22 Ways to Save Big Bucks on Groceries When You’re Feeding Teenagers

Here's how to save a bundle in the check-out line

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 22 Ways to Save Big Bucks on Groceries When You’re Feeding Teenagers

Written by: Raising Teens Today

As a mom of teenagers, I’m here to tell you my grocery bill has spiked like CRAZY in recent months due to skyrocketing inflation. I mean, seriously… $7 for eggs? 

For most families with tweens and teens, their grocery bill is one of the largest monthly variable expenses. And, it’s easy to see why… teenagers (most, anyway) are human garbage disposals. The amount of food they’re able to consume in one sitting (let alone one month) is ridiculous.

Just keeping up with their demand for food is exhausting and crazy expensive (and the reason most parents of teens spend half their life making endless trips to the grocery store).

The good news is, with a little pre-planning and smart shopping, there are a few clever ways to save big bucks on groceries while still keeping your teen happy and fed!  (Although I’m pretty sure that no matter how many groceries you buy, they’ll still complain “there’s nothing to eat!” Check out these 22 clever ways to save big bucks on groceries when you’re feeding teenagers. 

22 Ways to Save Big Bucks on Groceries When You’re Feeding Teenagers


Start with a Grocery List and Stick to It

One of the best ways to save money at the grocery store is to create a list before you go and stick with it as best you can, which will help you avoid buying products you don’t need or caving into unnecessary buys on a whim.

Check Out the Store’s Sale Flyer

Grab one of the store’s sales flyers on your way into the store to see what deals they’re running that week. If they’re running deals on items you need, take advantage of it. (Even if you don’t need it right now, it’s still smart to stock up on non-perishable items or things you know will never go to waste in your family.)

Take Advantage of Coupons

Truth be told, I’m terrible at clipping coupons or using online coupons. But I have friends who save tons of money per month by couponing. Keep your eye out for mailers, weekly circulars, and online coupons so you never miss a chance to save at the check-out.

Take Advantage of Mega Deals or Loss Leaders

Even if it’s not on your grocery list, there might be some “mega deals” that are just too good to pass up – especially if they’re a staple or non-perishable item. Also, be sure to check out the bins at the front of the grocery store which are usually filled with items that are deeply discounted or “buy one get one.” 

Never Shop When You’re Hungry

I learned the hard way that when I grocery shop when I’m hungry, I always come home with far more sweet and salty junk food than I normally would have. A simple, “eat before you shop” motto could save you a bundle on your monthly grocery bill.

Don’t Take the Kids

Teenagers are notoriously bad grocery shoppers. Every time I take my kids with me (even one) my grocery bill is noticeably higher. They start grabbing everything under the sun and saying things like, “I gotta get these cookies,” and “my friend told me to try these,” and “I promise I’ll eat these” – all of which sends my grocery bill into oblivion. Your best bet is to have each child make their own grocery “wish” list and give it to you so you can compile the master list and then… shop alone.

Plan a Few Meals for the Week

When you have teenagers, the idea of “meal-planning” isn’t quite as easy. With the kids constantly coming and going with evening practices, games, and clubs, it’s sometimes hard to know when or even if they’ll be home long enough to sit down for dinner. Rather than planning out meals for every night, plan a few meals for the week so you can whip up dinner when you know the kids will be home. Keep your eye out for sales on basics like chicken and ground beef which are great to have on hand and offer tons of options when you need to prepare a quick dinner.

Scale Back on Dinner Ingredients

You can also save a few bucks by choosing dinner recipes that don’t have a ton of ingredients. I’ve gotten fairly smart about choosing easy 3-5 ingredient sheet pan or crockpot recipes. Also, pasta is super cheap and can go a long way when you’re feeding hungry teenagers. Need ideas? Here are 100 5-ingredient dinner recipes and budget pasta recipes you can check out!

Pay with a Grocery Rewards Card

Using a grocery rewards card can help save you a few bucks in the long run. Some can earn you 2% cashback, while other reward cards give as much as 6% back. And, when you’re feeding teens, every penny counts. According to CNBC, here are the best grocery reward cards.

Buy Generic

I used to be such a stickler for name brands. If it wasn’t Jiffy Peanut Butter or Nabisco Crackers, I wouldn’t buy it. Then, I started shopping at Aldi to save money and found, in so many cases, there really isn’t that big of a difference and the savings is huge! While you might just have to have some name-brand items like certain bagels or potato chips, switching to generic with even some of your grocery buys will save you a bundle. (I started saving tons of money when I switched from name-brand bottled water to the generic store brand!)

Use a Receipt-Scanning Cashback App

Take advantage of a receipt-scanning app to get cash-back offers from grocery stores. According to Money Crashers, here are the best cash-back apps.

