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Do you know how much money you spend on groceries each month? The average American household spends around 10% of its monthly budget on groceries. In addition, grocery bills may have increased due to the pandemic as more people are eating at home. With all this in mind, it makes sense to go out of your way to save money on groceries each trip to the store.
In this article, we'll go over 29 ways to save money on groceries so that you can stress less and have more money in your budget for other things in life.
Let's jump in.
- 1. Shop at Discount Grocery Stores
- 2. Buy Store Brand
- 3. Stick to Your Shopping List
- 4. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
- 5. Shop When Things Are On Sale
- 6. Shop Based on Unit Prices
- 7. Use Coupons
- 8. Use Cash Back Apps
- 9. Buy In Bulk
- 10. Get a Grocery Cash Back Credit Card
- 11. Shop Online and Pickup
- 12. Have Something to Eat Before You Shop
- 13. Keep an Eye Out for Mistakes at Checkout
- 14. Track Prices at Various Grocery Stores
- 15. Create a Grocery Budget
- 16. Save on Fruits and Vegetables
- 17. Shop at a Farmer's Market
- 18. Ask About Price Matching
- 19. Change What You Eat to More Affordable Foods
- 20. Shop First Thing in the Morning
- 21. Simplify Your Recipes
- 22. Leave the Kids at Home
- 23. Use Cash to Limit Your Spending
- 24. Don't Buy Bottled Water
- 25. Don't Shop at Checkout Counters
- 26. Shop for Bagged Coffee for Your Keurig
- 27. Cut Back on Food Waste
- 28. Eat Leftovers
- 29. Use a Garden to Grow Your Own Food
- Wrapping It Up
1. Shop at Discount Grocery Stores
One of the easier ways to save money on grocery shopping is to shop at a discount grocery store like ALDI's, Family Dollar, and Market Basket. These stores offer lower prices than traditional grocery stores and still have a good variety of products to choose from.
This is especially great for people on a tight budget as they can spend less and get more food with their money. It's certainly possible to save 30% off your monthly grocery bill simply by shopping at a different grocery store.
2. Buy Store Brand
Buying store-brand food is another easy way to save money on groceries. Store brand food is less expensive and generally tastes just as good as more expensive items from name-brand companies.
If you end up not liking the store brand, you can always go back to the name-brand item. That said, you can save 30% or more on grocery items by purchasing the cheaper store brands.
3. Stick to Your Shopping List
Another tip for saving money on groceries is to stick with your shopping list. If you don't have a list of things you need, then it will be easy to throw in impulse items and spend more than what was planned or budgeted for.
Instead, make sure that the next time you go grocery shopping, take the time to write out a list of the things you need and stick with it.
Creating a simple shopping list is easy, doesn't take much time, and can be very helpful to keep your grocery spending down. You can create a list on your phone or on paper where you can cross off each item after you add it to your shopping cart.
4. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
Save money on groceries by planning your meals ahead of time. This will help you buy only what you need and not spend more than necessary.
Another benefit of planning your meals out is that it will reduce stress around mealtime as you and your family will know exactly what's going to be served each night.
If you don't have a lot of time to cook, you can spend one day prepping meals, freeze them, and simply heat them up each night of the week. Check out My Family Dinner, a website dedicated to freezer meals, to get more information on how to save time and money on meals.
5. Shop When Things Are On Sale
Shopping when things are on sale is a straightforward way to cut back on grocery spending. Keep your eye out for “buy-one-get-one” deals as well. Shop for non-perishable items like toilet paper, laundry detergent, or shampoo when they're on sale, as you can buy these things in bulk, so you won't have to buy them again anytime soon.
When possible, learn the sale schedule of nearby grocery stores and shop wherever the sales are, provided you need those items.
One note on shopping for items on sale: Don't buy an item simply because it's on sale. If you don't need something, don't buy it. Sales make it tempting to buy things we don't need, and if you buy something you don't need, then you have to ask yourself if you really saved any money.
6. Shop Based on Unit Prices
Save money on groceries by shopping based on unit prices. Shopping for food items based on price per ounce, pound, or other measurements will help you get more bang for your buck.
For example, if you are planning to buy rice and have two packages or two brands to choose from, it's wise to compare the cost per ounce. If a 5-pound bag of rice is $7.50, you'd be paying $1.50 per pound. If another bag of rice is 3 pounds and costs $6, you're paying $2 per pound. In this case, it's a better deal to buy the 5-pound bag because you're saving 25% off the price per pound.
7. Use Coupons
Using coupons is another way to save money on groceries. Grocery coupons can be found in places such as:
- Circulars at the grocery store
- Websites like Coupons.com and Redplum.com
- The food manufacturer's website
Make sure to check the grocery store's coupon policy before using any coupons. For instance, some stores only allow one coupon to be used per product, whereas other stores might allow you to use more than one coupon for an item as long as they are from different places.
