Everybody knows the regular ways to save money on groceries, like using coupons to lower your grocery purchases and buying your food in bulk, but there has got to be more ways to save money on groceries, doesn’t there?
The good news is this: Yes! There are many more, less common ways to save money on groceries, and I compiled them all together in this list so you can find all the best money-saving tips all in one spot.
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18 CLEVER WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON GROCERIES
1. SHOP ALONE
This might not be the same for everyone, but for me, when I go shopping with my husband I often end up with at least a couple dollars worth of stuff that I didn’t plan on buying.
He isn’t an impulse spender – he just sees things that look like a nice treat, or finds something that he may need, and adds it to the buggy.
He also likes to wander through the store, which brings us down aisles that we didn’t necessarily need to go down, and if we happen to pass by something that is on sale (that we really don’t need), it’s harder to pass up.
My solution is going shopping alone. As much as I love to spend time with him, it’s better on our wallet if I take care of the grocery shopping by myself.
There are many people who feel the same way, but there are also people who actually spend less money when they take their spouse shopping with them. If you are the spender in the family, it might be a smart idea to take your spouse shopping with you so they can talk you out of a purchase.
If your spouse is the spender in the family, it’s usually a better idea to go shopping by yourself.
2. BUY STORE OR NO-NAME BRAND
Store brand or no-name brand products are often just as good of quality as the name brand products are, but you can get them for a fraction of the cost.
Do be careful when you are buying no-name brand, though, as sometimes they add unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients into the product. Read the ingredient label before purchasing a no name or store name brand item, and if it’s the same as the name brand (or healthier), then you’re good to go.
I save over $4 on a box of cereal simply by buying the store name brand of cereal rather than name brand, and it tastes just as good as the name brand cereal.
Many people buy name brand items out of habit, they don’t necessarily mean to do it, they just haven’t realized yet how much more expensive it is, or they like the novelty of name brand. Start buying no-name brand and test the different items that you buy out. Certainly, some things will taste a bit different, and if you don’t like the way they taste, you can always go back to the name brand stuff – at least give it a try.
Start making a habit out of shopping no-name products before opting for name brand, you are going to be pleasantly surprised by how much cheaper some things are.
3. MEAL PLAN
This might be one way to save money on groceries that you have heard of before but have refused to take part in. Many people cringe at the thought of meal planning, and I used to be one of those people.
I didn’t want a menu to tell me what we were having every night – I wanted to be able to make choices on the fly.
What I didn’t realize was that making choices on the fly was adding unnecessary stress to my day (on the days when it was nearly supper time and I still didn’t have a clue what we would be eating), and made our grocery bill skyrocket (never knowing in advance what we were going to have for dinner meant that we didn’t always have the right ingredients on hand, and meant that I was making A LOT more trips to the grocery store).
Now that I am an avid meal planner I often wonder why I was ever so against it. I now know what we will be having for dinner tonight, tomorrow night, and for the rest of the week, and I only have to make one trip to the grocery store a week.
To save even more money with meal planning, start meal planning for your week on the day that you get the weekly flyers, so you can plan your meals around items that are on sale.
If corn on the cob, chicken breasts and potatoes are on sale one week, consider making one of your meals for the week to revolve around those food items.
Related: 5 Ways to Meal Prep for a Week
4. SHOP WITH A LIST
Shopping with a list fits right in with meal planning. Once you’ve made your meal plan, write down all the ingredients that you don’t already have at home and will need to buy on a piece of paper to create your grocery list.
Shopping with a list is vital to saving money at the grocery store. When you shop without a list, it’s easy to buy certain things just in case you’re running low on it at home, when in fact, you still have plenty at home.
When you shop with a list it also allows you to skip certain aisles because you know exactly what you need, so you don’t have to walk up and down every grocery store aisle without knowing exactly what you need to get.
I like to split my shopping list into sections, I will have all my fruits and produce in a section, all the dairy products in a section, all the canned products in a section, and so on.
This way as I’m shopping I can go to one section and get it completely crossed off before moving on to the next, rather than getting a head of lettuce, making my way over to the frozen food section to pick up a bag of frozen fruits, only to have to go back to the produce section to get carrots.
Doing this cuts down on the amount of time I spend in the grocery store, and also cuts down on the money spent as I’m making fewer trips back and forth, therefore I’m not allowing any time for myself to wander around and get things that aren’t needed.
5. UTILIZE REWARDS PROGRAMS
Many stores these days offer rewards programs for shopping with them. If you’re not using the rewards programs that your local stores offer, you’re leaving money on the table.
Most rewards programs are free, so you have nothing to lose by signing up. Even if you forget to bring your card or you forget your membership number, at least it’s not something that you have spent money on – you just won’t earn money back from that purchase.
Choose a couple of the stores that you regularly shop at, then look at what kinds of rewards programs they offer, and join them. You may get a physical card to carry around in your wallet that you scan at the checkout to earn rewards or cash back, or you may get a membership number that they ask you for.
