Top 10 Grocery Budget Busters


Feel like you're spending more at the grocery store than you want, but aren't sure where that extra moo-lah is going? Here are the top 10 Grocery Budget Busters that can quickly ruin your grocery budget.

1. Pre-cooked meat or chicken.

Folks, if you purchase items pre-packed you can spend a bundle without meaning to. For example, I love having grilled chicken handy for a quick salad or taco in a hurry. But paying for convenience can ruin your grocery budget.


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The container on the left in the picture above shows how much chicken is in a Tyson Grilled & Ready package (a little over 1 1/4 cups) which costs around $4. On the right is what I made myself for $4.09 after stocking up on chicken breast at Fresh Thyme while on sale ~ almost 5 cups of chicken!

Here's the math:

  • 1 1/4 cups Tyson = $4
  • 5 cups chicken that I grilled myself = $4.09
  • 1 1/4 cups Tyson ($4) X 4 to get 5 cups = $20

To get the same amount of Tyson I would spend over $20. Craziness.

(UPDATE: if you absolutely love having chicken pre-cooked for you, you'll love what I found out at Costco last week.) 🙂



2. Uncrustables.

You are paying a bundle for convenience here. It really doesn't take all that much time to make a pb&j, so take a few minutes to do it yourself!



Here's the math: 



3. Certain cleaning supplies.

If you have dish soap, lemon juice, baking soda, peroxide and vinegar in your home most of your cleaning can be taken care of. Here are a few homemade cleaners to try:


Soap Scum Remover - PINTEREST

4. Fabric softener.

Don't want to pay a high price for fabric softener? Try vinegar instead. Add 1/2 cup to your load before washing.


5. Refrigerated & frozen convenience foods, as well as pre-cut fruit or veggies.

Walk down the refrigerated & frozen aisle at your grocery store and you'll see a ton of processed foods ~ everything from mashed potatoes to macaroni and cheese to frozen pizzas.


You can make just about everything from scratch yourself in these aisles, and you'll save a bundle! And, cut your fruit and vegetables yourself. You'll pay a pretty penny to have someone else do the cutting up for you.

6. Food you won't really eat.

Ever think – Oh!  This would be something good to buy – I should try it! (Me too!) Every time I walk past the fresh fish counter at the store, I am so tempted to purchase some because I know it's good for me. And, a few times I've actually gone and ahead and bought it.


However, our family just isn't doesn't eat much fresh fish (my husband and I do like salmon), so to spend money on food that won't really get eaten isn't worth it. If you know you're not realistically going to use it up or cook it for dinner, skip those foods.

7. Name brand stuff.

So often folks feel like they need a certain brand to get a good product, but nowadays store brands are fantastic. They've come a long way from the Malt O Meal cereals I remember as a kid (Malt O Meals are even pretty good these days!), and many stores carry store brand foods that are manufacturered in the same facility as their brand name competitor.


There are times when it's actually cheaper to buy a name brand when it's on sale (especially with a coupon), so watch for those deals when they pop up. But, be open to trying the name brand because you really can save!

8. Expensive toiletries.

High end toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, razors, soaps, etc.) can quickly bust your budget. If you have extra wiggle room in your budget each week that's fine, but if you're really trying to save, shop the generic brands at your grocery store and watch for coupons to get the best prices.


9. Certain organic foods.

Organic foods cost a bundle, and can quickly bust your grocery budget if things are tight in your home.

11 Easy Ways to Save on Organic Food


Some fruits and vegetables have “thicker skin”, so you may opt to purchase the non-organic version of those foods. See more on the Dirty Dozen HERE to know what's really worth paying more for, and find tips on how to save on organic food over HERE. 

10. Deals that are “too good” to pass up.


Sometimes I come across a deal (or two, or three?) that I think is just “too good” to pass up. And when there's lots of room in my budget that's fine, but usually (because we like a tiny grocery budget at our house) that can end up ruining my budget plan for the week.


If you see a deal that you just can't miss, buy enough of it to last your family the next 6 weeks, because in that amount of time it will almost always go on sale again (promise.) Don't spend too much of your grocery budget on things you don't need right now, because those deals really do come around again!


What else would you add to the list? This month as we're really reigning in our grocery budgets I'd love to hear your thoughts – also check out the Ultimate Guide To Building a Better Grocery Budget. You can do this! 🙂


Looking for more ways to pinch a penny? Here you go: 

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  1. Great list! I would just add, entering the grocery store. Even when I have my carefully planned list, I almost always add things to the cart. I am trying to reduce the number of times I shop each month. That really helps me stay in budget.

  2. mumma2three says

    great list, and my number one…. eat before you go shopping! I always sneak extras into the trolley if I am hungry!

  3. Never shop before a meal. Always eat just before you go shopping. This will reduce the amount of snacky food you buy.

  4. I am pregnant right now and it’s killing my budget! I am a strict meal planner on a tight budget but after I go to the store, nothing sounds good. Then I splurge at the international markets and Mediterranean bakeries down the street. (We are on the edge of Boston so it’s the real deal) it’s cheaper for me to buy these prepared things rather than making them myself so I’m killing my budget by justifying my cravings….. Only 5 more months to go! 😉

    We use Shaklee’s Basic H to clean EVERYTHING. I haven’t bought cleaner, degreaser, window cleaner or anything in years!

  5. Great list. I’d also add looking into sustainable ways for laundry.. for example using a wool ball, or tin foil ball which will fluff up on the clothing and use less energy and cost in hydro to dry faster. Or if you live where you can hang clothing up to dry in the sun you can save a bundle, be more enviromentally friendly and even brighten your whites. I’d also recommend using lemon juice and boiling the whites every once in awhile for brighter whites as well.

    If you haven’t heard of soap nuts you should really also look into that. I’ve saved tons of money using soapnuts each year. I have hard water so i use about 5 nuts i put in a resuseable muslin bag and soak in hot water from the kettle for about 15-20 mins. Then I use the water as you would detergent and throw in the bag of nuts with the clothing. Wash as you normally would and just remove the muslin bag before drying. I’ve had absoulutely no static cling since i started using soap nuts, there enviromentally friendly and best of all I don’t need softener or dryer sheets. If you want a little scent I throw in a small rag cloth soaked in vinegar and essential oil for a fresh scent but for the most part I don’t even bother. Great way to save money. I pay for 1 large bag of soap nuts approximately 25 dollars canadian which lasts me over a year.


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