Anyone who has gone grocery shopping recently can tell you that prices on certain items seem to have gone way up. Unfortunately, as a college student, I can attest to this. And prices have been going up consistently for a while. However, there are ways to find better prices. So here are six of the best grocery tricks to help feed your family for cheap and how to save money on groceries.
1. Turn Your Receipts Into Cash
Yes, you read that header correctly. You can turn your receipts into cash! Many different apps will pay you for uploading pictures of your receipt. You can earn more when you purchase specific items, check into stores, and scan barcodes. Here are some great rebate apps to check out.
- Tada: Tada offers up to 20% cashback on all your favorite websites, not limited to groceries. They offer various coupons and discounts. Join Tada and you’ll get a $10 cashback bonus on your first order. Join Tada now.
- Swagbucks: With Swagbucks, you can go through their list of items you earn extra points (called SB) for and mark off the ones on your grocery list. What a great way to get rewarded for what you’re already purchasing! Redeem SB for PayPal, cash, Visa cards, or other free gift cards. Take advantage of this and join Swagbucks now.
- Ibotta: Ibotta offers real cashback on all your online purchases. You can link your online shopping accounts to Ibotta, for example linking your Target account, and get rewarded for all your purchases. Make sure you join Ibotta today!
- Fetch Rewards: Fetch Rewards is an app I use on a day to day basis. I upload all my receipts and regardless of what I purchase I earn a minimum of 25 points. By getting special items you can earn more. Download Fetch Rewards so you can start earning too.
- Checkout 51: Checkout 51 offers cashback on gas and groceries. Every week they have new offers for you to add to your profile to earn points from, all you have to do is upload a picture of your receipt. Get the app today to start earning.
2. Join a Wholesale Club
These stores typically sell items in bulk. When you buy items in bulk you’re paying less per item. You could get a ten pack of fruit snacks for $10 at Target and pay $1 per pack, or you could get a slightly larger pack for the same price at Costco and pay less per pack.
Bulk items aren’t always for everyone but they can be a good way to save money You might end up paying more money upfront, but this shopping hack will save you money in the long term.
And often, the savings on gas alone will pay for the membership. The money you save on gas at Costco will more than pay for the membership.
3. Meal Plan for the Week
Meal planning or meal prepping is a great way to ensure you aren’t spending money on food throughout the week. One way to do this would be to pick up your ingredients on Saturday or Sunday, and then prep/cook your food and put it in containers. You’ll want to cook large quantities because the idea is this food will last you all week.
Since you’ll already have food prepared at home you’ll be less tempted to eat out. This is also great for smaller families or people who eat alone and always end up with leftovers, this way you can make one meal into many meals and not have to worry about food waste.
Pinterest is a great place to look for meal ideas and get advice on how to plan meals. You can find tons of recipes there.
4. Make and Stick to a List
This is an important one. I sure for one am guilty of going to the store for one thing and coming back with ten other things. Impulse purchases end up being what makes my grocery bill skyrocket. Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach is a whole other story! Whenever I do this I feel like I come home with about ten different things I don’t really need.
Cutting out impulse purchases is an easy way to save money while grocery shopping. If you can make a list and stick to it, and only buy what you need, you’re sure to see your grocery bill go down. One way to do this would be to implement a grocery budget for yourself and strictly follow, purchasing only what you need.
5. Buy Items in Season
Living in a snowy and cold climate I am all too familiar with produce prices rising in the cold months. While it might be nice to buy whatever produce you feel like purchasing if it is out of season near you chances are it might be more expensive. Instead, try only purchasing what’s in season. Fresh fruits are way better than what is sold in the winter anyways.
Or if you really can’t go without it (for me it’s strawberries) buy them in surplus during the season and then freeze them. When an item is in season, try purchasing it from your local farmers market for the best price and best deals.
6. Compare Prices Between Stores
This hack can make all the difference. With some stores, price differences will only be a couple of cents to a dollar, but even that is worth it. Big box stores like Target and Walmart tend to have similar prices on products, so when comparing prices consider your local grocery store as well. Most grocery stores that aren’t a part of grocery chains tend to have lower prices. Some stores run various promotions that make their prices more attractive than their competitors. To get the better deal on groceries it’s important to look at all the stores near you and check often, don’t just stick to one store because they seem to have the best prices.
