Ever walked out of a grocery store spending $50 but questioned yourself about what it is that you bought that cost that much? Finding the best places to grocery shop on a budget isn't easy. Or have you thought about why the same packet of granola costs five times more than in the previous store?
These questions rattle consumers across the country, especially as food prices rise. With groceries being a significant category of our budget expenditure, many wonder how to save on food shopping without making unhealthy cuts to our diets.
However, how much you spend on shopping largely depends on where you shop. This is because the prices we as consumers get charged at the checkout are not only down to branded vs. non-branded products but also where we buy them. Hence, let's look at the best places to grocery shop on a budget to help you better control your finances and achieve your financial goals.
How Much Does An Average Person Spend On Groceries Per Month?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which releases monthly average food costs for low, moderate, and liberal food plans, prices have increased since last year. This makes it even more important to know the best place to shop for food on a budget and have a family budget in place.
As per a report released this month, in December 2022, a single male aged between 19-50 years old will, on average, spend anywhere from $355 to $540 on food each month. Of course, exact spending will depend on our food habits and where precisely we live. A thing to note is that 19-50 years old males are in the highest spending bracket according to the report.
A single female aged between 19-50 years old is expected to spend, on average, anywhere between $305 to $480 for food per month. As with the male group, females 19-50 years old have the highest spending bracket compared to other age groups. Exact spending will again depend on our food choices but also where we live.
How Much Does An Average Family Spend On Groceries Per Month?
Family spending will largely depend on the number of family members and different dietary requirements. Therefore, planning grocery shopping to fit everyone's liking might be difficult, especially if some family members cannot consume certain foods; thus, knowing the best places to grocery shop to save money will come in handy.
An average family, including two adults and two children between the age of nine to eleven, will be looking to spend anywhere between $940 to $1,440 monthly, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. This figure will change if the composition of the family is amended.
An important consideration is that as kids grow, families see their spending increasing with the increasing needs of a child. By the age of 12, children are classified as young adults in the food spending category. In the case of boys, this shift can change the budget on average by $35 to $41 of additional spending every month.
Best Places To Grocery Shop On A Budget
The best places to grocery shop on a budget are Aldi, Lidl, Costco, Walmart, Target, Market Basket, Trader Joe's, Fodd4Less, and Amazon.
Aldi is one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, supermarkets out there. Remember to grab a quarter if you shop at this German chain; you will need it to unlock a trolley which you get back when you return it!
Aldi's operations are based on cost-cutting methods, which include a lack of bagging service or even free bags to pack your shopping in, items placed on shelve exactly how they arrived from the warehouse, or supply chains that cut out the middleman. Aldi also provides discount flyers on a weekly basis and has a great range of cheap own-brand items.
All your usual weekly essentials are stocked in Aldi, with especially good prices for non-perishable goods. They also include a special meat promotion every Wednesday, meaning more savings.
A key competitor to Aldi, Lidl is another German supermarket known for good quality and low-price shopping. One of my favorite supermarkets due to their fresh bakery choice, Lidl makes sure of slightly wider branded products than Aldi.
Lidl is always looking for efficiencies in its operations, with stores layout allowing customers to complete their shopping journey swiftly. Their deliveries, especially in a produce section, will be left in crates it has arrived in. It also offers personalized deals, which you can get through the myLidl app.
You can find your weekly essentials where Lidl puts special consideration on the quality of the items landing on a shelf. For example, their top-shelf produce is known to many as a good consideration when shopping for healthy food on a budget. Furthermore, Lidl also offers kitchen appliances, toys, or even power tools; you can get a good offer but be quick as many of their offers are a one-time thing.
A very well-known bulk retailer, Costco is a paid-for membership store that might make you end up with double the quantity of the item that you came in for. Compared to other bulk retailers, Costco offers many own-brand products, making it much more appealing when looking for the best place to grocery shop on a budget.
Costco's approach is to sell unpacked items in large quantities cheaper than if you were to buy them individually. Their membership fee and no advertising help to offset the costs of items which are then passed on to customers in the form of lower prices. The retailer also offers coupon deals regularly.
A trip to Costco is always worth it for those items you are happy to buy in bulk, including canned food, rice, pasta, or non-food items such as toilet paper or washing powder. In addition, for families with little kids, things like branded nappies can be found there much cheaper than in other places.
The world's largest retailer, Walmart, takes the ‘we have it all' approach. Providing a one-stop-shop solution for everything you need, you can easily buy your groceries and all your gardening supplies in one place.
Walmart, due to its size, has the ability to purchase items much cheaper from suppliers around the world and offer them to its consumers in bulk to keep the costs down. It is also found to sell the items for cheaper than what they actually cost, attracting customers into the stores, so they purchase other items.
With its wide selection of non-food items, Walmart is a great place to purchase all your shopping on a budget. This will include cleaning supplies and toiletries but also a massive choice of pantry supplies. Also, don't forget to use coupons that further knock a few dollars off your bill.
Target is an experience-focused retailer that can offer some savings. It also has a good digital presence, allowing it to be just behind Amazon regarding those digital rankings.
Target owns several brands that then have the ability to offer much cheaper in its stores. Also, for any national brand, Target is offering its Price Match Guarantee that will cover most of the competitors in its shops.
