THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE SEE MY DISCLOSURES. FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Sure, grocery shopping can be a fun outing every once in a while.
But when it comes to your weekly trips to the store for those much-needed staples (and occasional treats!), you know the true story: It’s stressful and expensive!
The never-ending list of items we need for ourselves, our partners and children, and any guests or visitors often takes a toll on both our wallets and frayed nerves.
But believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be that way!
With these top-secret tips from savvy shoppers everywhere, you’ll soon develop your own grocery hack arsenal.
So you can thankfully rely less on budgeting strategies such as putting purchases back at checkout and blissfully enjoy lower food bills without sacrificing quality.
#1. Never Shop On An Empty Stomach
It took me a while to realize I was guilty of this. I would go shopping when hungry and gave in to many temptations.
Walking through the frozen food section, I gave in to the pizza and ice cream. And then I would give in to the sugary cereal too.
Once I realized I was giving in to my urges because I was hungry, I took action. I made it a point only to shop after eating, or I ate one of the snacks I started keeping in my car.
With a full stomach, my willpower was greater, and I saved a lot of money I was otherwise spending on impulse purchases.
Also, you can see if your supermarket offers online ordering. Here you can add items to your cart, pay online and pick up your groceries without entering the store.
This will save you from the many temptations spread throughout the grocery store.
#2. Shop With A List
The best way to keep grocery purchases in check and avoid impulse buys is to shop with a list.
Before you head out, create a shopping list of everything you’ll need ahead of time so that you don’t end up grabbing things you don’t need while browsing the grocery store.
This is even better for your wallet if you can stay under your overall spending limit.
#3. Try A Subscription Meal Plan Instead
For those who are busy and don’t have time to shop for meals, you’ll learn that saving money on groceries can be as simple as signing up for meal delivery services.
With a subscription meal plan, you pay for a number of meals sent to your door per week that are either ready to eat or need to be prepared according to the directions.
While some may be expensive, it depends on how many people you feed and what type of meals you want.
This way, you can save time and money while focusing on other important tasks.
#4. Review Grocery Store Flyers For Coupons
Some grocery stores include coupons you can cut out of their weekly flyers. And in some cases, these can be great deals.
One grocery store near us has a couple of coupons each week, which are great deals. One week, I could buy a pineapple for $0.49 vs. the regular price of $2.99.
If you end up losing the ad with the coupon, don’t worry. Most grocery stores will also have the same ads in-store, so you can also take advantage of these coupons.
#5. Look For Coupons In Your Mail
Many people get flyers in their mail that have coupons in them. If you don’t get them in the mail but get the Sunday newspaper, you will find the flyers here too.
Of course, you could also buy the newspaper at the store. These are great ways to save money on groceries.
The bad news is they can also lead to overspending if you aren’t disciplined.
This happens when you get so caught up in saving money that you use coupons to buy things you don’t need. While it is OK to try a new item to see if you like it, don’t make it a habit.
#6. Set A Spending Limit And Stick to It
Learning how to save money on groceries depends on being financially savvy and making sure you’re making the right choices when shopping.
If you have a loose budget and let yourself spend a bit more than you typically would, these extra expenses can add up over time and impact other areas of your budget.
Instead, set a hard spending limit for your weekly or bi-weekly shopping trips and stick to it.
#7. Buy Store Brand Items Rather Than Brand Names
Branding is one of the ways that certain products will get you to spend several more dollars when you’re looking for certain goods.
Although there’s sometimes a difference in quality between certain items, this isn’t always true.
For example, imagine you have to buy some cold medicine this week because of a cold. Choosing generic brands over name brands will not impact how well you recover from your cold.
The only difference it will make is in how much you spend.
If you don’t believe this, look at the ingredients list. You’ll see it is the same.
If there’s an option to get a store-brand product instead of name-brand items, go for it. This is a simple trick that can save you a lot of money.
#8. Limit Food Waste
Another tip to keep your grocery spending in check is to practice limiting food waste.
This could be as simple as saving uneaten meals and reheating them for lunch or dinner the next day. Or it could be using leftover food for other uses.
For example, you can use chicken bones as a base for your chicken broth or stock. Finally, it could also mean buying less food each week.
If you throw out food because it expired before you could eat it, you might be better off buying less to ensure you eat everything you buy.
We waste a lot of food in this country, to the tune of $161 billion each year.
#9. Find A Local Farmers Market
For fresh produce, consider a local farmers’ market.
The prices are usually better than the grocery store since they cut out the added cost of shipping to the supermarket and the markup from the store.
