16 Tips for Saving Money When Grocery Shopping

April 20, 2020

Grocery shopping can be an easy, quick weekly task, or it can be long, expensive, and dreadful. Creating a list can be one of the most helpful ways to slim down your spending and time spent grocery shopping each week. Check out the 16 tips below to learn how to spend less money on groceries!

young woman shopping

Grocery shopping can be an easy, quick weekly task, or it can be long, expensive, and dreadful. Creating a list can be one of the most helpful ways to slim down your spending and time spent grocery shopping each week. Check out the 15 tips below to learn how to spend less money on groceries! 


1. Create a weekly grocery budget

Creating a grocery budget can be very beneficial for individuals trying to minimize spending on groceries each month. It is important to remember that you may only be able to spend a small amount on your food budget, while your friend may be able to spend twice as much. There isn’t going to be one amount that works for everyone, each family or individual’s grocery bill is going to vary based on many different factors. 


2. Meal plan 

The easiest way to plan ahead for your meals is starting to take inventory of what you already have in your pantry. What do you have some ingredients for already? After deciding what your meals are going to be, you can plan to purchase the rest of the necessary items on your next grocery trip. You might be surprised by how much you can do with what you already have.

 

3. Think simple

While it might not sound like the most fun, go for easy, simple meals. That doesn’t mean you have to have boxed mac & cheese with hotdogs for every meal. Instead, find fun, easy meals that everyone in your house can enjoy.

A not-so-simple dinner might be a large steak dinner, two complex sides, and a warm dessert. Instead, try something simple.


4. Create your list and stick to it

Creating a grocery list of what you want to get at the store can be very challenging. You likely have essential items such as butter, eggs, milk, and so on. However, it can be hard when you are trying to plan out your meals for a week or two. Use your meal plan ideas to make your grocery list.

 

5. Buy in bulk

Purchase non-perishable items in bulk for a great way to save money. This allows you to spend less money on non-perishable items and make fewer trips to the store. Buying in bulk doesn’t have to include only non-perishable foods, think about the foods that you use a lot of and are constantly re-buying. If it is possible to buy a larger quantity or size (think family size), consider doing so to maximize savings.

 

reusable bags full of fresh produce

6. Bring your own bags

Bring your own reusable bags to the store, and you may be able to save some extra money! Some stores offer a small discount for bringing in your reusable bags. For example, the grocery store may reduce your final bill by 5-10 cents for each reusable bag you bring.

While this may not be the case for every store, it’s still a good idea to reduce the use of plastics. Reusable bags are also less likely to break!

 

7. Find coupons or exclusive deals 

Save even more by finding special deals or coupons for your local grocery store. Many stores offer weekly deals that are helpful when trying to save money. An easy way to find grocery coupons or exclusive deals is by checking your local newspaper ads, online, or downloading your store's app. Apps are a great way to find deals and can show you other deals you may not have even been aware of.


woman checking expiration date on milk

8. Watch for expiration dates

Although checking expiration dates may be a tedious task, it can make a difference. No one wants to buy a gallon of milk that is going to expire the day after they get it, the same goes for many other foods. Try to purchase products that have the farthest out dates as possible. This can allow you time to get the most use out of every product you are buying.

Expiration dates can also work in your favor. Some stores offer exclusive deals on bakery items that are about to expire. Check out the bread section, they could be discounted, and you could get your favorite bread for lower than regular prices. Take it home to freeze or use right away!


9. Price match multiple stores

Price matching stores may cause you to do a little research before your shopping, but in the end, shopping for groceries at stores offering a price match guarantee can be worth it. Price match online for all of the items on your list to see which stores are going to give you the lowest price and allow you to save the most money.

Most stores have flyers or apps so you can find the best offer, then have your favorite store match competitors. Make your shopping easy by saving money and finding the best store prices!


10. Make homemade food

Identify what you’re purchasing and cut out the unnecessary items, like unhealthy snacks. These are items that you could make at home, and they can be much healthier! Try to have some fun with it, too. Find easy recipes for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for you and your friends/family to make together.

 

Fresh produce that is in season

11. Buy in season

Buying the right foods in their correct season can help you save a ton! When fruit and veggies are out of season, they tend not to be less flavorful and priced higher. You may have to do some research to find out what is in season in your area. If a product is in season, it is more likely to travel less to get to your store, making the prices lower.

 

12. Avoid pre-cut or pre-packaged foods

Pre-cut foods are an easy way of saying you're buying fresh when, in reality, it’s a convenience food. Help your wallet out by buying fresh foods that aren’t already sliced, and learn to properly cut them up yourself.

Similar to pre-cut fruits and veggies, avoid buying produce that has extra packaging. Instead of buying a salad packet that comes with dressing and other toppings, buy fresh lettuce and a new dressing, and now you have twice the amount of salad at a fraction of the cost!


13. Don’t shop while hungry

Have you ever gone to the grocery store hungry, and you buy just about everything you see? Shopping hungry is a great way to buy tons of snacks and waste most of your grocery budget on items that aren’t on your list.

USC Dornsife's Norbert Schwarz, Provost Professor of Psychology and Marketing showed that people who shop while hungry spent 60 percent more and bought more items, that were non-food items, than less hungry customers. Stick to your list to reduce the amount of overspending and impulse buys you do while shopping when hungry!


14. Look past eye-level products

It is no coincidence that the name brand, expensive items are located at eye-level at the grocery store. Those brands pay more for that placement, and often that extra cost makes its way to the customer. To find more affordable items, scan the shelf from top to bottom and you may find a great deal.

 

grocery cart full of generic brand items

15. Shop generic brands

Name brand products are almost always the most expensive, and there are usually products offered at a lower price. Give generic brands a chance. It may seem like your favorite cereal won’t taste the same with a different brand name on it, but chances are it will taste very similar.


16. Keep track of pricing

The whole point of your grocery budget is to save you money. An easy way to keep track of your spending while shopping is by using tally marks. For each item you pick up, make a tally mark on your list for each dollar the item is. This can give you a better sense of what you will be spending when you get to the checkout.

 

 

  WHAT'S NEXT?

Creating a budget can be tough. Check out 6 Tips for Budgeting Your Money in College to learn more!

Looking for additional ways to save? Check out 6 Smart Ways to Save for Your Future.