How To Whittle Down a Grocery List That’s Too Expensive


So you made your grocery list.  You added it up.  And it was $50 more than you budgeted.  Uh oh.  What now?!  When that happens to me, as it does frequently, here’s what I do to get it where it needs to be:

1.       Look for items you can put off until another week.  I had several items on my list this week that were getting low but weren’t out yet.  So I skipped them for a savings of $23.

2.       Instead of buying something pre-made, make it yourself.  I eliminated 8 ounces of shredded cheddar on my list.  I have a couple of blocks of cheddar in the refrigerator so I can grate my own.  I was buying it pre-shredded for convenience.  I also skipped buying a graham cracker crust – I have graham crackers and can make my own.  And I reluctantly scratched off a frozen pizza.  I can make it myself much cheaper.  Skipping those three items saved $9.50.

3.       Substitute a cheaper item.  My menu included a Goat Cheese Arugula Pizza which called for arugula, something I don’t normally buy.  Rather than buying my normal green leaf lettuce, spinach AND arugula, I could have skipped the spinach or green leaf lettuce and used the leftover arugla for our salads this week.  Or I could have skipped the arugula and used spinach on the pizza.  Either way, by skipping one of the three, I saved about $3.

4.       Use what you have on hand.  One of my recipes called for a red pepper.  I actually have some chopped red pepper in the freezer but I put a red pepper on my list anyway.  Eliminating the red pepper saved $2.

5.       Buy smaller packages of certain items.  I saved $2 by buying a smaller bag of kitty litter.

6.       And if you’re still not where you need to be, sometimes you have to change a menu item to something cheaper.  If one of your menu items is more expensive, replace it with a cheaper meal.  But make sure it’s something your family will really eat or you might end up going out to eat that day or making an extra grocery store run for something more pleasing.  I’ve done that!  It doesn’t pay to plan meals you won’t eat.

7.       Shop at a different store – one with cheaper prices.  Sometimes you don’t have to take any items off your list as long as you can get them cheaper.  I used to stop exclusively at Hy-Vee but now I’m shopping at Wal-mart.  But if my budget is really tight, the very best way to make it work is to shop at Aldi and Wal-mart.  It’s amazing how a shopping list that doesn’t work on paper will suddenly work.

After all those modifications to my shopping list, the total went from $213 to $172 which worked perfectly for my $175 budget.

What strategies do you use if your shopping list adds up to more than your budget?

The following two tabs change content below.
Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Latest posts by Steph Caldwell (see all)

10 thoughts on “How To Whittle Down a Grocery List That’s Too Expensive

    1. It’s so easy to do! It’s rare that my list matches my budget right off the bat. I almost always have to make a few adjustments.

  1. I could never skip the frozen pizza because that’s what I have on hand in case I don’t fee like cooking or something happened and I no long have time to cook what was planned. Frozen pizza is my defense against take-out!!

    1. Oh, yeah. I so agree. I love having frozen pizzas in the freezer for those nights I just can’t cook or don’t have time. That’s about the only “convenience food” my husband will eat so I keep them handy. When I don’t have any in the freezer, I feel a little panic.

  2. great tips babe, and all true. I rather drive a bit to shop at a store with kick-a$$ prices and lots of coupons than the expensive one down the road.
    Happy Saturday Sharefest

  3. I also find that “eating from the freezer” is a great way to save on the weekly budget. What’s in there that needs to be eaten? Find a new way to present it…and voila! Money saved 🙂

  4. All very good points! I am terrible about putting things on my list that I actually already have, or planning a meal that only Mr. Right and I will eat resulting in an additional meal to fix for the kiddos.

    I’m visiting from the #SITSSharefest. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *