25 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Save on Groceries

By Robert Wilson | ImproveSavings

Grocery shopping can be fun for many, but also stressful if you find yourself spending a lot. Despite setting a budget, many people find themselves always going a little bit over than they expected and can never quite figure out why. With these 25 tips though, you can start spending less and save more on groceries: 

1. Plan Your Week Ahead

The best way to strategically shop? Always plan ahead. Design a menu for the week, and only go to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients you do not have. A focused trip will be a lot more productive. 

2. Have a ‘Staples’ List

If there are recurring buys, such as bread, milk, eggs, keep a staple list so you don’t forget these items. You will find yourself making fewer trips, and will be stocked up on your essential items. 

3. Keep an Eye on Produce

By not buying seasonal produce, you pay a premium on fruits out of season. Seasonal produce is generally cheaper, so keep an eye on produce aisles to ensure you are not buying out-of-season items and paying higher prices on them.

4. Create a Grocery Schedule

For some, the multiple trips to the grocery store are where they spend the most. You will pop in impromptu and end up doing a bunch of impulse buys. Look at your grocery consumption habits, and try to schedule your visits rather than doing multiple trips to avoid spending more than you need.

5. Pop by The Dollar Store First

A lot of key staples and ingredients can be found at the dollar store, such as spices. Think about stopping by there first before you go grocery shopping for staple kitchen items and essentials to cut your bill down.

6. Analyze Your Impulse Buys

The best way to get in control of your grocery budget is to analyze it and start implementing measures from there. Look at your receipts for the last few trips. Are you always tempted to buy candy at the checkout? Or maybe you tend to go to the chocolate aisle first. Knowing what you buy impulsively will help you avoid it better, and spend smarter.

7. Store-brand Versus Generic

The temptation to always buy store-brand is always there, but is it really worth it? Many generic items are just as good, if not better and for a fraction of the price. Before you find yourself reaching for the branded item, why not take a look at the generic, just to try? You never know what you might like.

8. Cash or Card?

Overspending is far too easy on a card. If you have set amounts for groceries (i.e. $100 per trip), only take that amount of cash with you - no card for back-up. It allows you to stay on budget and help you better cut down on unnecessary items.

9. Avoid Buying Toiletries

Most toiletries are cheaper at pharmacies...but not as convenient. However, bear in mind that you pay a marked up price for the convenience of being able to pick these things up on the go. It might be time to change these habits, and start searching for cheaper deals on your favorite items in different shops to avoid the premium.

10. Don’t Forget to Look at The Entire Shelf

There is a lot of research that suggests that customers at a grocery store only tend to look at items that are eye-level. And knowing this, grocery stores mostly stock the most expensive items there and put cheaper ones on the higher and lower shelves. Before you reach for the middle shelf, scan it all to ensure you’re getting the best priced product.

11. Avoid Grocery Shopping on an Empty Stomach

An easy one you might have heard before, but it bears repeating. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach leads to a lot of unnecessary impulse buying. Always go after you’ve had a meal to reduce the temptation.

12. Buying a Lot of Prepped Food? It Might Be Time to Stop

If you find yourself buying a lot of prepped meat and items, you are spending far too much money. Always remember that if an item is convenient, it will be expensive. So you need to decide which items are worth this so-called convenience tax, and which ones are not.

13. Diversify Your Shopping Locations

The truth is, not every item is a bargain at a grocery store. While yes, you are getting some great deals, you again, are paying for convenience. Think about the different low-volume items you buy and how you can save money there. For example, spices tend to be cheaper at dollar stores or international markets, so it is better to look there first rather than the grocery store itself.

14. You Definitely Don’t Need That Bottled Water

Bottled water is a massive drain on finances. Tap water tastes great, and best of all, it’s free. Instead of spending exorbitant amounts of bottled water, why not buy a few water bottles for the house? These are reusable, so they are easier on the planet and the wallet comparatively.

15. Potatoes, a Sneaky Vegetable

You might think you are getting a great bargain on the few loose potatoes you buy, but that is not always the case. Bagged potatoes tend to be cheaper and have far more volume than buying a bunch of loose potatoes so definitely compare the two options before purchasing.

16. You Don’t Really Need Grated Cheese…

Speaking of convenience, you do not need to buy grated cheese. What will be cheaper in the long run, and better, would be to buy a grater and grate cheese yourself. This ensures that your cheese stays fresher for longer (so you do not need to buy more) and will not cost you as much as buying grated cheese.

17. You Also Don’t Need Precut Fruit

Similarly, precut fruit is a bit of a luxury. If you absolutely cannot live without mangoes and watermelons, why not try cutting it yourself instead of buying precut? These items always have a pretty high markup and do not have as much fruit as cutting it yourself would.

18. Check Unit Prices

Unit prices allow you to better compare your grocery options and see where the value for money really is. These are located on an item’s price tag and it allows you to compare different brands and sizes to ensure you are getting maximum value for your money with items.

19. Avoid Doing Multiple Trips

Coming back to this point, try your best to avoid doing lots of trips in a short span of time. Even if you cannot create a schedule, you can still try to guesstimate and do fewer grocery trips with more options. It prevents you from making a lot of impulse buys.

20. Dried Beans Are Pretty Good

People tend to overlook dried beans for their canned counterpart, but dried beans provide excellent value without sacrificing taste. Dried beans taste better, have more flavor, and are easier on the wallet compared to canned beans.

21. Look Online for Sales Beforehand

Before going to the grocery store, make sure you check the website beforehand to see if there are any items you need on sale or have specials on them. That way, you can buy targeted products rather than roaming around buying items you might not actually need, or not spotting the discounts.

22. Don’t Take Young Kids With You

Another recommendation is not to take young kids with you on frequent grocery trips. Of course, you cannot always plan for this but it is best not to. This curbs a lot of last-minute demands and allows you to focus on your list and get the items you need quickly rather than lingering in the store.

23. Start Couponing

Speaking of online sales, couponing is another way to get value for your money. Avoid the temptation to use a coupon for everything, but keep an eye out for the items you use frequently. Sometimes the deal might not be worth it, so definitely take a second look before purchasing to ensure it is good value for money.

24. Avoid Inner Aisles

Most useful items tend to be on the outer aisles, inner ones are filled with temptations. If you can, start with the outer aisles, pick up as much as you can find and then go into the inner aisles. Having a full grocery cart will deter you from picking up extra items and keep you on track with your list as you peruse the inner aisles.

25. Use Rebate Apps Like Ibotta

Grocery shopping all about strategy. Apps like Ibotta are great because you can check what items have deals beforehand, and then simply take a picture of your receipt to prove you purchased these items. They will match the items to the deals, and the money is in your account within 48 hours. You can see the benefits and join Ibotta here to start getting cash back quickly and easily.