25 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
How much are you spending on food? Perhaps you’re looking at your overall household budget and wondering where to save some money?
For most of us, food is a major expense (along with housing and transportation) so reducing your grocery bill could make a big difference to your expenses.
Here are 25 suggestions on how to cut your food costs:
Before you go to the grocery store
1. Take a “shelfie”
Do an inventory of what you already have in your pantry, fridge and freezer so you know what you do not need to buy, as well as what you need to restock.
2. Join the Loyalty/Rewards program
Sign up for your local store’s loyalty program if they have one. This can often deliver access to additional coupons and savings.
3. Check what is on sale
Every store has different items on sale each week and this is a great opportunity to save big. Some stores have specific sale sections.
4. Buy in season
Coupons are another great way to save money. Check your Sunday newspaper or you can use sites like Coupon Mom to find great deals.
6. Plan your meals
Instead of planning your meals first then looking at what you need to buy, do it the other way around. Plan your meals according to what you already have in your pantry, and what is on sale or in season.
7. Make a list
Once you have planned your meals, and you know what you already have on-hand, make your grocery list based on what else you need. Not only will you save money and time in the store, but you will also waste less food.
8. Know the price of the top 5-10 things you buy
I’ve been tracking what I spend at the grocery store for a while now, so I know the top 5 items we buy regularly: butter, milk, eggs, bananas, and soft fruits; and I also how much we’ve paid for them. This means I can recognize a good (or bad!) deal when I’m out shopping.
At the Store
9. Buy only what you need
According to the Marketing Science Institute about 59% of our purchases are unplanned. Having a list will help you buy only what you need. Shopping less often will help you reduce impulse purchases, plus you will save money on the gas to get to the store.
10. Shop with a basket not a cart or trolley
Unsurprisingly, if you have to carry what you buy, you are more likely to only buy what you need, and will waste less money on unplanned purchases.
11. Bring a calculator
It can be difficult to tell if something is a good price because you’re comparing different sizes or weights. Make life easier and use a calculator to determine the comparable cost – e.g. the cost per gram or ounce.
12. Don’t believe the hype
Sometimes stores will have sales that look great – for example 10 items for $10. This may seem like a good deal but double-check the original cost of the product. If the product is usually $0.89, then it’s a great deal for the store, but not for you!
13. Buy store or generic brands
You can save a lot of money when buying the stores own-brand products – especially for staple items like sugar, flour, corn starch, etc. as these are regulated products that have to meet certain quality standards. For other products you may just need to try out the store brand version to see if you can tell the difference in taste. Perhaps make it a game for your family and have them do a blind taste-test between the store-brand and your usual brand!
14. Buy frozen food
Frozen fruits and vegetables are often more nutritious than fresh, plus the price can be much more reasonable especially when buying fruits or vegetables out of season.
15. Beware prebagged or prepared food
Prebagged food or prepared products like grated cheese are more expensive, since you are paying for the convenience of having the food already portioned or prepared. If you are looking to save money, then skip the prepared food. However, if time is more important for you then this might be worth the cost.
16. Buy prebagged potatoes and onions
There is are a couple of exceptions to prebagged products being more expensive: potatoes and onions. Buying these vegetables already bagged is usually cheaper than buying them loose, but beware of overbuying.
17. Weigh prebagged produce
Prebagged produce is usually sold at a fixed cost, but fruits and vegetables are not uniform in either size or shape, so the weight of the bag can vary. Weigh the bags and choose the heaviest so that you get more for your money.
18. Look up or down for better deals
Be aware that the more expensive items are often at eye-level by design – grocery store designers are not stupid! So look up at the top shelves and down at bottom shelves for better bargains.
19. Avoid the end of aisle displays
As mentioned earlier, about 59% of our purchases are unplanned, and you are more likely to make that unplanned purchase from products displayed at the end of the aisle or at the checkout.
20. Ask for a rain check
If a store has a great deal, but they are sold out of that particular product, try asking for a rain check. Unless the ad states that “quantities are limited” then US grocery stores are required to give rain checks or a substitution.
21. Bring a bag
If you bring your own bags, not only will you be helping the environment by using less plastic, you can also save money.
Many stores now give a few cents credit for bringing your own bag. And more and more places are now charging extra for plastic bags or have even banned them outright.
22. Check your receipt
It’s always a good idea to check your receipt before you leave the store as we’re all human. If you spot a mistake the store will almost always refund the difference immediately.
Other Ways to Save
23. Foods approaching their expiration dates
In many stores you can get some good bargains on food that is approaching its sell-by or best before dates. Sell-By, Use-By, Best if Used By, Best By and Best Before dates are only estimates as to when the food is at its best, they are not safety dates. Therefore, most food (except infant formula) should be safe to eat beyond the date specified.
Not sure if your food is still OK to eat? Check out the “Keep it or toss it?” page at Still Tasty.
24. Be aware of sales cycles
Sales cycles are often 10-12 weeks, so keep track of when products you purchase are on sale and, if possible, buy enough for the 10-12 weeks until the next sale.
25. Go homemade
As we’ve already covered, you pay a premium for food that is already prepared. So making it yourself can save you a lot of money. Here are some ideas to get you started:
What tips do you think you’ll start using? Are there any other tips would you add to this list? Share below.