There are several ways to save money while you are at the grocery store! Through all my years of budgeting and getting to understand the various costs of expenses, I have found a few things to be true. 1. You have flexible and inflexible expenses. Inflexible Expenses are ones like mortgage/rent, Pandora, Student Loans, car leases and insurance. Flexible Expenses are gas, groceries, credit card, electricity. 2. Groceries are one of the best ways to monitor your overall budget because you can be more conscious about your spending while doing the actual shopping. I have other insights in this blog post: Basics I Know to be True When it Comes to Grocery Shopping
21 Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store
- Be fast– The more time you spend in the store, the more that ends up in your cart…Especially Target and Costco! Shop with a purpose.
- Don’t go when you’re hungry, stressed-out, or distracted– everything will sound good to you at that point or you’ll buy more junk food and candy than usual.
- MAKE A LIST! If you don’t have a grocery list, more items will go into your cart.
- Maybe don’t go with your husband- Kyler likes to add things to the cart that aren’t on my list. Sometimes he does this when I am not looking. 🙈🙈
- Consider going to Costco– here in Montana, Costco has been the cheaper and healthier option for buying certain grocery items- such as produce, quinoa and nut butters. Alternatively, go to some other bulk store. If you have several options, go for it!
- Choose WHOLE Produce- it cost more if you buy pre-cut produce. Unless you’re setting up for a big party in like 5 minutes, you can save yourself money by cutting the carrots or watermelon yourself.
- Use rewards cards like Smith’s, Costco, Target RedCard – I save 5% per purchase at Target plus all those Target Circle offers. Smith’s gives you reduced prices if you have store memberships and special coupons.
- Specials and Coupons– Every week, stores are coming up with new coupon deals, and some stores even have 1-2 day sales. One of my local grocery stores has 12-hour sales for meats, 1-3 x a year, and does a cereal sale 1-2 x a year. If cereal is your thing, take advantage of that! If it’s time to stock up your chest freezer with various meat cuts, DO IT!
- Bring Reusable Bags– some stores give you discounts every time you shop with either reusable bags or the store’s reusable bags. I have also heard that there ares some stores in the US that charge per plastic bag- that’s not a thing in Montana. While you can always find a bunch of different uses for plastic and paper shopping bags, why not save 5 cents per bag, and have sturdier bags for your food, while you are at the store?
- Buy Store Brand– You don’t always have to buy name brand items- unless you want to. But there is nothing wrong buying store brand. In fact, sometimes they taste better. At SuperOne, I have more options for canned goods with their store brand than I do for a name brand line… And it is sometimes half the cost.
- Don’t rule our your local Dollar Store- WHOA. The Dollar Stores have seriously evolved since I was a kid. They used to barely have any foods, now our location carries 3 aisles of grocery items plus got a fridge/freezer section 3 years ago. How can you beat $1? If it is a quality food item. I’ve heard about other dollar stores that include dairy and eggs, and a slew of other items. I can’t say that that is something that will be happening in Montana any time soon, but this idea is still worth giving you readers!
- I’ve read about some bulk stores that have “nearly expired” items that you can buy at dirt cheap prices. Just because a label says it’s near or expired, doesn’t mean you can’t eat it. You should check out if there are stores like that in your area. As long as it is within reason, why not explore the option?
- Farmer’s Market– So Farmer’s Markets have interesting opportunities to buy your grocery items at favorable prices. You can either find them at “whole rounded” prices, or you can find giant potatoes for simply $3 each (as opposed to paying $2/lb)
- Choose “Cheap Ingredients” Okay, so I do not like writing “cheap” when describing alternative options for saving money at the grocery store. But carefully choosing items that don’t cost a lot end up saving you money in the long run. Potatoes and carrots are “cheap” yet still healthy options to feast upon! However! Don’t go overboard with items such as potatoes. Much of my reading over the years have relied heavily on carbs for “cheap ingredients”: baked potato dinners, pasta, casseroles. Is that really filling? These are okay for 1-2 nights a week, (I would recommend barely 1/week). For those of you on diet restrictions, check out Budgeting for a Low Carb Diet.
- Meal Plan– If you meal plan, set up a rotation and make a list, your grocery budget will go far! Read more about How to Make a Meal Plan Rotation
- Choose Affordable and Simple Meals– it is pretty easy to choose simple meals. Lunch can be tuna and crackers- 1 can of tuna is less than a dollar. Tortillas + sandwich fixings… simple and affordable. Any one of my $5 Dinners!
- Portion Appropriately- One of the trends I have noticed in my extensive reading about saving money on groceries is the portions… They sound soooo small, so unreasonable. Don’t sacrifice how much you need to eat just to save money.
- Don’t buy frozen food or frozen-dinners– Just like when you buy pre-cut produce, you’re paying extra for frozen foods or frozen dinners like lasagna and microwave meals.
- FLIP SIDE- DO BUY frozen items– Frozen fruits and vegetables are incredibly affordable, sometimes even healthier than their can and produce department items. Frozen peas (for example) are picked, cleaned, quickly blanched then frozen. All the nutrients is still inside that one little pea.
- Avoid Buying Junk Food- Junk food is more expensive. That’s it.
- Make Your Own! Bread is super cheap to make, honestly ridiculously cheap. The same can be applied to ketchup, seasoning blends, cakes, pizza crusts, etc. Buy the ingredients at the store, which might sound like a larger cost at first, but as you make your homemade sandwich bread or pizza crust, you’re saving money because it is less than $5.
- Thrive Market is a great option! Especially for strict diets.
Final Thoughts to Save Money at the Grocery Store
As you can see, there are many creative ways to save money when you’re physically at the grocery store or actively shopping. There are also resources like Ibotta or Checkout 51, they are apps in which you buy specific items and later upload your receipts for having purchased those items. However, my issue with those resources is that you have to remember that this is saving you money only 1. if you were going to buy that specific item in the first place 2. it’s a ‘retroactive’ savings. You’re checking account is still experiencing a $50 withdrawal even though you just got 50 cents for that can soup…. And you don’t get the 50 cents until much later.
Disclosure: I am a Thrive Market Affiliate and this post contains affiliated links- this means that I earn a commission if you choose to purchase a monthly or annual membership by them using these links. The products listed in any of my blog posts that promotes Thrive Market are only the ones that I have ordered and really enjoyed. Read full disclosure here.