Head to the farmers market just before closing time for the absolute best deals. You might be able to haggle on the prices of fresh fruits and vegetables as the farmer might not want to return them home.
And if you are looking to make something out of the produce, ask for seconds. We buy seconds of apples all the time to make homemade applesauce.
The only thing wrong with these apples is they have blemishes on the skin, so supermarkets don’t want them.
We get a large box for $10 and make applesauce and apple pies out of them.
#10. Look For Promotional Deals On Delivery And Pickup Apps
Although you may not need your groceries delivered, you can generally schedule your goods for pickup through these apps, using special promotional deals offered in-app.
Just make sure that when you use these platforms to look for deals, you factor in any delivery fees they may charge you.
The last thing you want to do is think you got a bargain, only to end up paying more than you usually would if you did all the heavy lifting yourself.
Also, it is important to be specific when ordering groceries. Sometimes, the shopper will substitute an item for a different brand name if you are not specific about what you want.
#11. Pay With A Rewards Credit Card
An often overlooked way to reduce the cost of groceries is to pay with a rewards credit card.
While this will not make your grocery trip cheaper, you will earn points or cash back depending on the type of rewards card you choose.
You must know your goal first and then pick the reward that best meets your needs.
For us, we opt for cash-back cards. At the end of the year, we redeem our cash back and invest the money.
#12. Shop Online For Bulk Goods And Grocery Essentials
You don’t have to grocery shop in person or through delivery apps.
Plenty of great resources online can help you get your hands on some of your most essential products.
Take, for example, a website like Boxed. Boxed allows you to get great deals when you buy certain products in bulk.
Some items you may want to stock up on include crackers, children’s snacks, soups or pasta, and even things you may need around the house, like cleaning products.
When you buy in bulk, you can save money by getting everything you need ahead of time so that you don’t have to purchase it again in the near future.
If you want to save money on organic or socially responsible groceries, try Thrive Market.
Thrive Market is a membership-based, online grocery store that offers access to organic goods sent right to your doorstep.
If you typically shop at organic health stores, the products here are much more affordable. Additionally, they offer a wide variety of products to choose from.
#13. Use Grocery Store Flyers To Find The Best Deals
When scanning the weekly ads for coupons, make sure you are also paying attention to the sales.
Most stores have a rotation for when things go on sale. Learn how this works at each store you shop at so you can plan your spending ahead of time.
Doing this, you will also know what a good sale is.
For example, bread is on sale at $1 off the regular price. This could be great. But if you pay attention, you will realize that in a few weeks, the sale is now buy one, get one free.
This is a great deal, and you should stock up on bread.
Since you likely won’t eat it fast enough, freeze the extra loaves until you need them.
I use this trick at one store near me to perfection. Every few months, they have fabulous sales on a handful of the items we buy.
Most of the sales are BOGO or buy one, get one free. But there is one sale at this time: buy one, get two free.
I walk out of the grocery store spending $30 on food that, if purchased at regular price, would cost me $75.
#14. Shop Warehouse Clubs
Shopping at warehouse clubs for bulk items is another way to save money on groceries.
While you pay more because you are buying a larger volume of goods, the unit price is lower.
However, this isn’t always the case. So be sure to know the unit price of the items at the grocery store to make an accurate comparison to the warehouse club pricing.
Don’t know what the unit price is? It’s the price in the lower corner of the tag that is universal for all products.
In other words, if you are comparing one gallon of almond milk to a half gallon, which price is better?
To know for sure, you look at the unit price. In most cases, the larger the size, the better the unit price, saving you money.
#15. Shop At Discount Stores
In addition to shopping for groceries at the supermarket, you should consider buying food items at discount stores like Walmart and Target.
I’ve found that for some staple products, like household cleaners, toilet paper, and paper towels, the best prices are not at any of my local supermarkets but at Walmart.
And if you want to save money on organic food, both these discount stores and others have been increasing their selection of these foods.
Therefore, don’t think you have to settle for Whole Foods pricing when you can buy organic elsewhere, usually for a lower price.
#16. Shop At Different Stores
Unless you live in a small town, most cities offer multiple grocery stores and supermarkets.
And if you aren’t shopping at multiple stores, you will likely pay more than you should for groceries. By shopping at different stores, you can get the best deals from each one.
If one store is noticeably more expensive and regularly drains your bank account when shopping, try other options that may save you a couple of dollars.
Brand loyalty may only work out if your specific store offers a loyalty program that saves you more than the competition.
Otherwise, make a list of the things you regularly buy and go to each store. Note the prices for each item on your list and see where the best deals are.