My husband and I have been able to earn a whopping amount of cash back by signing up for the free rewards programs that the stores I do our grocery shopping at offer.
We have already bought a portable camping stove with the cash back we’ve earned, and we have enough saved up to make another big purchase.
We didn’t earn this cash back by buying things that we wouldn’t have normally bought, we earned this cash back simply by grocery shopping. Crazy, isn’t it?
Some companies and stores also send out special offers and deals just for their rewards program members, so you won’t only be making money from your grocery shopping, you’ll also have ways to save money on groceries with special coupons and discounts.
6. MAKE YOUR MEALS FROM SCRATCH
Making all your meals from scratch, rather than buying oven-ready freezer meals will save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars on groceries over time. It is incredible how quickly those pre-made meals can add up, and how unhealthy most of them are.
Those meals are extremely handy to have around for a quick dinner on a busy weeknight, but the cost of them is more than enough to turn me away.
I make all our meals from scratch and if I made something for dinner that can be frozen, I freeze the leftovers and save it for a busy weeknight dinner.
Making your own freezer meals will help you save money on groceries, and will allow you to have a delicious, healthy homemade meal even on the busiest of nights.
7. MAKE MORE THAN YOU NEED
When making homemade meals, I always like to make more than just my husband and I need for ourselves. With the leftovers, I send some to work with him, then either package the rest up in the fridge for another dinner later that week, or I stick it in the freezer for a homemade oven-ready freezer meal.
Making more food than you need is something that you need to decide whether it’s right for you or not. Some families don’t eat leftovers, so if they were to make much more than would get eaten in one sitting, the leftovers would just get shoved to the back of the fridge and go bad over time.
Some families won’t benefit from making more food than they will eat for one meal, while other families thrive off of that. Making enough food for two meals is a fantastic way to cut down on the amount of time spent in the kitchen throughout your week.
Making more food than you need may help you save money on groceries as you can double a recipe and use stuff that you already have laying around your house.
If you are making a casserole for dinner, why not double the recipe and make two – you can then either freeze the second casserole or keep it in the fridge to use for dinner in a couple days.
8. CREATE A PRICE BOOK
Using a price book is one of my favorite ways to save money on groceries. Why? Because it is so simple and so effective. It takes a bit of time to set up, but once you have it set up you truly don’t need to do much to it at all.
A price book is a piece of paper, notebook, or binder where you write down all the products that you regularly buy, then you write down the prices that they are at all the stores you shop at.
Doing this allows you to be certain that you are getting the most bang for your buck when you go grocery shopping.
If one store has a bag of 6 apples for $4.00, and another store has a bag of 6 apples for $4.50, it might be such a small difference that you wouldn’t realize it while you’re shopping. With a price book, you can simply look in it before you go shopping then go to the stores with the cheapest prices.
Setting up a price book will take you a bit of time, but thanks to today’s technology you don’t even have to leave your house.
Some people like to bring their price book to the store with them when they are first setting it up so they can find prices for the items they buy regularly and write them down in their price book, while other people look on their receipts when getting back from the store to find the price of stuff, while even easier yet it simply looking the store up online and searching for the products and prices.
9. SHOP SALES
Only shopping sales is something that might take you several months to get to the point of, but it will come, and it will save you a lot of money in the long haul.
If you don’t have a pantry full of extra non-perishable food that you and your family eat regularly, this step will be a bit more expensive up front, but it will still save you money in the future.
To be able to get to the point of being able to shop (mostly) just sales, first you will have to stock up on things that you eat regularly, but be sure that you only stock up on that stuff when it’s on sale for a very good price.
Once you have a good bank of food at home, you will notice that your shopping trips become less and less expensive since you have been stocking up on food as it comes on sale, you will realize that you don’t need to buy everything all in one shopping trip.
If cheese comes on a good sale, stock up, then store the cheese in the freezer. This way you will have a couple months worth of cheese stored up, and you will notice your shopping trips are just a bit cheaper because you don’t have to buy cheese every week.
Then, as you use the cheese up, when another good sale comes on, stock up again, so you always have a bank of cheese at home and you never have to buy it for regular price.
Over time as you start to learn which food items you can stock up on that won’t go bad, and you have learned what a good sale price for the particular item is, your shopping trips will become cheaper and cheaper.
Obviously, there are still some food items that are perishable and can’t be frozen, so you will have to buy those every week, but finding the things that are non-perishable or can be frozen to extend their life will help you save a lot of money.
10. BUY IN SEASON
As the seasons change throughout the year, so should our meal plan and grocery list. If you’re making a lot of meals with fresh berries in the dead of winter, you’re going to be paying a lot more money than if you were to stick with the foods that are in season.
If you’re not sure what is in season at different times of the year, you can use this neat seasonal food guide to see what food is in season in your state at different times of the year.
