My Top 10 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

One of my favorite ways to save money is by using smart shopping at the grocery store.  It’s one way I can help contribute to my family as a stay-at-home mom…if I can keep my grocery bill very low, then we can stretch our one income a lot farther than it would normally go.

Learn how to save money on groceries with these 10 helpful tips! You don't just have to use coupons to save money on groceries...there are many other ways to cut your grocery budget and still be able to create healthy meals for your family. Use these tips to get your grocery budget under control while still eating well.

Since I’ve been practicing couponing, I’ve managed to bring our weekly grocery budget down from approximately $150 per week to only $80 per week.  And that’s about to get even lower because we are pretty close to becoming a diaper-free home ๐Ÿ™‚

These are some of my favorite ways to save at the grocery store:

1.  Shop your store’s sales flyer–This is a pretty simple concept…if it’s not on sale, don’t buy it.  I used to make the mistake of planning meals based on what I felt like having that week and then when I got to the store, I usually paid full price for everything on my menu.  I’ve learned now to base my menu on what the store has on sale that week, resulting in a much lower grocery bill.

2.  Sign up for your store’s club card–Not only do cardholders usually get better prices on items in the store, but sometimes they offer special incentives.  My local grocery store, Harris Teeter, offers its members special electronic coupons and special weekend deals on a few select items.  I have gotten some of my greatest deals from these special offerings, especially when I can combine them with a coupon.

3.  Use coupons–I’ve had many friends and family members tell me that they don’t bother with coupons because it is too much trouble and that the coupons are usually for things that they can’t or don’t use.  I used to think that too until I started using them.  There are coupons out there for almost everything that we use!  It does take some time each week to organize your coupons and compare them to your store’s weekly ad, but the savings can be huge.  Look for a store that doubles coupons for your biggest savings.

Related: How to Coupon

4.  Look for discounted meat–A good friend introduced me to this great concept.  My store marks down meat that is about to expire, and that’s a huge money saver for our family, especially since my husband likes to eat meat every night for dinner.  I’ve been able to get a 3 1/2 pound pot roast that normally sells for $13 for only $3 because I bought it the day before it was set to expire.  I took it home and immediately put it in the freezer so that it wouldn’t go bad.  We had a delicious pot roast dinner that following Sunday and it tasted even better because I knew I had saved so much!

5.  Look for discounted fruits/vegetables–This is along the same lines as the previous tip, but looking for bargains on your favorite produce can save you big time.  My store has a rack in the back of the produce department where I’ve been able to pick up discounted apples, bananas, oranges, butternut squash, potatoes and onions.  They are heavily discounted and still just fine to eat or bake with.

6.  Shop at different stores–I’m lucky enough to live in an area with many different grocery stores to pick from.  I do my main grocery shopping at Harris Teeter, but I also like to take a trip to Aldi from time to time.  Aldi has great prices on produce, but I know I can do better at Harris Teeter on things like cereal and meats.  Take some time to explore other stores to see which ones offer you the best prices and take turns shopping at each of them.

7.  Make your own–It’s very easy to make a quick batch of homemade pancakes and stick them in the freezer, and you’ll save a lot of money over the frozen ones in the supermarket.  I’ve experimented with making my own homemade applesauce (using discounted apples from the clearance rack), pancakes and sandwich bread and found that homemade not only tastes better, but saves us a lot of money too!

8.  Don’t shop without a plan–I’ve made the mistake of trying to shop for a week’s worth of meals without a list…I always fail miserably.  I forget certain items or buy more than I intended to because I forgot which meals I was thinking of making while walking up and down the aisles of the store.  Always try to plan out your menu and shopping list before you get to the store so that you know what you need to get.

Download your free menu planning printable here!

9.  Use cash instead of your debit card–This is a new rule for me, but something I’m hoping to make a permanent habit soon.  When I use my debit card, I know there is always enough in my account if I want to make an impulse purchase…usually of something I know we don’t need…but if I have a set amount of cash in my wallet, I know that I cannot buy anything extra that could make me overspend.

