Beginner's Grocery Shopping Tips

My fiancé recently moved out of his parents’ house and started his full time job. Though certainly an exciting transition, we’re realizing how much we have to learn about the dreaded “adulting;” remembering to pay bills/rent on time, hosting the perfect get together, but mostly, cooking and grocery shopping. We eat a lot of food and it’s amazing how much of “adult life” is just dedicated to planning/making/eating/cleaning up dinner. So, with the disclaimer that we are still very much trying to figure this out ourselves, I’ve decided to compile a list of the few hacks we’ve already learned that will hopefully help you as well! Because let’s be honest, grocery shopping can be secretly be overwhelming. 

  1. 1. Look at the unit price

    The price tag isn’t the only tag you want to look at when grocery shopping. In a small corner of the price tag, there is another price. This is the unit price, or essentially, how much one ounce of the item costs. Usually, the more ounces of something, the less expensive each ounce is. To illustrate, if buying cereal, a family size box of Honey Nut Cheerios is $3.89 and 19.5 oz, with a unit price of .20 cents per ounce. A standard size is $2.49 for 10.8 ounces, and a unit price of .23 cents per ounce; so, you actually save three cents per ounce getting the bigger box. A really clear example of this is individual servings. Still looking at Honey Nut Cheerios, an individual container/serving is .99 cents for 1.8 ounces of cereal, but the unit price is .55 cents an ounce! Usually, the less there is the more you pay per ounce. Assuming you can eat it in time, normally, buying bigger portions will give you more bang for your buck!

  2. 2. Store brands!

    Don’t pay for labels! Most of the time, the store or generic brand is made in the same factory as the main brand product, but they’re exactly the same. Store brand can sometimes be an entire dollar less than the main brand for the same product; don’t be fooled, save your money for food not packaging. 

  3. 3. Get a bonus card! 

    Many stores have bonus/member/reward cards that are completely free to enroll in. Card holders can participate in special member discounts, as well as build points for future savings. You just shop as you normally would and save! Can’t beat that! 

  4. 4. Buy in bulk

    I touched on this with the unit prices, but if you know you’ll go through a lot of something, it will save you money in the long run to just get a bigger package to have on hand rather than buying a new smaller one every time you need it. This is especially a good idea if an item is on sale! Stock up while it’s on sale and it will save you full price trips later! 

  5. 5. Get inspired! 

    It’s always healthier and cheaper to make your own food than to buy pre-prepared food/meals. However, the freezer section can be a great place to get inspired for meals. Think about frozen burritos, they contain tortillas, meat, cheese, and beans. You can buy the pre-made ones for $5 and they’ll last you about a week, or you can buy shredded cheese for $2, a can of beans for .69 cents, a package of tortillas for $2, and meat for $5 and keep making them for weeks; not to mention there are no gross preservatives and you know exactly what you’re eating. Remember, you can always freeze your own stuff you make if you won’t eat it fast enough. 

     Another place to remember to avoid prepared food is the produce aisle. Though tempting because it saves you prep time, pre-cut fruits and veggies will make the price soar. Try to buy your own produce and pre-prepare it on your own time, not your own dime. 

  6. 6. Meal prep! 

    Need to save time on busy weekdays? Think of what you’ll want to make for the whole week before you go grocery shopping and write down everything you’ll need on a list. Buy it and try to have of the food prepared to the point where it only needs to be heated up. Not only does this save you cooking time, it saves you deciding what to eat time, which trust me, is way more than you think/what it should be. This week, my fiancé and I made tacos and we made a lot of meat and rice for leftovers. A few days later, we decided to repurpose the meat and rice into stuffed peppers for our guests. All we had to do was chop some onions, add tomato sauce to the meat and rice, and stuff and cook the peppers. If we had had to cook the meat and the rice and the peppers it would have taken forever; it cut our time in half and we had a delicious meal for our guests, they loved them! (Or they were just being nice…but everyone finished their food.)

  7. 7. Bring your own bags! 

    More for the sake of the environment than saving money, but bringing your own grocery bags is a great way to reduce your plastic usage. Why not feel great about saving money and doing something good for the environment too? 

Hopefully these tips will help you feel more at ease in the grocery store and can help you save at the checkout line. Happy shopping, happy eating!





*All photos courtesy of