How to Cut $300 From Your Grocery Budget Right Now
We wanted to create the ULTIMATE GUIDE to saving money at the grocery store so we worked extra hard to bring this to you. We're doing everything we can to keep your grocery budget as low as possible.
Here are 53 of our BEST SHOPPING TIPS.
We use them all every time we go to the supermarket. We save a couple hundred dollars on our grocery bill every month. That brings a smile to our face and a lot of EXTRA CASH IN OUR WALLET
We're sharp eyed observers of everything that is going on at the supermarket, but we have probably missed some ways to save money. We would like to create a second listing of "best shopping tips" at some point. Please share your secrets with all of us at the end of the post.
Written by Joel and Leah DePeri
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE I EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Shop the 8 to 10 week sale rotation
Your local supermarket runs their sales in cycles in which your favorite items are discounted every eight to twelve weeks. Try to time your purchases and use this opportunity to stock up (at 30-50% off). Buy enough to last through to the next cycle. This really helps us lower our grocery budget. It's a big money saver for us.
Buy a Brita Pitcher
A simple Brita Water Pitcher saves us a couple hundred dollars a year. We used to think that paying $5.00 for 24 bottles of water was a bargain. I was mistaken. Big time! That same $5.00 invested in a Brita Water system would have replaced 300 bottles. It's easy to see that this simple act will save the average family a SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT on their grocery budget each year. We're talking $100-$200 savings a year (and you don't have to carry those heavy packages around).
Take advantage of holiday sales
Take a look at your local supermarket advertising flyer. They love to promote holidays (Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) and special events. This is a FANTASTIC OPPORTUNITY to stock up on the specials. Many items are half price. We fill up our cart with those specials.
Save Big at Ebates
This is our #1 RECOMMENDATION for shopping online. We use Ebates every time we make a purchase. It takes just a few seconds and we save a percentage on everything we purchase. WE'RE TALKING BIG REBATES. And they have incentives like Double Cash Back, Hot Deals, and In Store Cash Back. We easily save a few hundred dollars a year using Ebates. This is a MUST if you want to save money.
Sign up for Ebates and get a $10 OPENING BONUS.
Get CASH BACK on Every Purchase!
My friend did all her shopping online for Christmas and had a cash back check for $245 mailed to her!"
Choose the low-cost supermarket
You know you are in the right place if you see lots of moms pushing full carts of groceries. They are busy for a reason - their prices are the lowest in town. Don't like crowds? Then shop off peak. A low cost supermarket will easily lower your weekly grocery bill by 20%.
Know your supermarket layout
One of the advantages of knowing your supermarket layout is that you will get out of there quickly. After a while, you have a good idea where everything is. We use this to our advantage. When we are compiling our weekly list, we arrange it in aisle order. This enables us to start on one side of the store and quickly work our way across. We shop just the list and don't pause to look at impulse items. We're able to shop our weekly list in 15 minutes using this method. IT SAVES US A LOT OF TIME and prevents us from being tempted to buy items that aren't on our list.
Photograph your receipt
The FREE IBOTA APP pays you cash for many of the items you buy every day. It works in over 300 retail chains, movie theaters, convenience stores, home improvement centers, pet stores, and pharmacies nationwide (stores you shop everyday... Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and Target). Here's how it works... before heading to the store, choose the offer for what you normally buy. Sometimes you can save more by simply watching a 30 second video, liking an item on Facebook, or taking a poll. They even will credit you for some of the things you buy every day like ground beef or soda. After you check out, take a photo of your receipt. Ibotta will verify your purchase and credit your Paypal account within 48 hours. Many people report that they have saved over $200 a year. Join here and get a $10 welcome bonus
Get the best price by price matching
Here's a handy tip that will save you time running around town shopping the specials in different supermarkets. Choose your favorites from the advertising circulars of your local supermarkets and then go to the customer service counter of your favorite market and ask them to match the price. Chances are they will because they don't want you shopping elsewhere.
