With inflation still on the rise, the price of food continues to be a hot topic. And if you’re trying to shop for groceries on a budget, rising costs can be stressful and difficult to plan for. But clipping coupons can sometimes feel like an overly-tedious task just to save pennies on the dollar, which is why we’ve been on the hunt for the best ways to save money on groceries without having to buy the Sunday paper (or find somewhere near you that still sells it).
If you’re one of the many people today wondering how to spend less on groceries either for yourself or for your family, we’ve got you. Between tried-and-true strategies and some unique tips you may not have thought about before, this comprehensive list is full of easy, actionable ideas for how to save money on groceries. Take a look – and hopefully, you’ll feel a little less dread the next time you bring a full cart to the register.
Before even stepping foot in a store, plan out your meals for the week. Knowing exactly what you need to buy will lessen the chances of impulse purchases or things going unused.
Make a List
Keep a list of the things you or your family run out of and use your meal plan to figure out anything new you’ll need. We recommend a digital list so you don’t forget to bring it with you when it’s time to shop.
Check Your Kitchen
Once you have your list, compare it to what you already have in the kitchen. Whether you find the exact item or a worthy substitution, you’ll be surprised how many things you don’t actually need to buy.
Avoid Going to the Store for One Thing
How often do you go to the store “just for one thing” and end up grabbing a cart halfway through your full-blown shopping trip? If you really need a gallon of milk, stop at a small drug store or gas station where there are fewer temptations to worry about.
Try Grocery Pickup
If impulse buys or delicious-looking displays never fail to reel you in, consider ordering your groceries online and picking them up. Even if there is a small fee, it’s probably much less than the extra money you’d spend in-store.
Choose Your Store Wisely
The cost of something probably isn’t the same at every store in town. Search for the store with the best prices – even if that means going to more than one store to get the best deals on everything you need.
Eat Before You Shop
Shopping hungry is the easiest way to guarantee an impulse buy – one that will probably never get eaten, either.
Look for Sales
Finding items from your list on clearance makes grocery shopping on a budget easier than ever. And if its shelf life allows for it, be sure to stock up on things when they’re at their best price.
Use Memberships/Rewards Programs
Some discounts are only available with a rewards card, so signing up for your local store’s program will guarantee you get the best deals. And bonus: they’re usually free! Memberships to wholesale clubs can get you access to additional discounts as well.
Buy in Bulk
Things with a long shelf life (or that don’t expire at all) are a no-brainer to buy in bulk, but anything your family uses regularly could make sense to stock up on, too. Just make sure nothing goes to waste!
Check Unit Prices
If you can’t buy in bulk, you can still pick the most cost-efficient size based on the unit price. If math isn’t your thing, it’s usually printed on the price tag as well.
It can be easy to just throw whatever you need in the cart without a second thought, but pay attention to prices as you shop. The number at the register should never be a surprise!
Buy Multi-Purpose Ingredients
Sure, that recipe from Pinterest looks so good, but is it really worth buying a cart full of ingredients you’ll never use again? If you’re dead set on a specific recipe, try building the rest of your meal plan using those ingredients as well – or make sure they’ll store well for future use.
Try the Generic Brand
Brand loyalty can be hard to get over, but just try the store brand one time and see if the difference in taste – if any – is worth the difference in price.
Look at Expiration Dates
The last thing you want to do is spend your entire grocery budget only to realize it’s all about to expire. Always look for options with the latest expiration date – usually towards the back of the shelf – and skip items altogether that will go bad before you finish them.
Order at the Deli Counter
There’s no reason to buy 2 pounds of lunch meat you won’t eat just because it’s packaged that way. Order your meats and cheeses at the deli counter to get the exact cut you want and amount you’ll need.
Avoid Pre-Prepared Foods
Pre-chopped veggies, cut fruit, or prepared sandwiches will always cost more than the individual items themselves. Spend a little extra time prepping at home to save yourself some cash.
Don’t Shop at Eye Level
Yes, grocery store psychology is real. Items with the largest profit margins are generally at eye level, and other profitable items will be placed on end caps. Always look around for the best deal, and don’t let them tempt you!
Consider Your Produce
The price and shelf life of fresh produce is vastly different from canned or frozen, so consider buying canned or frozen if you can. If you need or prefer fresh fruits or veggies, check the quality before you throw it in your cart – then make sure you use it before it goes bad.
Stick to In-Season Foods
Not only does in-season produce taste better, but it generally costs less as well. You could also consider buying locally grown produce for even better prices.
Plant a Garden
Growing your own produce at home is both rewarding and cost-effective – and as we mentioned before, it will taste so much better in season.
Consider Meatless Meals
Meat can be one of the most expensive things on your grocery list, so consider adding some vegetarian meals to your menu. There are plenty of non-meat (and often less expensive) ways to get your protein in.
Strategically Use Credit Cards
Some store-specific cards offer instant discounts, while other cards offer cashback on groceries. By strategically (and responsibly) using credit cards, you can save even more at the register.
Check the Store’s App
Okay, we promised these tips wouldn’t require coupon clipping, but this is different. Some stores have virtual coupons that can be added to your account with just a tap. Check often for deals on things you already need and enjoy some exclusive discounts as a result.
Watch the Prices at the Register
You found an incredible sale – amazing! But that sale is only incredible if it rings up correctly. Keep an eye on items as they scan and ask for a price check if things don’t line up. Even if a sale is over, you’ll often still get the discount if they forgot to take down the sign.
Research Food Storage Options
The easiest way to spend money on groceries is by needing things, so make sure what you buy lasts for as long as possible. Produce-preserving storage options or air-tight containers can keep everything fresh and edible until you can finish them.
Use an App to Get Rewards for Grocery Receipts
Figuring out how to save money on groceries becomes much easier when you know you’ll earn rewards for everything you spend. With Receipt Hog, all you have to do is snap a picture of the receipt to earn rewards that turn into cash. This easy-to-use app will also store your receipts for easy returns and help you manage your spending so your budget stays on-track.