Cutting Back On Groceries


Have you ever tried to raise 3 teenage boys at the same time? Geez Louise, they are eating me out of house and home! It seems like as soon as I bring home groceries, the cupboards are empty and I have to go back to the store. Needless to say, this is getting extremely expensive. My grocery bill has increased exponentially as my boys have grown up. Do you have any advice for someone in my situation? How can I cut back without making my boys go hungry?

Maureen V.
Brandon, Manitoba


Isn’t it funny how those cute little boys turn into veracious eating machines once they hit puberty? Sometimes you must wonder – where is all that food going?

Raising kids isn’t cheap. I’ve seen different studies that peg the cost at anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000. That’s basically a new house! And if you’ve got three boys, you could have been a millionaire!

But, isn’t the joy of parenthood priceless? I’m sure, as a mother, you want your boys to be healthy and happy. But, there are some ways you can achieve those goals without having to decide what to leave bare – your cupboards or your bank account.

Here are some strategies you can take to cut down on your grocery bill without having to deal with the wrath of a “hangry” (hungry+angry) child.

  • Use what you have – Don’t go to the supermarket this week. That’s right. Don’t go. I guarantee you that your cupboards, fridge and freezer have more than enough food items to feed your family for at least a week – if not longer. Did you know that Canadians waste $27 billion of food each year? Cut down on that figure in your home by using what you’ve got!
  • Grab your scissors – There is no industry that uses coupons more than the grocery industry. If you look hard enough, you can find a coupon for almost everything you plan on buying. Sure, it may take a little bit of time but it is going to save you money. So, grab your scissors and get cutting! *There are also some great websites that do a lot of the work for you. Check out
  • Right place, right time – Have you ever gone to a grocery store shortly before closing (or late at night if it’s open 24 hours)? They are basically giving stuff away on their discount racks. Look for the bright coloured stickers that scream “50% OFF”, “60% OFF”, “$3 OFF” and fill your cart. The store wants to get rid of these items because they aren’t considered fresh enough to many customers. But, hey, a couple bruises on a banana never hurt anyone!
  • Plan away impulsivity – Supermarkets are infamous for placing items they want you to buy at eye level or near the cashier. They are preying on your impulsive tendencies. Fight back by planning out all your meals a week or two in advance and making a shopping list that includes only the ingredients you need. This will be both a food and financial budget. Stick to that list and avoid buying anything else. And, as a bonus, keep those eyes looking down – that’s where the cheaper generic brands are located!

Jeffrey Schwartz
Executive Director

Jeffrey Schwartz is the Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada and President of the Credit Association of Greater Toronto (CAGT).

If you have a question about a debt management program or just about finance in general, Jeff is here to help. Send us an email with your question to [email protected]. You’ll get the expert advice you need and your question may be featured here on our website.