Cook At Home Finances & Money Frugality Spending

Clever Dudette’s Thrifty Grocery Shopping Ideas

thrifty grocery ideas, grocery shopping tips, frugal groceries

From Clever Dude: while I could be the one who buys groceries, Clever Dudette does because she absolutely loves grocery stores. She’s a registered dietitian and enjoys walking the aisles to check out what’s new and their nutritional value for her profession and her own knowledge. Her birthday gift a couple years ago was a surprise weekend trip to Jungle Jim’s International Market outside Cincinnati, OH just to check it out (and shop), and we even went to their new location last year (it has beer!!!). So my wife LOVES grocery shopping, even if she does it frugally.

I was at work last week (at a pediatric outpatient office, where I work at as their staff dietitian), and we were discussing how much we each spend on groceries.  Now, the Dude and I are without kids and pets, so that decreases our food costs.  However, my colleagues were stunned that we spend only $50-60 per week in groceries! Some of them usually spend $200-300 a week!

How do we manage this?

  1.  We don’t buy soda, juice, vitamin water, or any other liquid except for skim milk, and we get that at Sam’s Club at such a discount that it pays for the membership and then some. We have good quality city water so we don’t buy bottled water.
  2.  We don’t buy chips, pretzels, cookies, cakes, pastries, except on special occasions (maybe a bag of one of these a month?). If we want snacks or sweets, we’ll take a walk to the nearest frozen yogurt shop (it’s nice to live in a semi-urban area).
  3.  I am a vegetarian (for health reasons, not ethical), so only one of us eats meat.
  4.  We don’t buy steak or other expensive meats. The dude isn’t really into it. We buy other proteins on sale in bulk and freeze them.
  5.  We buy on sale–I peruse the circular each week and make my grocery lists and menu based on what’s on sale. We also use Groupons and Living Social deals for other local markets (usually organic).
  6.  Because there are two of us, condiments and extras (bread crumbs, etc) last a while.
  7.  We buy in bulk–quick oats, spices, and nuts and nut butters at the local organic store (these foods are half the cost at the organic store in our area versus the grocery store!), milk, eggs, cereal at our local Sam’s club.While I agree there’s nothing better than a fresh, organic hen’s egg, if I can get 96 eggs to last me a few weeks for the same price as a dozen organic eggs, you know which one I’m choosing.
  8.  We eat a lot of polenta, oats, nuts/nut butters, beans, rice, dairy, all of which are pretty inexpensive. One of my best Christmas gifts was unexpectedly a mini-rice cooker (similar to the Rival RC101 10-Cup (Cooked) Rice Cooker with Steaming Basket, White/Black.
  9. For our sweet treats, we tend to make the food rather than buy the processed version (example, homemade chocolate chip cookies versus boxed cookies). Although it may be a higher initial cost (flour, sugar, baking soda, etc), these ingredients last a while and we often only have to buy one or two ingredients to make a different baked good. We still have to start using the expensive KitchenAid stand mixer we got for our wedding, but when it’s just two of us, it seems overkill.
  10.  We eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. On sale. We stay away from prepackaged fruits (applesauce, canned fruits) and pre-sliced fruits, and prepared vegetables. Instead, we make our own applesauce and cut up fruits ourselves. In the winter, we buy frozen veggies as they are often less expensive and fresher than some of the fresh ones. Clever Dude is actually allergic to many fresh fruits, so this does make buying in bulk difficult as I like plums, peaches and apples, and he can only have things like bananas and pineapple (usually more expensive). We can cook the fruit and he’s fine, so we have our workarounds.

And,  I am the one who grocery shops and cooks. I find the time despite working 9 hour days and commuting 2 hours/day. How do I find the time? I prepare my lunch while making us dinner. I cut up veggies and fruits while our main meal is cooking. On weekends, I tend to make larger meals that can be used as leftovers and also frozen. Those are also the times when I make treats.

We could save more money if I actually used the coupons I cut, and if we made all foods at home (versus going out to eat 1-2 meals/week). I am not saying that your meals have to be as thrifty as ours, but if you are trying to cut costs, consider ways to cut your grocery bill.

Brought to you by Clever Dudette via Clever Dude

About the author

Clever Dude


  • As my wife mentioned, we could be much more efficient if we used the coupons she cuts. Additionally, if we both ate the same thing, we could get economies of scale, much like a family of 5 (or 4.5) can get. However, I like flavor in my meals while my wife is fine eating dry oatmeal (blech).

    A few years ago, our max grocery budget was $200, and that was strictly food items. I think I’ve started getting lazy and just classifying an entire trip to the grocery as Groceries when sometimes there are household or non-food items. Either way, we’ve been experimenting more with cooking at home, and that means experimenting with how to shop efficiently, nutritiously and frugally, which can’t always be done together…but we try.

  • With non-food items, we spend right at $65 per week. And we all like FLAVOR. Well, the kids don’t sometimes. But if they don’t like what’s on the table, they can make themselves a sandwich, because I am NOT a short-order cook!

  • BTW, that’s without coupons. When I was big into coupons, we had a family of four, and I brought it down to $45 per week. 🙂 When we were totally broke, with a family of 3, I spent $35 per week without coupons (before I learned to coupon). With coupons, if pressed, I could do $25/week for the same family size.

    And my husband’s nickname in the neighborhood is The Mouth, to give you some idea of how much he eats!

  • Jenny–I am so impressed by your budget! I would love to see more info on how you manage this and what kinds of deals you get/ foods you shop for. Congrats on the frugality!

Leave a Comment