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How to Spend Less at the Grocery

Posted On: March 6th, 2018

I think it is safe to say we have all seen those crazy couponing shows, the ones where someone gets $800 worth of groceries for $20 by using manufacturer coupons. This got me thinking about ways to save money at the grocery store outside of just using coupons. On average, a family of four spends $200 on groceries per week! (Find the USDA food plan report here.) That is roughly $10,000 a year! Imagine how much extra money you would be able to save if you spent a quarter less than that. It could be enough for a nice vacation! Here are some money-saving ideas I intend to try on my next grocery run.

            Meal Planning: Take a few minutes each week to plan out your meals, or you could even plan them out for the entire month, and then make a list of ingredients needed. This way you know exactly what you need and are less tempted to buy the things you don’t. Enlist the help of one of the many apps available that can help you manage your grocery list and can even help keep track of food in your pantry. (Plus, if you map out a list, you are less likely to forget things and have to make another trip to the store—which saves you gas money!)

Spend less time at the store: Cut back on the time you spend at the store. The less time you spend at the store the less tempted you are to make impulse buys. By planning to reduce your trips, say from a few times a week to only once, you buy more efficiently.

            Check the ads and find coupons: Each week stores send out ads that usually end up in our garbage cans. Don’t like the paper? Don’t worry! Most stores have their ads available on their websites or apps. For example, on the Kroger app you can see their current add, scroll through manufacturer coupons, and see the current price of all items in the store. Don’t forget to sign up for your store’s rewards programs; usually you can get better discounts or special sales.

            Don’t be afraid of discount stores: Discount grocery stores such as Aldi often get a bad rap, but really they are great! Often times you can find similar or even the same items as the big chains for a fraction of the cost. I have found so many name-brand items at Aldi! Make sure you bring your own bags and a quarter for a cart and start saving!

            Go for generic: I know this seems like a no brainer, but sometimes I find myself going for the expensive box of cereal just because it’s a name brand. Generic brands usually taste the same (and occasionally better) as the name brands but are half the cost.

            Check the discount section: Often times stores will have discount areas for food that is approaching its sell by date. These items are still perfectly fine for use. The biggest one that comes to mind for me is the meat department. I check the manager specials section each time, and if it’s something I don’t think I will use immediately I freeze it.

            Find an app that pays you to shop: You read that right: There are apps out there that pay you to grocery shop! I use Ibotta, but there are others such as shopkick, fetch rewards, & savingstar, just to name a few. Often times there is a sign-up bonus, and if you refer people you can earn more cash that way. Most of the time the cash back is a small amount (between $0.25 and $1 on items), but over time that can add up.


            How do you save when you shop?  If you have any strategies you have used that work, email me at Val@rivervalleycu.org or find me on social media at Val Makes Cents!