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We all have to eat.
And it’s so incredibly easy to get carried away at the grocery store, I really, who can pass up cherry strudels, ice cream, and of course pizza?
But just because we have to spend doesn’t mean we can’t save money while doing it. Here are 10 must-try grocery hacks to help you save hundreds every month on your grocery bill.
1. Check out the store brands
Want to save money on groceries? Then don’t be afraid to try the generic brand.
Like generic drugs, many stores have a lower cost version sometimes at the bottom of the shelves that are actually manufactured at the same companies as the premium brand.
In fact, I only buy generic over the counter drugs because they have the exact ingredients (and amounts) for half the price.
You don’t have to go crazy and buy generic for everything. Pick the areas of your shopping that you are not brand conscious on and try generics in those.
For example: buy Ibuprofen instead of Advil, or Acetaminophen instead of Tylenol. I buy the store brand vitamins and anywhere else I can cut costs because I can look at the label and see the exact ingredients in both and make sure they are basically the same.
And you don’t have to go crazy and buy generic for everything.
Pick the areas of your shopping that you are not brand conscious of and try generics in those.
If you love Gain detergent, then keep buying Gain detergent. But if you don’t care much about the toilet paper, then try the generic toilet paper.
And here’s a hint, the comparable generic brand is usually placed right next tot he premium brand and usually lists it on the package that you can compare it to the premium brand.
Sweet sweet savings on groceries and you didn’t even have to hunt for it.
2. Go frozen
Just because you’re trying to save money it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health.
You can still have fruits and veggies in your diet, just be a little smarter on how we buy. So instead of fresh broccoli and veggies, give frozen a try.
Many times, veggies are picked and flash-frozen for freshness, and once you steam them, you can’t usually tell the difference anyway. The same goes for fruits especially if you’re using them for smoothies.
If you have kids that eat a ton of fruit, or just like fruits yourself, then think about stocking up on fruits when they are on sale and freezing them yourself.
2. Buy in season
Rotate your fruit purchases to suit the current season.
The fruits and veggies will be fresher and cheaper since they don’t have to travel as far.
Here’s a quick list of what’s in season and when. To get more you can check out here.
· Green Beans
· Butternut Squash
· Sweet Potatoes
3. Shop less
Every time you go into the store you run the risk of buying something you didn’t plan on and blowing your budget.
A great way to save money on groceries is to limit the number of times you go to the store and get your week’s worth of shopping done once per week.
A way to do that is to create a list complete with prices for what you need to buy and to stick to it. Many grocery stores like Kroger now offer the option to create the list on your phone using their app and add digital coupons while you’re at it.
They even show you what’s on sale in the store and which aisle you can find them in to help cut down your chance of getting distracted.
If you don’t want to head into the store at all, then check out Clicklist from Kroger (and others) where you can place your order and pick up in the parking lot (they even put it in your car) or you can order from Amazon and have it delivered to your house.
4. Buy in bulk
If you’ve got a large family, or have a few items that you regularly purchase, then you might benefit from a bulk grocery store.
Stores like BJ’s, Sam’s or Costco have club memberships where you can buy in bulk and save on money and trips. It’ll cost you about $40 a year, but worth it if you can benefit from bulk purchases.
5. Shop farmer’s market and buy local
If you have a farmers market near you then you should check it out.
Items there are usually fresher and cheaper since they are local and didn’t have very far to travel after being picked. Further, it’s a great way to support the community and talk with the vendors who grow the products you buy.
Going close to the end of the day will also get you some extra savings since producers are more likely to give you a deal to avoid having to take items back and risk them spoiling.
They might also be organic as well.
6. Stock up
If the store is having a great sale on a non-perishable item like grains, toilet paper, paper towels or toothpaste then stock up.
You can keep the items in your pantry and they won’t go bad.
The same goes for can foods and even breakfast cereal. It doesn’t hurt to buy a few boxes and start using the ones that are closest to the expiration date.
The only caveat is to not go to wild. Don’t buy mustard just because it’s on sale, you want to focus on items you and your family will actually eat, otherwise, it’s a waste of money.
7. Learn the sales cycle
Have you ever noticed that the same deals on bottled juices and diapers seem to come around fairly often?
That’s because the stores run on a sales cycle for certain products.
So if you missed this week’s chance to stock up then never fear it’ll be back.
And if you did catch the sale, then you only need to stock up for as long as it takes for the next sale to come around.
Most grocers follow a 6-week cycle, but they might also have semi-annual or semi-quarterly sales. You just need to watch the circulars of the stores and you’ll start to notice the pattern of what goes on sale when.
8. Get inconvenient
Convenience will always cost more than doing the work yourself.
Pre-cut veggies, pre-seasoned meats, and sliced fruit will always cost you more than if you bought the whole watermelon or pineapple and sliced it yourself.
This also rings true for meats.
My family routinely buys bone-in chicken breast for less (sometimes as much as half) the price of the fillet chicken breast. And it doesn’t take much longer to debone the chicken.
9. Always check the unit price
When comparing products, don’t just look at the price tag, you also want to look at the amount you get per package i.e. the unit price.
It pays to spend a few bucks more if you are getting more value and/or more products. Knowing what’s a good unit price and stock up price is fairly important in this smart shopping game.
10. Compare prices
when deciding what’s a good deal it helps to have a control value.
Do you remember controls from science class? It’s the measurement that you compare all your findings too.
Well in the world of discount shopping, we have that too. I usually compare my lowest price range to Walmart’s prices. Even though I don’t readily shop at Walmart it’s a company known for having the bottom line price on any given day – even without sales.