Once you have a system in place, coupon clipping can save you a fair chunk of cash on each grocery store visit.
8. Use Cash Back Apps
Cashback apps such as Swagbucks, Ibotta, and Flipp can help save money on groceries. These apps work by giving you cashback for things like a purchase or a particular brand being used in your grocery shopping.
For example, Swagbucks can be used online or after you shop via scanning your receipt. When used online, Swagbucks offers cashback on various items you buy or on the entire purchase. When used on a receipt, Swagbucks will give you cashback on specific items that you bought. This cashback can be redeemed for gift cards or as cash through PayPal. Ibotta and Flipp work similarly.
Another great cashback app is Honey, which works online only. With Honey, you can save money whenever you get to checkout on the store's website. Honey will look for discount codes and give you Honey Gold, which can be cashed out once you reach $10 worth.
9. Buy In Bulk
Buying in bulk is one way to save money and time when grocery shipping. If you have a lot of space, consider buying items like cereal, canned goods, or frozen meat in bulk quantities.
Shopping at warehouse stores like Sam's, BJs, and Costco will allow you to find bulk deals where you can save money by paying less per unit price. If you don't have room in your car to buy in bulk, then consider buying these items online and having them delivered so they can be stored at your convenience until needed.
Other foods that you can buy in bulk include:
- Dried beans or lentils
Items that you shouldn't buy in bulk because they spoil include things like:
And, of course, perishables in general.
10. Get a Grocery Cash Back Credit Card
Earn cash back on your grocery purchases with a cashback credit card geared specifically for grocery stores.
Many credit cards offer cashback in local stores, and you can often save up to 6% on your purchases.
One such credit card with no annual fee is the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, where you can earn up to 3% cashback on groceries. On the other hand, if you don't mind paying an annual fee, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express has a 6% cashback rate on supermarkets around the US.
11. Shop Online and Pickup
Ordering groceries online and then picking them up at the store has a benefit in that it saves you time, and you'll also not be tempted to buy things that aren't on your list since you don't walk into the store.
Most stores will automatically replace any items that you order that they're out of stock on. This saves you time from looking around for something similar when you can't find the exact thing you want.
Grocery shopping can be as simple as going to the company's website, ordering, picking a time to pick up the groceries, and driving over to get them.
12. Have Something to Eat Before You Shop
Shopping on an empty stomach will make you more likely to impulsively buy food that isn't on your list. To avoid this, always shop after having something to eat.
You can have anything you want, whether breakfast or a quick snack. Whichever you choose, you'll find yourself less likely to grab unhealthy food while you go shopping as you'll be less hungry.
13. Keep an Eye Out for Mistakes at Checkout
Pay attention when you're at checkout, as you never know when a cashier might make a mistake ringing up your items. Take a look at your receipt afterward and ensure it's correct.
If you see a mistake, mention it to the cashier so that you're paying for something you shouldn't. Mistakes happen sometimes, and it pays to be observant of errors and polite about having them fixed.
14. Track Prices at Various Grocery Stores
If you don't have a specific grocery store that's your favorite, consider switching up where you buy things. By shopping at different stores and comparing prices on items like cereal or yogurt, you can find the best deal at different stores.
Be sure to note which stores are also participating in price matching so that you can get the best price for an item without necessarily having to go to a different store.
15. Create a Grocery Budget
Set a grocery budget that you're comfortable with, and then stick to it. Don't let yourself overspend or buy something on impulse because of how good the deal sounds.
One way to determine a monthly grocery budget is to look at how much you've spent on groceries for the past 3-6 months and take an average. Food is one of your most essential expenses in life, so work other parts of your budget around your grocery shopping, within reason.
16. Save on Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a must-have for most grocery lists, so it's a good idea to see how you can save money on buying them. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are often as much as 50%, or more, cheaper than their fresh counterparts, so buying them can be a good way to save.
That said, if you prefer fresh fruits and vegetables, but what's in season, as they'll often cost less than they do when they're not in season. You can also save money on fruits and vegetables by not always buying organic.
When combining these multiple methods, you'll spend less money while still eating healthy.
17. Shop at a Farmer's Market
Another way to save on fresh produce is by buying it at a farmer's market. You can usually find produce cheaper and fresher at a farmer's market rather than buying it at the grocery store. You'll also support local farmers that way.
Some ways to save money at farmer's markets include:
- Buy in bulk
- Use cash
- Shop right before closing
- Build relationships with the local farmers
18. Ask About Price Matching
You can save money on groceries by shopping at stores that offer price matching and keeping an eye on prices at other stores. If you have multiple grocery stores in your area but prefer to shop at a specific one, find out if that specific store does price matching.
