The 5 Foods I’m Buying to Save Money on Groceries

updated Nov 18, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Mosuno/Stocksy

We all have those times when we need (or simply want) to cut costs. And our grocery bill always feels like a good place to start — perhaps because it’s one of those recurring purchases that’s consistently in the triple digits? For me, the holidays is one of those times. (Gotta save where I can to reallocate that money to gifts, travel, and the like.)

Whatever your reason, there are ways to save at the grocery checkout aisle. Here’s how I’m saving — and still making healthy choices — right now by buying the following staple ingredients.

Credit: Lauren Volo

1. Chicken thighs

To some, thighs are considered the step-sibling of the almighty boneless, skinless chicken breast. But they’re not just a budget-conscious shopper’s dream — most chefs prefer them over breasts, too. That’s because they’re tender, juicier, and more forgiving to cook (aka they don’t dry out and toughen as easily as a breast could). At home, I can use them in nearly all the same applications I would use a chicken breast, but I’ll save at least a dollar per pound, and up to a few dollars per pound, on thighs. Plus, I’m getting more iron (a nutrient that’s particularly important for women) and zinc, which will help keep my immune system humming along as we roll into cold season. 

Related: How To Cook Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs in the Oven

Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

2. Cereal

Here’s a surprising option! People like to hate on cereal because it can be expensive, sugary, and full of empty calories, but we love it for breakfast and as an after-school snack or even for dessert some nights. (Yes, we buy the “grown-up” options and even the sugary stuff from time to time.) Most of your average-sized boxes of cereal cost less than $5 per box, making it a pretty good value if you can stretch it across different “meals.” Better yet, a serving of certain ready-to-eat cereals are chock-full of key vitamins and minerals that many of us fall short on. Some cereals can also be an easy way to get more fiber into your diet. 

3. Frozen fruit

Not just for smoothies, keeping a few bags in your freezer is a great way to get your fruit fill and mind your budget. Fold frozen fruit into baked goods and oatmeal, thaw it in the microwave to top pancakes or yogurt. Buying frozen, especially if you’re buying berries, is often half the price as the same quantity of fresh. And it’s just as healthy — brimming with all of the same vitamins and minerals found in ripe fruit because the fruit is processed and preserved when its nutrients are at peak levels. And, perhaps best of all, you won’t be throwing away spoiled fruit. 

Credit: Emma Christensen/Kitchn

4. Eggs

Of all of the proteins available in the refrigerated and freezer section of the grocery store, eggs are among the most budget-friendly. You can also cook and dress them in a multitude of ways that make them work for breakfast, lunch, or dinner — from hard-boiled to fried to quiche, and more. A single egg delivers 6 grams of filling protein, and a handful of other nutrients that play important roles in keeping your eyes healthy, your immune system strong, and your cognitive function top-notch.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Peanut butter

Peanut butter, especially the smooth and creamy kind, wins in my house for versatility. We use it for classic PB&J sandwiches and peanut butter-based energy bites, and I like to swirl a spoonful into oatmeal for a healthy kick of plant-based protein and good-for-you fats. A jar of your tried-and-true, no-frills peanut butter costs just a few dollars, so for a two-tablespoon serving we’re looking at cents on the dollar. 

Other Ways I Save Money at the Grocery Store

Each of these items individually, and collectively, will trim your grocery bill. But I’ve also seen the biggest savings when I convert all five of these affordable foods into go-to staples — meaning one of the five shows up on my daily menu. 

There are also two other non-food ways that cut my grocery bill. One, I plan less. It sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out: I meal plan most of my week and write out my grocery list, but I leave a dinner or two unplanned. When I’m at the grocery store, I’ll look to see what’s on sale that week and then build those unplanned meals using sale items. Another go-to grocery-bill-saving tactic that’s evergreen: Bring your own grocery bags. In some cities you now pay a fee for using the store’s bags, and in others you still get a discount for BYO. Either way, supplying your bags is a win. 

What are the groceries you buy when you’re trying to save money?