With inflation continuing to increase, let’s save some money and figure out the best place to grocery shop on a budget.
I have always been a frugal grocery shopper. I work hard at saving my family money by keeping our grocery budget low. There are a wide variety of stores across the United States which claim to be the best place to shop on a budget. After doing some research, I want to share some of those budget friendly grocery stores with you.
I want to give a disclaimer that I have not shopped at all of these stores…yet! I’m always eager to shop at a new grocery store when we are traveling or if one comes to our area. I did my research my viewing sale ads and looking at store websites, and comparing prices that way. If you are curious about prices, looking at sale flyers or store apps is a great way to compare grocery prices. If you shop at one of these stores I mentioned, please share your thoughts in the comments! I would love to hear your perspective on what is the best place to grocery shop on a budget.
Before we get to all the grocery stores, let’s first focus on a couple of easy ways to save money on groceries that you can use at any grocery store. All of these strategies are very simple but they will definitely save you money. How do I know? These are the four primary ways I find the best deals for my family of 6 and keep our grocery budget at $475 a month. Yes, that really is our grocery budget. You can see my weekly grocery shopping trips on YouTube here.
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4 Easy Ways to Save the Most Money on Groceries
Know the cheapest prices.
This is absolutely the first place to start when learning to grocery shop on a budget. If you know the lowest prices on the grocery items you regularly buy, you can easily begin to lower your grocery budget. Shop where the items are cheapest and you will save money! It is a simple savings tip, but a very important one. The good news is that you don’t have to go through all the work of figuring out the lowest prices. I recently did a massive price comparison of 183 grocery items to see which store had the best price. Check out all my results on the cheapest grocery store in 2023 here.
Stock up on sales.
If you are looking to stretch your grocery budget, start taking full advantage of sales. When you find a good sale on an item you regularly use, buy more than what you need just this week. Plan ahead and buy what you will use in the next 1 to 3 months – or longer, if your budget allows. This is a pro tip for stretching your grocery budget!
Here’s an example. Say your family uses 1 jar of peanut butter every week for school lunches, and it normally costs $1.99. If you find a sale for $0.99 a jar, and buy 12 jars to get you through the next 3 months, you saved $12 just like that. You can buy to last for longer if you like! Then, multiple this example by all the different sales on different products and you will start to see a big difference in your grocery budget.
Many frugal shoppers call this stocking your pantry or building a stockpile. I do exactly this, and it is definitely a huge factor in keeping our budget low. I am always watching the sales and stocking up as much as my budget allows when I see a good sale.
Shop at more than one store.
I will start with a disclaimer on this tip. You need to be aware of distance and gas costs to make this strategy work to your advantage. If you are blessed to have a variety of grocery stores close to each other, try to go to a variety of stores – buying only the absolute best deals at each store. If you want to save money on your grocery purchases, you need to shop at more than one store to take advantage of the different sales and promotions.
Menu plan around the sales.
Another easy way to save money is to plan your meals for the week around what is on sale – and what is already in your pantry and freezer. If you are stocking up on sales, this makes menu planning easier because you will have a variety of groceries at home already. Look through what you have, and then look at the sales. This is especially important for your main dish or meat purchases. If chicken is on sale for $1.99/lb, plan meals around chicken instead of the ground beef that is $4.99/lb. You are saving $3 a pound just by purchasing the sale meats and planning your meals around them.
These four strategies are a great way for any person – with any size family – to save money on your grocery budget – wherever you shop!
Now that you know those money saving tips, let’s get to the best place to grocery shop on a budget. This list is an overview of each grocery store, as well as the current number of locations so you can see how common each store is.
Here are the 12 best places to grocery shop on a budget.
The cheapest grocery stores do vary based on what is available where you live.
In no particular order, the best place to grocery shop on a budget list includes Aldi, Walmart, Kroger, Winco Foods, Trader Joe’s, Lidl, H-E-B, Market Basket, Sam’s Club, Costco, Dollar Tree and Amazon. Let’s see why these stores made my budget grocery list.
There are 4,635 Walmart locations in 2,539 cities in all 50 states as of March 2023.
People have strong reactions to Walmart. I have learned that people tend to love Walmart or hate it. Regardless of your feelings about Walmart, try to look at this objectively. Walmart is one of the largest chains for grocery shopping in the United States. Walmart is known for their low prices on a wide variety of food items, plus they carry almost everything you might need. You can easily stock up on low priced food items plus any socks or deodorant or school supplies your family members need. There is something to be said for being a one stop shopping location. The Walmart Great Value brand is a good quality generic brand that is available on many products at Walmart.
Some of the best budget items to buy at Walmart are dairy products or any of their Great Value brand items.
There are 2,290 Aldi locations in 1,447 cities in 39 states as of March 2023.
If you are on a tight budget, you can save a lot of money by buying your basic groceries at Aldi. Aldi is known for having the cheapest groceries, and I have to agree! I recently did a price comparison of 183 items at 4 stores – and found Aldi to be the cheapest place to buy groceries in 2023. It is the best grocery store for finding consistently low prices on pantry staples. Aldi stores are also smaller stores so they are quick to get in and out. This might mean Aldi won’t have everything you need. However, if you stock up on your staple items at Aldi every month, you will find your grocery bill start to go down. If you are an average person, wanting an easy way to save money on groceries without a lot of extra fuss or work, start shopping at Aldi.
Some of the best budget items to buy at Aldi are crackers and baking items.
There are 1,331 Kroger locations in 579 cities in 20 states as of April 2023.
While Kroger does have higher prices on groceries, they have amazing sales and fantastic digital coupons. It is a great place to shop on a budget – if you can focus on shopping the sales. The weekly sales at Kroger often have a better price than the every day low price at Walmart or Aldi. Make your Kroger shopping list around the sale items each week, and supplement with the every day low prices at a cheaper store. This is a great way to take advantage of the weekly sales at Kroger.
