Do you want to save money while grocery shopping? It’s sometimes hard to avoid the temptation of convenience foods and improve your finances when you’re out at the grocery store. But let’s face it, it’s expensive enough to eat just right. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to enjoy your food and still save money. There are a lot of tips and tricks that can help you out, even at the grocery store. Without further ado, let’s get on with the best money-saving grocery tips!

Best Money-Saving Grocery Tips

Shop with a plan

Make a list of every meal you intend to prepare and consume throughout the next week before writing your grocery list or entering the market.

Go one step farther if you already do it. So that no fresh produce or herbs go to waste, plan meals that all contain the same ingredients. Money is squandered on spoiled food.

Consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch advises creating a meal plan based on weekly sales and looking for dishes that employ similar components. By avoiding a wide range of purchases, you’ll not only save money but also reduce the amount of expired goods you’ll need to throw in the compost or the garbage.

Reduce the amount of fillable space

You may grab a shopping cart out of habit the moment you walk through the sliding doors at your local grocery store, even if your grocery list is rather short. But limiting the amount of space you allot yourself while shopping can help you spend less.

“Use a basket instead of a large shopping cart to reduce temptations,” Woroch says. “The less space you have, the [fewer] food items you can add to your basket.” As the basket fills up, you’ll be ready to hit the checkout faster.

Don’t miss out on special sales

Many supermarkets offer markdowns on fresh foods with an expiration date that is within a couple days. The same is also true for shelf-stable items that are overstocked.

“Look for discounts on meats, fish and poultry nearing its expiration date — known as manager markdowns offering 50 to 70 percent off,” Woroch says. Even if you’re not planning on making a meal with those ingredients or don’t want to change your meal plans, you can stock up for a future meal. “Just freeze what you don’t plan to eat right away.”

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Be sure to consider store brands

We all have our favorite brand of certain items, such as diced tomatoes or canned soups, but when it comes to staple pantry items you may be paying more for the name rather than the product.

“Only buy generic when it comes to single ingredient foods and ingredients like baking supplies, including sugar, flour, and spices or herbs,” Woroch says. “Brands cannot make these any differently than a store name, so you’re really just paying for the pretty packaging when you spend more for a brand.

Make sure you read the fine print on sales

Grocery stores are masters at utilizing all the available space on shelves in order to grab your attention and get your dollars. End caps, for example, are one way for stores to highlight foods, whether there is a deal or not.

“Most people assume products promoted on these end cap displays are a good sale, but they may not beat other brand prices for similar products, so always go to the aisle where the product item is sold to see if you can get a better price,” Woroch says.

Sale items are enticing, even for hardened shoppers. With all the signage and sale jargon of two-for-ones or buy one, get one free, you may just assume a sale is always worth it, and that it’s the best option if you’re buying that food anyway. But it’s important to read the small print, especially for deals that encourage you to buy multiple items to get the savings.

“Oftentimes, you can get the same price even if you just buy one instead of 10 for $10,” says Woroch. Before loading up on an item, make sure to double check if you’re required to buy a certain number to receive the discount. It’s not much of a savings if you buy 10 for the sale price but never use all of the food.

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Check the unit price

A price-to-price comparison is not the best way to determine what’s a better buy. For that, you’ll need to compare the cost-per-unit prices. Most stores list the cost-per-unit price in small print next to the full price. (Bring your reading glasses!)

“Don’t always assume the large bag of chips or box of cereal is the best value,” Woroch says. When you compare by-unit prices, it’s a lot easier to spot what’s the least expensive option by weight or size. And you may be surprised that the smaller box, can, or jar is less than the bigger ones.

“If there’s a sale on the smaller container, it could be cheaper to buy a few small bags or boxes versus the large or bulk size,” she adds.

Seasonal shopping

Although many fruits and vegetables are now available all year round, this does not guarantee that they are in season. For instance, if you buy tomatoes in the winter, you can be sure they aren’t growing in your area because in the United States, tomatoes are grown in the summer (They love the heat.) Fruits and vegetables that are out of season do not taste as delicious and are more expensive than those that are in season.

Woroch advises sticking to seasonal foods to get the best deals. Produce that is not in season locally must be imported at a greater cost, which is then passed on to the consumer in the form of increased prices. Would you like to learn more about the local seasonality? Check out this guide to the seasons.