10. Tips from friends… What are some money-saving tips that you use at the grocery store?

If you’d like a free printable list with all these helpful tips, simply enter your name and email address below and I’ll send it to you right away:

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100 thoughts on “My Top 10 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store”

    1. How do you like using cash? I’m a little afraid that I would mess up and then be stuck at the register with not enough money…

  1. My Tip = Stock up if something you use often is on sale at a really good price. I use my stores club cards it is just so easy to save money with them. I am amazed at how many people I still see in line that do not.

  2. I have to agree with having a plan. A good trip can go bad quickly if you don’t have that list and stick to it.

  3. I follow most of these. However, I just don’t have the time to shop multiple stores. I miss the days of specialty shops – like they have in Europe. One stop shopping is great, but the quality is so much better when you have a bakery and butcher. I have found a fish/meat market which I frequent often for their specials.

    1. What a good idea! I should look into a meat market…I haven’t heard of one around here, but maybe I’ll get lucky ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Hi Lauren…thanks for stopping by! I’ll have to check out that market. I’ve only been there once, but it was so crowded that I couldn’t really get around to look at everything. Thanks for mentioning it ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. My husband, too, wants to have meat every night. If it were up to me, some nights we’d have peanut butter and apples.

    We like to shop at Gordon Food Service (a restaurant supply place also open to the public), and sometimes they’ll have discounted items. We’ve gotten great deals on lobster tail, turkey medallions, turkey breasts and fish this way.

  5. Tip #10. Always, always check your receipt! Too often the stores overcharge on their products and you don’t want to leave the store without getting your money back. Some of the stores will even reward you with a $5 gift card if you bring the wrong price to their attention.

  6. Corinne Rodrigues

    Great tips here. I follow the ‘make your own’ and ‘going with a list’ – always helps.

  7. I use the Kroger Preferred customer card and they send me coupons about twice a year for free items of what I buy from them. Also keep index cards showing a full meal and it’s shopping list so when you find meat on sale just look at your card to see what all you need for the meal.

  8. Well, time is money, they say — one can consider organizing the coupons and going to different stores to compare prices and get the best deals as a little extra job.
    Writing down a list is crucial, indeed!

  9. I am in such a tiny apartment that when Albertsons runs there meats for buy one get one free that I get a neighbor to purchase it with me and we split the price of the one we paid for so it is even cheaper for us. Plus when ites are 10 for $10 I pay for 5 and they pay for 5 and we both use coupons and we combine them so we have one for almost every item we buy. Then I bought a freezer and I keep it stocked with the items I find on sale. I use 1/2 of it and she uses the other 1/2/.

  10. I like all your ideas. I use all of them currently and find it really helps me save. I used to not do any of these suggestions and my grocery spending was a lot higher. I can’t think of anything to add but like all your suggestions.

    1. Wow, that’s lucky! I’ve heard that it’s difficult to use coupons at Kroger…do you think that’s true?

  11. We live in an area where there are no grocers with discounted veggies, no double coupons, etc. And because we eat everything from scratch, I usually can’t use coupons. You just don’t find them for a bag of dry beans very often, ya know? However, I do subscribe to a local blog that does the work of matching online coupons to my grocery store sales, and that saves me a lot of time. Occasionally I find something I can use. I definitely stock up on things we use regularly – sometimes whole chickens go on sale for 80 cents/lb here and I buy as many as can fit in our deep freeze.

  12. I’m a list maker. I love making them. I love ticking things off. So of course, I plan dinners for the week and take my list off to the shops. It really does make a difference. Thanks for all the other great tips!

  13. My aunt always shops at different stores and for a while my mom thought she was crazy to do this – until she realized that sometimes she had a sale so good they would pay her to buy the item.

    1. That is so funny! I love it when people tell me that couponing is too much work, but then ask me how I find things for so cheap ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Stephanie @ One Sleepy Mom

    I subscribe to a bunch of coupon blogs that do matchups, and always check them before shopping. I’ve been able to get so many things for free this way it’s unbelievable.

  15. I think you covered everything. The only thing I can think to add is “never shop when you’re hungry!” I’ve definitely noticed a huge difference in the amount of random stuff I’ve bought when I shop before eating versus after.

  16. Most of the things I buy don’t have coupons, but I do only buy meat when it’s on sale. I recently tried using coupons again, but I ended up spending twice as much as I normally spend on a shopping trip, and buying “food” that we ate, but wouldn’t normally have eaten and certainly didn’t *need* to be eating. So I dumped the coupons and I just watch for sales on the things we usually buy.

