In this article, we will give you 11 Creative Ways to Save Money on your Groceries.
We all know we should be saving money on groceries, but if you’re like most people who want to save money on food, you probably don’t have much idea how. Sure, there are some obvious ways to cut down on your shopping bill — using coupons, buying more generic brands instead of brand names, looking for sales, etc. But here are 11 less obvious tips that will help anyone save money on their weekly grocery expenses.
1. Don’t Buy Food That’s Already Expired
Some foods spoil quickly, so you need to use them before they lose quality. However, when you buy certain types of fresh produce such as bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, and strawberries, they can go bad after just one day. This means that you could spend a lot more money than you expected by purchasing these perishables too early rather than waiting until they reach optimal ripeness. To avoid this problem, check expiration dates whenever possible. And remember, fruits and vegetables always taste better ripe, so keep those on hand longer.
2. Use Coupons When Possible
If you’ve ever shopped for groceries online, you might think that coupons aren’t available there because all retailers must adhere to strict laws regarding coupon distribution. While this is true, you’ll still find plenty of deals during the checkout process, and many major retail outlets also give out printable coupons when you shop in store. If you live near a Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS Pharmacy, Whole Foods Market, Target, Kroger, Publix, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, or Albertson’s, then chances are good that they offer printable coupons, even though they may not advertise them. For example, I recently purchased several bottles of olive oil from Trader Joe’s because they were only $2 per bottle (normally around $4). Then, when I went back later to make my purchase, I noticed that they had a coupon for the same product running in the newspaper. The next time that I bought two bottles, I used the $1/2 off the deal printed on the paper at checkout. It was a great way to get a small discount without having to search for a coupon. In addition, you can often clip coupons directly on the receipt itself, which saves you time and effort. Just look for the big green barcode below the cashier’s name, and click on it to see any printable coupons.
3. Shop At Warehouse Clubs
A warehouse club offers members low membership fees, high volume pricing, and huge savings on everyday products. A member pays about half what he would pay elsewhere, sometimes even less depending on where you shop. Some warehouses even offer free shipping! These clubs usually sell everything from household cleaning supplies to meats to cosmetics. They do charge a monthly fee, however, which varies from $25 to over $100. Membership typically lasts anywhere from six months to three years. Check out our article on five reasons why buying from a warehouse club makes sense to learn more about why warehouse clubs work.
4. Visit Discount Stores
Discounts vary widely across different industries and locations. There are no hard rules on how much you can save at each store, but generally speaking, department store chains tend to offer lower discounts compared to chain drugstores and supermarkets. Also, you won’t find special deals on bulk goods at discount stores, like hardware or clothing. On the other hand, discount stores are known for offering deals on health and beauty products, books, school supplies, toys, games, electronics, furniture, baby care, pet products, and seasonal merchandise. So take advantage of these opportunities while you’re able.
5. Eat More Healthy
Many grocery stores now carry healthy snacks, including fruit and vegetable bars, raw nuts, energy bars, and cold soups. Many of these companies also offer meal plans through their websites to make sure customers eat nutritious meals throughout the week. Not only does eating healthier reduce the amount of packaged junk food you consume, but it also helps you stay full longer, leading to fewer trips to the vending machine, office kitchen, gas station, restaurant, deli counter, fast food joint, convenience store, or drivethrough window. In fact, research shows that when you eat well, you burn more calories overall. Eat smart, eat right, and you’ll keep your wallet fat-free.
6. Use Meal Plans
There are tons of meal planning services out there, from simple apps like MyPlatePlanner to more comprehensive sites like Plated.com and CookingLight.com. When using a service like these, simply log into it every morning and follow along with its suggestions for what to cook for dinner that night.
This approach eliminates the possibility of going hungry, ensures that you’re getting enough protein and nutrients from your diet, allows you to plan ahead, and prevents you from being tempted to eat something unhealthy in place of your planned meal. As long as you don’t stray outside your meal plan’s boundaries, you should end up saving money since restaurants and fast food joints rarely pass up the opportunity to serve cheap and calorie-laden options. Plus, you may discover that you actually enjoy cooking and preparing new dishes.
7. Get Your Grocery Prices Down With Comparing Suppliers
The best thing about grocery shopping is that you can compare prices easily with other retailers. Most large supermarket chains operate under similar policies regarding price matching, so if you notice that another store has a lower price on a specific item, ask them to match it. You can also try comparing prices with other stores. For instance, I recently found that a local natural foods market had a cheaper version of yogurt called Yoplait Original Greek Yogurt Organic Plain 2% for $4 less than the larger size box at Walmart.
8. Find Deals Online
With the explosion of Internet shopping came the rise of a whole host of websites dedicated to finding deals on everything from clothes to computers. One of the largest deals websites is Groupon, which lets users sign up for daily or weekly e-mail alerts detailing the latest bargains in their area. Another popular site is Living Social, which features discounted entertainment events as well as dining, travel, fashion, home decor, and health deals. Both of these sites offer hundreds of deals each month. By signing up for emails and browsing regularly, you’ll never miss a great bargain again.
9. Track Your Purchases
One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries is to track your spending habits. Keep receipts for each trip to the market, and record the date, time, location, type of product, quantity, and cost. Every few weeks, tally up your totals and calculate your average expenditure based on your total number of purchases. After a couple months, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve saved.
10. Make a Plan for Saving Money on Groceries
Once you start tracking your expenses, you’ll begin to realize that making small changes to your routine will add up to significant savings. For instance, switching from regular soda pop to diet soda can save you almost 50 cents per drink. Next, decide whether you’d prefer to pick up your favorite snack at a gas station or visit a nearby café. If you choose the latter option, consider ordering a medium coffee instead of a large latte, skipping dessert, or asking for extra milk. You can also use meal-planning tools like Cooking Light to ensure that you’re sticking to your budget. Finally, take note of the items you already buy frequently — things like cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, canned tomatoes, and frozen dinners — and stock up on them first.
11. How Do You Save Money on Groceries?
While it may seem intimidating, learning to budget effectively doesn’t require much effort once you grasp the basic concepts involved. Hopefully, these tips will encourage you to think outside the box when devising strategies to cut back on spending. The sooner you begin cutting costs, the faster you’ll reach your goal. Share your experiences in the comments section below.
In 2012, Americans spent nearly $700 billion dollars on groceries and related expenses. Learn how to manage your finances by checking out our guide to managing your money and check out our tips for saving money while stocking up on healthy foods and staying organized around mealtime.