Save more by buying frozen

For consumers on a tight budget, fresh produce can be pricy. They typically come at a high cost and have a short shelf life. Therefore, whenever possible, buy frozen. A lot of dishes produced with frozen components taste just as delicious and enticing as meals made with fresh ingredients.

According to Woroch, frozen foods are preferable to fresh because they are more nutrient-dense and cost 20 to 30 percent less. You can substitute frozen ingredients in adaptable recipes; you probably won’t notice much of a difference, but your wallet won’t either.

Stock up when you need to

It is clear from the tiny print that it depends on the precise items you are purchasing. You might be persuaded by discounts and two-for-one deals to believe that purchasing more of anything is a good value.

According to Woroch, buying in bulk can help you save money as long as you take into account your usage and any potential expiration dates. You can save money, for instance, by purchasing nonperishable food goods like packaged or canned foods in bulk or household cleaning supplies.

Make sure you review your receipt

You can unwind as you load everything onto the conveyor belt once you’ve rummaged through all the aisles to get everything you require, double-checked unit prices and sales, and filled your basket, right? Well, not quite yet. It’s imperative to remain vigilant in case registration errors occur.

Woroch cautions customers to pay great attention at the register and double-check their receipts for any potential price inconsistencies. “When the sale was not included to my ticket, I found mistakes that cost as much as $5 per item.” Spending time calculating deals that won’t be applied at the register is not something you want to do.

Avoid impulse buys

If you can, go shopping alone. Your strategy may be rapidly derailed by the temptation to give in to a child’s request for an off-menu treat or meal. If that’s not possible, try asking children in advance what one food item they would want to consume that week, and then enlist their assistance in finding it and placing it in the cart.

For both adults and children, it is never a good idea to go shopping while hungry. Curbside pickup is popular since it minimizes last-minute temptations; nevertheless, beware of expensive alternatives. Even if you’re contentedly alone and not hungry, arm yourself against your vulnerabilities, such as buying a magazine or a bouquet of flowers at the store. You’ll see displays of anything from pajamas to laptops in retailers like Costco. Chase quips, “You might end up with a full outfit.”

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Bad habits of grocery shopping that could cost you money

Buying too much is a bad habit

The biggest bad habit most people have at the grocery store is simply purchasing too much food. Learn what a portion size looks like for your basics — chicken breast, fish, you name it — and make sure you’re only buying what you and your family really need for upcoming meals.

Savings tips: use the butcher to get specific amounts of what you need instead of bulk pre-packaged meat. Break off the exact number of bananas you know you’ll go through. There are only so many loaves of banana bread you can make in a month.

You do not plan your meals before you shop

People who go into the store with a list spend far less money overall than those who go in with no plan. Map out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for your family so you know exactly what you need and don’t have to make extra runs to the store for forgotten items throughout the week.

Savings tip: write out your grocery list by section (i.e. fresh produce, meat and dairy, pantry, miscellaneous) so you can move through the store more efficiently while shopping.

Brand-name products are all you buy

Oftentimes, store-brand items are actually manufactured in the same facilities as major name-brand items, like milk, aluminum foil, condiments, soup, and more. Google your grocery store of choice with “best generic items” and you’re bound to find a few items to keep on your list.

Prior to shopping, you don’t look for coupons

Whether you base your week’s menu around coupons or find coupons to fill in after you’ve planned everything out, make sure you look for coupons in your store’s weekly ad and online. Grocery stores and manufacturers often have coupons on their websites or on their apps that you can easily access. You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t check for coupons before shopping — and the amount you’ll save in a given month or year could mean a nice date night or money toward a house project.

You aren’t buying in season

Keep a calendar on your refrigerator or inside a cabinet door listing what’s in season when. There’s a reason asparagus is cheaper in the spring and zucchini prices go way down at the end of summer — that’s when these vegetables are most bountiful in your geographic area, which drives prices down. If you eat seasonally, you won’t be paying a premium on items flown in from other areas.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has inspired you to save more money on your groceries. The tips above are easy to follow, and they can serve as a practical introduction to saving money in the grocery store. But the most important takeaway is that saving money doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your current lifestyle. You can begin today with small changes and implement them over time. Just be patient, don’t get frustrated if you don’t see results right away, and remember that it will take some time for you to make a dent in your grocery bill.

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