Eggs are 43% more expensive this year. The cost of butter is up by 27% and a bag of flour will cost you 25% more. Everything is more expensive these days at the supermarket. And since most U.S. households don’t have enough tucked away to weather this financial storm, shoppers are getting creative when it comes to saving money at the supermarket.
But you can trim your food costs and fatten your wallet.
There are some simple, free, and genius ways to save money on groceries in 2023.
1 | Turn Your Next Cereal Box Purchase Into a Free Gift Card
Get free gift cards and PayPal cash for your grocery receipts. Earn points for purchasing eligible items, or for purchasing items in featured categories Swagbucks, Tada, and Ibotta all offer cash back for your supermarket or grocery receipt.
2 | Get $10 Free Grocery Money With Your Next Purchase of $25+
Spend $25 or more, and get a free $10 gift card, prepaid Mastercard, or $10 cash as a PayPal deposit. The Swagbucks shopping rewards site gives you free cash back (rebates) for your online purchase at over 7,000 stores including CVS, Walgreens, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.
Score a free $10 bonus when you make your first purchase of $25+ at a partner store.
Featured cash back grocery stores offering the free $10 gift card bonus include:
Shop online at any of these featured grocery chains (make sure to tap the store links) and you can get cash back rebates for your next shopping trip. That’s free money. Order online, and then pick up your groceries at your local supermarket.
3 | Stop Wasting Food and Save 40% on Your Grocery Budget
In the U.S., we all waste a staggering amount of food. Every year, $408 billion dollars worth of food is tossed out. Shockingly, nearly 40% of all food is wasted, suggesting you could slash 40% off your grocery bill by not wasting food.
Taking inventory of your fridge and pantry, along with meal planning, before you hit the store can help you reduce food waste. Consider buying canned produce as they can last for a couple of years or more. And if you want fresh veg, buy produce that has a super long shelf life like sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions, apples, oranges, pomegranates, citrus, and pears.
If you repeatedly waste fresh foods, consider going for frozen foods and freezer meals. Frozen produce can be much cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables, and with flashing freezing it’s almost just as nutritious. And a bag of frozen veg can go with anything; it’s a great side for when you eat leftovers.
4 | Buy Ugly Foods
Every year, millions of pounds of produce get dumped because they aren’t pretty looking. What a waste, huh? These veggies are perfectly tasty, but they don’t have a perfectly uniform shape. They may be too skinny, too small, oddly twisted, or have a couple of blemishes. You can rescue food and save money on your grocery bill with ugly food grocery services. Buy fruits, vegetables, meats, pantry goods, and other rescued foods from Imperfect Foods or Misfits Market.
Right now, when you try Misfits Market you can get a free $7.50 bonus.
5 | Shop on the Best Discount Days of the Week
At your local grocery store, ask a clerk or shelf stocker what day of the week markdowns happen. While you can save big on stale candy corn and canned pumpkin in February, you don’t always have to wait until weeks or months after a given holiday.
For example, at Fresh Thyme grocery stores, you can double up on sales on Wednesdays. Every Wednesday, you can get last week’s and the next week’s deals. At Target stores, markdowns are done Monday through Friday. Different categories are done on different days of the week, so ask at your local store. Grocery category items are in the mix, too.
6 | Always Stock Up on These Goods at Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s largely sells its own private-label goods (aka generic brands). They’re tasty, affordable, and offer a unique variety of flavors you won’t get at your run-of-the-mill supermarket. And, believe it or not, Trader Joe’s boasts the best food anywhere for a number of staple goods.
- Cheese (solid bricks)
- Fall-themed grocery items
- Christmas-themed grocery items
- Cheerios (Trader Joe’s Honey O’s are the same product in different packaging.)
- Herbs and spices
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Frozen dinner entrees
7 | Save Big at Grocery Salvage Stores
Salvage grocery stores are a bargain shopper’s paradise. They sell grocery goods that are not pristine enough for regular grocery store shelves. You’ll find boxes with dints or dated packaging, dinted cans, and foods near or past their expiration date. I’ve personally eaten many foods past their expiration date, but it’s a judgment call on your part.
8 | Sign Up for a Meal Kit
Get a meal kit service. It’s more expensive than regular groceries, sure. But there are many options that start at just $4.99 making it competitive with many dinner plates you cook up at home from scratch.
And what I love about meal kits is it sends you the exact amount of food you need. Everything is perfectly pre-portioned. No buying a whole jar of mustard when you need 1 tsp. for a recipe, or a whole bunch of cilantro when you just need a couple of stems.
