Grocery shopping is EXPENSIVE.
According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, a normal American household will spend at least $323 every month on groceries.
And if you think about it, that’s a lot of money for groceries, no matter how big or small your family is.
But with some minor changes and clever tactics, you can actually spend a whole lot less because unlike some things, food spending is one of the few things that you can make major adjustments to.
And thankfully, it doesn’t take rocket science to cut down your grocery shopping budget.
How to Save Money on Groceries
Here are 84 simple ways that you can take advantage of to save money on groceries this month.
Some ideas are crafty, some you may already know, and some may take a little bit of work and maneuverability, but in the end, you’ll definitely save a reasonable chunk on your grocery bill.
Just remember, not all these tips will work for everyone, but a majority can.
So with that being said, let’s jump straight to the savings!
Before You Leave Home
Here are some of the best grocery shopping tips that you should use before you head to the store:
1. Track Your Expenses
One of the most important things to do before you grocery shop is to track your expenses that way you can determine your grocery shopping budget.
But don’t worry, if you’re not too good with numbers and finances, here are 12 great apps to make this step a little bit easier.
2. Meal Prep
Planning out your meals for the week or even month will help you determine what exactly you’ll need from the grocery store and how much.
3. Make a Grocery List
This is almost a given but making a list if the easiest way to see what you need and estimate how much it should cost.
4. Shop at Cheap Grocery Stores
Sure you can still find decent bargains and deals at Publix and Whole Foods, but nothing will ever beat cheaper supermarkets like Aldi’s.
By shopping at these cheaper grocery stores, you can find plenty of great food options at a fraction of the cost. I mean seriously, you can get bags of oranges for $1 while the same thing will cost you upwards of $5 at Walmart or any other major grocery chain.
5. Get Clever Cookbooks
Investing in clever cookbooks can help you save money on food costs while also feeding you and your family. Just by making minor switches in your diet and meal plans, you can truly save a lot of money.
6. Leave the Kids at Home
By leaving the kids at home, you can focus on what you need to buy without having anyone nagging you about buying extra things you don’t need.
And it’s not just kids… significant others and roommates are guilty too.
7. Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry
When you shop when you’re hungry, everything looks delicious. This is dangerous especially if you’re on a budget because you can easily blow through your grocery shopping budget with things you probably don’t need.
That’s why you should consider packing mints to help curve your hunger that way you won’t be shopping with your belly.
8. Shop at Costco
You’d be surprised on the kind of deals you can find on food at Costco.
9. Grab a Newspaper
Yes, they still exist. And thankfully your local newspaper still has grocery store coupons and weekly ads.
10. Go to the Farmer’s Markets
Most farmer’s markets have great deals on fresh produce and other tasty products.
Just a simple search on Google will bring up the nearest farmer’s markets for you to check out!
Or better, use this tool by the USDA to help you find local farmers market.
11. Shop at Multiple Stores
Not all stores are created equally and the same applies to product prices. By shopping at multiple stores, you’ll be able to find cheaper prices and deals that one store couldn’t give you.
Some stores may have cheap produce, others may have ridiculous deals on meat.
Just by watching the sales and collecting coupons, you can get a better grasp on what stores will have the cheaper products and when.
Here’s a pretty cool grocery store price comparison tool!
12. Shop at Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens
Although some of these places tend to hike up prices as a “convenience” cost, you can actually find some really great deals on snacks and drinks here.
I mean seriously, there has been days when CVS had a gallon of milk for under $2. Crazy.
13. Inventory Your Goods at Home
Before you go to the store, be sure to check and see what you have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry, that way you can create an accurate grocery shopping list.
14. Keep Track Of All The Items You’re About to Run Out On
By keeping track of everything that is running low, you save yourself the risk of buying something when in reality you don’t need it yet.
I’m guilty of doing that so keeping track of everything as it starts to get low helps me buy the products at the right time.
15. Use What You Have Up at Home First
As tempting as it is to go the store and get new delicious goods, using up what you have first helps you limit the risk of throwing out or wasting the older food in your kitchen.
An empty fridge is okay as long as there’s a few good meals that you can squeeze out.
Here’s a pretty awesome tool called Supercook that will actually search for recipes based on what ingredients have in your kitchen.
