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How to Save Money on Groceries

by Mike

If you’re looking for ways to cut your spending a good place to start is your local supermarket.  On average my family drops a few hundred bucks a month on food expenses so I’m always looking for new ways to save money on groceries.

Here are all the tips I could find for saving money on groceries:

1.  Shop alone.  My wife and I are polar opposites when it comes to shopping.  I like to get it, get what I need, and get the hell out as fast as possible.  My wife prefers to walk up and down each aisle (spending money along the way).  It drives me nuts.  And if I bring the kids…oh boy.

2.  Don’t shop when you’re hungry.  I’m often guilty of breaking this rule and it always costs me in the end.  Once my stomach starts growling cookies, Twinkies, and other snacks start magically appearing in the shopping cart.

3.  Make a list and stick to it. Shopping off a list ensures you only buy what you need and it also saves you from making multiple trips to pick up things you forgot.

4.  Take a calculator.  It’s easy to spend more than you realize if you’re not paying close attention.  Use a calculator to keep a running total so you’re not shocked when you get to the register.

5.  Compare the price per unit. Is the 16 ounce bottle selling for $1.99 a better deal than the 22 ounce bottle for $2.79?  The only way to know is to compare the price per ounce (the 16 ounce bottle is the better deal).  Most stores include the price per unit right next to the price.  If not, that calculator will come in handy!

6.  Make one big shopping trip instead of a lot of little ones.  The more often you walk into the store the more opportunities there will be to overspend.  Plus, the more trips you make the more you’ll spend on gas, and it’s always wise to look for new ways to improve gas mileage.

7.  Buy in bulk whenever possible.  It’s usually cheaper…but don’t assume!  Remember to check the price per unit to be sure you’re getting the best deal.

8.  Look up and down. Supermarkets place the most expensive items at eye level, so if you want to find the best deals you’ll have to go looking for them.

9.  Use coupons. Yes, it can be a pain in the butt to have to clip them and drag them with you to the store.  but it can save you big at checkout.

10.  Shop at stores that double or triple coupons. Why save 50 cents when you can save $1.50?

11. Shop at larger supermarkets.  They usually have better deals than convenience stores that charge you a premium for the “convenience”.

12. Watch the cash register. Scanning errors happen all the time and if you keep a close eye you may catch one that keeps you from being overcharged.

13.  Ask for a raincheck. If a popular item goes on sale and the store runs out, don’t just let the deal slip through your fingers.  Go to customer service and ask for a raincheck so you can take advantage of the price at a later date.

There are probably many more ways to save money on groceries.  What tips do you have?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Rainy-Day Saver

My dad taught me the unit price “trick” years ago — he worked in a grocery store as a teenager. Now if I could only get my husband to do the grocery shopping (and not impulse-buy/miss the stuff on sale)…

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Mike

It’s amazing how many people don’t get that one!

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Everyday Tips

Great Post!
I would also add:
1. Know the sales before you go and when you make the list. Combine sales with coupons as much as possible.

2. Stockpile those sale items. If you eat a lot of salsa and the sale is killer, then buy several jars. I buy as many of that item as I think will last our family until the next sale because I know I will buy it anyway.

3. Get to know your prices. You won’t know a great deal unless you really know what something should cost.

4. Be flexible. There are very few things I am brand-specific about. For instance, I only buy the cereal that is one sale as I really don’t care what cereal I eat, as long as it is healthy.

To me, preparation is key!!
.-= Everyday Tips´s last blog ..Why I Prefer to Cook Instead of Eating Out – And It’s Not Just About Money =-.

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Mike

Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

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Frugal Tips

Coupons can save a TON of money when you pair them with sale items (even when they are not doubled or tripled).
.-= Frugal Tips´s last blog ..Scotch Products Coupons =-.

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Mike

You know what is the worst? When you get to the register and realize you forgot your coupons!