11. SHOP AT DISCOUNTED GROCERY STORES
Think about the grocery stores that you regularly shop at. Are they discounted and fair-priced grocery stores, or are they your small-town, local stores? While supporting your small town business is extremely important, if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t be doing it.
Smaller grocery stores are generally going to be more expensive than your bigger stores.
Shop at discounted grocery stores such as Aldi, Kroger, and any other ones in your area to get the cheapest prices and save money on groceries.
12. SHOP THE CLEARANCE BIN
Did you know that most grocery stores have a clearance bin or section, and you will likely be able to find some stuff in there for a smoking deal?
I didn’t learn about our grocery store’s clearance bin until a couple months ago, and even then I didn’t realize all the goodies that have hidden in there.
My regular grocery shopping store’s clearance bin has incredible deals, like sour cream, milk, yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, and other things that are marked down to half price.
It’s important that you don’t go crazy when you’re shopping the clearance bin. When you see those cheap prices it can be easy to get carried away and want to buy everything in there because of the great deals, but remember, if it’s not on your grocery list you don’t need it.
If you do have things on your grocery list that are in the clearance bin then, by all means, shop the clearance bin to find amazing deals.
13. CHECK EXPIRY DATES
This one goes for shopping all food items, but specifically when you are shopping the clearance bin.
If food items are in the clearance bin it could be simply because the container has a flaw, or it could be because the expiry date is fast approaching. That’s why it is super important to check expiry dates on all things that you buy, because no matter how good the deal is, if it’s going to go bad before you get around to using it, you’re not doing anything to help you save money on groceries, you’re wasting your money.
I always buy my sour cream in the clearance bin, even if the best before date is coming up, because sour cream stays good well past the best before date. I have used my sour cream up to a month past the best before date, and it didn’t have any off taste or mold.
Other things that can be frozen, like milk and cheese, can also be bought close to the expiry date then brought home and put into the freezer to extend the life until you are ready to use it.
It is extremely important to check the expiry date on things that you buy out of the clearance bin, but also things that you buy off the shelf and at regular price.
You want to definitely check expiry dates on stuff like milk, cream, sour cream and cottage cheese – even if they’re not in the discount bin.
Stores will generally put the products that have their expiry date coming up the soonest to the front of the row, to get rid of them first, which makes sense, but I would rather buy a jug of milk that’s going to expire in 15 days than a jug that is going to expire in 7 days.
To get products with the expiration date the furthest away, you will often have to dig to the back of the row, but it’s worth it if it’s going to last longer than the jug at the front.
14. NEVER SHOP WHILE HUNGRY
Grocery shopping when you’re hungry is nothing but a recipe for disaster. If you’re walking up and down those food-packed aisles with a grumbling stomach, you’re much more likely to buy things that you really don’t need, and things that aren’t on your shopping list.
Grab a snack at home before you make your way to the grocery store so you aren’t tempted to buy everything that looks good while you’re there.
Shopping with a full stomach will help you save money on groceries much faster than shopping with an empty stomach will.
15. BUY REUSABLE BAGS
With most stores now charging a couple cents to pack your groceries up in their plastic bags, purchasing reusable shopping bags will pay for itself over and over again.
Though some stores charge a ridiculous amount of money for a reusable bag, you can find better deals online for the bags.
It’s important that you remember to bring your reusable shopping bags to the grocery store, or else you just bought something that’s going to sit at home being useless.
Related: 12 Items to Reuse to Save Money
16. STORE YOUR FOOD PROPERLY
Another way to save money on groceries is to learn how to store your food properly. It’s all fine and dandy if you find great sales on food and stock up, but what happens when you get home and realize this food is going to go bad before you can even get around to eating it?
Stuff like canned goods and foods that can be frozen will last you many, many months, but perishable food like dairy products and produce are the stuff that you have to worry about.
Learn good food storing hacks so you can prolong the life of your food as long as possible.
17. STOP BUYING SNACKY FOOD
Snacky foods like chips, candy, chocolate, and pre-packaged foods may be convenient and tasty, but their prices are incredibly marked up.
Curb the temptation to buy these foods while you’re grocery shopping. If you go shopping hungry you are also more likely to purchase these snacky foods, so make sure you always eat something at home before making your way to the grocery store.
18. USE A CASH BACK SITE OR APP
Using a cash back app is one of my favorite ways to save money on groceries. It is so simple, and you get money just by purchasing things you were going to buy anyway.
You can join any of these cash back sites and apps for free and start earning cash back right away.
Groceries are expensive, but they don’t need to be so expensive that they make you wonder how you’ll be able to buy them for the next few months. Even if you’re on a low income, take some of these tips to help you save money on groceries and try your hand at them. Challenge yourself to see how much money you can save. Living frugally and saving money doesn’t have to be hard.
Which one of these ways to save money on groceries are you going to try? Did I miss something on the list? Feel free to share your favorite ways to save money on groceries below.
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