1. Make a List (and Stick to It)
We all know how tempting it can be to pick up extra items on a whim as you’re cruising down the aisles or waiting at the checkout stand. But these unnecessary purchases can push up your grocery bill and throw your budget out of whack. So, one of the best ways to save money on groceries is to buy only what you need.
To help yourself stick to buying just the necessities, make a list at home. You’ll be able to easily check what’s in stock in your fridge and what you need more of, and you won’t be tempted to add items just because they’re in front of you. Then when it’s time to shop, limit yourself to buying only the items on your list.
2. Use a Grocery Delivery Service
Another great way to save money is to turn to a grocery delivery service. Even if you buy the same groceries that you would if you visited the store in person, these services can save you money on gas. More importantly, they can save you time—and time is money. With the hours you get back by not having to go to the store and wait in line, you can get more work done or cut down on other costs like childcare.
Haven’t used a grocery delivery service before? Check out our reviews of the top 10 grocery delivery services to find the one that’s best for you.
3. Take Advantage of Coupons
Grocery stores constantly have deals available, but they’re not always visible once you get to the store. Instead, you’ll find them in newspaper circulars and online. So, rather than sending these circulars right to the recycling bin, take a few minutes to look through them and cut out the coupons that are relevant to your shopping list. If you have a few good coupons that are expiring soon, that can be a reason to make your next shopping trip sooner rather than later.
Coupons can also help you spend less on essential, non-perishable items like toilet paper, canned goods, and more. When you see deep discounts on these items, stock up—your wallet will thank you later.
4. Give Store Brands a Try
It’s a common misconception that store-brand items aren’t as good as name-brand items. In reality, they’re often the exact same products with different labels and, as such, different price tags. On average, store-brand items cost 25% less than comparable items from national brands. That’s a huge amount of savings simply from switching which brands you reach for!
Of course, not all products are identical across brands. Be sure to check the labels to compare ingredients before you make a switch.
5. Join a Loyalty Program
Many grocery stores now have loyalty programs that you can sign up for with just your email or phone number. These free programs can pay significant dividends. Many grocery stores have one price for regular shoppers and another price for loyalty shoppers, and the difference can be dollars in some cases. Stores with attached gas stations may also offer fuel rewards, saving you even more money when you visit the pump.
Even better, these loyalty programs enable stores to send you coupons based on the items you frequently buy. So instead of getting generic discounts, you’ll get access to savings on the products you actually plan to put in your cart.
6. Check Out the Discount Section
A lot of grocery stores have dedicated sections for food and other items that are on sale. These discount shelves can be a treasure trove for bargain hunters. You’ll find perfectly good food that’s discounted solely because it’s a few days away from its expiration date. You’ll also find ugly produce, surplus household goods, and more.
The best way to approach these discount sections is with a flexible meal plan. For example, if you can find a whole chicken that’s a day away from expiration, make it the centerpiece of your dinner for that night. Deep food discounts like these can help you make meals for just pennies on the dollar.
7. Look Down
Supermarkets use a lot of tricks to get us to buy more expensive items. One of the most common ones? Putting the priciest items and brands right at eye level on the shelves.
Look down, though, and you’ll typically find cheaper alternatives. The lower shelves are stocked with store-brand and discount-brand products that are often just as good. The same is true for the uppermost shelves, so you can usually find deals by standing on tiptoes.
8. Convenience is Expensive
Buying pre-cut fruit or pre-made meals is nice once in a while, but it can be an expensive luxury if you shop for these items frequently. Someone at the grocery store had to chop that fruit or assemble that meal kit, and that pushes up the price. Even if the sticker price looks cheap, that’s usually because you’re getting less food overall.
So instead of shopping for convenience, shop with price in mind. Head to the bulk bins instead, and you’ll often find the same food that you’ll see elsewhere in the store, but at a cheaper price. Instead of getting food that’s already been sliced or marinated, buy the raw product and plan to do some prep work in your kitchen at home. Typically, the more effort you’re willing to put into preparing your food, the more money you’ll save.
9. Shop at Multiple Stores
Another easy way to save money on groceries is to change up where you shop—or better yet, shop at multiple stores. The store with the cheapest bulk items is rarely the same store with the best discounts on produce or the best prices on food staples. By shopping around, you can get what you need at the best price available.
It’s also worth pointing out that some grocery stores are just downright expensive. Whole Foods, for example, has some terrific unique food items. But it also tends to charge far more for items you could buy at any other regular grocery store. So, only shop at Whole Foods for the items you can only get there, and head elsewhere for the rest of your shopping list.
10. Earn Cash Back
Even after you’ve gotten your grocery bill as low as possible, you can still unlock more savings by earning cashback. One of the simplest ways to get paid for shopping is to use a cashback app like Rakuten, Checkout 51, Ibotta, or Fetch Rewards. All you have to do is upload your receipt after you leave the store, and you’ll get money in your account.
You can also sign up for a cashback credit card. Many cards offer bonus rewards for grocery store purchases, and these rewards add up every time you shop. Even credit cards that charge an annual fee can be worthwhile if the rewards from your grocery purchases outweigh the costs of the card.
Navigating the grocery store can be one of the most challenging parts of sticking to a tight budget. With these 10 tips for how to save money on groceries, you can cut down your food shopping bill and take back control of your finances.