I got three kids right now who eat more than I do. The result is a grocery bill which can be ridiculously high if we don’t shop smart and look for savings. It’s with this in mind that I present some brilliantly simple ways to save money at the grocery store. I hope they help you save, I know they really help us on a monthly basis.
1. Gotta Have a List
I remember my single days when I would go to the grocery and come home with maraschino cherries, beef jerky, olives, tooth picks, bag of potatoes, and a box of corn flakes.
I would get home and realize that I still have ZERO ingredients for a “real” meal and just pick up the phone and order a pizza.
Just make a dam list during the week as you run out of things. Then if you want to plan some meals just make sure you have the ingredients, if you don’t, barter with your neighbors.
2. Shop Alone
Call at least a week ahead of time and rent out the entire grocery store. No, but seriously, try and shop by your lonesome as you’ll be less distracted and less tempted to buy those white Oreo cookies your “dependents” have been “asking”….I mean begging for.
3. Shop Store Brands
The quality of most store brands has really been increasing the last few years, this is especially true with the Costco Kirkland brand. In most cases you’ll never know the difference.
I actually like the store brand cottage cheese better than the name brand from our local Winco grocery store. Yes I like cottage cheese, and no, I am not 85 years old.
4. Don’t Shop When Hungry
Self explanatory. If you’re hungry you may very well come home with the following: pre-made Jello cups, Jello pudding pops, the large red vines bag, Drumsticks, 3 frozen Sara Lee pies, and Entenmann’s doughnuts.
If you have 4 of these currently in your kitchen take a pic and send it to me, I’ll send you a prize!
5. Plan One Large-Ass Trip
Save money on gas and time by not going every day or two. By reducing the frequency of trips to the grocery store you also reduce the amount of temptation created.
If you don’t want to bust your grocery budget then stay out of the store. You can’t spend if you ain’t there. You’ll never spend money on groceries if you never eat. OK, I’ll stop now.
6. Use Manufacturer Coupons
The key to clipping coupons is to only clip coupons on things you would have bought anyways. If you start buying processed food and junk food just because you happen to have a coupon you are doing yourself a disservice, both financially and health wise.
If you are thinking of becoming an extreme couponer see 5 Reasons TLC’s Extreme Couponing is Extremely Lame.
7. Walk Quickly by the Free Samples
You do realize why those people are there giving out free samples, right? They are NOT there to help you save money and they are NOT there to help you make good buying choices. There sole reason for existing is to get you to buy crap you don’t need.
Companies know when they get you to touch, smell, lick, and ingest their products they have won. Many will make the impulse purchase.
8. Running In For Milk and Eggs? Try This Tip
Don’t grab a cart or basket. Carry your milk and eggs in your hands. That way you won’t be tempted to throw impulse purchases into your cart. You can’t buy what you can’t carry.
A related tip, try not to shop with cargo pants or parachute pants from the 1990’s. M.C. Hammer could have easily stuffed a cart full of groceries into his drawers.
9. Do NOT Be Brand Loyal
When you get caught up in specific brands you tend to neglect pricing. I realize some brands are non-negotiable. For example, somebody that likes Best Foods mayo is not going to buy Miracle Whip just to save .50 cents.
But when brand is not a big deal, always opt for the best value, even if that means buying generic. You never know, you may actually like the cheaper brand better.
10. Double Check your Receipt
Make sure your items were scanned correctly. Make sure all your coupons were accounted for. I have lost count of the number of times that sale items did not ring up correctly. After you are handed your receipt, step to the side so the cashier can start with the next customer.
If you notice an error kindly ask the cashier for clarification. If the store is completely swamped, and your cashier is frantically trying to keep up, try the customer service desk at the front of the store.
It’s your money so make sure you get what you deserve. And if you shop at Walmart regularly, make sure you’re using their Savings Catcher app.
Bonus: Use a Rebates App
I’m a huge fan of the free Ibotta app. Essentially the app gives you money back on purchases (via instant rebates) that you’d be making anyways. The cool part is you’ll even get money back on generic things like eggs, milk, and a loaf of bread.
Ask the Reader: Any tips I may have missed? Looking forward to your comments.
By Kyle James
Photo credit to Nicholas Eckhart.