mail,” or through email. This is a great and free way to find what's on sale; it takes a little time, but it works fine.

Look at the ads for the stores where you like to shop and focus mostly on the front and back pages. (The middle is just filler to make them look thicker!) Check out the best deals and prices and circle or take note of what the good deals are that week. Then use them to plan your meals and remember to stock up on them if your budget allows.


Woman grocery shopping on a budget on her laptop, from Shelf Cooking

We seriously recommend doing your grocery shopping on a budget using Deals To Meals instead of searching through the ads. We discovered this website years ago, and it's the coolest one we know.

Let us explain to you how it works so you can be in awe just like we are! She gathers all of the ads from the stores in your state (since it’s nationwide and expanding daily). She finds all of the weekly deals and organizes them in a spreadsheet. Then she flags the best deals for you! It's so simple and so worth it.

All you have to do is look through the list and look at all the flagged deals. (If an item on the list isn’t flagged, wait until it is. Your budget loves it when you don't buy things at full-price!) Then you can just add what you need to your shopping list. You'll be saving money with no coupons needed, woohoo! Membership to the site costs less than $5 a month. We guarantee you’ll make that back after your first trip to the grocery store.


Meal plan using seasonal fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies are always cheaper when they're in season. Plan to cook with and eat that produce for the week and you will save money. Don’t go for raspberries in November or parsnips in June. Just stick with what’s available at the best prices and you can't go wrong!


Meal planning sheets on a counter, from Shelf Cooking

Making a meal plan BEFORE you go shopping is key to sticking to your grocery budget. Remember to shelf cook and base your plan on what you already have. Then you can figure out what you need to grab from the store to complete any recipes and meals. 

It's really so easy and it's near as daunting as it sounds! Check out our meal planning post to get all of our best tips and a super cute, free printable to help make meal planning a breeze.

I really like to suggest planning your meals at least a week in advance. Nobody wins when you wait until 4:30 pm to figure out dinner. You'll just end up with ordering a pizza or takeout. Or if you stick to your guns on not eating out, then you'll end up with loads of frustration and fist-shaking. No one likes a shaking fist!

Be sure to be realistic and plan for a night or two of leftovers or eating out. This will keep you from buying too much food and spending too much for the week. We can all agree you don't need to do that when grocery shopping on a budget!


I recommend keeping a grocery list of things you need in your phone, because if you’re like everyone else, you always have your phone on you! If you shop at different stores for your groceries, then I would suggest separating your list by the stores (for us, that’s Walmart and Costco) and buy the things you usually buy at each store.

A basic rule of smart grocery shopping is to never go to the store without a list! And make sure you stick to your list; don't make any impulse buys! There are two great ways to help out with this: do Walmart Grocery Pickup (use that link and get $10 off your first purchase of $50!) and have them load the groceries into your car, or let Instacart deliver your groceries to you! Either way, you won't have to worry about blowing your budget on those impulse buys.

Alright, well there you have it! What tips and tricks do you have for grocery shopping on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!

Image with text that reads "how to easily grocery shop on a budget" from Shelf Cooking

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Now, go be a grocery shopping ninja!