Tips & Tricks to Stretch Your Grocery Shopping Budget

January 01, 0006 | Food Lion
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We get it – you have a lot on your plate and finding time to sit down and make a monthly budget game plan isn’t always easy. But, we want to make it a little simpler for you so you can stretch your grocery shopping budget even further and get more with your money. Just follow these simple tips and tricks to help you make the most of your budget and nourish your happy family.

Getting Started with Your Grocery Shopping Budget

Don’t have a budget yet? Here’s what you’ll need to do. First, determine your monthly grocery shopping budget based on your income and how often you shop. Start with your income and subtract your regular expenses such as rent, utilities, childcare, transportation, phone bill, etc. This will give you a rough estimate of what you can spend on other expenses like food, clothing and entertainment. 

Tip: To review how much you typically spend on groceries at Food Lion, use the “Shopping History” feature on the Food Lion app to see your previous trips! 

Once you know how much you would like to spend on groceries, it’s a good idea to track how much you’ve actually spent on the items you consume every month, including drinks and eating out. This will give you a realistic idea of what you usually spend and help you plan moving forward. Keep in mind, eating out is more costly than cooking at home, so if you’re looking for a way to stretch your monthly budget dollars further, limit takeout and how often you and your family go out to eat.

How to Grocery Shop on a Budget | Fresh Ideas | Food Lion

Define Your Priorities

Budgets may seem a little restrictive at a glance, but they’re really all about serving you and your family! Setting your priorities when you shop allows you to focus your spending on the items you really need for your family. That might mean planning more meatless meals so you can buy more organic products or shopping around sales. When you utilize your grocery shopping budget correctly and shop with a little strategy, you can really stretch your dollar.

Plan Your Meals

The key to making the most out of your grocery shopping budget is planning. By planning your meals in advance, you can prevent excess food waste by ensuring you’re only buying what you need. 

New to meal planning? Start with just a couple of meals based on your family’s preferences and schedules and leave a couple of nights free for leftovers, frozen meals, etc. If pizza night is always on Fridays, go ahead and plan for it. Are Tuesdays your most hectic day of the week? Plan a slow-cooker meal you can prep in advance, pick up a rotisserie chicken from your local Food Lion, or a pre-made frozen dish you can throw in the oven while you mark another project off your to-do list.

How to Grocery Shop on a Budget | Fresh Ideas | Food Lion

Pick the Right Recipes

While choosing budget-friendly recipes you and your family enjoy is critical when meal planning, there are many other tried and true ways to make your dollar stretch further. First, shop your kitchen and base meals on what you already have available. Didn’t use up all of that sour cream or chicken last night? That’s a great place to start for tonight’s meal plan with some chipotle chicken sweet potatoes

Similarly, recipes that vary in taste but share ingredients that you might not otherwise use up are an excellent way to make sure nothing goes to waste. So, if you’ll only need half a bag of potatoes for your soup recipe, be sure to plan another recipe with potatoes that week. Another great tip is to choose recipes with ten ingredients or less – limited items means limited cost! 

Tip: Many of our recipes fit that ten ingredients or less criteria. Check them out for some cooking inspiration! And if you only have 30 minutes, you can sort our recipes by total time to ensure you’ve got dinner on the table when you need it!

Rethink Leftovers

Next time you’re making lasagna, a casserole, sauce, dessert or another recipe that freezes well, make an extra one to keep in the freezer for future use on busy days (like our homemade freezer spaghetti sauce). Many times, it doesn’t take much effort to make the extra dish, and you’ll definitely thank yourself later when you can just pop dinner in the oven on a busy day.

Another leftover option is to take a key protein, such as chicken or steak, to be used in several different ways throughout the week. Monday’s grilled chicken dish can lend well to Tuesday’s chicken salad and Wednesday’s tacos when planned in advance.

How to Grocery Shop on a Budget | Fresh Ideas | Food Lion

Stock Your Pantry

Keep your pantry stocked with an assortment of key ingredients that can be used in many recipes. This might include canned goods, seasonings, oils, pasta, flour, sugar and other various household staples. Not only does this help with meal planning, but it makes it super easy to throw an unplanned meal together if you end up in a pinch. 

Hit traffic on the way home and don’t have time to make the meal you had planned? Nothing to eat suddenly becomes a tasty rice-based casserole or classic pasta bake with a well-stocked pantry

Shop With a List

Once you select the meals and recipes you want to shop for, make a list of the ingredients you need. Be sure to take an inventory of what you already have at home before you shop and always add any staples you like to keep on hand to your list when they start running low. Knowing what you already have and what you truly need before you shop can make all the difference when trying to stick to your grocery shopping budget.

And what’s worse than making a list and forgetting it at home? Make sure to use your Food Lion app to create a list on your mobile phone. Download the app here!

How to Grocery Shop on a Budget | Fresh Ideas | Food Lion

Order Online

An easy way to make sure what’s in your cart won’t blow your budget is to utilize a grocery pickup or delivery service such as Food Lion To Go. With Food Lion To Go, you can see your running total as you shop. That means you can adjust your list to stay within budget and avoid any surprises at the checkout counter. 

Plus, with Food Lion To Go you get our same in-store pricing and sales you know and love while a trained shopper selects all your items for pickup or delivery. There isn’t much better than saving time and money on your must-have items!

Make the Most of Your Budget at Food Lion

At Food Lion, we make it easier to make the most of your grocery shopping budget and stay on track. Use our weekly flyer to plan your meals or stock up on your essentials with our “Priced Low Every Day” items and weekly deals. You can also create a digital MVP account at or via our app to save even more above and beyond your MVP savings by earning rewards, loading exclusive coupons and more!

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