Skip Pre-Packaged, Pre-Cut Items

It’s easy to grab that bag of pre-cut veggies, pre-sliced cheese, ready-to-eat salad, or Lunchables to make life easier, but convenience will cost you. Instead, skip the pre-packaged, pre-cut items and do your own preparing and cutting. It might take a few minutes longer, but the savings are worth it.

Get Smart in the Produce Section

It’s awfully tempting to search for the ripest bananas, apples or avocados, but I’ve learned the hard way, that when I buy too much “perfectly ripe” fruit, some of it goes to waste. Now I’ve learned to buy some ripe and some underripe fruit so I can stretch out my stash and avoid waste.

Buy in Bulk When It Makes Sense

Joining a wholesale club like Costco can help rack up big savings. For my family, we purchase the vast majority of our staples such as toilet paper, paper towels, and laundry detergent at Costco. But bulk buying may not be for every family. For starters, there are membership fees, you need space to store the items and you have to spend more upfront. Plus, just because an item is available in bulk, doesn’t always mean it’s a better deal. You need to be a savvy shopper to make sure you really are getting a better deal by buying a larger quantity.

Ignore Eye-Level Items

Have you ever noticed that the most expensive items on the shelves are literally right at eye level? There’s a reason for that. Grocery stores are trying to lure you into buying the most expensive items. Instead of falling for that trick, be sure to scan the area. The less expensive brands will oftentimes be lower on the shelves. 

Eat Up What You Have to Avoid Waste

Every once in a while, I’ll tell my family I’m not going grocery shopping (except for necessities) until we eat up what we have. It’s amazing how much food we could have in the freezer, fridge, and pantry and still my kids will look at me and tell me there’s nothing to eat. Rather than continuing to buy food and setting myself up for more waste, I just tell my kids, “Sorry… it’s time to get creative.” 

Buy on Amazon Fresh

Depending on what you buy, Amazon Fresh can be cheaper than traditional grocery stores. As always, you have to be a smart shopper to get the best deals, though. But even if you find a handful of items you can order that are cheaper, the convenience of it is hard to beat. Here’s the lowdown on Amazon Fresh – what to buy, what not to buy, and how to save the most money. 

Check Out “Ugly” Produce

Here’s a little tip you may not have heard of… “ugly” produce subscription boxes. The big players in the market are Imperfect FoodsMisfit Market and Hungry Harvest. They’re similar to subscription meal boxes like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, except, as the names imply, they focus on misshapen or less-than-perfect produce that is otherwise perfectly edible – all at substantial savings. 

Cut Back on Feeding Your Kids’ Friends

To be honest, I’ve fed more kids through the years than I can count. And, I’ve sprung for more pizza, sodas, and snacks than I care to recall. But inflation is high and food costs seem to be rising weekly. To keep your grocery bill in check, don’t feel guilty about cutting back (temporarily, anyway) on feeding your kids’ friends. I think we all know that when a bunch of hungry teenagers show up at your door, they can eat you out of house and home in 20 minutes flat. 

Don’t Overlook the Dollar Store

When you think of the Dollar Store, your mind probably thinks of seasonal items, cheap gift bags, and $1 greeting cards, but the Dollar Store carries so much more. I recently bought several bottles of seasonings (like Oregano, Thyme and Garlic Salt) at the Dollar Store and found no difference in taste from the typical $4-$6 seasonings at the grocery store. They also have a big selection of snacks, cookies, and canned items. And, you can save a bundle on laundry and dish detergent, cleaning supplies, and personal care products like shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant. 

Look for Freezer Deals

My dad used to scour the grocery stores for the best sales on ground beef, chicken, ribs, and steaks and then he’d stock up and freeze them. He even purchased a small stand-alone freezer and kept it in his basement so he had extra freezer space for the best “freezer deals” as he called them. This one trick helped him save a ton of money on meat. 

Shop Where the Deals Are

One of the best ways to save big bucks on groceries is to shop where the deals are. I used to shop religiously at one grocery store. It didn’t matter if other stores had better deals, I got used to the convenience of shopping at my favorite store. (Truth be known, the idea of running from store to store wasn’t something I wanted to do.)

But when you’re looking for ways to save big bucks on groceries, you have to shop around. Now I buy most of my produce at Aldi, a lot of staples at the Dollar Store, (I hit the store once a month or so) my bulk items at Costco (as needed), and the rest at “my favorite” grocery store where I know I can get all the name brand items I love. Sure, it takes a little more time, but my grocery bill has dropped considerably. Don’t know where to shop? According to Frugal Rules, here are the Cheapest Groceries Stores to Save Money

Saving money at the grocery store check-out line may sound impossible when you’re feeding hungry teenagers, but you really can save big bucks if you start doing even a few things differently. Don’t let these historically high grocery prices hit you hard. Start being a smart grocery shopper today!

If you enjoyed, “22 Ways to Save Big Bucks on Groceries When You’re Feeding Teenagers,” here’s another post you might like reading!

Feeding Hungry Teenagers? Stock Up On These Foods

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