7. Buy Generic
There is a stigma around generic products that they aren’t as good as the name brand, well I’m here to tell you that isn’t always the case. There are some circumstances where the name brand is better, but 9/10 you can’t even tell the difference. The only notable difference is the price. Oftentimes the store brand is actually better than the name brand product. With name-brand products you’re paying for the product and the name, you cut out part of that cost with store-brand items.
8. Use Store Loyalty Programs
Store loyalty programs are a great way to gain access to store discounts and coupons a specific store has. Target and Walgreens both have a spot in their app where you can clip coupons for certain products to your account and use them in-store.
Loyalty programs also often feature a points system, and once you reach a certain amount of points it correlates with money off your purchase. Using a loyalty program is a great way to gain access to premiere coupons and deals as well as save money on groceries over time.
And with many grocery store loyalty programs, you can save big bucks on gas too. Many grocery loyalty apps fuel savings perks. Saving an extra $5, $10, $20, or more at the pumps is extra money you can put towards another bag of groceries.
9. Bring Your Own Bag
Many retailers are starting to charge for bags to reduce the amount of plastic produced. Near me at least we’ve always had to pay for paper bags. So how can you cut out this cost? To avoid the bag charge, bring your own reusable bag! By paying a little extra one time for a good reusable bag you can save in the long run but not having to pay for bags. Reusable bags in general are a lot nicer than plastic bags, and you don’t have to worry about it tearing and all your groceries falling out.
10. Pick Up a Load of Groceries for Your Neighbor
Yes, it’s true, you can get paid to shop for other people! For people who love to shop, like me, this is a dream job. This is still a great opportunity even if you’re just looking for some cash on the side.
When you signup to shop with Shipt you can get paid up to $22 an hour for shopping for others. You’re already going to the store to get your own groceries, why not pick up some for someone else while you’re there? And get paid to do so? Sounds like a win to me. Consider signing up for ships before your next grocery run to help reduce the cost of buying groceries.
11. Wait for Sales
Waiting for sales isn’t always the most fun, because you want to be able to buy your items now. But waiting for sales can be extremely beneficial. A sale can take a considerable amount off the final price of an item, and if this is something you do regularly you’re sure to see savings. Once you’ve deciphered the sales cycles at your favorite retailers, you’re golden and equipped to shop and receive the best prices.
12. Stock Up on Shelf Stable Goods
No need to go pandemic crazy and clear out all the canned goods, but picking up an extra can of soup or green beans here and there won’t hurt. You probably have the pantry space for it. And while you can’t stock up on perishable items, canned food is something you can keep a surplus of.
Having canned foods around can be a lifesaver. Soups not only taste good but are a pretty cheap meal, and don’t expire. The same goes for those canned veggies. They aren’t always as good as their fresh counterparts but are amazing when on a budget.
13. Avoid Pre-Packaged Items
Pre-packaged meals and items cost more than raw ingredients because someone has already prepared them. If you stay away from pre-packaged goods and prep your food, yes it takes more time, but it will save you money.
If you want to take this route, try shopping at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to get the best fresh options at the best price.
This ties into meal prepping. When you’re cooking dinner, cook a little extra. Leftovers are a lifesaver and have saved me many times from unnecessarily ordering food. Generally, though leftovers are an accident, you cooked too much food so you’re saving it. A good way to save money on groceries is to overcook, making two chicken breasts instead of one and saving it for tomorrow. This can be helpful with larger families and larger portions too. If you’re already making a big meal for everyone, why not make a little more and take a night off from cooking.
Bottom Line on How to Save Money on Groceries
Saving money on food isn’t always the easiest thing to do. You want to be able to purchase whatever you would like, but that can’t always happen. By using any one of these hacks, or a few of them together, you can save a good amount on food.
And some of these are just good practices to start. Going through a store’s coupon list and meal prepping are two things I’ve integrated into my daily life. Overall, all of these things are great ways to save money on food.
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