Shop after you had a meal
Be sure that you had lunch or dinner before you do your weekly shopping. Otherwise, you will come home to unpack your groceries and wonder why you bought four boxes of Hostess cupcakes.
Save Big on your Vitamins, Cosmetics, and Natural Foods at Vitacost
We've been shopping at Vitacost for many years. We easily save a few hundred dollars over the prices that are charged at the supermarkets. They carry nearly 40,000 health and wellness products at prices up to 50% off retail. In addition to vitamins, they carry many name brand cosmetics, baby items, a tremendous selection of natural foods, and pet products. This is another MUST for those who want to save big. Get an opening bonus by clicking here.
Don't forget the dollar store
Yes, your local dollar store should be a part of your grocery savings plan. We shop the dollar store once a month and stock up on such essentials as two for a dollar greeting cards, gift wrap, and low cost school supplies.
Grab a basket instead of a cart
It's easy to subconsciously tell yourself that you intend to make a supermarket visit short and sweet. Simply grab a basket. You can only fit so much in it. It may get heavy as you carry it through the aisles which ensures you won't buy more than you want. That's a good thing!
Save big at the nut, grain, and dried fruit bins
This is a favorite of ours because we like to cook a lot of meals at home. Many times a recipe may call for a handful of slivered almonds or some chopped dates. Rather than buying a packaged bag which we don't really need, we head for the food bins. Recently we needed ten dried apricots to dice into a Turkish meal we were making. Rather than pay $5.99 for a bag, we simply scooped 10 apricots into a bag and paid $1.29.
Limit your shopping trips by planning your meals weekly
Planning your weekly menu in advance will save you time and money. Review your weekly supermarket circular on Sunday and then coordinate meals that use the ingredients on special that week. Hopefully, you will be able to limit your supermarket shopping to one visit a week.
Grow your own herbs
(or use the dollar packs)
Many people have their own gardens and grow their own vegetables and herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary, and mint). THIS IS A TREMENDOUS MONEY SAVER... especially if you are able to can for the winter months.
We often buy larger quantities of herbs that we use often. However, we save a lot of money by buying the small dollar packs for fresh herbs we don't use often (like tarragon or chives). Many times we need a small amount of a herb and the packs come in handy. We also prefer fresh over dried herbs. Fresh rosemary over chicken beats dried hands down.
Shop your local farm store
We visit our local farm store once a week. It's the only place we can pick up 5-6 bags of produce for $20. Even our low cost supermarket can't come close. Last week, we stocked our fridge with strawberries at 99 cents a carton. Our local supermarket was selling the same at $2.99. Farm markets will save you 25 - 50% on your weekly fruit and vegetable purchases. That's big savings!
Have the butcher cut your meats
The supermarket butcher can help you save money and choose a better grade of beef. They will also cut your meats to order for no additional charge. Watch the supermarket circular for meat sales and ask your butcher to cut up a whole chuck into smaller pieces for beef stew or stir fry. You can also save $2 a pound by buying a whole boneless pork roast and have your butcher slice it into chops. Your supermarket butcher often will cut up a whole chicken for you and package it into smaller portions if you would like.
Your butcher can give you some tips on how to save money buying meat.
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Shop the lower and top shelves of your market
Food companies often pay a fee to the supermarket owner to have their products placed at eye level. Often the most profitable items are purposely placed on the middle rows. SAVE MONEY BY LOOKING ON THE TOP AND BOTTOM ROWS. We have noticed that the larger sizes are displayed on the bottom shelf. This will often be the best buy for you if you use the item often.
Buy frozen instead of fresh during the winter months
Produce is usually flash frozen as soon as it is bought in from the fields. As a result, frozen fruits and vegetables have a high nutritional value. We prefer buying fresh during the growing season, but otherwise we are shoppers of frozen produce. WE LOOK FOR SALES AND STOCK UP. There is usually very little difference in quality between a corporate brand and buying the supermarket generic brand. We tend to buy generic to get the best buy.