When it comes to Target, you will be able to save on things like toilet paper, bottled water or cleaning products with Target-owning brands like Good & Gather. In addition, if you have the Target RedCard, your grocery shopping should be of a similar price to Walmart's everyday low prices items.
With their “more for your dollar” motto, Market Basket is a northeast store chain currently only serving this part of the US. Stores are not particularly large; however, they remain to offer an excellent choice to their customers with very high satisfaction rates.
Market Basket stores sell pretty much the same range of products whichever store you will visit, meaning more savings in the supply chain that can be passed on to customers. Their debt-free business approach also means no interest payments resulting in further savings that are passed on in the form of lower prices.
Being a more localized supermarket, Market Basket is able to offer local produce for much lower prices which should be on your shopping list if you are visiting. Also, their selection of seafood is usually much cheaper when compared to competitors' pricing.
With their two-to-three-time smaller size stores compared to Aldi or Lidl, Trader Joe's gives off convenience store vibes. It also has an international variety of choices. Also, with their employee uniform of a Hawaiian shirt, you always know who to ask for help when you need it.
Trader Joe's range is mainly based on their own brand items, which allows them to charge much lower prices. They do not provide any discount schemes; however, what they do is make sure that every item is priced as low as possible. They also sell items individually, like fruits, so you do not have to worry about food waste or purchasing too much.
With its low-price approach and ability to purchase items individually, Trader Joe's is great for perishable foods which you don't need large quantities of. They also provide a lot of specialist items for people with dietary restrictions, making this a perfect place for those who need some food alternatives but do not want to break the bank with them.
Owned by Kroger, Food4Less is more of a warehouse-style supermarket with less attention to the store's appearance and more on the value that it can provide to its customers. With their affiliation with Kroger, customers can enjoy gas savings by using loyalty points collected at Food4Less.
Food4Less is focused on cost-cutting methods, which include less pressure on customer experience and more on prices charged at the checkout. As a result, you can expect more own-branded products, no staff to pack your bags and weekly deal offerings, which translates to higher savings.
When shopping in Food4Less, you can expect a good selection of groceries, cheap produce, and some non-food items such as health and beauty choices.
Being the largest e-commerce in the world, Amazon has also moved into the physical store by opening Amazon Fresh. Through it, it offers same-day grocery delivery for those with Amazon Prime subscription, which delivers your groceries for free if you spend $50 or more.
With its size, Amazon can lower prices due to its bargaining power with suppliers. Amazon Fresh is also still at a growth stage as a business offering; therefore, prices remain low to attract customers to use the platform. Prime membership revenue is also used to offset some of the lower prices.
For some items, Amazon charges a slight premium above other supermarkets; however, when it comes to specialty food with their Whole Foods Market, Amazon is able to offer lower prices to its competitors. Also, their Happy Belly brand helps with savings for everyday items.
Common Questions About Best Places To Grocery Shop On A Budget
These are the most common questions about the best places to grocery shop on a budget.
Where Is The Cheapest Place To Grocery Shop?
The cheapest grocery store in the US is Aldi. With its branded low-cost products, smaller stores, and lower customer experience attention, Aldi can pass on these lower costs to customers through lower prices.
What Is The Cheapest Grocery Store For Meat?
The cheapest grocery store for meat in the US is Aldi. Most Aldi stores usually run a promotion on Wednesdays during which you can buy meat cheaper. However, it is recommended to go early, as those deals run out fast.
What Is The Cheapest Place To Buy Groceries Online?
The cheapest place to buy groceries online is Amazon Fresh. With an Amazon Prime membership and spending of $50 on grocery orders, members get free delivery. If you are not a Prime member, you can consider Peapod, one of the largest grocery delivery stores in the US, or Instacart, based on an idea of UberEats and brilliant for anyone who likes their coupons.
How Can I Buy Healthy Groceries On A Budget?
To shop for healthy groceries on a budget, you should plan ahead, including having a shopping list, looking out for any promotions, shopping for seasonal fruit and vegetables, and considering purchasing frozen alternatives. You will also want to consider buying bulk and stocking up on non-perishable food items when they are on sale.
Is Costco Cheaper Than Walmart?
For the average shopping, Walmart is cheaper than Costco. Walmart is known for its great value products, while Costco is known for buying in bulk shopping. When choosing between them, it is important to consider current offers, your needs, and the distance to the shop.
Who Is Cheaper, Walmart Or Target?
On average, Walmart is found to be slightly cheaper than Target. Both retailers offer low grocery prices, with Walmart concentrating on the best bargains while Target provides a better customer experience.
With groceries being the third largest spending category in our budgets, many individuals and families are looking for ways to save. This is especially true during the current climate of rising prices, with coupons and discounts being introduced by many retailers to attract and retain customers.
By visiting one of the best places to buy groceries on a budget, you can make a simple change that might save you a lot monthly. Your exact choice of place shouldn't be only based on price, as we can spend a lot of time and transport costs by traveling to the cheapest place.
When deciding which supermarket to go down, make sure you account for fuel costs, the time it takes you to travel there and if they have everything you need. The last thing you want is popping into a few shops because you can't get everything the first time. My favorite still remains Lidl and their fresh bakery items, which you can smell as soon as you enter the store!
Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.