10. Don’t judge a product by its brand-name.
More often than not, you won’t be able to taste the difference between generic ketchup and the “good stuff”. Buy generic pasta, condiments, spices, and more. If you absolutely need to have the premium quality products, here’s a tip: look at stores like TJ Maxx or Homegoods for gourmet ingredients at lower prices.
9. Look for the “Manager’s Special."
Stores will mark down items that are nearing their sell-by date. Meats tend to be salvageable, so long as you either cook or freeze them immediately. Discount produce is great for a salad you're planning to eat that night or for a vegetable soup the next day. Sometimes the bakery has an excess of goods and will mark down products just to make space. And just like any other store, supermarkets do have clearance aisles. Look for good deals on long lasting products, such as coffee.
8. Snack before you shop.
Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is a dangerous game. Keeping your eyes on your list is hard when you haven’t eaten all day. Everything looks delicious when you have the munchies, and you’re likely to fall prey to impulse buys. Avoid wasting a few bucks on chips or candy by grabbing a bite to eat beforehand.
7. Cut costs by cutting convenience.
Prepackaged salad can save you time in the kitchen, but they cost dollars more than buying a bundle of uncut greens. A head of lettuce or a bundle of spinach is much cheaper than the plastic-wrapped alternative.
6. Visit ethnic supermarkets for fresh, cheap produce.
Avocados are awesome. They’re also pretty expensive. If you have a Latino supermarket in town, you’ll be able to find avocados that are often bigger and cheaper than what you’ll find at American grocery chains. The same goes for other specialty foods. Looking for bean sprouts? Go to an Asian market. Your friendly neighborhood grocery store may not have what you’re looking for—and if they do, it’s totally overpriced.
5. Buy shopping-list staples in bulk.
If you’re constantly running out of flour or sugar, try buying in bulk instead. When the supermarket’s family size option isn’t enough, head to Costco, Sam’s Club, or your local bulk store. They offer both pantry and grocery items at a low price. Since these stores supply restaurants and other business, you can find deals on household essentials, such as toilet paper or cleaning solution. Of course, you’ll end up wasting money if you let your food expire.
4. Become a coupon master.
Many of the deals in the weekly flier may only be available to discount-card holders. These cards are free and tend to come with other benefits, such as discounts at the gas pump. Couponing is so much easier these days. Some stores accept coupons that you’ve loaded onto your smartphone.
3. Skip unnecessary organic foods.
You may want to opt for the cheaper, non-organic produce in most cases. You can buy non-organic fruit with a thick skin, such a bananas and pineapples, without fear of tainted fruit. A rule of thumb that health nuts swear by? Buy non-organic if it's one of the "Clean Fifteen," but buy organic if it's a "Dirty Dozen." The Environmental Working Group even has a printable.
2. Don’t be afraid of frozen food.
Fresh produce can be pricy. Not only can you save a buck or two buying frozen veggies, you don’t have to worry about a looming expiration date. Unlike canned fruit and vegetables, the produce is flash-frozen to retain its nutrients. Next time you need strawberries for your breakfast smoothie, go to the frozen food aisle.
1. Make a list and stick to it.
Okay, this sounds like a no-brainer, but it's one of the single most important things you can do. You’d be surprised at how much extra crap ends up in your cart by the end of a grocery run! Believe it or not, supermarkets are designed with this in mind. The essential items such as milk and eggs are hiding at the back of the store, behind aisles and aisles of goodies you know you don’t need…but they look so tasty. If you can’t resist the temptation, make a rigid list of food you’ll need to prepare a meal menu. And if you must, add “one fun treat” to your list.