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.
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.
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.
Cut Costs by Cutting Convenience
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.
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.
Become a Coupon Master
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."
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.
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.
Carry a Calculator
Check the Pantry
Freeze and Store Meals
Don’t Bulk Up Just Because You Can
Take Cash and Leave the Card at Home
Make a List and Stick to It
Shop in Season Items
Ignore End-Cap Items
Try Different Stores
Stick to a Meal Plan
Just like sticking to your grocery list, this one seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how much it happens. If you already have your meals planned and/or prepped for the week, stick to your original menu. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself making an extra trip to the grocery store to replenish what you used up.
Don’t Buy More Than You Need
Man, when our favorite items go on sale, it’s hard to not go crazy and overbuy it at that special price but fight it we must. If you end up buying more than you need, you really didn’t get a deal. The same can be said about picking up items just because they’re on sale. If they’re not on your list, then you’ll still end up spending more than you planned.
Try Growing at Home
Look, no one knows better than us that not everyone has a green thumb. However, for those that do, it may be beneficial to plant your own garden to grow things like fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Not only will you save money this way, but you’ll have that extra pride of knowing that you grew the nutrients that your family is consuming.
There are several shopping apps that you can choose from, and your favorite grocery store may very well have its own app that you can order from. If you order online, you can search for just the items you need without the temptation of grabbing those extras. Plus, it’s super convenient to just pull into a parking spot and let someone else load up your car.
There are a ton of apps for your smartphone such as Ibotta and Receipt Hog. These apps reward users for purchasing certain items or for shopping at specific stores. It may not seem like much but getting that extra $10 gift card for the store of your choice for doing nothing but buying what you need is just a bit of extra incentive to scan those receipts.
Leftovers Are Key
If You Buy it, Use it
There is nothing worse than opening the refrigerator to find a sea of rotten dollar signs. Yes, we’re talking about those moldy peaches, rotten tomatoes, and other unused, forgotten about produce. Be careful not to overbuy these items and be sure to use what you buy or else it’s like throwing your money away.
End of Day at the Farmer’s Market
Not everything will be cheaper at the farmer’s market, but we do know there are some pretty good deals you can get for many of your produce items. The best time to go to the Farmer’s Market at the end of the day when vendors are looking to get rid of what they brought with them. They may slash prices to move the items so they don’t have to cart them home.
Leave Your Over-Spender at Home
That’s right. That includes spouses and children specifically, siblings, parents, etc. If you know you’re going shopping, try to plan it as a solo trip. Many times, those around you will influence your spending if you’re not careful, especially a cute kid staring up at you with those big eyes begging for that pack of cookies or candy you know you don’t need or want.