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Dennis Edell | Direct Sales Marketing

Buy in bulk whenever possible – I’ve practically begged my mother to get a Costco membership. Especially for non-food items she purchases multiple times per week!

All she sees is the fee and the (minimal) gas usage, not the fact that she would make back the fee in the first 7 minutes of shopping, and the gas as well.

Aye-Curumba man.
.-= Dennis Edell | Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog ..I asked – You Answered – 4 more Social Icons Added =-.

Reply

Mike

I love Costco but it’s not always the best deal. You’ve got to be careful when comparing their prices.

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Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing

Absolutely, but I’m pretty positive she’d make out nicely more often then not.
.-= Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog ..New Form of Human SPAM – Now via Yahoo Messenger =-.

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Karen @ Abundance on a Dime

As someone else already mentioned, knowing your prices is critical. Just because something’s on sale, doesn’t mean it’s the best price you can get for that item. For example, peanut butter goes on sale routinely in my area for $3.99 a kilogram. Once every 2-3 months, it will be on sale for 3.99 for *two* kilograms, or half the typical sale price. I wait until items hit the rock-bottom sale price, then stock up with enough to last me to the next rock-bottom sale.
Buying unprocessed/minimally processed foods and cooking from scratch saves a ton of money too. I estimate that baking my own bread using bulk purchased flour, yeast etc saves me about $40 per month for our family of four. It’s not nearly as difficult or time consuming as most people think, especially since I use a refrigerator dough recipe.
Eating less meat and more legumes is another way to drastically reduce your grocery bill. Bulk purchased legumes are super cheap and super healthy, and there are many ways to use them.
Using all of these strategies (plus many others I’ve picked up over the years) I’m able to feed our family of four for $300 per month.
.-= Karen @ Abundance on a Dime´s last blog ..Announcing….My First GIVEAWAY! =-.

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Forest

List, list, list…. It’s the most important thing to me otherwise I just buy a ton of useless items that don’t work with each other!!
.-= Forest´s last blog ..Is Minimalism a worthwhile form of activism? =-.

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Throckmorton Jones

I always look for the best unit price on everything, and when the store brand is cheaper, I buy it instead of the big name brand. I also add up the total as I go so I know how much I am spending versus how much I can spend- it helps me to decide between products that we need versus something we might just want.
.-= Throckmorton Jones´s last blog ..Random Things. =-.

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Kristen

Depending on which store you grocery shop at, you can sometimes get a few cents off for every reusable bag you bring with you to bag your groceries in at the checkout counter. Every little bit adds up!

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Lizzy

Most cell phones have calculator on them.
Most items you can get cheaper on sale than at costco.
Set a budget FIRST, then make your list, and check the paper or online for the ads. Then work with the budget you set and stick to your list – if possible try work your list so you have some flexibility. Like say have a wee bit of room over the top of your budget (like $5-10) for unexpected like manager specials on meat – which will save you money in the long run.

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Printable Coupons

Great tips. I’ve been doing these as well.. With everything so expensive right now, we want to save as much as we can, right? Especially on groceries.
Printable Coupons´s last [type] ..Save Up To 30 Off on LCD Monitors Free Shipping at Buycom

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rain@free groceries

Hi there!

Those were nice tips and I am already doing some of them. Another thing that I am doing is just to bring the money that I will prepare for the grocery. That way, I was able to stick on the budget!
I just want to add that I think its better if its my husband who will go on the grocery store to shop, because he will just buy whatever I put on the list…no more no less…haha its better than when I am the one who do the shopping coz if its me, whenever I saw something that I feel like we need, I will definitely add it on the list…which is really bad of me. yay!

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cerave coupon

Thanks a lot Mike. That surely helps to save some money. I especially liked ‘Shop alone’ tip… lol
cerave coupon´s last [type] ..Advantages of Using a CeraVe Coupon

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Sustainable PF

Hi Mike – thanks a bunch for linking to our improve gas mileage article!
Sustainable PF´s last [type] ..Best of Money Carnival – Memorial Day Edition

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