Frugal Living: How to get groceries on a budget in NYC?

A woman picking pepper in a grocery store

Frugal living is an art and also kind of a necessary skill when you’re living in NYC. With raging rentals and expensive everything, money can ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ itself out of your back pocket if you’re not careful. We’ve seen many newbies engulfed by hefty price tags and end up ultimately exceeding their monthly budget. Especially when it comes to food & drinks! If you’re reading this in NYC you already know how crazy expensive eating out is. Usually, your best bet at saving money is to cook at home. But then again, the thing with grocery shopping in NYC is that it can go wrong & expensive very quickly. So how can you buy groceries on a budget? Well, you’re in luck because we know all about budget grocery shopping in NYC. So before you grab your grocery list and head out – let’s get thrifty!

How to buy groceries on a budget?

1. Add cheap, filling & versatile items to your grocery list

Eggs are a great choice as they are not only inexpensive, you can also easily whip up sooo many great dishes using them.

2. Set a weekly grocery shopping budget

3 meals/day for 7 days = 21 meals. Prepare your budget keeping this in mind and always try to come up with innovative ways to spend less. It is possible!

3. Remember math is NOT your nemesis

Get number crunchin’ when you’re grocery shopping in NYC! You’re on a budget, so make sure you’re keeping track of the items in your cart. Try to round off prices: $5.7 becomes $6, and $2.8 becomes $3. Wait for your mind to be blown when you checkout * inserts exploding sound effect for dramatics *

4. The best way to do grocery shopping in NYC? Just don’t.

Before you head out to get groceries on a budget, take a good look at what you already have in your pantry. If you can prep a meal with those canned red beans and that ignored frozen chicken shoved all the way back in your freezer – then you don’t need to shop.

5. Focus on seasonal produce

Drop whatever off-season fruit/vegetable you have on your grocery list. Not only will it cost a bomb, but it might also not taste that good.

6. There’s more to shelved items that meet the eye

Avoid picking shelved items linear to your eye level as they tend to be the most expensive variant. Which also means no grocery shopping in a rush. Take your time and explore other brands of the product you have on your grocery list.

7. Bring Your Own Bag

Think 360 degrees when you’re getting groceries on a budget in NYC. A shopping bag from the grocery store can cost anywhere between 50 cents to a dollar.

Also, you might need a couple of them depending on how long your grocery list is. You can easily save $10-$12 per month.

What more can I say, it’s budgeting baeby!

8. When getting groceries on a budget use cash only

Refer to point no. 2 from our list. If your weekly budget is $50, carry that in cash to the store and leave all your cards behind. Not only will it help you stick to your budget it will also cut impulsive buys.

Related: 8 Grocery Shopping Secrets To Spend Way Less Next Time

What are some cheap stores to buy groceries on a budget?

Good question! Not all stores are created equal – a store in Chinatown will be more budget-friendly as compared to a store in Gramercy. Grab your grocery list we are exploring stores today! Our top recommendations are:

  1. iFresh Market, Chinatown: We love this store. They have awesome deals on fruits & vegetables for as low as $1!
  2. Trader Joe’s
  3. Aldi
  4. CTown
  5. Market Basket
  6. WinCo Foods
  7. Food 4 Less
  8. Costco
  9. Walmart

D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers with grocery shopping in NYC on a budget? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match!