  17. Britni @ Our Eventual Homestead

    We stock up when something is a great deal. We also shop our store’s clearance section and at a little scratch & dent store in our town.

  18. I always make my meal plan for the week out of what is on sale at the store-it definitely helps out a lot!

    Many years ago I also started shopping only twice a month. It worked extremely well when my kids were younger. It is tougher now that they are teenagers and tweens who eat a great deal more! Now I do run and get fresh fruit and veggies every week– but only what is on sale!

  19. Those are some great tips, if my money is really funny, I will keep searching until I can get a good deal. There is so much food thrown away daily because people won’t buy something if it’s bruised or doesn’t look right to them.

  20. I always shop using the sales flyer. Helps enormously. The other trick I wish I had more time to do is to shop for 2 weeks at a time, rather than 1. For some reason, I always come in way below my budget for 2 weeks when I do this. Takes a lot of time and thought up front though. Good luck! I’m going to like your page on Facebook and would love it if you could return the favor – http://www.facebook.com/experiencedbadmom Thanks!

  21. Mary @ The Mommy Job

    Great tips! I use cash, take a list and stock up so I make less trips which helps keep impluse buying low.

    I also make HUGE batches of waffles and pancakse from scratch- FAR CHEAPER than buying them in a box.

  22. Buy in bulk so that you don’t have to go to grocery store from time to time. The tendency of visiting grocery often is that you’ll find things that is not really in your list or need.

  23. I love to make things myself too. I love to make my own dressings for salads. They are so easy, but sound impressive! ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. I always stock up on items that are on sale. For example, if tomato sauce is on sale for 10 cents a can (unheard of these days) I would buy 50 cans. Or if toilet paper goes on sale, buy ten packages. Sometimes if you time it just right you can buy enough to last until it goes on sale the next time.

  25. I shop at a discount store (save-a-lot), we save so much money, I wouldn’t even consider shopping at a “big-box” grocery store again!

    1. That is a great point! My kids are always trying to add things to the cart when they are in the store with me ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. These are really great tips. I just recently started shopping from our store’s sales ad, because they put it in the newspaper the Saturday before. So I have time to menu plan and make a list before Sunday, when we go shopping.

    1. We are getting a Wegman’s this summer and I can’t wait to check it out. How do you like their prices and coupon policy?

  27. I think everything was covered in the above posts. I agree about the plan. ALways have a list, make a menu for the week and never shop when you are hungry. Have a great day!!

  28. Great post – good tips. I love the discounted meat and freezer cooking. Muffins are my current favorite freezer food for easy breakfasts on-the-go.

  29. Kids love to ask for things in the store. I discuss with them each time we get ready to go in the store the behavior I expect, where they will sit or walk, and whether I will buy a snack or not and what it will be. This seems to make the trip go much smoother when shopping with kids.

  30. I coupon. I also shop flyers. But my biggest savings is when I don’t bring my husband with me. I always come out at least $20 cheaper when he is not there. Ha!

    suzy

  31. Great post! All of your tips are very helpful. The ones that work most for me are buying what is on sale (and planning meals around that) and getting the discounted meat. We have 5 kids, so things like that can really add up to a lot of savings!

    I liked your Facebook page so I can keep following!

  32. I try to buy fruit and vegetables that are in season, as that saves a lot of money. Also making my own rather than buying a packet that includes ingredients that are much cheaper separately. ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. I am part of the anti-couponing impulsive crowd. I cut out coupons and they just sit in my drawer for months and months until they are way past expiry. Great tips though. I do purposefully go to the discount bread store to get bread. I can’t justify paying $3-5 per loaf, when you can get 10 for a $10 there.

  34. I discovered that a Ralphs near our church discounts their bread, produce and meats on Sunday mornings. So we swing by there each week. Bread for $0.99 and bananas for $0.29 a pound are what I typically buy.

  35. Good tips….I can never seem to find the good deals on discounted meats and such. It doesn’t help that I really do not enjoy going grocery shopping…I need an attitude adjustment. Hey, perhaps that could be #10 suggestion from me….learn to enjoy the shopping trip.

