Grocery shopping is one of those necessities every adult has to do. While it may not be the most enjoyable part of your day, we all run out of food eventually. Grocery stores are filled with sales, coupons, flashy displays and other trappings to get you to spend more money than intended. From the right aisles to head down to the importance of never shopping hungry, we’ve rounded up a list of grocery shopping hacks to help you save money.
If you’re constantly running to the grocery store for a few things, you may be spending a lot more money than you want to. Going to the grocery store too often leads to overspending — not only through impulse buying but also because you aren’t planning your meals out.
When it comes to buying in bulk, more isn’t always better. It’s tempting to just assume that a huge pack of paper towels is cheaper than a smaller pack. But you always need to check the unit price, rather than the total price.
The aisles in the center of the store are typically reserved for processed foods, packaged goods and canned items. This is where you’re going to spend the most money. The perimeter of the store is where the fresh produce, meat counter, deli and refrigerated items are located.
When you go to the grocery store without a plan, you’re way more likely to overspend. When you don’t have any idea what you’re looking for, you can easily buy much more than you need and spend money on impulse buys. Always go shopping with a list.
The items sitting at eye level on the shelves are meant to grab your attention. They’re also meant to grab the attention of the little kid you may have along with you. Companies spend millions of dollars on marketing to place those items directly in your line of sight while you’re shopping.
If you always find yourself with food that’s expired or that has gone bad, you may not be storing your food properly. Fresh food that isn’t stored safely can expire much faster. It’s one of the worst feelings when you think you have a bunch of groceries in your fridge but, when you take them out, they’ve gone rotten.
There are many local and national grocery stores that have services to shop for and hand-deliver your groceries for you. Not only will your groceries get delivered to your doorstep, but one of the best parts is that you don’t have to shop for them. Check with your grocery store to see if it has an app for ordering groceries.
Grocery stores often run promotions and sales. Too often, however, the quantities are limited to move the items quickly. If you don’t see any fine print about the sale ending while supplies last, you may still be able to get the discount on sold-out items.
Never go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. This is one of the cardinal rules of grocery shopping. When you’re hungry, everything looks good, so you’re way more likely to spend money on food you don’t need.
Mindless shopping is all too easy to do. Often, people visit the grocery store and can’t remember if they have a certain spice already or if they have enough sugar for a recipe. Instead of checking the pantry beforehand, they may just buy the item and find there are already three unopened containers of the same spice they just bought.
Meatless Mondays are a nice way to save some money. One of the most expensive items during every shopping trip is meat. Meat is also the most expensive part of a meal or recipe. If you’re trying to save a little money on groceries, skip the meat at least once per week.
If you want to stick with meals that are easy to remember, Taco Tuesday is another great option. Taco Tuesday means there’s always one night a week when you don’t have to plan a dinner. Every Tuesday, you know you’ll be having some kind of taco. Not only are tacos inexpensive, but they can save you money spent at the grocery store and time spent planning menus.
Although it may seem like a tempting time saver, buying pre-cut produce can cost you a lot of money in the long run. Save some cash on your grocery bill by buying fruits and vegetables whole and cutting them up at home.
While it may be more convenient to shop at the same store each week, shopping around may save you money. Start by comparing prices on some of the items you buy each week. Say you always buy the same gallon of milk on a weekly basis. Look at that item online and at different stores to see what it costs.
Seasonal produce is almost always less expensive than fruits or vegetables that are out of season. If you’re buying something that isn’t in season in the part of the country where you live, you’ll have to pay a premium.
If you’re buying organic meat, watch out for sales or for what’s in season. Let’s say it’s crab season. If possible, buy in bulk when it’s affordable and in stock. If you don’t use all of the crabs you bought, you can freeze the meat in vacuum-sealed bags. When you need it, you can pull it out of the freezer.
Organic food is more expensive than generic and non-organic food — sometimes by twice as much. To save money on the organics you love, learn what your store’s organic brand is and buy it.
In many cities and countries, a plastic bag charge or tax has been put in place. In order to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment, many stores in bigger cities in the United States charge you extra if you want to bring your food home in the shop’s disposable bags.
Setting a budget can save you a lot of money at the grocery store. If you go to the store without a target budget, you’re far more likely to overspend. If you can set a budget, you’ll be able to keep your eyes on the prize while shopping.
Almost all retailers and grocery stores have rewards loyalty programs. Some stores may also offer apps that provide promotions and sales to loyalty program members. As a member, you may receive free food or exclusive coupons.
Bottled water is a problem for several reasons. Not only are plastic bottles terrible for the environment, but they also cost a lot of money. You’ll save a lot on groceries each week if you skip the bottled water on your next trip to the store.
Smaller portions of chicken packaged up separately cost more than a chicken you buy whole. This is because you’re paying a premium for someone else to separate the different cuts on the bird. To save some money, buy a whole chicken. You can purchase it fresh, frozen or already cooked in the rotisserie oven.
Buying coffee at an expensive coffeehouse costs you a lot of money. Instead of paying $5 a day for a coffee somewhere else, buy coffee at the grocery store and make it at home. You can usually grind the beans for free at the store, too.
If you’re going into the grocery store to buy a couple of things, go down an aisle that you don’t typically shop in. Let’s say you don’t have a baby or a pet. Go down the baby care or pet supplies aisle on your next trip. By going down aisles of products you don't need, you'll be less likely to make impulse buys.
Before you hit the grocery store aisles, check the sale ads for your local stores. Stores typically advertise sales and upcoming promotions or give coupons in their sale flyers. By checking these ads before you go, you could save some money each week.
Many grocery stores now offer internal apps. On these apps, you can see sale ads, current promotions and coupons or even order groceries for pick-up or delivery. By checking out a store’s app before you go shopping, you’ll also be able to see what’s on sale.
A lot of the overspending that occurs at the grocery store is attributed to people just not doing the math properly. Imagine you’re looking at a coupon or a sale. Do the math to see if the unit price is actually less expensive or if the savings are worth it. Sometimes stores assume you’ll only notice the "sale" sign and make the snap decision to buy the item without really thinking.
When it comes to meat and seafood, getting to know your butcher can be a good investment. If you find a butcher you like, you may discover they hook you up with tips on what cuts of meat to purchase. They might also tell you about recipe ideas or sales.
Have you ever fallen for a sale at the grocery store and bought something you didn’t need? Don’t fall into the sale trap. If you’re already going to the grocery store on a limited budget, you should stick to your plan.
One of the most important things you can do when you’re at the grocery store is pay attention to the checkout line. Harmless mistakes can cost you money. If you aren’t paying attention, you may miss an item that gets scanned twice or something that accidentally got added to your cart.