So if a purchase I’m thinking of is more than the Walmart price then I put it back on the shelf.
If I can get the item cheaper than the Walmart price, or cheaper than the everyday price, then I know it’s a good buy.
11. Coupons aren’t for old people anymore
There is no way I could talk about saving money for groceries and not include coupons.
I know, you’ve heard it before, you already know it, and you don’t feel like holding up the cashier’s line with wads of newspaper cut-outs, but these days, coupons are cool, and savvy couponers are raking in the bucks.
With many stores like Kroger and Target, you can get digital coupons that are added to your rewards card and automatically added when you check out.
No wads of paper to keep in your purse and remember to use.
And if there are specific brands that you like – i.e. those premium brands, then sign up for them through their parent company like P &G or googling the names of your favorite product and coupons – i.e. googling ‘kleenex + coupons’
12. Use a savings app
If you don’t want to use coupons at all then why not get some money back by just scanning in your receipts?
Savings apps like Checkout51 and Ibotta are great ways to save money on groceries you buy and all it takes it just uploading your receipt. They even give you $10 for joining when you upload receipts to them and Ibotta allows you to link your rewards card for added bonuses.
Couple that with your coupons and you’re in serious money-saving business.
13. Sign up for rewards card
The trick about getting the most out of using coupons and even savings apps is to not try and go to every single store to get the deal. Instead, pick one or two stores that you like and double down on those stores by getting their rewards cards.
Yes, they will be able to track how you spend, what you buy and be able to use it to further market to you, but that much attention is also worth it.
You can get specialized coupons in the mail for products you actually use and extra benefits that the ‘outsiders’ don’t get.
Think up to $1 off per gallon that Kroger gives with its fuel points or spend $50, get $20 off from target.
14. Buy organic where it makes sense
I’d love to buy organic everything for my family.
I think it’s good for the environment and overall would be better for our health, but organic costs more money and I can’t meet that need every time. So I choose to buy organic where it makes sense and I save money and eat healthy in the process.
Some foods like chicken and eggs we always buy free-range, no antibiotic. We eat a lot of chicken and loads of eggs and to use it’s worth it to splurge and get the ‘good stuff’. We also try to stay in the organic lane for some of our fruits and veggies as well (especially ones where we eat the skin – like strawberries and carrots).
But for some other item, we don’t particularly think too much about it. Here’s a list of the foods with the most pesticides and the ones with the least from the Environmental Working Group (EWG)site.
EWG’S fruits and veggies with the most pesticides
EWG’S fruits and veggies with the least pesticides
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Honeydew melons
This will help you save your organic dollars for items you really want to buy.
And now for the lightning round of how to save money on groceries.
15. Go against the eye grain
Look up and down the shelf for the items you want.
Manufacturers pay more to have their items at eye level, and those are usually premium brands that cost more.
16. Buy your own lettuce.
Instead of buying the bagged salad, buy the lettuce and cut it up yourself.
This goes for cabbage, carrots etc.
It’ll cost less, taste fresher and your greens will last a lot longer – ask me how I know?
17. Don’t forget about rainchecks.
If there’s a great sale on an item, but there’s none on the shelf or in the back, then be sure to get a rain check so when they are back in stock you can get it at the sale price.
They usually don’t expire, but still check with your local grocery store to be sure.
18. Plan your meals for the week.
It doesn’t have to be hard.
I spent 10 minutes writing down all the foods my family likes to eat and decided what the ‘themes’ were for each day and it went something like this:
- Monday is a new recipe or whatever we want.
- Tuesday is seafood – shrimp (curry or alfredo pasta) / grilled salmon (with some side sauce – ginger or maple glazed) /tilapia (Escovich or lemon pepper), etc.
- Wednesday is something light – steamed cabbage and saltfish
- Thursday is chicken or pork – curry/baked/fried chicken with rice or pork with a side
- Friday eat out night (pick something somewhere)
- Saturday is red peas soup day
- Sunday is leftovers
and each week we make sure we have the ingredients needed – chicken, seafood, pasta (and pasta sauce), rice, potatoes and all the seasonings we regularly use to cook with.
19. Don’t forget about the clearance section.
Clearance aisles aren’t just for clothes, grocery stores have them too.
And just because it’s on clearance doesn’t mean it’s rotten or can’t be eaten.
I saved so much money buying baby formula on clearance when I had my youngest. Items are regularly marked down to get rid of excess stock, to sell goods with damaged packaging, or items that will reach its expiration date in a few days.
They can be a great place to find really good deals – like my can opener I got for 50% off. Yeah!
Manager’s specials are your friend.
20. Stay away from the endcaps and displays.
Grocery stores create displays and strategically stack items in close proximity to each other that go together – like ketchup near hotdogs during Memorial weekend, or cookies next to frosting during Christmas.
It’s convenient (remember what I said about convenience?) so those items usually cost more or are premium brands.
So if you’re in the ice cream aisle and you get to the end and see ice cream cones and decide you need some more cones, then head over to the aisle with all the ice cream cones (including the generics) and pick from ALL the choices – not just the preselected expensive ones.
21. Don’t knock the dollar store.
Dollar stores are great for buying zip lock bags, disposable containers, foil paper, etc. on the cheap.
So don’t stack up on non-perishables just because you’re in your main grocery store already. Some items are best left to the professionals of cost-cutting.
So there you have it.
21 of my favorite ways that save me money on groceries every month.
But I’d love to hear from you what’s your favorite money-saving tip for buying groceries that works for you?
Please leave it in the comments below so we all can learn.
To your success!