Throw out your Keurig Coffee Machine
Seriously, have you ever figured how much per pound Kuerig brand coffee is? Look at the unit prices in the supermarket the next time you buy it. You will be shocked. It's not uncommon to spend $25 OR MORE A POUND on Keurig brand coffee. Many people buy the Kuerig refillable cartridge so you can buy your own ground coffee at 50% or less. That makes good sense.
There is also an issue with the quality of the coffee machine itself. Most of them don't last for more than two years. Time to think about some alternatives! Many people have DUMPED THEIR KEURIG because it's so expensive and gone back to drip style coffee makers. We've taken it a bit further. We use a simple coffee perculator. You know, the one your grandmother had that made the best coffee around. We're very happy with that. It makes a hot cup of coffee. It takes less than two minutes to clean and it saves us a few hundred dollars a year.
Always check the unit prices
Comparison shopping by checking unit prices is a tactic that saves us time and money. There are often many choices. Last week, we needed plastic food wrap. There were four different sizes available. We quickly compared unit prices to choose the best value. Don't assume the largest container is always the best price. Sometimes it's not.
Don't buy the pre-cut fruits and vegetables
We're always amazed by the amount of people that buy pre-cut fruit and vegetables. YOU PAY A BIG MARK-UP to have a market employee to cut it up for you. Mark ups of 50% or more are not uncommon. Besides, many times pre-cut produce sits on the shelf for a day or two. Cut it yourself and eat it fresh.
Buy your produce in season for the best price
We love fruit in season! It's fresh and taste better. Best of all, fresh produce helps us save money too. Produce in season tends to be grown locally. There is little time between when it was picked and when you buy it. We've noticed that supermarkets have been featuring locally grown produce during the summer and early autumn. We think that's great. We like to support the local farming community.
Replace soda with fruit flavored sparkling water We're not big soda drinkers. Honestly, we don't buy soda at all. We are big fans of fruit flavored sparkling water though. It's much healthier and it cost half the price of the sugar stoked beverages. There are a few large vendors that offer a variety of flavors. You can normally pick up two or three quarts for a dollar.
Create your own soundtrack
Supermarkets subscribe to services that allow slow paced music to be piped into the stores. The objective is to slow you down and get you to purchase impulse items that you weren't planning to. You don't have to participate in their plan. Create a upbeat soundtrack of your own. Buy only what you need. Get out of the store as soon as you can.
Substitute less expensive cuts of meat
We save a lot of money by buying ground turkey over beef. We also buy the whole chicken on sale and cut it up ourselves to save substantially. It's much less expensive to by a whole chicken at $1.49 lb. than chicken breasts at $4.99 lb. Be sure to check your store circular and buy those expensive cuts of beef on sale and put them in the freezer for a later meal.
Use up your pantry
Spend an hour and spread everything you have in your food pantry onto the kitchen table. You may find that you have many items that you have forgotten about. You will be surprise at the things you have hidden in the back of the cabinet. Make an effort to use these items into your upcoming week of meals.
Extend the life of your produce
There are many produce saving containers on the market that absorb ethylene gas and slow down the aging process of your fruit and vegetables. They keep perishable produce like lettuce, bananas, raspberries and strawberries fresh for up to 30 days. This is an excellent way to reduce food waste and save money.
Take advantage of your store loyalty program
Supermarkets typically offer a savings card which will save you a substantial amount of money. BE SURE TO SIGN UP FOR IT AND THEN STALK THE SPECIALS. Store loyalty cards will save you 25-50% if you use them. We're always attentive for loyalty discounts when we shop. We take advantage of these opportunities to stock up. Our store limits the discount to four items at a time. We often return to the store another time during the week to purchase the limit again. This is a big money saver for us.