16. Bring Only the Cash You Need for Your Budget
As much as I love using credit cards (I hate cash), bringing only a certain amount of cash will help you make the most of your grocery budget while keeping a very close eye on how much you’re spending.
17. Verify if a Store Uses Competitors Coupons
The last thing you want to do is to go to a grocery store and have them deny your coupon because it’s from a competitors. That’s why I recommend you ask the store beforehand that way you know.
Here are all the grocery stores that will accept competitor coupons:
- Super G
- Harris Teeter
- Lowe’s Foods
- Price Chopper
Most of the other one’s probably won’t accept competitor coupons, but if there are any changes, be sure to let us all know by leaving a comment below. Thanks!
18. Opt for Generic Store Brands
In most cases, generic store brands are just as good at the name brands. And in some cases, the generic store brands actually beat out the more popular brands.
The way I see it is that if you can’t taste a major difference, than saving a nice chunk of money by switching to generic is worth it.
19. Buy Bagged Produce
Bagged products are typical cheaper then loose items, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables.
20. Buy in Bulk
In general, some items are a lot cheaper when bought in bulk.
21. Don’t Always Go For the Grassfed Meat
Sure you may be able to taste a little difference, but in reality, if the goal is to just put food in your belly, regular meat is 100% acceptable. Plus it’s at a fraction of the costs.
Research has shown that grain-fed (regular) meat is typically unhealthier due to less Omega-3 and CLA, but in reality, regular, non-grass fed meat is just as healthy.
22. Opt for Powdered, Not Liquid
By switching to powdered variations of some foods, you can cut costs significantly.
You see, in some foods like jell-o cups, popsicles, fruit juices, and broths, you’re actually paying a little bit more because of the water and liquid that it contains, as well as the container/packaging.
But just by switching to the powdered variations of these products, you’ll see a hefty drop in pricing.
23. Don’t Buy Pre-Cut Food
When you buy any food that has been pre-cut, you are likely to pay a huge premium, according to CBS Money Watch.
24. Bring a Calculator
Your iPhone calculator will work too.
This allows you to keep track of how much you’re spending and accurately display how much your shopping cart is worth.
Just don’t forget to account for sales tax, if your state has it.
25. Use Coupons
You already know this but coupons are by far the best way to save money on groceries.
Plus there are plenty of ways to extreme coupon and virtually save thousands.
Here are some great resources to help you master the art of couponing:
- Free Coupons
- Couponing for Beginners: 11 Tips that Will Save You Thousands
- How to Save 50% or More on Coupons
- Krazy Coupon Lady Tips
26. Take Advantage of Double Coupon Days
Some supermarket actually have days during the week where your coupons are actually doubled in value meaning that you’ll get double the savings!
27. Don’t Buy Bottle Water
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average cost per gallon of bottle water was $1.21 in 2013, whereas the cost for a thousand (1,000) gallons of tap water is only $2.
This means that bottled water is 600x more expensive than tap water.
The better option is to invest in a Brita filter. You’d be amazed on how much money you’ll save.
Here’s the best one on Amazon with over 2,000 5-star reviews.
28. Watch the Cash Register During Checkout
Sometimes cashiers and POS systems make mistakes so there is always a possibility of getting overcharged or not getting that special deal pricing.
That’s why it’s always uber important to watch the cash register.
29. Shop for Certain Goods after Holidays
Many goods including holiday themed candy, baking mixes, spices, etc are always heavily discounted after the holidays.
So if you don’t mind eating orange, yellow, and red candy, than shopping for goodies after Halloween can lead to major savings.
30. Don’t Buy Anything at the Checkout Counters
You’d be amazed at the overcharge and premium pricing that you’ll find at these checkout counters.
Sure it’s convenient but the unit size to pricing ratio is way out of whack.
Literally at Walmart, they charge $1.50 for a bottle of Gold Peak sweet tea where as in the back area of the store near the milk and dairy, you can get a gallon of that very same tea for only $3.
It’s pretty crazy.
31. Avoid Individually Wrapped Items
When food comes individually wrapped, it’s usually marked up.
Anywhere from individually wrapped chicken breast filets to Lunchables, you’ll notice that these goods are priced for convenience and not quantity.
