Save money? Yes, please! You might be surprised to know some of these smart shopping practices can be made into grocery store habits that make your food dollars stretch even more!
Here are a few tips to follow:
1. Price Compare with Grocery Store Apps
Browse store flyers to find the best deals for what you definitely need. You can find out what’s on sale on stores’ websites or apps. Some show specials, and others allow you to clip coupons digitally. You can even build your grocery carts in different apps and see which one comes out cheaper, then complete your order with that retailer.
2. Shop with a Calculator
If you’re trying to stick to a specific budget, then decide on that number—like not spending more than $50 at the store—and hold yourself accountable. One way to do this is to calculate every item as you add it to your cart. You have a calculator built into your phone, so there’s no excuse!
3. Plan Meals Based on What’s in Your Pantry
I.e. if you have a ton of chickpeas in the cupboard, look for recipes featuring them before you go to the store. Think of grocery shopping based on what’s in your pantry as your own Chopped challenge to see what you can make without spending any money.
4. Use a Smaller Cart or Basket
Using a basket or a small cart at the store will force you to only buy what you need instead of tossing in impulse purchases.
5. Buy in Bulk—Online
If you want to save money by buying in bulk, do it without purchasing a membership to a warehouse store! But only buy in bulk for what you know you’ll eventually use and have pantry space for—you probably don’t need 10 pounds of pork chops or 30 cans of tomatoes.
6. Vacuum Seal Meat and Freeze It
If you use chicken breasts every single week and can get them for $0.99 per pound in bulk versus $5.99 per pound for a regular package, then use a vacuum sealer to store them properly. Check out our tips for freezing food here.
7. Shop Bottom Shelves and Outer Aisles
Grocery stores put the pricier name brands at eye level so you’re more likely to grab it without looking around for a better deal. Scan from top to bottom before you purchase.
8. Go Generic
If you aren’t brand loyal to a product, then try generic.
9. Shop from the Bulk Bins
Not sure if you like a certain ingredient? Only need a cup of quinoa for a salad, or a sprinkle of peanuts to finish a dish? Hit the bulk bins. It’s a great way to experiment with new grains, dried beans, nuts, or even spices instead of committing to an expensive bag and letting it collect dust in the pantry.
10. Get Dried Beans Instead of Canned
Cooking with dried beans requires a little extra time to soak to save a lot of money. Canned is fine for convenience, but if you eat a lot of beans, dried will take your dollar further. Instead of paying $1 per 15 oz. can (which is almost half liquid and half-cooked beans, so $2 per pound), you could get FOUR pounds of dried beans for $5 ($1.25 per pound dried, and they double in size when cooked). Look at the price per ounce when comparing products such as dried vs canned beans, this will give you an idea which is the better deal.
11. Buy Frozen
Frozen veggies can be more inexpensive than fresh some times, plus they keep longer and create less food waste if you are unsure about dinner plans. Buying frozen meat may also be a less expensive option, always double-check!
12. Buy Everything Else In-Season
In-season produce will be cheaper because it’s so bountiful, even at a farmers’ market. It’s more common to find peaches or tomatoes on sale in the summer than in the winter.
13. Wash Your Own Lettuce
Buying pre-washed bagged greens is always more expensive. A 7 oz. tub of romaine leaves is $4.49, while three whole hearts (about 12 oz.) is $2.99. Buy and wash a ton of kale at once too—a bunch is typically at least 7 oz. for $2.50, while a washed bag of 5 oz. runs $4.50.