Want to slash your grocery store tab? Saving money on groceries is easier than collecting binders of coupons and buying 455 rolls of toilet paper.
We’ve compiled a list of simple (and some unexpected) tips to help you maximize your grocery budget.
1. Check Unit Prices
Sometimes it’s tempting to think buying in bulk is better, but that’s not always the case. That modest two pack of paper towels might actually be more affordable than the insanely large case of 16.
To calculate the unit price, divide an item’s price by its quantity. Consider how much you’ll actually be saving (if anything — and definitely not shelf space) by buying the bulk item.
2. Meal Prep to Make a Grocery Shopping List
We know, we know. This seems soooo obvious, but meal planning for the week and making a grocery list can help you stay on task, not waste food and avoid frivolous purchases — like cheese wedges.
3. Don’t Shop at Eye Level
Shelves at eye level are prime real estate. You’ll often find more expensive items there — or items that attract kids.
Or think about this: Between 1975 and 2000, the size of shopping carts tripled. A bigger cart doesn’t mean you have to fill it all the way up.
Once you recognize these mind games, you can more easily avoid them.
4. Shop Seasonally
Stay in your lane — or season.
Buying organic strawberries out of season, for example, can cost you a ton of money. Instead, shop and plan your meals seasonally. If you need out-of-season produce, buy it frozen.
Or consider shopping at a farmers market. During the summer months, there are many farmers markets that set up selling freshly grown produce to buy locally, instead of buying at the grocery store.
5. Ask for a Rain Check
You know when there’s a BOGO for Nutella — but then you get to the store and it’s gone? Someone else got greedy.
Don’t be afraid to ask your grocer for a rain check so you can still snag the sale when the store restocks.
6. Store Your Food Properly
You buy a container of spinach or bundle of avocados, but before you’re able to devour all the green goodness, it goes bad.
Avoid wasting money at grocery stores by storing your food properly, so it lasts longer.
7. Don’t Shop Hungry
The golden rule of grocery shopping: Thou shall not step into an aisle the least bit hungry.
Seriously. You’ll start grabbing anything and everything that looks good. Then, because you’re planning for an immediate meal, you’ll have a ton of fresh, ready-to-eat impulse purchases that’ll linger in your fridge and go bad before you have time to devour them all.
8. Shop Your Pantry First
Before your next grocery run, take stock of what’s already in your pantry, fridge and freezer. What can you make with those items? Chances are you have a box of noodles or a carton of eggs. Use those already-purchased staples to build out your weekly meals.
9. Don’t Buy Pre-Cut Produce
It turns out it's not just the higher price of already prepped produce that makes it a questionable choice, although that alone is definitely reason enough to skip it. There are plenty of other good reasons why those pre-packaged items are best kept out of your cart and left on the grocery store shelf. From nutrient loss to anti-browning dips and more, it’s best just to stick with the ‘real’ thing.
10. Compare Stores
Ah, the store loyalists.
It’s easy to lean into one grocery store. You grow close with its aisles, its products, its cashiers… But you can save a bundle of money by jumping around. Use a grocery comparison chart to determine the best grocery stores to buy your go-to items.
For example, you could save a ton of money on paper products at the dollar store. Then, hit up your favorite grocer for your fresh fruits and veggies.
Or Have Your Groceries Delivered
Sure, you’ll have to pay for a grocery delivery service if someone brings your groceries to you, but opting to get your groceries dropped off at your door can actually save you a ton of time and money because you’ll be forced to plan out your meals.
Plus, there’s no veering off into the snack aisle.