Frugal Foodies: 5 Tips for Getting Groceries for Less

How frugal foodies find better deals on food items -- and save money.

ByABC News
January 27, 2014, 2:25 PM

Jan. 27, 2014— -- intro: Frugal foodies believe that eating cheap can be cool, delicious and totally doable. There are ways to save money on groceries even if you have a taste for filet mignon, but the budget for Spam.

Sarah Mock, the author of the "How I Pinch a Penny" blog, loves to cook -- even went to culinary school -- so she's not willing to cut corners when it comes to quality. The key to saving money on groceries, she said, is to plan both meals and a shopping strategy in advance. Mock will often shop at Amelia's Grocery Outs and ALDI, two discount grocery chains near her home in York, Pa.

"I've been a frugal person my whole life," Mock said. "I just don't see the point in paying full price if you don't have to. Prices are set, and if you wait long enough you'll get a discount, or a deal, or somehow it will drop. And I'm willing to wait."

Mock went grocery shopping with "Nightline" to show ways people can shop smarter and save money on groceries and offered some of her tips for how to a frugal foodie.

quicklist:1title: Arm Yourself With More Than One Grocery Listtext: Instead of just preparing one overall grocery list, Mock suggests making columns of lists: One column for food items you will need for meals that week, and another for items you want to stock up on.

quicklist:2title: Don't Be Afraid to Try Discount Grocery Storestext:You bargain hunt for clothes, do the same for food.

Mock said discount grocery stores offer food products for less than the big box chains because they recieve food items that were part of "an over-shipment, or the box is dented, or it has a seasonal something on it."

A box of cereal with a ripped corner or a dented can of vegetables are still fine to eat, Mock said, as long as the items inside are still completely sealed.

quicklist:3title: Shop Around at Different Storestext:In planning your grocery shopping trip, Mock said it's helpful to do your research to find out which stores have the best deals on which products, and then write the store name down next to those products.

"If I don't I will forget, and I'll end up at the other grocery store," she said. "I'm like, 'Oh, I should have gotten that at Amelia's or 'Oh, I should have gotten that at ALDI,' so if I make notes I have less chance of circling around town, or paying more for it at a different store."

quicklist:4title: When It Comes to Expiration Dates, Trust Your Guttext:Discount food stores will sometimes sell items that are close to or past their expiration dates. Mock said she understands people feel differently about sticking to expiration dates on food items, so she suggests going with what makes you comfortable.

"Not normally, but every once in a while, you'll find something that is close to [the expiration] date, maybe it's within a couple weeks, or a couple months, and then you will find some things that are past-date," she said. "But you have got to look at the product, and look at how it's packaged, how it's manufactured, and make a judgment call for your family. So it's different for everybody."

quicklist:5title: Ask Yourself: Will You Eat This?text:While buying food in bulk can be a smart money-saver, Mock said don't be tempted to purchase cases of items just to get the deal if you or your family aren't going to eat them.

"That's not a good use of pinching my pennies," she said. "I buy what I know my family will use, and eat and enjoy."