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10 smart grocery tips to make shopping less of a chore, from a dietitian and mom of 3

pregnant woman grocery shopping money-saving grocery tips for moms
MaaHoo/Stocksy

Grocery shopping can sometimes seem like a never-ending chore. Whether it’s loading up on essentials for the week, replenishing the dwindling snack stash, or scrambling for those last-minute weekend supplies, it’s no wonder I’m at the grocery store almost daily. Shopping for a family of five (especially with three toddlers) is quite the challenge, and takes careful planning and coordination. I’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to streamline the process, make it easier to stick to a budget, and plan more effectively.

Here are 7 tips to make grocery shopping more manageable and less of a hassle𑁋beyond the classic “don’t shop when you’re hungry” rule!

10 smart, money-saving grocery tips for moms

1. Organize your shopping lists

For those of us who frequent multiple grocery stores, organization is key. There’s nothing more frustrating than skimming down a jumbled list while navigating crowded aisles. Create separate shopping lists for each store or organize your list based on the store layout or aisle arrangement. Consider writing a shared list in the Notes app of your phone: This will not only make it easier for you, but will also lend a hand to a partner who may need extra help in the shopping department—no weaponized incompetence here!

2. Shop seasonally

I often joke that we might need to take out a loan just to cover the cost of fruit, thanks to the speed that my kids go through them. Whether it’s munching on cantaloupe slices, gobbling up fresh berries, or enjoying juicy orange segments, they can’t seem to get enough, and honestly, I can’t complain about that. But to keep your wallet from weeping, consider shopping seasonally, which usually brings the price down. (Out-of-season berries are even more expensive!)

Take advantage of frozen and canned produce too. We rely on frozen blueberries, dragon fruit, and mango for easy snacking or to flavor our favorite dishes (smoothies, oatmeal and yogurt!). For canned fruits, choose canned in water varieties or reduce excess sugar and starches by giving your fruit a quick rinse under cold running water.

3. Plan meals around affordable foods

Plan meals and dishes around budget-friendly options like pasta, eggs, canned goods, and frozen veggies. You’d be amazed at how many meals you could whip up from a can of chickpeas or loaf of bread. Favorites in our home include: chickpea curry, black bean chili, pizza toast, or French toast sticks for breakfast. Make these foods the centerpiece of your meals to further stretch your budget—because every dollar counts.

4. Limit online shopping

While online grocery shopping is undeniably convenient and can save you loads of time, it often comes with a higher price tag. Instead of relying on it, save it for forgotten or last-minute items when needed. My kids plow through Greek yogurt like there’s no tomorrow, and if I’m running low, I spend a little extra just to ensure I have enough for breakfast recipes or packed lunches.

5. Limit bulk spending

When it comes to bulk shopping, focus on specific items only. Buying in bulk can be cost-effective, but it can also lead to food waste and higher prices. Select a few (under five!) frequently used items which offer the best value. We regularly eat Greek yogurt, rolled oats, peanut butter, bread, and fruit and veggie pouches, so I consistently buy these items in bulk. During summer months, I’ll swap out oats for fruit pops since we’re less likely to enjoy oatmeal in warmer temperatures.

6. Use cash

To better keep track of your spending, opt for cash at checkout instead of credit cards. While credit cards offer convenience, they can lead to overspending and make it easy to lose track of your grocery budget. Determine a weekly or monthly grocery allowance and carry that amount of cash in your wallet to monitor spending more effectively.

7. Shop generic

Depending on the grocery store, there’s often a selection of generic or store-brand foods that are more affordable compared to name brands. Trader Joe’s, Aldi’s, and Target offer generic items that are almost identical to the name brands—but come at a fraction of the cost.

8. Stick to easy breakfasts

Simplify busy mornings by planning simple breakfasts with minimal ingredients. Consider options like frozen pancakes, cereal and milk, instant oatmeal, or yogurt bowls. My kids love yogurt with granola, whole grain frozen waffles, and chia pudding. With a shorter shopping list and less prep involved, you’ll have fewer dishes and more time to enjoy your morning coffee.

9. Avoid what’s not on the list

And don’t shop when you’re hungry! When you create a list, stick to it. While it’s tough to avoid the temptations of peanut butter chocolate cups and crispy, cheesy chips, stay focused. Recruit one of your friends as a shopping buddy to keep each other accountable (especially in the checkout line), plus you’ll get to enjoy each other’s company, too.

10. Skip convenience foods

While I appreciate shortcuts, they often come at a premium in the grocery store. Precut veggies and prewashed fruit usually cost more than purchasing a head of purple cabbage or whole pineapple. It might save you time in the kitchen, but these expenses will add up over time. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a black-and-white decision. For example, if washing lettuce is particularly annoying for you, purchase pre-washed lettuce and save money elsewhere. Find a balance that works best for you and your wallet.