  36. I get stuck in what I make for meals and that makes it challenging. I wish I had time to shop different stores for deals but it’s difficult as a full-time working mom!

  37. I try to follow your rules, but I struggle with the first one because I often find that my meals that match sale prices are missing one or more item I need.

    My tip (and this only works if you have some time) is to make a trip early in the week and walk around writing down sale prices of things we need. Then I go home and match them to coupons and add them to my list. It helps save me a lot of money and the headache of trying to match it in store (or finding out later there was a coupon available to print online)

  38. Jessica, The Debt Princess

    I employ all of those steps for saving money too. I was so excited when I saw bags full of red peppers for $1.50 at my grocery store last week. I bought three bags and chopped them up and froze them. I LOVE putting red peppers in my eggs and I make a ton of stirfries.

  39. With store club cards, both the customer and the seller win. The customer gets discounts and the seller gets important information of buying trends among shoppers.

  40. See You In the Garden

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who likes the marked down meat and produce. I sometimes do a dance for glee (inside my head of course) when I find a lot of produce we will use marked down. There are times when it is beyond the point of me being able to use it, but other times I have had to wonder why it was marked down.

    Thanks for sharing the tips.

    1. Randi Marie Page

      Good one! I forgot about this, it’s been a while, but this is definitely a great way to save!!!

  41. I try to use cash EVERYWHERE, it makes me much more accountable! Great tips, thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  42. Adelina Priddis

    Great tips! You’ve definitely made me feel better about my budget though, family of 5 (almost 6) and I usually spent $60/week, unless I’ve got to buy diapers that week, then it’s a little over $70. I ONLY buy dicsounted meat, otherwise I don’t buy it at all.

  43. You mentioned some great tips! I think I would just advise others to stick to the list they bring in order to save money…just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you “need it” and I feel they grab a lot of business that way…sometimes they even mark up prices before a sale, so really you aren’t saving that much. ๐Ÿ™‚ I try to always bring a list so I don’t over-do it.

  44. Great tips, I know they work because I do them as well. For my family of 6, we budget less than $100 a week, but this includes everything: food, toiletries, pet food, cleaning supplies, etc!

    I also shop alone if at all possible and on a full stomach!

  45. If you have a club store like costco or sams, watch their adds for big savings on paper items. Stock up when they have instore deals or coupons. Also try new foods. I get in the habit of making the same things over and over, but sometimes items that are on sale might make a great meal for your family or a side. Sometimes acorn squash, for example, is on sale and makes a great new side at a very inexpensive price!

  46. We actually use our credit card for the grocery store so we can get miles for flying to visit family. But we pay that credit card off at least twice per month so we don’t pay interest.

  47. Using cash instead of a card is a the best tip! You are def more careful when you know you only have so much in your pocket to spend…nobody wants to have to go through the embarassement of having to put something back because you went over.

  48. Kathy (Kangaroo Mama)

    Expanding on buying discounted meat and produce, there are also specific times of the days you can find cheaper or deeper discounts or more selections. So one of our stores marks things down the evening of closing and so 1st thing in the AM, you can find the widest selection but the discount is smaller than at the end of the day when there is less selection but deeper discount. So the best time is to go earlier in the day but during the 2nd round of discounts being marked down and there is still a good selection available. At least for me it seems to be the case.

  49. My biggest tip is to not go grocery shopping when you are hungry! Always go after you have eaten, because then none of that extra Splurges are tempting at all!

    We also tend to try to shop merely on the outskirts of the store as possible. Meaning, we don’t go up and down isles. We start on one side of the store, usually the produce section, and then work our way to the back, along the back and then back up the opposite end. This keeps us away from the highly processed boxed foods. we are able to get all the food we need for many healthy meals, and save a lot of money by not buying the boxed meals, plus it’s a LOT healthier too!

  50. Great tips. I stick to my list and don;t get sidetracked by “empty” calorie items. I try to stay away from junk. Ha ha! But I never make it. LOL. BUT I do try to limit them, this saves a lot.

    And I rarely fall for the last minute stuff when you check out, except for gum, that is my downfall.

    Happy shopping! ๐Ÿ™‚

    ~Allie

  51. Pingback: Getting Started with Coupons: How to Use Coupons | My Mommy World

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