How to Shop with a Tight Budget

Knowing how to shop on a tight budget is essential with limited income. You have to put in a little extra time and work, but you can save hundreds of dollars a month. Even if your budget is bigger, you can implement some of these tips to save more money on everyday items.

Meal Plan

A great way to save on groceries and prevent you from eating out is to meal plan ahead of time. Sit down and think about how many breakfast, lunches and dinners you will be needing for a week. Using the store circular, see what is on sale. Build your menu around the sales. If you make your menu first, then buy the items, you will spend more than planning based on sale items. Try to make meals that incorporate the same items. For example, if you are having chicken, purchase a whole roaster chicken that you can use in several meals, instead of a smaller package of chicken that is more expensive.

Make a List

Making a shopping list will help you save money in two ways: it will prevent impulse purchases and it will ensure you buy everything you needed. Impulse purchases can add up a lot. Especially if you didn't meal plan first and have no list, you likely have no idea what you will be preparing for meals and are buying anything you see. This is not cost effective. Also, if you did meal plan and didn't make a list, you will likely forget crucial items and need to make a return trip to the store. This is expensive since you likely will purchase more items than you need.

Prices and Brands

Store brands are very comparable to the national brands you may buy now. They are often cheaper also. Store brands are about 25% cheaper then their counterpart. When looking at prices, compare unit prices, not just the final price. The tag on the store shelf will give you break down of price per ounce, price per 1000 sheets, etc. Compare these prices since the cheaper package may not be the most cost effective. Also, remember buying in large packages is usually cheaper than smaller packages.

Make Your Own

You can save a lot of money by making some of your own food. Convenience foods are very costly. Don't buy fruit and vegetables that are cut up and packaged in the produce section. Buy your own fruit and cut it yourself. Bagged salad is marked up 600%. Buy your own lettuce and cut it yourself. Making some of your own food is healthier and less expensive.


Coupons can save a lot of money at the supermarket. There are often coupons for free products which you can find on-line or in the newspaper. In addition to coupons for groceries, coupon codes can be found, like at Ultimate Coupons, for on-line purchases which give you money back on your total purchase.

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