When you’re looking for ways to save money, there are typically some pretty obvious options. For example, you can stop eating out as much, skip the Starbucks in the morning, avoid shoe stores, and trim back entertainment like going to the movies, concerts, premium cable, etc. However, what do you do when you’ve cut off all the fat (a.k.a. luxury items) and still need (or want) to save more money?
It’s time to start looking for those not so obvious ways to save money, groceries in particular.
Are you rolling your eyes right now? Are you picturing those extreme couponing shows where the women have a garage full of deodorant, laundry detergent, and cereal? Are you imagining an unhealthy diet filled with canned vegetables and starches?
You can save money groceries shopping. I’m going to share my best secrets with you.
I’m not going to advise you to quit your job and start couponing full time.
I’m not going to tell you to avoid fruits and veggies. You can save money groceries shopping without skipping the produce section.
Let’s get to it!
Save Money: Groceries Shopping Secrets Revealed
#1 – Get Organized
This sounds super basic but the very first thing you should do to save money groceries shopping is make a meal plan. Knowing what you’re going to make each night will ensure you don’t buy extra ingredients/food items that aren’t needed. Once you have a meal plan, make a list. A grocery list will help you get organized and avoid buying extras you don’t need.
In fact, you should make a meal plan and a list before you go any further. Go ahead, I’ll wait. 🙂
#2 – Coupons
Okay, like I said above, I’m not going to advise that you spend 8 hours a day clipping coupons and sacrifice your garage to the cause. However, that doesn’t mean coupons are bad. When it comes to coupons, you can save big bucks without going to extremes. Keep in mind that you have two types of coupons:
Digital coupons – Some stores (ex. Kroger) offer digital coupons. You go to their website, enter your reward card information, click the coupons you want, and done. No muss, no fuss. No trying to organize all those slippery slips of paper. No trying to remember to give the coupon to the checkout person.
Paper coupons – These really need no explanation. You can find paper coupons in your local paper, online (print them here), and in the mail.
WARNING: Make sure you really need those items and aren’t just buying them because they are on sale or you have a coupon for them.
#3 – Sales
Save money: groceries shopping secret three is shop sales. That probably doesn’t seem like much of a secret but you’d be surprised how many people don’t pay attention to weekly sales. Make a list of items you need or will soon need (see secret #1), and then check your local paper on Sunday for upcoming weekly sales. Having a list will help you focus and look for just those items you need.
#4 – Rain Check
If you miss out on a sale, do not hesitate to ask for a rain check. This will allow you to take advantage of the same deal when the item comes back in stock.
#5 – Price Match
Remember in “Save money: groceries shopping secret” #3 where I recommended looking for sales? Okay, well you aren’t really saving any money if you have to drive all over town to get items at the best possible price. That’s why it’s important to go to a store that price matches (ex. Walmart). Walmart is great for price matching, and they are also notorious for offering awesome Walmart coupons for in-store and online.
Find items on sale at other stores (in weekly circulars) and head to a store that price matches to score all your savings in one place!
#6 – Amazon
You may be surprised to find that you can get some really good deals on food and household items on Amazon. Bonus, if you’re a Prime member, you may be able to score free shipping. (You can sign up for a FREE 30 day Amazon Prime trial here.)
Sign up for “Subscribe and Save”
Let’s call this “save money: groceries shopping secret 6.1”. When you sign up for this Amazon feature, you will receive the item on a regular basis and in return, save more money. You get to set the schedule for when you receive the items and you can cancel at any time so feel free to try this out without fear of being locked into any kind of contract. I personally love Amazon Subscribe and Save. I use it predominately for diapers and household products.
WARNING: Be selective and know the per unit price of items before you purchase from Amazon.
#7 – Get Social
Follow your favorite stores and brands on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms. They may announce special sales and coupon offers.
#8 – Be Loyal
Almost every grocery store has a loyalty card. Be sure to take advantage of this program. It may do more than help you save money groceries shopping; for example, some loyalty cards allow you to save money on gas. Since joining a loyalty program has no cost, don’t be afraid to sign up for them all!
#9 – Know Prices
If you’re like most people, you buy many of the same items each week. Know the regular prices of the items you buy. If you need to, write them down or save them in your phone. Once you know the regular (non-sale) prices of your regular buys, you’ll be able to accurately judge if a sale is actually a good deal or just a marketing tactic.
#10 – Generic
If you want to save money groceries shopping, you need to be willing to at least try generics. Don’t be afraid! There are plenty of great generics out there. Try swapping a few of your brand name items each week for generics in order to save money.
