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How to Save Money Grocery Shopping

How to Save Money Grocery Shopping

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In order to save money grocery shopping, it is important to know the tricks that grocery stores use to get customers to buy more than they had planned on.

How to Save Money Grocery Shopping woman at the store with a grocery cart

Many families are on a tight budget, and one-way consumers stick to a budget is to save money grocery shopping. In order to spend less money on food bills and keep more money for other needs, it is helpful to learn a few tricks that grocery stores employ in order to get shoppers to purchase items on impulse.

How to Save Money Grocery Shopping

I know I could (and have) lecture you all about coupon clipping. Recently I talked about apps you can use to save more money after you leave the store. Today? We are going to talk about simple tips and tricks to save money grocery shopping.

Make a Grocery List and Stick to It

In order to spend less money on food bills, it is imperative to make a grocery list and only buy items that are listed. Grocery stores create sights and smell that make shoppers tempted to buy food items on an impulse.

Impulse buys are a budget breaker and can be avoided by following a list of items that are needed without giving in to the smell of great smelling baked goods that are coming from the bakery aisle.

Never Grocery Shop Hungry

A great way to avoid impulse purchases is to eat before going out to the grocery store. With great smelling bread and cookies baking, grocery stores are full of odors that can entice even the most careful shopper. Grocery stores are designed to entice consumers with bright displays, and when shoppers go into a supermarket hungry, they are more likely to buy items that they didn’t really need, spending more money and creating problems with their budget.

Buy Generic Items Whenever Possible

Generic items are a great way for shoppers to save money grocery shopping every month. Even when there is a coupon for name brand items, generic items are often less expensive and equal to the brand name items. Generic brands are often found in less conspicuous places, so look carefully to find the generic equivalent to name brand items.

Name brand items purchase eye-level shelf space in grocery stores, with the idea that shoppers are more likely to purchase items that they see first. Reaching high up to get an item or crouching down to pick out a cereal will save money because cheaper priced items are in the more difficult to reach places.

Grocery stores make more money the more money shoppers spend, and in order to spend less on food, customers must keep this in mind. Sales are created to get shoppers in the door in the hopes that shoppers will also spend money on impulse purchases and items that are not on sale.

Being prepared by making a list, shopping after eating, and buying generic whenever possible will help consumers spend less on food and have more money every month for other necessities.

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Grocery Items You Are Spending Too Much on

When it comes to sticking to a food budget, the first thing you should look at is how much you currently spend on your groceries and what you are spending most of your money on. Chances are, you are spending a lot of money on convenience foods that cost much more than the value you get in return.

Here are some grocery items you are probably wasting your money on.

Bagged Lettuce

Bags of lettuce can be convenient, but you are getting a very small amount of lettuce for 2-3 times what it costs to just buy a head of lettuce or romaine hearts in the fresh produce section. Unless you are willing to spend a little more so you don’t need to rinse and cut your greens, this is something you should start passing on.

Pre-Cut Fruits and Veggies

Speaking of the produce section, it probably comes as no surprise to you that when you buy pre-cut fruits or veggies, you are spending far more than you need to. In some occasions, this might be worth it to you to save the time and energy on having to prep them yourself. However, if you are trying to stick to a food budget, this is probably the first thing you should stop purchasing. You can get an entire cantaloupe or two for the price you pay for 1-2 servings of cut-up cantaloupe in the produce section.

Pre-Portioned Snacks

Moving on to the snacks section, buying them in pre-portioned bags or boxes is going to be a waste of money. Again, you are just paying for convenience. If you have a spare 20 minutes in your day, you can buy the big box version of that snack, and separate it yourself into individual snack-sized bags. It should only take a few minutes, and you save a considerable amount of money.

Bottled Coffee

If you enjoy iced coffee, you might have started to purchase coffee or cold brew in bottles located in your grocery store’s refrigerated section. But again, you are just paying for the convenience of having the cold coffee brewed for you. In many cases, it is not only more expensive for the amount you get, but much more processed than is really necessary for a cup of coffee.

As you have seen, the best way to save money at the grocery store is to purchase as many things as you can in their whole version. From produce to crackers, this is where you will easily save the most money.

NOW, let’s get into coupons!

