UT Extension Expert Gives Tips to Save On Groceries

Women Preparing Food
Stretch precious dollars with grocery shopping tips from University of Tennessee Extension experts. Even small changes can add up to big savings over time. Image courtesy UTIA. 

Christmas is in less than 150 days, and now is the perfect time to start saving and budgeting for the holidays. But for some Tennesseans, saving for the future is a dream, and living paycheck to paycheck is the reality. University of Tennessee Extension provides tips for stretching precious dollars and making the best financial decisions possible.

“A great way to cut costs and pinch pennies is to reduce costs that occur on a weekly or monthly basis. These are things like utility bills, grocery expenses, gas purchases, and more,” says UT Extension economics expert Ann Berry. “Each of these areas provide an opportunity to reduce expenses, turn the savings into an emergency fund, and then into long-term savings as it adds up.”

One area with the biggest potential for savings is grocery shopping. Berry continues by saying, “These days, most major grocery stores have apps with downloadable coupons and weekly ads that can be viewed ahead of time. Limit coupon usage to items that would normally be purchased, with or without the coupon, and compare the price of the item after the coupon with that of the store brand.” Viewing weekly ads ahead of time can also help shoppers remember to purchase seasonal fruits and vegetables, as these are more likely to be on sale.  

Berry says weekly sales are great for shopping for meats and other perishable items. Avoid impulse purchases by sticking with a shopping list and eating a healthy meal beforehand, so hunger does not lead to poor decision making.

Families can also plan meals one week at a time, to ensure food doesn’t go to waste. “Meal planning is a great way to utilize what is already in your cabinets, fridge, or pantry, and purchase only supplemental items. This not only lowers the grocery bill, but it helps avoid lost money in the form of food waste,” says the UT expert.

Berry adds that small choices, like water instead of soda while eating out or packing a lunch for work several days a week, are easy to incorporate into any lifestyle. “Small changes add up,” says the expert. “If a family saves $10 each week by purchasing groceries that are on sale, they have saved over $500 over a year. This is a great way to build up savings, avoid using credit for emergencies, and increase wealth in the long run.”

For more information about money management, contact your local county Extension office or visit the Family and Consumer Sciences page at ag.tennessee.edu/fcs

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence in providing Real. Life. Solutions. through teaching, discovery and service. ag.tennessee.edu.



Ann A. Berry, professor and consumer economics specialist, UT Extension, 865-974-8745, ​aberry9@tennessee.edu​​