Whether you’re a large or small family, groceries always seem to take a huge chunk out of the budget. Aside from extreme couponing, you may not realize you can save more than a few bucks at the grocery store. With some simple strategies, saving enough cash to stash in your rainy day fund is totally possible.
To save $1000 on groceries each year, you’ll have to spend $19 less per week — that’s it! Just $19. To do this, we’ve hunted down 26 simple strategies that will save you anywhere from $1-5 each. Add them all up, and you’ll be saving big!
As you read through the list, you’ll notice one common theme. Savings is a direct result of planning. Make a list, take time to cut out coupons, prepare your weekly menu and stick to your shopping list. Knowing how much you have to spend will help you save. Having a set amount budgeted for groceries, then using any combination of these 26 tips below is a simple way to spend way less on groceries this year. Keep that cash in your pocket and save up for something fun instead of making pricy food trips. Here’s how:
1. Coupon like a pro
You don’t have to be an “extreme couponer” to take advantage of serious savings. Scroll through the Coupons.com homepage and save coupons for any of the items you plan to buy. It’s so easy! You can print right from your computer, then tote your savings to the store. No “coupon clipping” needed!
For even more ways you can save with coupons, check out our Coupons.com Couponing 101 guide!
2. Make a list
Make a list before you shop and stick with it. You’ll be less likely to impulse buy if you check items off your list. This takes a little bit of menu planning on your part, but the less you go to the store, the less you’ll spend on gas and extras. Aim for at least a full week’s worth of meals for your list. See if you can plan a whole month’s worth of meal and calculate the savings.
3. Make a meal plan
Assess your pantry and fridge when making your list. Got leftover sour cream? Put burritos on the menu so it doesn’t go to waste. Making a list around items you already have is a smart way to keep your costs down.
4. Track your pantry
Keep a running list of what’s almost gone in your pantry so you won’t have to make a second trip. You don’t want to return from the store and realize you only have a teaspoon of mayo left.
Make use of all those leftovers hiding in the back of your cupboards with one of our pantry recipes!
5. Shop the sales
Plan menus around store sale items. When making your weekly menu, check newspaper store circulars and Internet ads for sales. If chicken is on sale, make sure you add a few chicken dinners to your menu.
6. Buy in bulk
Stock up on sale items you normally use. If food can be frozen, such as ground beef, divide it into one-pound portions and freeze in plastic bags. If you have pantry items, arrange by expiration date, so the nearest expiration date gets used first. Items like paper towels and shampoo can be stored indefinitely, so free up some closet space and stock up.
7. Download an app
Take advantage of money saving apps like the Coupons.com app, which makes it easier than ever to take advantage of all the money-saving benefits of Coupons.com, directly from your Apple or Android device.
8. Sign up for inbox alerts
Sign up for social media and email deals for your favorite brands. You may find that a company offers coupons for your favorite oatmeal on their website, so it’s worth checking if you buy a product often.
9. Buy in-season produce
Produce that’s not in-season is marked up twice as much or higher than in-season produce. You’ll find the best deals for fresh berries during the summer months, but in winter, the price goes up exponentially. Winter would be the best time to buy in-season oranges.
10. Steer clear of steep mark-ups
Avoid these steeply marked-up items: cubed or pre-sliced meat (typically marked up 60%), batteries, brand name cereal, detergent, pre-sliced produce, personal care products, and name-brand spices. Check grocery clubs, buy in bulk, or look for online subscriptions that might offer the same item for less.
11. Buy generic whenever possible
Store-brand generic items are usually of equal value, and will typically cost you far less than name-brand options. For basic ingredients, go with the store brand and you’ll save big!
12. Buy below eye level
Believe it or not, grocery store shelves are designed to sell, sell, sell. Choose products above or below eye level on the shelf — the most expensive items are placed at eye level to tempt you.
13. Check unit prices
When calculating the best option to buy, read the price stickers and compare the unit prices. This will assist you when choosing between two brands and also when deciding on the size of an item. Sometimes the smaller-sized item is actually cheaper if you look at the unit price.
14. Don’t shop hungry
One of the simplest ways to stick to your budget and save big on groceries is an easy one. Don’t go to the store on an empty stomach! Hunger makes you more likely to impulse buy. Ever notice that when you’re hungry, you have less self-control? Have a healthy snack before you hit the store and you’ll likely save dozens of dollars each month.
Need some healthy snack inspiration? Try one of these 12 on-the-go snacks that won’t leave you hungry…or regretful.
15. Buy just a little
Reduce your portion control by just a little and you’ll start to see the savings add up. This is a great way to lose any extra weight you’ve been carrying around, too.
16. Buy cheaper meats
Cut back on pricey meats to save money. You can substitute beans as a healthy alternative. If making tacos, cut out half the meat and add more beans. Also look for cheaper cuts of meat and bone-in varieties.
Discover even more ways you can save on steak, chicken, and more with our 8 tips your butcher wants you to know.
17. Make your own
Avoid buying prepared foods like packaged stuffing, granola, and spice blends, which can be drastically marked up. Make at home whenever possible.
18. Watch the register
In the checkout line, keep an eye on the register to make sure sales prices are ringing up correctly and your quantities match up. Check your receipt as you’re leaving the store. If you notice a price discrepancy, just pop on over to Customer Service and ask them to refund the difference. Most stores make this process quick and easy!
19. Buy local
Groceries don’t always have to come from the grocery store! Shop the farmers market just before they pack up and you’ll get unbelievable deals. You might check out ethnic grocery stores for rock bottom prices, too. Dollar stores have certain grocery items that are priced lower than supermarkets, so if you shop there for other products, consider checking out the grocery aisle.
20. Cash in on rewards
Consider switching credit cards to a grocery-friendly one that offers cash back rewards on your groceries. And if your local store offers a savings cards or free VIP membership, sign up! It generally takes just seconds and the benefits can really add up!
21. Be a clever couponer
Don’t buy an item just because you have a coupon. Use coupons for items you normally buy, and make sure you check Coupons.com for the biggest savings bang. When shopping for couponed products, timing is everything. Match your coupons to what’s on special and you’ll get save huge!
22. Watch the sales
When a product goes on sale, it usually follows a sale cycle with an 8-12 week rotation. If a box of cereal is on sale, buy 10 extra to get you through the weeks when the sale isn’t running.
23. Ask for a raincheck
Get an IOU for sale items that are out of stock. Either get a rain check on a slip of paper or ask if they’ll substitute a comparable item for the same sale price.
24. Price match whenever possible
Check prices of the top 10 grocery items you buy the most, and check the stores closest to you for pricing. The store with the best prices for your items should be the one you shop at. When checking out, be sure to ask if your grocer matches online prices, as well. Many of the larger chain stores will honor online pricing from Amazon, giving you an instant discount that matches the best posted price.
25. Go it alone
If possible, shop alone. You may cave in to begging kiddos or get distracted and end up spending more at the store. Hitting the aisles by yourself allows you to be fully focused on the task at hand. No extraneous buys needed!
26. Split a membership cost with a friend
Memberships to grocery clubs and online stores can become expensive. Why not split the cost of membership with a friend? That way you both have access to great deals at half the price! Likewise, if you like to shop in bulk but don’t necessarily need a pallet’s worth of product, bring a friend along and split the price and the product.
Discover even more ways to save on groceries!