Time is Money… Non-Extreme Couponing for Real People

If you’re like me then you might want to use coupons but aren’t quite sure how to use them and you sure don’t have time to make couponing a full time job. Come on, admit it. You watch the Extreme Couponing shows and think the same thing! Although, I am sure you look on with envy when the couponers hit the register and spend 3 cents on a $1,897.00 order.

While not saving money at the grocery store is just not an option neither is spending 8 hours a day cutting coupons. So what do you do? Create your own system of course!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Subscribe to a paper in multiples

Yes, in order to save money, you will have to spend some. But here’s a trick- local papers typically run a promotion on their subscriptions one or two times a year. (Think Groupon, Living Social, etc.) Get the Sunday paper deal in multiples. I recommend getting 3 or 4 so you can have a LITTLE stockpile when the product goes on sale.  Don’t go crazy sales cycle every 8 weeks and I promise that you won’t use 15 bottles of ketchup in 8 weeks. Just think one sale cycle at a time.

Cut Coupons But Only Of Items Your Actually Use

It’s a novel idea, I know. But seriously, have you ever wondered just what the extreme couponer is going to do with 50 packets of soy powder? Well, so do they.  Don’t waste your time cutting out coupons on items you wouldn’t normally use if it wasn’t on sale. Truth is, money spent on items you don’t use is money wasted, not money saved. Save yourself the hassle and the trouble and just cut coupons on products you already use.

Hint: If you truly want to save money, you can’t have brand loyalty. Mayonnaise is mayonnaise is mayonnaise. So, seriously, skip the mock loyalty and throw whatever is on sale in that cart. You will thank yourself later.

Organize Your Coupons in an Easy File System

Use a dollar store accordion-style folder and sandwich baggies. Label each baggie with a permanent marker by item, i.e. toilet paper, soda, cheese, bread, etc., and then place the baggie in the corresponding file slot for that letter.

Review Your Store’s Weekly Ad Flyer! Match Your Coupons

Stores typically send out their flyers in the Sunday paper. If not, they’re all over the internet. Review the sales ad for anything you might need in the next 8 weeks that is currently on sale (think staple pantry items) or, that is a good deal or that you simply need to feed your family that week. Make a list as you go. Then go through your file folder, pull any matching coupons and … go shopping.

Saving money with coupons doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to spend hours on clipping, matching, numerous stores, and coupon clubs. You CAN save money with a limited time investment.

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How to Save Money Buying Canned Goods

In this economy, buying canned goods is a smart move…How to save big in the canned food aisle, and what to buy.

Experts are constantly touting fresh fruits and vegetables as dietary staples. That’s great, except for the fact that fresh fruits and veggies are expensive! Studies show that canned greens are just as healthy and cheaper!

How to Save Money Buying Canned Food

Take advantage of sales. Green beans are packed with vitamins, and they are great canned. So when a store runs a sale or a special promotion, stock up on these! Buy as many as the supermarket will allow. And if there is a “per person” limit, bring the entire family and grab as many as possible! They will last forever. The same is true for carrots and baked beans.

Canned cranberries and pumpkin are perfect for fall recipes. Famous chefs integrate a lot of canned fruits and vegetables into their concoctions, and they turn out as good as those made from scratch.

Search the Internet for Coupons on Canned Goods

Peruse the Sunday paper, of course, but to get the best selection, do a quick Google or Bing search before leaving for the grocery store. Then compare those coupons with the grocery store sales flyer that can be easily downloaded from a supermarket website. Combine coupons with sales, and those canned goods will cost mere pennies!

Peruse Warehouse Clubs, as well as Discount Stores, Dollar Stores, and Drug Stores

Walgreens and Walmart often have great prices on canned goods. Don’t just assume the grocery store is the best place to pick up everything. And of course, the best location for canned goods on the cheap has to be warehouse clubs.

Sam’s and Costco are known for their super prices on everything in a can. But don’t be afraid to buy there because of a lack of space. Smart shoppers always make room in creative places, including under beds, in unused closets, even sock drawers make a great alternative in a pinch!

During the holidays I couldn’t find a better price than the local Dollar Tree for canned pumpkin and yams – just a buck!

