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Strategies for Saving Money on Groceries and Restaurants

This post is sponsored by American Express

If you had to reduce your spending by 10%, where would you look for the money?

You might consider cutting your rent by moving to a cheaper apartment, reducing your car insurance quotes by shopping around for the best rates, or looking for a better deal on your cell phone and internet plans. While these items are an excellent starting point when saving money, there is another category that eats up thousands of your hard-earned dollars every year, and that’s groceries and restaurants.

The truth is saving money on groceries and restaurants isn’t easy and requires consistent effort. But, by sticking to a few simple habits and streamlining your savings by using one of the best credit cards for groceries and restaurants, you can easily save hundreds of dollars on your food-related bills every year.

Here are our proven strategies for saving money on groceries and restaurants.

How to save money on groceries

Make a list

Making a grocery list is a sure-fire strategy to stay on budget while grocery shopping. A list helps you avoid unexpected or unnecessary impulse purchases; but make sure to give yourself room for one splurge.

More veggies, less meat

Meat is an expensive way to add protein to your diet, so reducing your consumption can help your budget. Consider cutting down on your meat consumption and incorporating cheaper, protein-rich alternatives into your meals (like lentils, beans, and legumes) to improve your bottom line, your waistline, and the environment.

Buy generic

Switching from name brand to generic staple products is an easy way to reduce your grocery spending. By choosing generic brands when you’re buying staple items like black beans, frozen vegetables, and cleaning products, you can prioritize name brand items where the difference is more noticeable.

Coupons and discount days

Get to know your weekly flyer and stock up when items go on sale or have coupons. If you’re a student, most grocery store chains have student days that offer 10% off your total purchase, so tweaking your schedule to visit on those days is a smart move.

Shop alone

If you have children, leave them at home while grocery shopping, and avoid going shopping when you’re hungry. These two habits will limit your impulse purchases and make it less likely that you’ll deviate from your grocery list.

How to save money at restaurants

Choose lunch over dinner

It can be hard to turn down dinner invitations with friends, so stick to your budget by suggesting lunch instead. That way, you can take advantage of the cheaper lunch menu options. Salads, soups, and sandwiches tend to cost less than appetizers and entrees.

Share with friends

Sharing food with friends is almost always less expensive than going in it alone, so the next time you visit a restaurant, suggest splitting a larger meal like nachos to cut down on costs.

Choose beverages or food

An easy way to reduce the cost of your meal is to forgo sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages in favour of water. Or, consider eating dinner at home and going out for drinks after. Choosing either dinner or drinks, not both, can help keep your bill lower.

Using the right credit card

The tips that we’ve mentioned above will help you save money on groceries and eating out, but you won’t be able to reduce either of these spending categories to zero. Since buying food is unavoidable, optimize your budget by earning rewards on your spending with the right credit card.

Some credit cards even help you earn extra rewards points on food-related purchases, like the American Express CobaltTM Card. Earn 5 Membership Rewards® points for every $1 in Card purchases at eligible restaurant, bars, cafes, grocery stores, and food delivery in Canada with Cobalt.

Over the course of a year, these points can add up to hundreds of dollars in rewards that can be used to bankroll a future vacation or earn gift cards and merchandise. This card also offers 2 points per dollar spent on travel, transit, and gas, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.


4.5 Ratehub rated

Best for Groceries & dining

First year reward

based on spending $2,200/mo after $156 annual fee

Earn rewards

1pt – 5pts / dollar earn rate

Welcome bonus

15,000 bonus points (a $150 value)

Annual fee


This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. However, the views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely our own.