Save Money on Groceries & Learn How to Shop Smart at the Supermarket

Prevent overshopping and control your budget with these tips.

grocery shopping

Most of our daily tasks don’t require much thought. Things like showering, eating, and using the bathroom are second nature by now, but what if we told you there was a more efficient way to do everyday activities you’ve forgotten about? Correct Me If I’m Wrong… is’s award-winning series about improving even the most mundane tasks you tackle on a daily basis so you can live happier and healthier.

Oct. 21, 2020 — 6 a.m. EST

I don’t know about you, but my relationship with the grocery store is love-hate. Sometimes I can’t wait to go shopping for food, other days I’d rather do anything else. While grocery shopping is a mundane task that everyone has to do on a regular basis, I recently found out that there are ways to do it better (and save money on groceries at the same time). Editor, longtime lifestyle journalist, and author of the book The Little Book of Life Skills, Erin Zammett Ruddy, breaks down a lot of little ways to improve your daily tasks with expert tips. Things like making a list, meal planning, and paying attention in the grocery store can really go a long way. Find out how, here. 

RELATED: Subscribe to the Dr. Oz newsletter for wellness tips, recipes, and exclusive sneak peeks from The Dr. Oz Show.

Make a Grocery List

It may sound obvious to make a list, but going to the grocery store prepared with all the items you need is the best way to make sure you stay on-course and on-budget. In her section on grocery shopping, Ruddy gets advice from Michele Vig, founder and chief organizer at Neat Little Nest, on best practices for list making.

  1. Meal plan: Take a look at your calendar and plan out how many meals you need for the week. Don’t forget to think about nights you might be going out to eat and/or accounting for leftovers to make sure you don’t overbuy. 

  2. List ingredients: Once you’ve figured out what to make, list out all the ingredients you’ll need to purchase. 

  3. Check your fridge: See what additional staples (separate from your meal plan ingredients) are in need of restocking like eggs, toilet paper, and essential condiments. 

  4. Shop your pantry: Double check where you keep your extra stock and look at your list. Cross off anything you already have to avoid double-buying.  

  5. Organize your list: Group common items together or even write them in order of store layout for easier shopping.

You might want to consider keeping a list on your fridge or in your smartphone so you can constantly add to it and make sure you’re not forgetting anything. 

Shop Smart 

The cardinal rule for grocery shopping — don’t go shopping hungry. If your stomach is empty in the store you’ll be more inclined to fill your cart with items you don’t need. In fact, a 2015 study published in the science journal PNAS found a correlation between hunger and buying more non-food related items. This is not good for your wallet, and if you decide to snack in the store too, not good for your waistline either. 

While you should aim to keep your shopping cart mostly full with natural, healthy ingredients like fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and dairy it’s inevitable that you’ll buy something packaged from time to time. When you do, it’s important to pay attention to labels. Look at nutritional info and ingredients to ensure what you’re buying is on the healthier side. Healthy labels to sell food that isn’t the healthiest is not a new trend, but it’s one that has recently become evident in popular keto diet snacks. Whatever you’re buying, just make sure to be an aware consumer. 

As you’re adding things into your cart keep a running tally in your head (or a literal one on your phone calculator). This will help you make sure to stay on budget and pay attention to sales in order to get the best bang for your buck. One trick to determine which items on the shelf are a better deal is to look at the unit price. Something might cost more but actually have more units, benefiting you and your wallet in the long run. Consider shopping generic as well; if you buy the store brand’s products they’re usually cheaper than brand names and roughly the same quality. 

Making your trip to the supermarket a conscious, planned effort may seem like a lot of work (especially if you have to go at least once a week). But, in the long run you’ll end up saving money and maybe even eating healthier if you go with a plan. The Dr. Oz Show has a new segment this season called “Dr. Oz’s Grocery Guide” with tips and tricks to help you navigate the grocery store with ease. You can find the existing guides here and tune in to the show for more helpful information. 


10 Healthy Meals to Freeze & Enjoy Later

Is Farmed Fish Bad For You? 4 Tips for Shopping Smarter for Seafood

Dr. Oz’s Grocery Guide

Want to know how to look marvelous without splurging so much? Dr. Oz invites three beauty experts to share the smartest ways to save money while looking fabulous starting from your hair and makeup tools to the beauty products you use.