How to Save Money Grocery Shopping woman with a mask buying produce

Buy Generic and Store Brands to Save Money

Stores often put their own brands on sale first. And honestly, one probably couldn’t tell the difference between a name brand and a generic. Even picky family members will probably reconsider in the interest of saving money.

And really, do canned tomatoes taste any different than fresh ones in a recipe? Maybe a little, but in the middle of winter, fresh tomatoes cost a bundle, and even the most discerning chef would probably give a little in the interest of cost-saving.

Canned Foods to Keep on Hand

When it comes to stocking your home with food that you can use for meals in the future, it doesn’t get much better than canned foods. Yes, they will have more sodium than other foods, but this is for a reason. The salt helps to preserve the food so it still tastes good months or years later.

Here are some of the best canned foods to have on hand.

Tuna and Salmon

One of the best types of canned food you can keep in your home is canned tuna and/or salmon. They will last quite a while and provide you with quick protein that doesn’t need to be cooked or prepared at all. You can eat the tuna right from the can, so getting pop tops is even more convenient.

You can also get other forms of meat in a can, though they might take a little getting used to. However, tuna and salmon are very common and something most people can enjoy.

Soup, Chili, and Beans

Another excellent option for keeping canned foods stocked up is your soup and chili. Soup, chili, and beans are easy to use in meals or just eat on their own, provide protein and fiber, and last in the pantry for a long time.

Canned soup and chili can be heated up for a quick meal when you don’t have much time and aren’t able to pick up food elsewhere. You can make it easier for yourself by getting pop tops, but even a cheap can opener would work.

With beans, they work as a side dish, to make your own chili, and work in so many different recipes. If you are on a vegetarian diet, they are an excellent plant-based protein source.


Chances are, you grew up eating canned vegetables. Corn, green beans, peas, and so many more vegetables come in cans and are very convenient. While you might prefer fresh or frozen vegetables as much as possible, it is still good to stock up on canned veggies. They work great as side dishes, put into soups or chilis, and are ideal for stocking up emergency food.


Lastly, don’t forget about your canned liquids! Fruit juice, vegetable juice, evaporated milk, coconut milk, and broth all often come in aluminum cans. These tend to last longer than other containers in your pantry, so it is good to at least stock up a little bit on these types of items.

Save Money Grocery Shopping on Frozen Vegetables

In the winter months, fresh vegetables can be expensive. But frozen vegetables are a great substitute and very economical if one knows where to shop.

A lot of experts say frozen vegetables are almost as nutritious as they are fresh. And they cost a lot less this time of year. But consumers can save even more in the freezer aisle if they know which vegetables to buy and when to shop.

How to Save Money on Frozen Vegetables at the Supermarket

Shop sales. It’s as simple as downloading those sales flyers on the grocery store’s website each week. They list their specials and when they end. That way, shoppers don’t have to make a special trip to the store only to find what they are looking for isn’t even marked down.

By perusing the sales flyer ahead of time, consumers can make a list of what items are marked down and then include only those items on their list. It’s also a good idea to look for free recipes using some of the ingredients that are on sale. More and more recipes for meatless entrees are popping up in cookbooks and on the web.

Shop Warehouse Clubs for Frozen Veggies

Sam’s Club and Costco both offer big discounts on frozen everything, not just vegetables. But buying a big bag of mixed vegetables will keep for a long time. Only take out the portion for that night’s meal, then save the rest in the freezer using one of those plastic bag clips.

Frozen tropical fruit is also plentiful at the warehouse clubs, but not in the fresh produce aisle. At least not unless shoppers want to pay an arm and a leg for fresh kiwi flown in from South America! When spring arrives, be sure to visit local farmers’ markets for fresh produce grown locally.

Store Frozen Vegetables in an Extra Freezer

It’s worth it to purchase a dorm-size freezer at a scratch-and-dent shop to store those vegetables that are on sale. If there is no minimum purchase, it might be worth buying as much as possible depending on the price and storing the excess in a small chest freezer installed either in a pantry, a laundry room, or even a guest bedroom or storage closet!

Try to eat more Veggies Everyday

They are cheap and plentiful. So why not try to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day? Raw carrots, celery, or broccoli can take the place of junk food. Yogurt-based dips are healthy and economical. Consumers who save money and weigh less will feel better all the way around!

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