This means you won’t wind up wasting food, and you don’t have to worry about what to cook for dinner. When you’ve got a ready plan for dinner, you’re less likely to order in at the last minute.
EveryPlate and Dinnerly are two meal kits of many. Both offer meals starting at $4.99 each. And there’s economies of scale. Even if you’re only cooking for 2, get the plan for 4 people or more. There’s a discount with higher volume orders, and you can freeze the leftovers.
9 | Meal Plan
An oldie but goodie, if you want to save money on groceries and avoid wasting uneaten foods you need a plan.
Figure out what you want to make for dinner each night for the next week. Then, check your pantry and fridge before you place that online order or head out to the store.
It’s cost-effective to plan your menu around what’s on special. Scan weekly sales circulars. Check the weekly deals at featured stores. Look at the food prices and promos at your local stores before you head out for grocery shopping.
For more meal ideas, check out Delish, Taste of Home, or The Penny Hoarder.
10 | Join Costco for the Cheap Gas (Stay for the Rotisserie Chicken)
Before you balk at the $60 membership fee charged upfront, consider that the savings on fuel alone can pay for the membership in a few months. The average household can save over $218 a year in gas alone when fueling up at this warehouse retail chain.
Their rotisserie chicken is legendary. Plump, juicy, and 100% recession-proof. At $4.99, the rotisserie chicken is a major loss leader. And it’s a much bigger hunk of meat than you’ll get on rotisserie birds at Walmart, Target, or other grocery stores.
Buy a rotisserie chicken, and you’ve got at least a couple of dinners. And plenty of leftovers too.
Other items that are cheaper at Costco include bacon ($1.25 cheaper per pound on average than competitors and rated #1 for taste by Consumer Reports), food court items (a large beef hot dog and soda have been priced at $1.50 since the 1980s), sheet cake (you can get a cake that will serve 40+ for $16.99), fresh eggs (over 30% cheaper than competitors), extra virgin olive oil, vanilla extract, maple syrup, frozen fruits and berries, bulk snacks, and tires that come with a 5-year guarantee.
You can also earn a $1 cash-back bonus for signing up, and the ability to earn cash back rebates for your Costco receipts. New or existing members can get Costco cash back rebates for shopping trip purchases.
11 | Go for Grocery Items That Are Going Down in Price
While everyone harps on how horrid inflation has been when it comes to grocery prices, believe it or not, some food prices are actually going down compared to the same time period last year.
- Fresh produce: Prepared mixed vegetables are down by 68%, tangerines are down by 7%, the average per unit price for fruit is down by 2%, and the price for a carton of avocados has plummeted by 35%
- Seafood: Lobster is down by 7%, crab is down by 10%, and striped bass is down by 42%.
- Select packaged bakery goods: Package bagels are down by 48% and select pastries seeing some drops in cost
- Bulk dried beans: Down by over 5%
- Kombucha drinks: Prices have dropped by 23%
- Some meats: Meat prices are bottoming out, and some steak cuts (including filet mignon) are about $2 less per pound
12 | Use Shipt or Instacart and Curb Impulse Buys
Your grocery food bill (price per item) can be a little higher when you use a third-party delivery service vs going directly into the store. But, in the long run, it’s a major personal finance win for most families.
I personally make most of my family’s grocery purchases using delivery services. The benefits are enormous.
- Don’t worry about forgetting an item on my grocery list – I just can just put in another order. It’s easy to reach the order minimum.
- It requires that you plan meals ahead instead of buying whatever looks good.
- You buy much less junk food.
- You don’t get suckered into items on display. I’m a sucker for all the baked goods.
- I don’t have to haul the kids there and shell out more money for things they’re clamoring for.
- You don’t have to venture out to the stores, amid Covid and cold and flu season.
- You don’t have to lug heavy or bulky goods at home. Like 40-pound bags of dog food.
- Auto-save the items you buy regularly and it’s ultra-quick to place future orders.
- You buy fewer items and spend less money overall.
Right now with Shipt coupons, you can save up to $20 off your first grocery delivery and save 20% off your annual membership. There are also a number of Instacart promotions going on, including free delivery for 14 days with an Express Trial, or free shipping on orders of $10+.
These services partner with almost all big box store retailers. Their shoppers will shop, ring up, bag, and delivery your groceries for you. They’re dropped off right at your doorstep.
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