Smart Spending With Groceries

  • November 9, 2018
  • By: Greenpath Financial Wellness

Achieving your financial wellness goals start with setting realistic expectations.  When it comes to basic necessities such as groceries, cutting out spending is not going to be an option.   However, there are steps we can take to make sure we are practicing smart spending habits for greater savings without sacrificing the things we need.

Consider the following 3 questions:

  1. Have you ever walked into the grocery store and walked out with something you weren’t planning to buy? (If you answered “yes” you’re not alone—According to, 5 in 6 Americans have made an impulse purchase.)
  2. Have you ever had to throw away food?
  3. Have you ever gone out to eat because you have no idea what you’re going to make for dinner?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above (I know I did to all 3!), you have an opportunity for additional savings. Consider the following pre-planning tactics to put more money back in your pocket without sacrificing the things you need:

Step 1: Start with what’s on sale (2 min)

  • Look at the weekly sales ad and create a grocery list around the items that are on sale
  • Note any meal staples and household/cleaning items that are on sale that you will need in the upcoming weeks.

Step 2: Build your meal plan around what’s on sale (7 min)

  • Use a meal planning template.
  • Start with your meal staples (i.e., if chicken is on sale for $1.99 vs. $3.99 you’re able to save $2/lb. This small savings really adds up!)
  • Incorporate seasonal items into your meals.
  • Check your pantry to see what you already have.

Step 3: Make a list(s) (3 min)

Make your shopping list; it may be helpful to organize by category (or by store if shopping at multiple locations).

Step 4: Use coupons for items on your list (3 min)

  • Download the app for your store to check for coupons, or check a coupon website (such
  • You can also utilize cash back and rewards apps for grocery shopping such as Ibotta.
  • Don’t forget traditional coupons! Check your mailbox for coupons or your Sunday newspaper.

Step 5: Own the grocery store

  • If possible, go to the grocery store in the morning; this is when the store is usually stocked and you will have the best selection
  • Part of practicing smart spending, is to only buy what’s on your grocery list!  Bring just enough cash for the items on your list to reduce the temptation to over buy. (Or if you tend to impulse buy, ask your spouse to do the shopping or order online and pick up your groceries)
  • Shop less frequently. Fewer trips to the grocery store leads to fewer impulse buys and more money in your pocket.

There it is! 15 minutes of pre-planning that will give you more time with your family, and more money in your wallet.

Bon Appétit!


Dusti Young Dusti Young has a passion and energy for spreading financial wellness. Through her role at GreenPath, she connects people to financial wellness by working with GreenPath’s partners. Dusti has been with GreenPath for nearly 13 years and has held a number of roles, including financial counselor, business analyst, and her current role, Partner Relations Specialist.