We all have to eat. There’s just no way around it. But people don’t take advantage of ways to save on groceries so they’re wasting a lot of money! It’s possible to eat pretty darned well for a lot less money by following some guidelines on purchasing groceries. Using these 15 ways to save on groceries can net you a lot of money over a year!
I’ve written tips on how to save on groceries before but since food is such a huge part of most families’ budgets it’s worth reiterating!
- Inventory what you have. Don’t make your list without checking your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer(s). There’s nothing more frustrating than coming home with some item you weren’t trying to stock up on only to find you already had it! And, over the course of a year, those purchases can add up to more money than you think! A great way to keep track is Out of Milk. This is an app that makes it easy to keep track of what you have (and how much of it), what you need, and even has a “To Do” list. You can note the prices of items in your lists to help you cut back on your grocery bill.
- Use up the items you already have. Before shopping take some time to figure out meals you can make with what you already have on hand. People waste an unbelievable amount of money each year buying groceries and end up throwing out a huge amount of food! Make sure you regularly reorganize your refrigerator, pantry and freezer(s) so that items that need to be used soon are easy to find. Make these items part of your meal plan before you add items you’ll have to buy!
- Make a list. Check out the ads for local stores and note the items on sale. This not only helps you plan meals but makes it easier to price match. Having a list and sticking to it will help you get done shopping faster and avoid impulse purchases.
- Meal plan around sale items. Once you’ve checked the local ads for the best prices make your meal plan for the week. It’s so easy to find recipes online for the sale foods you purchase. You don’t have to meal plan after you buy if you know what you’re getting on sale and stick to your list.
- Shop the sales. Plan your list around the sale items at your local stores. You’ll save money and probably end up trying new foods. Shopping sales will save you a ton of money over the year. And if you can afford to stock up on sale items do it! If the items can be stored or frozen and you’ll use them before they’re no good go ahead and buy extras on sale.
- Check the unit prices. Almost every store shows the unit price for the items they sell. Each item in the store will have a unit price. That tells you the price per ounce or pound or piece. If you check the unit prices of similar items you’ll generally find that one is cheaper than another. It’s the same with meat. The larger “family” packages are usually less expensive than the smaller packages. Knowing the cost per unit of items will help you make less expensive choices.
- Be wary of 10 for $10 sales. It’s possible to get deals with these sales but if you don’t check the unit price you may end up paying the regular price for a certain item thinking you’ve saved on that brand. Example: The store offers 10 for $10 on a can of vegetables that is unit priced at $0.89. If you buy the 10 items for $10 you’ve overpaid!
- House brands save money. Grocery stores carry “house brands” that are exclusive to that store. For example, Walmart has their “Great Value” and “Sam’s” brands. You can find a house brand for pretty much everything on your list and buying these brands will save you a lot of money over time! If you’ve never tried the house brand for an item buy a small package and see if you like it. Then, if you do, switch to that brand for that item. House brands are available from food to over-the-counter medicines and are exactly the same as the name brands!
- Price match. Find the stores in your area that offer price matching. Go through the ads (you’re already doing this because you’re making a list, right?) and when you get to the register let the cashier know you’re price matching. As each item you are price matching is rung up tell the cashier the price you saw it for at another store. They’ll match that price, saving you money on both the item and gas and saving you time because you won’t have to run around town to a bunch of different stores.
- Get rain checks. If you look for a sale item and the store is out get a rain check. You’ll be able to buy that item when it’s back in stock at the sale price.
- Use rebate apps. Some Walmart stores are no longer doing price matching at the register but using their Savings Catcher app will do it right on your phone. Just scan your receipt and the Savings Catcher will refund the difference in price. You can load the money on a card that you can use in store. Ibotta is a rebate app that offers grocery, clothing, electronic, and other rebates. Just check the category you are going to shop and pick the items you’re going to buy. You can choose the card you want your rebates applied to and your money is normally loaded within 48 hours. I thought taking pictures of the receipts and scanning the bar codes for items was a pain until I saw how much it added up to each time I shopped! And if you use the code: pdloljr Ibotta will give you a $10 welcome bonus! Savings Star is another app that’s worth having! There are over 60,000 stores participating! I even found a local grocery store chain that participates. One you have $5.00 in your account you can have it sent to your bank account, Papal or loaded on to select gift cards. Checkout 51 is another app that you can use to get rebates on groceries. Although you have to have $20 in rebates and they send you a check instead of applying it to a card it’s still a way to save!
- Shop discount stores for specific items. Aldi has the best price on olive oil. The Dollar Store has the best price on plastic zipper bags in our area. Research items carried at those stores and make a once a month trip to get the items at the lowest prices.
- Shop once a week or less. The more trips you make to the store, the more likely you are to purchase impulse items.
- Keep an eye on the cash register and check your receipt when you get home. Once I would have been charged for a full sheet cake when what should have been rung up was a bag of flour! And check your receipt when you get home. You may have missed an error in the store.
- Know where the clearance items are displayed. Our grocery stores move meat that is going to expire soon to a special refrigerated counter. The meat there is still good and is marked down considerably. I buy as much as I can and freeze the meat immediately. I also buy larger cuts than I need and divide them to fit our “dinner for two” lifestyle
I’ve saved and gotten a lot of cash by utilizing these 15 ways to save on groceries. I know you will, too!