32. Price Match
Without a doubt, price checking is the easiest way to ensure that you’re maximizing your shopping savings.
33. Check Unit Size and Weight
If you’re comparing 2 or more products/brands, it’s always important to look at the individual unit size and weight so that you know if one has an advantage over the other when it comes to the amount of product you’re getting and how much it costs you.
34. Check Unit Prices
Anytime a food item or product in general at the grocery store comes in both a single and multi-pack, it’s important to always check the individual unit price first.
For example, if there’s a box of 3 air fresheners for $4, but an individual one only sells for $1.10, you’re actually paying an extra $0.23 more per unit.
35. Stock Up on Great Sales Items
If an item you always use or consume is on sale, it’s always best to stock up especially if it’s something you always use like toilet paper, soda, detergent, air fresheners, etc.
36. Find the Clearance Items
Some grocery stores will actually have a clearance section where you can find discounted products, both perishable and non-perishable.
37. Be Wary of Certain Sales 5 for $5
If you ever see some items marked as 10 for $10, be sure to check the individual unit price because sometimes these items can be only $0.89, costing you $1.90 extra.
38. Get a Raincheck for Sales Items
If a product is on sale but they’re all sold out, you can ask for a raincheck that will honor the sale pricing. That way, whenever the product is in-stock again, you can still purchase it at the sale price.
39. Bring Your Own Soundtrack
Ever noticed how grocery stores play slow, calming music? It’s actually a way that the stores manipulates your senses so you spend more money.
This time of music subconsciously makes you move slower and take your time strolling through all the aisles.
As weird as it may be, brining your own music may actually help you get in and out of the store quickly, thus letting you check everything off your list without the risk of spending a little more money on things you may not need right now.
40. Listen to Upbeat Music as You Shop
Many supermarkets will actually play slower more calming music which makes you take your time and spend more time perusing the aisles. Wear headphones and listen to fast music and you’ll be in and out in no time.
41. Start in the Middle of the Store
Did you know that the produce section and it’s bright colors encourage you to shop more. That’s why starting in the bland boxes sections of stores is a better option, according to the Super Market Guru.
42. Avoid the “Professional” Cakes
Sure you can spend anywhere from $15 to $40 on a professional cake, but in reality, you can make a better one at home for a fraction of the cost.
43. Buy the Cake Mix
As delicious as homemade cakes and desserts made from scratch really are, it’s actually cheaper to go with the boxed cake mix.
44. Buy Certain “Deli” Cheeses in the Dairy Section
Some of the cheeses that you find in the Deli counter can actually be found in the dairy section, for a whole lot cheaper.
The difference in deli-sliced vs pre-packaged is quite astonishing.
45. Buy the Frozen Store Food, Not the One Pre-Cooked in the Front
Even though the cooked food section at the store smells amazing, it’s not that affordable. And as a downside, some of the food served there is actually the same ones you can buy in the frozen section.
Skip the pre-cooked food and your wallet will thank you.
46. Go with Frozen Seafood Instead of Fresh Seafood
Fresh fish is more expensive than frozen fish.
And frankly, frozen may actually taste better than fresh.
47. Buy the Fresh Baked Bread and Keep in a Airtight Bag
These breads are usually less than $3 a bag or $1 a roll (like at Walmart). Just make sure to keep them in an airtight container/bag because the brown bags they come in are meant to make the bread go stale faster, thus making your go back to the store and buy more.
48. Buy Yesterday’s Baked Goods
Some baked goods like donuts and bread actually will be marked ridiculous low if you buy it one day later.
The savings are great!
Plus, using old bread is great for making your own breadcrumbs and croutons out of stale bread.
49. If a Bakery Good is Expiring Tomorrow, Ask for Discount
Usually in the bakery section of the store, you’ll tend to find products that are expiring soon or tomorrow.
If that’s the case, be sure to asked for a price reduction.
It never hurts to ask.
50. Avoid the Middle Shelves
If you ever look at any shelf in a grocery store, you’ll tend to see the more popular and expensive mainstream items right in the middle, in plain sight.
However, if you ever look at the top and bottom, you’ll tend to see more least expensive items including generic, store brands.
51. Slice Your Own Deli Goods
It can actually be cheaper to buy the whole meat unit as opposed to cold cuts prepackaged in packets.
