How to Save Money on Groceries

Unlike shopping for clothes or gifts, grocery shopping isn’t fun. And now that we’re dashing in and out of the store as quickly as possible due to the pandemic, it’s even less so. While those quick trips might be helping to keep us safe, you could very well be leaving savings on the table or lugging things home that could have been shipped right to your door. If this sounds familiar, then maybe it’s time to shake things up and do things a bit differently, starting with these grocery shopping hacks! And don’t worry, they won’t extend your time spent in-store. 

App happy

Do you belong to the loyalty program at your local grocery store? If your favorite store has a program, join it ASAP so you can start reaping the benefits of exclusive savings, and racking up points for free stuff. Once you have that handled, you can save even more by installing a grocery savings app, like Ibotta, or the Flipp App on your smartphone. They are a little different, but they are designed to help you save even more on the things you’re already buying. Check them out and see which one appeals to you. You’ll be happy that you did!   

Go generic

This one isn’t a surprise, but what may shock you is this: store brands are often manufactured in the same factory, using the same ingredients, as their brand name counterparts.

Know what to buy frozen

Fresh produce is widely regarded as being tastier, but Bon Appetit hails three frozen vegetables as a solid choice for cost-conscious shoppers: peas, artichoke hearts, and cooked spinach.

Do your own prep work

Sure, buying pre-chopped fruits, veggies, and cheeses saves you time, but you’ll be paying for that convenience. 

Shop later in the day

As the “sell by” date approaches, stores will often reduce their prices on meat and produce. But don’t worry – that date doesn’t mean the food has gone bad. It just means you should use it soon or freeze it for later.

Shop the outside aisles

Not only are processed foods less healthy for you, they’re also often more costly. Avoid packaged and processed foods when you can and shop the perimeter of the store instead.

Shop by unit price

Determine a good deal by comparing an item’s cost-per-unit rather than the actual price.

To calculate the unit price, divide an item’s price by its quantity. Consider how much you’ll actually be saving. It may surprise you to see, for example, how much more cost-effective it is to buy the whole bag of potatoes rather than two individual potatoes.

Location, location, location

You’re more likely to find better deals on the lowest and highest shelves. Brands pay for prime real estate at eye level, but there are hidden gems in less visible spots.

Shop online

Whether you live in a city or the suburbs, dragging all those groceries around is a pain! Why not order some of your necessities online? You might pay a bit for delivery, but the convenience can be worth it. Some of my favorite sites for purchasing groceries are Amazon (via Whole Foods), Target, and Walmart.

Also, to save even more on your online shopping, install a free browser extension, like Rakuten for cashback offers, or Slickdeals for coupons and sales. As you shop online, a pop-up will alert you to these opportunities, and you just click to activate them. There are some restrictions on grocery savings, but this will be clearly noted in the pop-up.

Buy in bulk

If there are certain items that you go through quickly, like toilet paper or snacks for your kids’ lunches, buy them in bulk. If you have a Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s membership, shop there. But if not, try Boxed.com, an online wholesale club with no membership fees and free shipping on orders over $49. Before buying, always compare the price per unit to what you pay at the grocery store. It’s usually lower, but not always.

Save at Whole Foods

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can receive exclusive savings at Whole Foods and also save an extra 10% on a wide variety of items.

Look for these signs in Whole Foods stores:

To receive the savings, you’ll need to download the Whole Foods Market app and show it at checkout. And if you shop with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card, you can earn 5% cashback at Whole Foods and Amazon!

If you’ve been on the fence about joining Amazon Prime, you can try a full month for free! Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial 

Pay the right way

Speaking of credit card rewards, using the right rewards card to buy your groceries could earn you some serious cash back. Savings site CreditKarma has a list of the best credit cards for grocery shopping, which includes the Blue Card from American Express and the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card. Note that in order to truly reap the benefits of these cards, you need to pay them off in full every month. Carrying a balance on your credit cards can negate any cash back you’ve earned.

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Smart Shopping Expert

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist, TV presenter, spokesperson, and educator, specializing in beauty, tech, apps, toys, gift guides, and smart shopping. She has appeared as an expert on dozens of TV shows and radio networks, including Today, Rachael Ray Show, Inside Edition, CNN, Reuters, CNBC.com, Sirius Radio, and numerous FOX, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. Trae has been featured as a beauty tastemaker in Elle, Redbook, InStyle, and Essence, and her work has appeared on Yahoo Finance, Marketwatch, USNews.com, Credit.com, CBSNews.com, Time.com.