Does clipping coupons annoy you or seem like a waste of time? I enjoy it, but sometimes life gets too busy to bother. Good news, you can still spend less money on groceries using these tips.
Now, I have no idea what your grocery expense is like, but these help me spend about 25% less on groceries if I’m up to cooking dinner from scratch every night. But I don’t always feel like doing that. Ironically, when we add frozen or convenience items, we often save even more.
1. Check Your Shelves.
Before you go to the store, take a few minutes to check what you’ve already got in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. When you’re in shopping mode, it can be easy to forget whether you’ve got eggs or milk at home. Then you wind up buying things you don’t need.
2. Shop Flyers at Home.
Most stores post their sales on their website on in the app. So I sit down and check what’s on sale when I’m planning our weekly menu. There’s a lot less pressure and I can compare unit prices. Then I combine what’s marked down the most with things we already have to save even more.
3. Make Lists for Each Meal.
Did you know Walmart and other stores let you save shopping lists in their app? I created a different list in the app for each of our favorite meals, plus another for basic household items.
I spend less because I never see those impulse buys: it’s one touch to add an entire meal to the cart, then I can remove things I don’t need.
4. Know When to Buy Store Brand.
Lately, I’m loving store brands. They’re often identical to name-brand products, and sometimes their ingredients are even cleaner.
But the savings? Wow! I spend at least one-third as much on store brand items.
I’ve only been disappointed in the product a couple of times, and every store has backed their brand with a guarantee so I got my money back.
5. Buy Cheap Cuts.
The cost of proteins is a big chunk of our food budget, so I spend less by buying cheaper cuts of meat.
Things like top round and sirloin come out just as tender when they’re cooked low and slow in the crockpot, or in a pressure cooker.
Next time you’re at the store, compare the price of USDA Choice to Select, then choose Choice and cook it slowly.
6. Don’t Be a Brand Loyalist.
Ever reach for a brand because that’s what you’ve always bought? That habit can be costly. I started saving money by buying whatever is cheapest.
If a different brand is on sale and has similar ingredients, I’ll switch in the blink of an eye. It’s more important to me to save money on groceries than call myself their loyal customer.
7. Avoid Eye-Level Products.
Did you know brands pay for eye-level placement? After that, store managers get their say so they position the highest profit items in the most convenient spots.
So if you’re shopping in person, you’ll spend less on food picked from the lower shelves. (Except in the breakfast aisle where the expensive stuff is at a kids’ eye-level, not yours.)
8. Convenience is Costly.
If you’re busy, convenient items like salad mixes and grated cheese can feel worth it. But if you’ve got the time, a great way to save money on groceries is by buying the inconvenient stuff.
Buy whole vegetables and chop them at home. Grate your own cheese. Break down a whole chicken. That 20 minutes you spend can translate into saving $20 on your grocery bill.
9. Shop Alone.
I used to love shopping with my best friend because it gave us a chance to catch up. But chatting meant I ignored prices, so I stopped saving money. That happens when you take kids to the store with you, too. So, if possible, shop alone. If it’s not, get your family involved hunting for the best savings. Or stay home and shop the app.
10. Stock Up at the Right Time.
I use a grocery price book to track the cost of things we use the most. That lets me know when prices drop, so I don’t fall for fake sales.
But it also lets me anticipate when stores are about to mark things down. So, we save money on groceries by waiting for those big sales and stocking up.
11. Make Your Own.
Search for “copycat” and the brand item you usually buy, or “take out fake out” and your favorite to-go foods.
12. Membership is Worth It.
Remember those individual shopping meal lists I mentioned? They make it easy to compare the cost of meals for a month from the local store and from Sam’s Club, where I have a membership.
Every single time, Sam’s has saved me money. I’m not talking just a little bit, either. More like 30-45 percent. One trip and the membership paid for itself. One a month and I’m saving a small fortune.
13. Check Unit Prices.
Brands sell different sizes at different stores. So a box of Joe’s Pasta might cost less at an online grocery store but per ounce it may cost more.
If you want to save money shopping for food, you’ll need to do the math. Ugh, right?
14. Buy Personal Care Items Elsewhere.
Like I said, convenience costs more. Tossing shampoo or body wash into your grocery cart? Convenient. But you’ll pay for it.
Yes, it’s a separate stop but you’ll spend less buying shampoo, conditioner, soap, razors, and feminine products at the Dollar Store.
15. Skip the Fresh Fish.
Almost all fish in grocery stores has been previously frozen, even if you live in a coastal area. But the “fresh” stuff at the counter costs more than the same item in the freezer case.
So, save your money and head to the frozen foods. You’ll probably like the taste better, too, since large-scale vessels flash-freeze fish as soon as it’s caught.
16. Shop Seasonally.
Fruits and vegetables are cheaper in season for your area because they don’t have to be imported from across the country or overseas.
If it’s not in season, buy the frozen version—they’re often more nutritious and almost always cost less.
17. Know Your Store’s Markdown Days.
A quick phone call to your store can get you the dates and times they mark down bakery, dairy, and meat items.
But also ask where your store puts marked-down things since they sometimes move the markdowns to one area. When you get to the store, shop those areas first.
18. Preserve, Dehydrate, and Freeze.
The average household in the US wastes hundreds of dollars of food each year, mostly produce going to waste.
Freeze or dehydrate what you aren’t able to eat, and learn about freezing and using kitchen scraps, too.
19. Listen to Your Own Music.
Stores play nostalgic or sad songs to make you shop more slowly and seek out comfort foods like chips and candy.
If you want to spend less money on groceries, listen to podcasts or playlists on your phone as you shop.
20. Never, Ever Shop Hungry.
Shopping when you’re hungry makes everything sound good, not just food. If you can’t pause to have a meal before you head to the store, at least pop a mint or piece of gum into your mouth.
You’ll keep your brain busy and that will help you save money grocery shopping, too.