Chances are you will have to shop at a couple of stores to save the most money.
#17. Start Meal Planning
Some people like to create weekly meal plans ahead of time, especially when it comes to the dinners that they want to eat.
However, this may cost you more if you buy the ingredients when they are not on sale.
Instead, wait to meal prep until you know what the store sales are for that week so that you can see what’s on sale and plan your dinner around those items.
It may not always result in the most exciting recipes, but it will help you save money on the regular price of items.
#18. Sign Up For Grocery Apps
Most all stores these days have mobile apps to download. Not only does a grocery app offer digital coupons, but many include recipes and a guide for where to find items in the store.
Beyond the coupons, there’s the added convenience of not having to cut out and hold onto certain coupons you want to use later.
Open the app before you go grocery shopping or at the store and tap on the coupon you want. It will get digitally transferred to your loyalty card, and the savings will be applied when you check out.
As a precaution, I always review my receipt to ensure all the digital coupons were applied to my purchase.
#19. Buy Less Meat
Anyone who shops for food knows that meat tends to be the most expensive item at the store.
Whether it is ground beef, chicken breasts, turkey, or other types of meat, the price per pound is significant.
What can you do to lower the cost of this food item? The easiest way is to buy less.
Don’t think you need to have meat in every meal. Try going meatless one or two nights a week. Instead of meat, have soup or pasta, or a salad for dinner.
If you can go two nights a week without meat, you can significantly lower your food budget.
#20. Always Check Out The Clearance Section
This isn’t necessarily a tip that will teach you how to save money on groceries every time, but it can cut down on some of your expenses, like alcohol, sweets, or medication.
Most grocery stores have a small clearance section carved out somewhere stocked with products that need to be sold and have almost reached or passed their expiration date.
Whether these are fresh goods, or in some cases not as fresh from the bakery, cold medicines or vitamins, or necessary staples like bread and wine, plenty of great finds will be highly marked down to your benefit.
You might find a discontinued product that is on sale for pennies. One time I saw a discontinued cinnamon spice, and instead of $4.99, it was $1.50, so I bought all three jars.
While you may not be able to determine exactly what will be put on these racks weekly, you may save some money by replacing full-price items on your grocery list with replacements you can find here.
#21. Sign Up For Third Party Grocery Apps
In addition to using the app from your local grocery store, look into third-party apps. There is a handful that I use to help me save some extra money on groceries.
For example, Ibotta is one where I digitally clip a coupon for a product, and then after I shop, I scan my receipt, and the savings get added to my Ibotta account.
When I have earned $20, I cash out my earnings.
Another app I use is Shopkick. This app has me earn points for not only buying certain items but also scanning the barcode of items in the store or simply walking into select stores.
Once I earn enough points, I can redeem them for cash via PayPal or free gift cards.
Finally, there are receipt-scanning apps. These apps reward you with points every time you scan a grocery store receipt.
The two I use are Fetch Rewards and Receipt Hog. As with the other apps, I redeem them for free gift cards or cash once I earn enough points.
Understand that using these apps doesn’t save you thousands of dollars annually.
But they do save you money. On average, I earn around $350 a year using them, which helps me pay for gifts around the holidays.
I’m confident this amount would be higher, but I buy many private-label items instead of brand-name goods.
And since taking a picture of my receipts takes less than one minute, it is worth the time spent.
Save Thousands at Drugstores
Did you know you can walk out of many drug stores with hundreds of dollars worth of items and only pay pennies?
It’s called the drugstore game and I walk you through how to save thousands every year by shopping at CVS, Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, and more.
How To Get Free Food With No Money
If you are short on cash, not eating doesn’t have to be a reality.
There are options out there that allow you to get free food, even if you don’t have any cash. Here is what you need to do.
I Need Money Now
Do you every say to yourself, ‘I need money now?’
Whether it is for bills or unexpected expenses, here is how to get cash fast.
In many cases, you can have cash in your hands the same day.
47 Ways To Get Free Gift Cards
Nowadays, people are looking for every means possible to make extra cash. One unique idea is to get free gift cards. Gift cards are a great way to help pay for the things you need without spending any money.
You can earn free gift cards for completing simple tasks in many ways. This includes getting paid for simple online tasks like playing games, completing surveys, and shopping.
Here is a complete guide on how to get free gift cards so you can spend less money on the things you buy.
How To Get Free Money
The idea of free money sounds like it can’t be true. But it actually is.
There are many ways you can get free money, from playing games, to watching videos, and more.
Here are the best ways you can get free money without having to work for it.
I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.