A benefit of shopping at a grocery store that matches its prices with its competitors is that you can get the best prices on your everyday purchases without having to go to multiple stores.
19. Change What You Eat to More Affordable Foods
Sometimes saving money on groceries comes down to buying less expensive foods. That's not to say you should buy cheap food. Instead, re-evaluate certain foods that you're buying and see if there are less expensive alternatives.
For example, are you buying premade food that you could buy the ingredients and cook it yourself? Frozen and premade meals are generally more expensive than cooking your own fresh meals.
Could you buy fresh vegetables for a salad instead of a bagged salad? Or a large bag of rice versus the rice in a pouch that you microwave.
These are a few examples of how you can save money by changing what foods you buy.
20. Shop First Thing in the Morning
When you get off work, you're tired, hungry, and probably grumpy. When you're in this condition, you may not get the most of your grocery shopping. You may be tempted to buy more premade food or junk food.
If you shop first thing in the morning, then you'll have time to plan your meals out and see if any of them can be made cheaper. You may also be less hungry and in brighter spirits, meaning it'll be easier to stick to your list and not pick up things that you'll end up not using. Lastly, you'll be less likely to buy junk food.
21. Simplify Your Recipes
A clever way to save money on groceries while also cooking delicious meals is to simplify your recipes a bit. For example, if a recipe calls for a rare spice, don't spend $5 on the container when you'll only use it once. Instead, simplify the recipe to use ingredients or spices that you already have or plan to use for many more dishes.
It's easy to swap out ingredients on recipes and still make a delectable meal. Doing this will save you money because you'll buy things that you use a lot of, meaning less waste in the long run.
22. Leave the Kids at Home
Shopping with your kids can be distracting. When possible, leave your kids at home with someone who can watch them, like your spouse. When you shop by yourself, you'll get through the store quicker, and you won't have your kids asking you to buy you things as you walk down each aisle and at checkout.
23. Use Cash to Limit Your Spending
If you're one to overspend because of how easy it is to swipe your credit card, try using cash and only spending what's in your wallet. When you use a debit card or credit card to buy groceries, it can be easy to overspend because the money isn't right in front of you.
This may sound like an inconvenience, but once you get into the habit of saving with a cash-only system, you will be more aware of how much money you're spending.
Set a cash limit to how much you can spend at the grocery store as a way to keep yourself within your budget.
24. Don't Buy Bottled Water
Bottled water is expensive, and alternatives exist, such as buying a Brita filter. You can also buy a stainless steel water bottle and fill it up with tap or filtered water.
Bottled water is not only expensive for the environment but your wallet as well. For example, the average 20oz bottle of water costs $1.50. If you drink two of these a day, every day of the year, you'll spend $1,095 a year on water alone.
25. Don't Shop at Checkout Counters
You may be tempted to buy a candy bar or other snacks while you're waiting in line at the grocery store, but that's exactly why these items are placed there. Not only that but many items at the checkout counter are marked up remarkably high because the store knows that you or your kids are likely to grab something.
Simply put, stay away from checkout counter items.
26. Shop for Bagged Coffee for Your Keurig
If you have a Keurig machine, you've probably discovered that k-cups get expensive. An alternative to this is to use a reusable k-cup and buy bagged coffee in bulk.
Bagged coffee is far less expensive than k-cups, and it can be used with reusable k-cup filters; a fraction of the cost, in fact.
27. Cut Back on Food Waste
It happens. Sometimes we buy too much food and don't end up using it all, and this leads to food waste. Food waste is essentially wasted money. To cut back on food waste, plan out your weekly meals, so you know exactly how much of each food or ingredient to buy.
The average American family wastes 31.9% of their food, which means you can save quite a bit of money by getting your food waste under control.
28. Eat Leftovers
Speaking of food waste, one way to cut back on food waste is to heat up your leftovers for dinner on subsequent nights. You can also save leftovers in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for much longer.
There's nothing wrong with cooking too much food one night and having plenty leftover. Use this opportunity to give yourself a night off from cooking and simply reheat the food to serve to everyone.
29. Use a Garden to Grow Your Own Food
You can save money on groceries by growing some of your own food. A garden is a great way to grow your own vegetables and fruit.
A vegetable garden can save you a lot of money because it's cheaper to buy seeds, soil, pots, water sprinklers, and so on than buying produce in the grocery store. With your own backyard veggies or herbs, you will have a bountiful supply without having to spend much more than your initial investment to get the garden started.
Wrapping It Up
In this article, we discussed how to save money on groceries. When you employ some or all of these tactics, it's very possible that you'll save over 30% on your typical grocery store visit.