#11 – Receipt Review
We’re all human. We all make mistakes. That includes the checkout person at your local grocery store. Review your receipt for accuracy. Ensure everything rang up at the right pice, all coupons were entered accurately, etc.
Knowing the prices of your regular purchases and paying close attention at checkout will help with this as well.
If you find a mistake later, don’t be afraid to call the store or go back and ask for a correction.
#12 – Shop Alone
My three year old loves to go to the store with me so he can ride in the cart; however, he inevitably finds something that he has to have which I was not planning on purchasing. Avoid this overspending by shopping alone whenever possible.
Another advantage to shopping alone is you can focus. Buying the right brands and quantities in order to take advantage of coupons, focusing at checkout to ensure costly mistakes aren’t made, etc. takes concentration. It’s hard to pay attention to all the details when a little one is demanding your attention.
#13 – Eat First
Don’t shop hungry! Save money groceries shopping by eating before hitting the store. When you shop on an empty stomach, you’re going to face temptation to buy things that sound good right now rather than sticking to your list.
#14 – Schedule
To save big, shop the right days. For example, Saturday and Sunday are typically not the best days to snag the best deals. Depending on your store, Friday evenings may be the best time to shop for clearance merchandise.
In addition, know when promotions are beginning and ending. When a store needs to clear space for a new sale or get rid of items from a sale that is about to end, you can probably score awesome deals.
#15 – Specialty Stores
Sometimes, certain items you need can be obtained at a better price by going to a speciality store. For example, Indian grocery stores typically have lower prices on spices than other stores. Know what all of your options are for shopping.
#16 – BFF Bulk Buys
If you’d like to buy in bulk to save money but like me, you have a small family, consider partnering with a friend. You can split the price of the item and then divide the quantity.
WARNING: Buy in bulk smartly. Do the calculations and consider your family’s size and eating habits to make sure you’re really saving money. Check out this article, 8 Reasons Why I Don’t Shop at Warehouse Stores, for things you should consider.
#17 – Avoid Convenience
Save money groceries shopping by going for the “inconvenient” items. For example, avoid those containers of pre-cut fruit and pre-sliced and packaged meat as their convenience comes with a steep price tag.
This tip goes for pre-made party trays as well. Make your own meat and cheese tray or vegetable dip tray for a party.
#18 – Waste Not, Want Not
Stick to your meal plan (see tip 1) and try not to throw food away. If you find yourself with leftovers, consider them as an option for lunch recipes for work.
#19 – Farmers Markets
To save money groceries shopping, you do not have to give up all that fresh delicious produce. However, you may need to skip the produce section at your local store. Sometimes, the best deals on produce are at your local farmers market. Check out this article, How to Save Money on Produce at Farmers Markets, for great tips.
#20 – Shop in Season
Certain items, especially produce, are cheaper when they are in season. For example, blueberries are cheaper in the summer than in the dead of winter. Buy what is in season to save money. If an item won’t spoil quickly (ex. canned pumpkin) stock up when the item is in season so you have enough for the whole year.
#21 – High Tech
If you have a smart phone, utilize shopping apps to save money groceries shopping. Personally, I’m a fan of:
– Snap Coupons
– Groupon Coupons
– Checkout 51
– Saving Star
However, to find the best money saving apps simply head to Google and search “shopping apps for iPhone” and “top Android shopping apps”.
#22 – Gardening
Growing your own produce is an excellent way to save money groceries shopping. Even if you only have a small space, such as an apartment, you can still take up gardening. Read this apartment gardening article for tips on growing in cramped quarters.
#23 – Shop Weekly
Limit the number of trips you make to the grocery store to one per week. This will not only save you money but also time.
#24 – Keep Track
Write down what you need throughout the week. You should also write down items that you are getting low on. Doing these two things will help you avoid having to make emergency trips to the store as well as help you to be on the lookout for coupons for these items.
#25 – Cheap Recipes
If you want to save money groceries shopping, avoid those complicated recipes that call for 25 different ingredients. Look for cheap recipes on Pinterest or check out these 25 Cheap and Easy Meals.
#26 – Meatless Monday
Giving up meat one time a week can also help you save money groceries shopping. Need a little meatless inspiration? Here are 18 Easy Meatless Meals to get you started.
Use these 26 top secret tips to help you save money groceries shopping. Have more grocery shopping secrets? Share in the comments please!
For more savvy money saving secrets follow Freebie Finding Mom’s Smart Money Saving Tips Pinterest board.
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