These 10 tips show how to save money at the grocery store and stick to a budget. With a little strategic planning and conscientious purchasing, saving money at the grocery store is totally doable.
This post is brought to you by Kroger
It’s the question we ask ourselves every week: How can I spend less money on groceries? Unless you’re independently wealthy or live off-the-grid and farm/hunt/gather for your meals, grocery shopping on a budget is a goal for us all.
Grocery bills are no joke, especially if you’re a food fanatic like me. Organic and gourmet can be pricy, and going shopping rogue without a list, shopping while hungry, and impulse buys only makes matters worse (I’m looking at you $9 wedge of specialty cheese).
In the past, despite my best, budget-abiding intentions, I would too often find myself overspending and over buying groceries that only led to wasted food and wasted money. But I found a better way, and when I shared my tips for 10 ways to waste less and save more at the grocery store, I heard from so many of you that you wanted to hear more ways to be a better shopper.
As a food blogging, semi-professional grocery shopper, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. From resourceful meal planning to savvy, organized lists and buying in bulk, these are the tried and true tips to help me spend wisely and stay within my budget.
10 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store
One of my soon-to-achieve shopping plans is to live out my Supermarket Sweep fantasies and take all of my coupons to the grocery store, shop every one of them, and see how much money I save. But this isn’t my only budget-saving tactic I keep top of mind, because there are so many other ways to save, beyond coupon clipping.
Here’s my 10 ways to help save on groceries every month.
1. Shop the seasons.
Knowing what’s in season is one of the smartest ways to save money and contribute to less waste. Grocers provide more seasonal ingredients at their peak to customers which lowers the price. Build your meals around seasonal ingredients and buy up extra produce that can be frozen for later to take advantage of the savings. Produce that has to travel farther costs more, so try to resist the allure of strawberries in February—they’ll taste so much better in May anyway.
2. Channel your inner coupon queen.
Shop with coupons and store circulars. What’s in season this week will likely be in abundance and on sale. Consider making a shopping trip just to shop your coupons (don’t let your savings drift down the drain!) and use them up on the essentials you can store for use later.
PRO TIP: Organize your coupons according to expiration date and the store layout so you can be efficient, and you won’t be frantically scouring your purse for them when it comes time to check out.
3. Use a list and check it twice.
Prior to hitting the stores, take inventory of your pantry, fridge, and freezer and determine what you need for the recipes in your meal plan for the week ahead. Download your FREE printable shopping list here and organize your list by category and layout of the store, that way you’ll prevent backtracking to the dairy section because you forgot milk!
Or, make your grocery list online and take advantage of in-store grocery shopping services for delivery or pick-up to save time and avoid any impulse shopping pitfalls.
4. Eyes up and down and on the ends.
Stores strategically place their more expensive items at eye level and cheaper goods on the upper and lower shelves. Sale items and seasonal ingredients are often displayed at the ends of store aisles to get more visibility. So the next time you find yourself deliberating over different brands of canned tomatoes, don’t go for just what’s within arm’s reach. Be sure to look the shelves up and down and all around.
5. Join your store’s loyalty program.
I shop at my local Smith’s Marketplace (my local Kroger family of stores) where it’s many incentives help cut costs each time I shop. It’s just one reason why they’re my preferred grocer. One of my favorite things Smith’s offers is the Smith’s Loyalty Program, with discounts and targeted coupons that are actually of value to me because they reflect the things I buy. Not only are coupons mailed to me, but they’re also available on their in-store app to get special discounts applied at checkout.
BONUS TIP: Smith’s loyalty points count toward discounts on fuel every time I fill up the car for an even more discounted win-win.
6. Convenience has a cost.
As tempting as it may be to grab that container of pre-cut pineapple or that bag of shredded cheese, remember you’ll be paying more. Cut down on the convenience buys of vegetables and the like and cut, shred, and separate your own.
Which leads to tip #7…
7. Embrace the bins and ugly produce.
The bulk bins section isn’t just for granola-loving hippies anymore. Save money by shopping this section when you’re out of things you use over and over again (grains, flours, nuts, spices, etc.). Not only are these ingredients top quality and available in as much or as little as you need, they require less packaging so they’re less expensive too. From cheese and meats and produce, each grocery department has a dedicated section for soon-to-expire items.
Shop the imperfect produce section for older bananas (perfect for making banana bread) and bell peppers ready for stir-frys or my favorite stuffed peppers. Case in point, the other week I purchased a perfectly fresh flank steak in the meat department at a $7.00 discount that I then grilled for dinner, saving the rest for the next night’s dinner of ramen and broccoli with steak.
8. Store brands are just as good, and sometimes better.
Where it makes sense (think milk, sugar, cleaning products, beans, etc.), buy store brands. Most popular bulk items are often manufactured by the same companies at less cost and have the same quality and taste. Check the ingredient label to compare and then make your choice.
9. Shop freshly prepared meal kits.
Kits like Home Chef feature fresh ingredients in the right portions. You can choose from a variety of meals that are not only delicious, but help eliminate waste and cost in purchasing special ingredients. Find them in stores, or order them for home delivery.
10. Let the store shop for you.
Take advantage of in-store shopping services and online ordering when you use the in-store shopping services with same-day pick up and even one day delivery options. You can even have larger bulk orders delivered right to your door.
11. BONUS TIP: Meal plan like a boss.
Finally, it can sometimes seen daunting, but if you’re able to reserve a few minutes out of your Saturday to meal plan for the week ahead, you’ll be thanking yourself come Wednesday. Devise your plan based on foods you have and need to use up and how busy your evenings are. This is where The Nourished Planner comes in. It’s a meal planning workhorse. The goal-setting guide, daily, weekly and monthly calendar, to-do list, and a meal planner all in one will help you meal plan like a boss. As Ina says, “how easy is that?”
What’s your favorite tip to save money at the store?
I’m always looking for more good ideas to save some green, so please, share your ideas in the comments below.
This post is sponsored by Kroger. As always, thank you for reading and supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. There are affiliate links in this post of which I receive a small commission. All opinions are always my own.
Craving more life balance, less stress, and better health? Check out my Nourished Planner, the daily planner to help create simplicity and under-schedule your life.
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Thanks for the tips! I usually shop Kroger, but I also keep on eye on deals as an Amazon Prime customer @ Whole Foods. If you have a Whole Foods nearby & are an Amazon prime customer there’s savings deals usually available that can be made with this combo.
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
That is a great thing to know! Thanks Lisa!
I think the best way to save money is to be flexible in your meal planning, especially if you shop in places that don’t have a flyer that lets you plan beforehand. Say you were planning flank steak and asparagus, but chicken was on sale and asparagus was really expensive that week– being able to switch and decide that okay, roast chicken with snap beans instead. Then being able to adjust your plans down the week in regards to leftovers is a great skill to develop.
Sarah | Well and Full
I love all of these tips! I spend way too much money at the grocery store and have been kind of stressing about it, so the timing of this post was perfect!
Love your tips!! Unfortunately, the printable grocery list download doesn’t work unless you have a ConvertKit account.