8 ways to save money on your groceries

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Barry Choi

March 10, 2020

Saving strategies

It doesn’t matter if you’re single or have a family; if you’re young or old, groceries can be a huge expense when it comes to your monthly budget. This shouldn’t be a surprise since we all need to eat, but unlike other things in your budget such as vacations and subscription services, you can’t exactly cut back on food.

Sure, you can reduce the amount you spend on eating out but are there ways to save money at the grocery store? Even then, is it worth it? Yes, saving money on groceries takes a little bit of effort, but once you get into a routine, you’ll quickly be asking yourself what took you so long. Here are 8 ways you can save on groceries now.

Make a list

Having a grocery list is paramount when shopping since it keeps you on track. If you end up at the grocery store without a list, it doesn’t take much for you to pick up some impulse purchases or to buy something you already have at home. Having a list ensures that you’re only buying what you need, but it’s okay if you want to splurge on occasion.

Look for sales

Call me old school, but I love the idea of flipping through grocery store flyers to see what’s on sale each week. If you do the math, sale items can be up to 50 percent off their regular price so if you see a good price, it might be worth stocking up. Admittedly, going through flyers isn’t for everyone but there are apps such as Reebee and Flipp so you can look at things on the go. Since these apps are digital, you can search for specific items or brands to see if they’re on sale.

Price match

Now that you have every flyer at your fingertips, you should take advantage of price matching if the grocery store you’re at allows it. Price matching is pretty straightforward for those stores that match their competitors’ advertised price. If you’re going to price match, be courteous to other customers and make sure you have the competing flyers (or your app) open and ready so you don’t hold up the line.

Meal planning

Saving money on groceries is much easier if you plan your meals. Take a look at your upcoming week and write out what you plan on eating for every meal. The idea here is to use up all the groceries that you’re buying so nothing goes to waste. Since you’re not wasting as much food, you’re saving money in the long run.

Here’s another hack - plan your meals around items that are on sale. Not only do those flyers help you save, but they can help inspire your meals for the week.

Be smart about where you shop

Even though different grocery store chains may be owned by the same parent company, not all have the same prices. For example, I find the groceries at one particular store near my home to be much cheaper than another chain for the exact same products. Sure, my store may be a little less fancy and may not have conveniences like prepared meals or a pharmacy, and there’s a limited number of organic products, but I estimate I save 15% each trip compared to the competing store. Take a look at the grocery stores around you and shop at the one that consistently has the lowest prices.

Buy generic

Some people refuse to buy generic brands as they believe the quality isn’t as good, but I have to wonder if they’ve even tried these products. I always buy generic brand beans, cereal, waffles, and frozen vegetables since they’re cheaper; plus, I find that they taste the same as name brand items. Many of the larger retailers also have their own house brands and I feel the majority of these products are excellent and they’re almost always cheaper than name brands especially if you buy in bulk.

Join the store loyalty program

If the grocery store you shop at has some kind of loyalty program, you should join it right away. By doing this, every time you shop you could earn points that can be later used for free groceries or merchandise.

Use a credit card

If you use a co-branded credit card you can earn additional points. While this does save you money, keep in mind that these loyalty points can only be redeemed at select merchants.

What you could do instead is get a “cashback” credit card so you’re getting money back every time you make a purchase. Some cashback credit cards give you an increased earn rate (e.g. earn 2 - 4% at grocery stores) so that’s an additional way to save on future grocery purchases.