20 Ways to Save Money on Groceries

save money on groceriesDo you spend too much money at the supermarket?   Looking to learn how to save money on groceries?

Well you’re in the right place!  There are lots of ways to cut grocery costs, as you’re about to see.  Now don’t get overwhelmed by all the savings plans you’ll read about.  You don’t have to use them all at once.  Instead, start off with a few of the easier ways to save on groceries and then add more a little at a time.  Before long you’ll be saving a fortune!

1.  Always use a list. Using a list is one of the easiest ways to start saving money on groceries.   If you go into the supermarket with an organized list and only buy those items you will really cut back your spending.  The trick of course it that you have to stick to that list!  No giving into temptation!

2.  Never shop when you’re hungry. It never fails, when I go shopping with an empty stomach I come home with all sorts of garbage that I don’t really need.  Cookies, chips, twinkies, etc.  The best time to go shopping is when you are full and well-rested so you have the strength to pass on those expensive impulse purchases.

3.  Shop alone. When I go shopping alone, I’m in and out of the store quickly and efficiently.  But if the kids are with me…oh boy.   Too much temptation and too many people asking for stuff.

4.  Shop fast. Have you ever noticed that milk and eggs are always in the back of the store?  It’s not a coincidence…supermarkets know that you need those items so they make you walk through the whole store to reach them.  The more stuff you see along the way the more likely you’ll be to buy extra items.  Plus studies have shown that the more time you spend in the store the more stuff you will buy.  Be smart…get what you need and get out fast.

5.  Use Coupons. Yea, I know they can be a pain in the butt to cut out and organize, but if you are consistent you can really save money on groceries by using coupons.  The trick is to time it so you can use your coupons at the same time the product is on sale.  For example, if you use some online Walgreens coupons for an item already on sale you can compound the savings.   But don’t ever just buy stuff because you have a coupon for it.  If you’re not going to use it, it’s just a waste.

6. Clip your coupons to your shopping list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to the register and realized I had left all my coupons at home.  You will never have this problem if you simply paper clip your coupons to your list before you head out to the store.

7.  Keep an eye out for in-store coupons. Many supermarkets have automatic coupon dispensers right in the store.  Plus they print out more coupons with your cash register which you can use the next time you shop.

8. Use store savings cards. Almost every store has those little savings cards that attach to your key ring.  You usually need them to get the sales prices, and sometimes they offer unadvertised sales so you can really save on groceries by using them.

9.  Shop at stores that double or triple coupons. Saving 50 cents on a box of rice is nice.  But saving $1.50 per box is even better!

10.  Pay attention at the cash register. You need to keep a close eye on the register to make sure your items ring up at the right prices.   If an item is on sale but rings up at the full price you should speak up so you don’t get ripped off.  Some stores will even give you the item for free!  Also pay attention to the baggers to make sure nothing is missed.  You don’t want to pay for an item and then leave it sitting there at the register.

11.  Always get a raincheck. You’ve got your coupons in hand and you’re ready to combine them with a sale price to get your favorite canned soup at a deep discount, but the shelves are empty.  Do you leave the store empty handed and curse the supermarket gods because you missed out on a good deal?  Of course not!  Just go to the customer service desk and ask for a raincheck so you can get the sales price when it is back in stock.

12.  Bring a calculator. The best way to compare prices is to look at the unit prices on shelf tags.  They tell you how are paying per ounce, pound, or count.  This way you can compare various brands and sizes.  But not all stores list the per unit price or some may be missing.  If you bring a little calculator with you, you’ll be able to figure it out for yourself.

13.  Shop at larger supermarkets. Large chains are almost always less expensive than the smaller convenience stores because they are able to buy in bulk and get a better price.

14.  Buy generic store brand products. Store brands are almost always cheaper and the quality is usually comparable.   Sometimes if you have a coupon the name brand might be a little cheaper, but you have to be careful because sometimes the generics are still less expensive even without the coupon.

15. Make friends with the butcher. No really, my wife is very social and she is always chatting up the butchers at the supermarket.  They sometimes cut her a special piece of meat or trim away extra fat so she can save a few bucks at the register.

16. Look at your feet when standing in the aisle. Supermarkets place the products with the highest profit margin at eye level because they know that’s as far as many customers will look.  But if you look down at the lower shelves (and up at the higher ones) you can find some real bargains.

17.  Don’t fall for the “3 for $5″ ploy. Unless the signs specifically say that you must buy 3 of the item, you can still get the discounted price when buying less.  Most people just buy 3 because they assume they have to, and that falls right into the supermarket’s hands.

18.  Buy in bulk. Bigger is almost always cheaper, so skip the skimpy single-serving packages and buy the big bag instead.

