Grocery shopping takes up a sizeable portion of monthly spending, especially when you have a large family to feed. While it is an expense defined as necessity or needs (as opposed to “wants”), there are many tips and hacks that can help us cut the bill and save money. Here are 21 ways to save money at grocery stores.
1. Check Grocery Store Flyers
Most grocery stores run weekly flyers which list what items are on sale. You can sign up to receive mail-in flyers or just pick one when you enter the store.
You can also download the app Flipp to browse many stores’ flyers in one place.
[Read more: 60 Fantastic Online Resources that Help Saving Money]
2. Check your pantry before shopping
Each time when you are ready for grocery shopping, look at your pantry to exam what you have. Doing so can help reduce food waste as well as the grocery bill.
3. Plan meals
Set up a plan for each meal in the week ahead so you know what grocery you need to buy.
If you don’t have time to plan that yourself, try a meal plan program, such as 5-dollar meal and The Dinner Daily. They are wonderful programs.
4. Make a shopping list
One important way to save money on groceries is to always have a shopping list with you. Before you go to the grocery store, sit down, and make a shopping list based on meal plans in the week ahead. Without a shopping list, we will easily end up buying unnecessary items.
5. Keep your receipts for multiple purposes
Keeping your receipts for an easy exchange or return. In addition to that, do you know you can turn your grocery receipt into cash? Many apps allow you to earn money with the receipt, such as Fetch Rewards, ibotta, and GetUpside.
[Read more: 8 Ways Receipts can Help you Save Money]
6. Buy in bulk if you have a big family
Buy in bulk may seem to spend a large sum upfront, but the unit price is still attractive which can save you money in the long run. But think twice before you buy in bulk when the items are perishable (Items that spoil quickly).
7. Scan bottom shelves and outer aisles
Most shoppers scan the shelf at their eye level first and then make their purchasing decision in a few seconds. Grocery stores know shoppers’ habits so they place their most profitable items on the eye levels on the shelves.
Don’t be tricked by that. Check out bottom shelves and outer aisles, you may find a better deal.
8. Buy store brand
If you are not sticking to one specific brand, try to buy the same items with a store brand. The store-brand items are cheaper than those blockbuster brands, and most time you can’t really tell the difference when you taste them.
[Read more: 25 Ways to Improve your Budget and Save More]
9. Eat with season
In-season vegetables and fruits not only taste good but also discount more often. For example, watermelon is much cheaper in summer than in winter.
10. Make your own salad
Pre-cleaned bagged salads are convenient but cost more. Plus they are not 100% clean. For our health and wallet, why not buy fresh lettuce, carrots, and other greens to make our own salad?
11. Choose a specific day for grocery shopping
Wednesday is often considered the best day to shop as many grocery stores release their weekly flyers on that day. You can see what items on the weekly flyers interest you and get those hot deal items while they are still available.
Try to avoid shopping on Tuesday as it is the last day for the weekly special and some of those discounted items may not be available. Also, try to avoid weekend shopping due to the crowd.
11. Shop early or late
Early birds get the worm, especially for those discounted items. You want to shop in the early morning so you can grab those times when there are plenty of.
When it is near closure time, grocery stores may be eager to sell out their daily fresh items and give out big discounts, especially in bakery and preprocessed meals at Sushi restaurant in the store.
12. Don’t shop when you’re hungry
When we are hungry, we tend to buy more sweets and snacks, such as chocolate bars or cookies, impulsively. Unless you want to test your willpower that way, simply avoid shopping hungry.
13. Buy dried beans instead of canned beans
Many people opt for canned beans because they are convenient and ready to cook. However, for the same price, you can get more beans if you choose dried beans instead. The extra work to prepare and cook from dried beans will pay off in the long run.
14. Use coupons
If you are not a fan of clipping coupons, use apps such as ibotta or Coupons to help you save money. Sometimes you can combine manufacturer coupons and store coupons together to save you a lot on your grocery bills.
[Read more: My Top 5 Cash Back Apps]
15. Check the receipt before leaving the store
Humans can make mistake. It is possible that cashiers may type in the wrong price and charge you more for certain items you bought. Check your receipt for such mistakes.
16. Compare the unit price
When you need to make a decision between 1 pound and 2 pounds bag of candies, always check their unit price. Simply divide the price of 2 pounds by 2 to get the price per pound. Then compare with the price for that 1-pound bag to determine which one gives you a better deal.
17. Simplify you cooking
Not every meal has to be a feast. If you want to save time and money, go with what you have. Simplify your cooking. You can experiment with new recipes for special occasions.
[Read more: Top 4 Tips on How to Stop Wasting Money]
18. Double-check the “Buy One Get One Free” deal
Grocery stores often label certain items as “buy one get one free” for promotion. Does buying one mean paying half price? While it may be the case for some stores, others will require you to buy two to get the deal. If it’s the latter, do you really need the second item?
19. Grow your own produce
Plant some vegetable seeds in the spring and grow your own produce. You may spend some money upfront to prepare for your vegetable garden. But it will pay off later when you harvest your produce. Some herbs, such as basil and chives, are simple to grow.
20. Ditch bottled water
Stop buying those single-use plastic water bottles from grocery stores for both saving money and environmental protection. Invest in a water-filtering pitcher or water filtration system.
20. Avoid non-food products in grocery stores
Even though grocery stories also sell non-food products, such as batteries and skincare products, usually you can buy those at lower prices elsewhere.
[Read more: 8 Things You Don’t Need to Buy New]
Those 21 tips are not exhaustive to save money at grocery stores. But if you can use some of them, you will start to see a reduced bill on your next grocery run.