Make your own cleaning supplies
We've been making many of our own cleaning products for years. WE SAVE A TON OF MONEY using chemical-free ingredients such as baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Why pay top dollar on cleaning supplies when you can easily make them the same for pennies on a dollar. You also won't be exposing your family to harmful chemical fumes. We're going to be writing more about the different formulas we make.
Here's two to help you get started...
Mix 1 part water with 1 part vinegar. Spray and wipe clean. It's that easy. We buy white vinegar in 1 gallon containers at the supermarket. It's very inexpensive... just $1.29 and last a long time. This cleaner works very well on most surfaces, but shouldn't be used on granite, stone, or marble because the acidity is too strong.
Pour some white vinegar into a small cup with a little lemon juice. Run your microwave for two minutes and then leave the door closed for 5-10 minutes. Open the door and simply wipe clean.
Don't forget to ask for a rain check
Sometimes supermarkets run out of a popular product when it is on sale. Be sure to go to the customer service desk to ask for a rain check so you can purchase it at a later date at a discount.
Beware the aisle end caps
Sometimes a supermarket will use an end cap to create a big display of items that they expect to sell well, but this is not always the case. Often, food manufacturers will pay a fee to the supermarket owner to be featured on the end caps of the aisles. Don't assume that the items you see there are the best prices available. Many times there is no discount at all.
Create your own standardized list
Use your computer to create a list of the items that you use every week and post this list in your kitchen. Throughout the week, simply check off what you need to purchase. Use this list when you are making your shopping list for the week. It will save you time returning to the store because you have forgotten an item. Remember, each time you return to the store, you risk buying impulse items that you weren't planning on buying.
Watch your purchases get screened at the checkout
I imagine it must be very difficult to work at the supermarket checkout. It's very busy and the work can be repetitive. Sometimes a wrong code is inadvertently entered or an item is double scanned. Be observant. At least check your receipt before you leave the store.
Bring your Lunch: Save $10 a day
It's amazing to see the amount of people that buy their lunch during their lunch hour. It's not that difficult to spend two hundred dollars a month of eating out. A lunch made at home will be much less expensive. It will also save you time during lunch because you don't have to order your food. It also will be more nutritious.
Read the weekly ads before you shop
Always read the weekly advertising circulars before you do your weekly shopping. Check out the competitor ads so you can price match as mentioned earlier.
Grate your own cheese
Recently, I noticed that Parmesan cheese was priced at $10.99 lb. grated and $6.99 ungrated. Invest in a hand grater and grate it yourself. One added benefit - freshly grated cheese always tastes better. You can also save money by buying 8 ounce of Cheddar cheese for pizza or tacos and grating it yourself.
Plan on making a little extra each meal
We save money and time by cooking a bit extra each evening and then having a potluck dinner every third meal. Quick and easy preparations on our third night are very much appreciated. They leave us extra time to do something we enjoy doing.
Bring just enough cash to spend
Estimate how much your weekly grocery list will cost and bring just that amount to the supermarket. LEAVE THE CREDIT CARD AT HOME. We do this all the time. We save a substantial amount of money each time we shop. It's amazing how resourceful one could be if you only had a certain amount of cash to spend.
Buy produce reduced for quick sale
Our local supermarket has a rack with overly ripened produce priced at a substantial discount. Check if your market prices some of their produce for quick sale. It's an easy way to SAVE 50% OR MORE if you are able to eat what you buy in a day or two.
Always look for substitutes
Go through your list and make note of the expensive items that you buy. Next time you are in the store, compare different products. You may be able to substitute another that is priced lower.
Make a large pot your favorite meals and freeze it
It's so comforting to come home on a cold day and have a bowl of hot soup. We make very large pots of soup during the winter. When it cools, we portion much of it into containers that we freeze. Many times we will have a choice of three or four different kinds of soup that is ready to be thawed. It's a quick, easy economical meal. It doesn't get better than this.