19.  Buy a freezer if you can afford it. When normally expensive items go on sale, it’s time to stock up.  But you can’t buy too much meat or dairy unless you have a place to store it.  A small freezer in your basement or garage is a great way to store extra meat and frozen products.

20.  Buy your fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market. Produce is one department where the large supermarket chains can’t compete with the local farmer’s market.  Our farmer’s market is always stocked with delicious fresh fruit and vegetables and the prices almost always beat the supermarket.

Readers, what tips do you have to help save money on groceries?


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Mike is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in finance and parenting topics. He is a dedicated husband and father of three who is obsessed with creating multiple streams of income and building wealth so he can achieve true financial freedom for his family. Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our free RSS feed and follow us on Twitter.

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  1. Brittany says

    Decent list, but a few things:

    I keep all of my coupons organized by category (dairy, canned goods, shampoo, etc) in a coupon wallet. I always find the coupon I need when I need it, and if I see a sale at the store on say, toothpaste, and I look and see that I have a few coupons for the brand that’s on sale, I’ll stock up on it even if it’s not on the list! Bam! Don’t have to buy toothpaste for a few months. A few weeks ago I got 3 tubes of Colgate Total for 60 cents each! Also, I keep the front of the book empty except for my list, a pen, and to place all the coupons I’m going to use after I’ve tossed something into my cart–this way I just grab all the coupons in front and hand them to the cashier at checkout. Easy peasy. On average I save around $30 each shopping trip, and I don’t spend that much time couponing or organizing, maybe about an hour a week total.

    I’ve tried the paper-clipping coupons to the list method, and that usually winds up being a big old confusing mess for me! Coupons usually take a few months to expire and it’s good to take all of them with you for when you spot a surprise sale. Plus they’re all flimsy and different sized– it’s best to keep them in some kind of container, at the very least an envelope or something.

    Also, another good tip that I’ve learned is to simply know your store. Pay attention to the sale cycles; get to know the cashiers, fishmongers, etc; and know what kind of sales they have. HEB, for instance, always have “Buy X and get A, B, C, D” for free!” types of bargains, and they rotate the same products for this type of sale regularly. When I find coupons for the things they use this kind of sale on, I save big money. Last Sunday, I bought 1 package of Gorton’s Salmon (2 servings) @ $2.50 (including the $1 off coupon I had, reg. price is ~$3.50) and then I got a can of pinto beans and Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice for free, so I got all 3 items for $2.50; usually all 3 together would retail for over $6.

    For all intents and purposes, using a list is great (I use one!), but you’re missing out if you don’t buy something you would use anyway if it’s on sale and you have a coupon for it. This could be a ton of different things–toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, the brand of frozen pizza you like, whatever. If it’s something I would buy anyway, and it’s on sale, and I have a coupon for it, list or no list, I freakin’ buy it.

    I just realized I wrote a lot. Sorry. :-/

  2. says

    Mind if I add one to the list? Watch the register. In many states, there’s a consumer law that if an item rings up higher than the shelf tag price, you get one for free. You might feel it’s not worth the fuss to point out you were overcharged ten cents, but what if that just got you a $5 grocery item free? (I am in Massachusetts, law varies by state)

  3. says

    I’m very good at making my list and sticking to it. However, I’ve always been crap at coupons. I just don’t get how people can walk away with a cart full of groceries for $5. Since I live alone, I generally don’t worry about it. The new thing I’m trying to keep in mind though is that I check my rewards sites before shopping. Sometimes, if I know I can save money on the item itself and then get rewarded for using the coupons, I’ll remember more often.

  4. says

    Stick to the list like glue. Impulse purchases are budget (and often health) killers :) The only time I deviate from my list is if I find a great dealer on one of my staple foods. Then I load up.

  5. says

    The two great tips that jumped out at me were shop alone and always bring a list. My wife does 95% of the shopping. Whenever she does not follow one of these two rules she always ends up with extra costly stuff that we don’t really need. I’ll float these ideas to her to help us save money! Thanks!!

  6. says

    These are great tips but I’d add the simplest, most effective strategy in my experience: shopping at discount grocery stores. I realize the availability of these stores varies regionally, but I find that stores like ALDI and Save-a-lot have great prices, often cheaper than shopping at larger chains with coupons or buying store brands. They have fewer options which allow you to shop faster and avoid extra temptations. If you don’t have one nearby, I’ve also heard Costco has good options for buying staples in bulk.

    We also grow a garden and raise meat chickens in the spring/summer. It’s a great option if you have a yard.

  7. Steven Johnson says

    Great tips Mike! Its amazing how a few small subtle changes can make a huge difference in your shopping budget and savings!

  8. Shauna says

    Another tip that I find a lot of shoppers do not realize, you can use your coupons on top of the store coupons and save even more.

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