Some of the best budget items to buy at Kroger are any of their Weekly Digital Deals, which are limit 5 when you clip the digital coupon.
There are 138 WinCo Foods locations in 115 cities in 10 states as of March 2023.
There are not many WinCo stores, but WinCo shoppers love the deals they can find there because you can purchase items in bulk. WinCo does not have weekly sale flyers, as part of their mission to keep lower prices for the customers. If you want to find a good deal at WinCo, you will have to venture in store to find the best deals. They do offer digital coupons and weekly specials to help shoppers save more money at WinCo. Another interesting item to note is that WinCo does NOT accept credit cards so you must pay with cash or a debit card. It is good to know this if you are not a regular WinCo shopper.
Some of the best budget items to buy at WinCo are from their bulk bins.
There are 561 Trader Joe’s locations in 414 cities in 43 states as of March 2023.
Trader Joe’s is known as a national chain of neighborhood grocery stores, which many people love for their fresh produce and organic products. While Trader Joe’s may not have every grocery you need, they do offer a variety of organic and ethnic foods for lower prices than many grocery stores. They make it easier to buy healthy food on a budget. They really do have a good variety of interesting products to try, as well as some of their own private label items.
Some of the best budget items to buy at Trader Joe’s are eggs and wine.
There are 177 Lidl locations in 150 cities in 10 states as of March 2023.
Lidl began as a European store, that has a similar approach as Aldi. Over 80% of Lidl products are private label / generic products, to save you money. You do have to bring your own bags (just like Aldi). They have a slight bit more European food focus, but the food prices make Lidl shoppers very happy! The first Lidl store opened in America in 2017, and they are starting to expand from the East Coast.
Some of the best budget items to buy at Lidl are any of the monthly European specialties and fresh produce.
There are 325 H-E-B locations in 151 cities in 1 state – only Texas – as of April 2023.
Even though this store is only in Texas, it made the budget grocery list for their weekly sales and coupons that are attached to store shelves. In addition, you can clip coupons online for more savings. H-E-B also regularly runs Meal Deals where if you buy a certain main dish, you get multiple side items for free. This can be a good way to stretch your budget further, especially if you were planning to buy that meat already. Plus, as a bonus, H-E-B always has fresh tortillas. What other grocery store can claim the same?
Some of the best budget items to buy at H-E-B are Creamy Creations ice cream and the fresh tortillas.
There are 92 Market Basket locations in 68 cities in 4 states as of March 2023.
Market Basket’s goal is to help you get “More for Your Dollar.” This is what every grocery shopper wants! While they are only in 4 states on the East Coast, Market Basket shoppers appreciate the weekly sales on meats and produce. In fact, Market Basket has more weekly sales on meat than most other grocery stores.
Some of the best budget items to buy at Market Basket are any of the weekly meat sales.
There are 600 Sam’s Club locations in 488 cities in 45 states as of April 2023.
You do have to pay to shop at Sam’s Club, but they do offer different levels of membership fees. This is a good place to buy many (but not all) household items at good prices. Pay attention to the price per ounce when stopping at warehouse stores. If you do, you can regularly find good deals. Sam’s offers Instant Deals for additional savings on certain products. If you cannot find a sale on meat, the meat prices at Sam’s are consistently lower than the grocery stores. One of the best Sam’s deals is the rotisserie whole chicken which is still under $5! Here are 25 of the other best items to buy at Sam’s Club.
Some of the best budget items to buy at Sam’s Club are Nestle’s chocolate chips, rotisserie chicken and yeast.
There are 586 Costco locations in 493 cities in 48 states as of April 2023.
Another favorite warehouse club of many people is Costco. Like Sam’s, you do have to pay a membership fee to shop at Costco. Costco is very similar to Sam’s, with monthly deals also available. Costco does tend to sell more organic and specialty food items than Sam’s. If you have both Sam’s and Costco close, either one is a good choice to save money on groceries.
Some of the best budget items to buy at Costco are honey and butter.
There are 7,912 Dollar Tree locations in 3,432 cities in 49 states as of March 2023.
Dollar stores can be an excellent option to save money on groceries, if you pay attention to the products available. Since Dollar Tree locations are in more places than even Walmart, it is very easy to find a location near you. Pay attention to the name brands and generics at the Dollar Tree, as well as the sizes and packages. Since most locations still price everything at $1.25, the prices can seem lower than Walmart. Many times they are, but pay attention to the ounces per package to make sure you are getting the best deal. Food selection does vary by location so try out different locations to see what is available. Some Dollar Trees have a large refrigerated and freezer section which can have great deals on grocery items like turkey bacon and egg rolls.
Some of the best budget items to buy at Dollar Tree are frozen grocery items and shampoo.
There are countless locations in countless cities in all 50 states since Amazon delivers almost everywhere!
Did you know Amazon can be a great place to grocery shop on a budget? Amazon is an overlooked source of savings. For years, I have bought my toilet paper, baby wipes and various other toiletries at Amazon at prices that beat my local grocery store sales. Amazon is a good source of savings for toiletries and household products, but they do sell a variety of food as well. You need to be selective to find the best deals at Amazon. If you stack Amazon coupons with their Subscribe and Save program, you can get some great deals from the comfort of your couch! If you are unfamiliar with the Subscribe and Save program, here is how to use Amazon’s Subscribe and Save to save money on groceries.
Some of the best budget items to buy on Amazon are toilet paper and toothpaste.
There are 12 of the best budget grocery stores in the United States in 2023. I hope you find this list helpful, and it gives you some ideas of different places to shop to stretch your grocery budget. I would love to know – what do you think is the best place to grocery shop on a budget?