Buy your special needs foods online - look online for special need foods that you often purchase. You will likely find it for less. Some special needs foods are specialty flour, vitamins, and organic and natural cosmetics. A supermarket will usually carry these items at a very high markup because they don't sell that particular item often. We buy a lot of our natural foods and our vitamins at Vitacost for a substantial discount. We often purchase gluten free foods online which tend to be overpriced at the supermarket. Many times we can save 30- 50% on items we normally buy.
Buy the manager specials
Once in a while, we see that a manager special is marked on a sign. Usually, the store has too much stock in an item and it will be expiring in a few days. They need to move it quickly and it has been priced accordingly. Recently, we were able to buy organic ground turkey meat that was priced at 1.99 lb. It is normally priced at $4.99. We put four packages in our cart to freeze when we get home.
Combine store issued coupons (and sales) with manufacturer coupons
This is a favorite of ours. We are always on the lookout for opportunities to combine store and manufacturer coupons. Sometimes we are lucky and get the items for free. Many times we are able to combine the store loyalty card discount with a manufacturer coupon to score big.
Save a shelf in your refrigerator for food that is perishable or expiring soon
How many times have you reached into the back of the refrigerator and discovered something that had gone bad? That used to happen to us all the time. We would place something in the refrigerator and forget about it. We solved this costly problem by creating an area in our refrigerator where we put leftovers and perishable foods that must be used within two or three days. THIS SAVES US A LOT OF MONEY. A recent article we read said that the average family throws away about 20% of their food. I don't know if we wasted that much, but it was more than we are comfortable with. We are confident that won't happen again.
Buy only what is on your list
Go into the store and buy just what is on your list. Know the layout of your store and get out quickly. Don't stop to look at anything else. If you can do this consistently, you will save a lot of money.
Use a credit card that gives you a rebate - if you choose to use a credit card, use one that gives you a rebate on your grocery purchases. Many cards have a 2% rebate, though we have seen some with as much as 6%.
Buy the store brand instead of a manufacturer brand
Buying the store brand instead of the manufacturer brand will easily save you 25% or more. Many items are the exact same quality. Store brand flour and sugar are exactly the same as manufacturer brand. Some other foods that are very similar are cooking oil, butter, frozen produce, canned vegetables, and household cleaners. As an example, our local supermarket brand household cleaner has the exact same ingredients as Soft Scrub cleaner. What's different is the price. Soft Scrub costs $2.99 and our supermarket brand is half the price. We can even pick it up sometimes for 99 cents if it is on sale. We stock up with enough for several months at that price.
Have you ever noticed that your child's favorites are placed at their eye level as you push them in a cart through the supermarket? Supermarkets are sharp marketers. They are eager to win a share of the money you have in your wallet. Don't make it easy for them. There is no need to leave the store with a cart filled with sugar filled treats that you weren't planning on buying.
Label your meats with freezer tape
We freeze a lot of meat that we buy in quantity because it's on sale. Sometimes we lost track of what we had and we had to throw it out because we forgot we had it. That doesn't happen anymore. We solved that problem by buying a roll of freezer tape and labeling each package with the contents and the date we put it into the freezer. This enables us to rotate meat we have so everything gets used quickly.
Ask for markdowns on items expiring the next day
Ask the customer service manager for a discount on baked goods, meat, and pre-sliced deli meats that are expiring the next day. The customer service desk can be very accommodating. After all, it will be a total loss if it doesn't sell that day.
Make eating away from home a treat
We tend to have our meals at home. If the restaurant industry were depending on us, they would starve. We eat out to celebrate a special occasion such as a birthday or our son earns high marks on his report card. Having meals away from home often is a big drain on many families finances. Many people cannot afford it and they place it on the credit card. One must eliminate drains like this if they're serious about saving money. It doesn't have to be a permanently. It just has to happen until you get your finances in order.
Do you have any shopping tips that you would like to share? How much do you think you save each week? I'm sure there are more ways to save that we aren't aware of. We would love to hear more. Let us know in the comments below!