Then you can take it home and slice it yourself.
52. Opt for Bagged Coffee, Not K-Cups
If you’re someone who bought a Keurig machine, you’ve probably already realized how expensive those K cups are.
The amount of money you save by buying a bagged coffee and using a reusable K-Cup is enormous.
Here’s how Business Insider figured it out:
K-Cup versus a regular Coffee Pot using Starbucks’ recommendation of using 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for a six fluid ounce cup:
- 2 tablespoons ground coffee = 10 grams. A 1 lb. bag is 453 grams meaning that you’ll get 45 six-ounce cups out of that one bag (453/10).
- If you drink a cup of coffee a day, you would go through a little over 8 bags a year (365 days/45 cups), which then equals to about $95 spent on coffee (8 bags*$11.95, the cost of 1 lb. Starbucks house blend bag).
- Drinking the equivalent amount in K-Cups equals around $400 a year (8 lbs*$50, the average price per pound of K-Cup coffee) which is over 4x as much.
53. Take Advantage of Your Store’s Price Drop Policy
If something you bought was later reduced in price, you can actually get the price adjusted and be refunded the difference.
54. Use Walmart Savings Catcher
This is brilliant if you shop at Walmart.
Basically, if a local competitor has a lower advertised price, you get an eGift Card for the difference. All you have to do is take a picture of your receipt and the Savings Catcher will do the rest.
55. Purchase In-Season Produce (Eat with the Seasons)
When fruit and vegetables are in season, that generally means that they are cheaper.
Here’s a great guide by the USDA that tells you when certain fruits and vegetables are in season.
56. Don’t Get Pre-Washed Salads
These pre-washed bagged salads serve one purpose – convenience. And with convenience comes higher costs.
You’re better off buying the vegetables for your salad individually.
57. See if You Qualify for a Military Discount
Are you a retired or active member of the military?
If so then you qualify for a military discount!
Be sure to ask your store if they offer military discounts.
58. Don’t Get the Spice Mixes
Spice mixes are ridiculous expensive for what you get.
The same goes for artisanal salts.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to make these “mixes” yourself with the individual ingredients just by looking at the mix label.
59. Go for the Bagged Potatoes, Not Individual Ones
The price difference between an individual potato and a bag of the very same potatoes is pretty ridiculous.
60. Scan Your Rewards Card Before You Shop at CVS
By scanning your card before you shop at CVS, you’ll discover all the weekly and daily coupons for the store.
Learn more about ExtraCare Rewards here.
61. Avoid Impulse Purchases
The grocery store is not your friend and so isn’t that beautiful display of the newest treat or holiday cookies.
Don’t let those delicious smells or those impressive displays trick you into buying things that aren’t in your budget or on your grocery list.
62. Don’t Be Afraid to Ditch Items Last Minute
Ditching items from your shopping cart is not a crime.
If you see something in your cart that you don’t need or is too expensive (and you can find cheaper alternatives elsewhere) then set them free.
63. Make Your Groceries Last As Long as Possible
Believe or not, there are 27 clever ways to make your groceries last longer and increase their shelf like.
Because the last thing you need is spoiled food which equals money down the toilet.
64. Return Food You Don’t Like or Need
If you ever realize that you don’t need a certain product, perishable or non-perishable, you can always return it, especially if it’s spoiled. But the same goes for boxed food, chips, snacks, etc.
If you don’t want it, return it.
Just make sure to look at your receipt and understand your stores return policy.
65. Check Your Receipt
You’d be surprised how many cashier overcharging mistakes are made on the daily. That’s why its important to always look at your receipt to make sure you aren’t being charge twice for certain products.
66. Get Cashback on Grocery Store Purchases
Some cool grocery store rebate apps like Ibotta will actually give you cash back on any grocery store purchase. All you have to do is find a deal/rebate on the app and take a picture of your receipt, confirming your purchase.
Other Grocery Shopping Tips
And lastly, here are some miscellaneous and random grocery tips that will help you save money:
67. Use Amazon Pantry
By far one of the best, most convenient ways to save money and avoid going to the grocery store. With Prime Pantry, you can purchase everyday sizes, as opposed to bulk sizes, of groceries and household items online and have these items delivered to your doorstep, saving you a trip to the store and giving you some time back in your busy life. Prime Pantry also provides great value with weekly deals and exclusive coupons.
Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
68. Use Apps
Thanks to modern technology, apps have become more and more useful when it comes to cutting grocery bills.
Here are 5 awesome money and time saving grocery apps that will lend you a helping hand.
- Farmstand: A free app that will help you find local, in-season foods
- Grocery Pal: This app will show you where the sales items are
- Coupon Sherpa: This app will help you find coupons, while also displaying a coupon bar code at checkout. This is nice because some coupon apps require you to print out real coupons. Booooo.
- Apples2Oranges: This app helps you determine the unit price. So helpful!
- Key Ring: This app will allow you to have all your grocery store reward cards with you all the time without having to have a bulky key ring.
69. Get the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card
This card will give you 2% cash back on at grocery stores and warehouse clubs (like Sam’s Club). Plus once you spend $500, you’ll get a $100 bonus.
70. Get the Blue Cash Preferred Card
This card will give you 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets for up to $6000. The only downside is that there is a $95 annual fee.
71. Get the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card
This credit card will give you unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchases. Plus once you spend $500, you’ll get a $100 bonus.
72. Get the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
This card will give you 3% cash back on all purchases at U.S. supermarket up to $6000 a year. And there’s NO annual fee.
73. Sign Up to Email Newsletters
Just by signing up to your local grocery store or convenience store’s email newsletter, you can receive weekly coupons, deal alerts, and so much more.
74. Use Multiple Email Addresses to Get More Coupons
If you really want to stock up on coupons then you should sign up to your favorite stores newsletters and and rewards programs with different email addresses.
It’s a great way to stock up on coupons and even free food!
75. Join a Rewards Program
By joining a stores reward/loyalty program, you can get access to greater savings, promotions, and so much more.
76. Sign Up for Ebates
By signing up for Ebates and shopping for certain goods online at Walgreens and Amazon.com, you save save up to 7% on your purchases.
It’s so simple and can even get $10 just for signing up.
Also sign up for Ebates for free and get $10!
77. Use Discounted Gift Cards
The amount of discounted gift cards that you can purchase online is insane. And the best part about it is that some of these discounted gift cards are actually for grocery stores, Walmart, and Target.
And at some of these stores you can even save up to 5% on your groceries!
Here are a few of the more popular places where you can buy and sell gift cards.
- Cardpool: You can save up to 35% on gift cards! Plus, you can save $5 on your first gift card purchase by clicking here.
- Gift Card Granny
78. Reuse Leftovers
Whether if you have leftover ingredients or leftover meals, there are plenty of ways to reuse them to make delicious meals for the next day.
79. Grow Your Own Food
By growing your own herbs, spices, or vegetables/fruits, you can actually cut down on your expenses because in reality, some of these herbs and spices can cost you anywhere from $4-6 a bottle.
80. Email Your Favorite Companies and Ask for Coupons
Just by telling your favorite companies that you love them and politely asking for coupons can lead to great things.
81. Get Your Food Delivered to You
If time is money, then getting your grocery goods delivered to you may be the best option to go. Here are 2 great services to use to get your groceries delivered to you:
- Instacart: Delivery is free on your first order and then $3.99 for 2 hour delivery and $5.99 for one hour delivery when you spend more than $35
- Shipt: Although you’ll generally pay a little bit more per item, Shipt allows you to choose a membership plan (monthly or yearly) which ranges from $14 – $99. Then from there you get unlimited free grocery deliveries as long as you spend over $35 an order.
82. Make Certain Items Yourself
If you have the skills, you can actually make certain items yourself at a fraction of the cost.
83. Shop Less Frequently
Going to the store every other day will only increase your risk of spending more money.
By going once a month or every other week, you’ll be able to better plan out your grocery shopping strategy.
84. Buy Certain Things from the Dollar Stores
Condiments, ziplock bags, seasoning, spices, mac and cheese, and candy is a lot cheaper at the Dollar Store. Same goes with Tide detergent if you catch it at the right time.
And That’s All Folks…
Thanks for reading and hopefully these grocery shopping tips will help you save money on your groceries.
Have any other tips on how to save money at the grocery store?