Sometimes when you’re looking for ways to save money at the grocery store, the only thing that seems to get mentioned in coupons. While coupons are a great way to save money when grocery shopping, they aren’t the only way. In fact, there are a lot of ways that you can save money while grocery shopping that has nothing to do with coupons.
By far the best way is to change the way you shop. This is how those “extreme couponers” are able to get most of their savings (yes, it’s a bit ironic that it isn’t the coupons that are the main reason they save so much). They save 50% or more by purchasing what is on sale at the best price each week and then cook from their pantry rather than choose meals to make and buy the food for those meals. By cooking from your pantry you end up only having to purchase the food that is highly discounted rather than at full retail price.
Here are ten more ways that you can save money without using coupons at the grocery store:
Use a List
One easy way to save money is to shop with a grocery list. If you make a list of items you need beforehand – especially sale items – it will help cut down on unneeded spending. You’ll be less likely to buy the cookies advertised on an end cap if they’re not on your list.
Shopping the weekly specials can also have you save money at the grocery store. Of course, this is only helpful if items you need are on sale. But if they are, or if they’re dry items that won’t go bad, you’re better off buying them while they’re on sale.
Priced to Sell
Sometimes, a grocery store will stick a “priced to sell” sticker on meat, dairy, or deli products that are still completely edible but are nearing their “sell by” date. Because the store is trying to get rid of these items, the prices tend to be lower. For instance, a package of hamburger could be marked down a couple of dollars because it’s “sell by” date is a few days away. Just make sure that if you buy these items, you use them or freeze them before the “sell by” date.
A lot of people prefer to make one big weekly or biweekly trip to the grocery store. If your grocery store is difficult to get to or if you don’t have time, that’s completely understandable. If not, it might be smart to make multiple trips. It’s easy to overspend when you have a large cart full of food. You might not know what you put in there and might forget to weed items out. Running in for one or two items will limit overspending and force you to only get what you need.
Almost all grocery stores post the unit price on the shelf near each product. The unit price tells you how much you’re paying per ounce for your product. The lower the unit price, the better the deal. For instance, a 4-pound bag of pasta might be 50 cents per ounce while a 2-pound bag might be 90 cents per ounce. In this case, the 4-pound bag might be more expensive, but you’re getting a better deal in the long run.
Most of us have a couple of brand name products that we loyally use. But there are a lot of products that have generic alternatives which are cheaper than the brand name product and taste just as good. A generic brand of cereal maybe $2 cheaper than that brand name box.
Don’t Buy Prepared Food
While it might be convenient to buy premade food or pre-cut vegetables, those items are generally $1 – $5 more expensive than their counterparts. Why buy a whole container of cut up mushrooms when you could buy whole ones for a fraction of the cost? And why spend $3.99 for a half pound of egg salad when you can buy a carton of eggs for about $1.50?
Buy Top or Bottom Shelf Items
Most grocery stores stock the higher priced items at eye level and leave the less expensive items at the very top or bottom of the shelf. If someone sees a name brand item at eye level, the grocery store hopes that they’ll buy that instead of looking for a cheaper deal elsewhere on the shelf. If you’re really concerned about saving money, look around the shelf and aisle before choosing a specific product.
Some stores try to get rid of seasonal items or items they’re no longer going to stock by putting them on clearance. You can find a wide variety of items in the clearance section and some of them are bound to be marked down by 50% to 90%. Sometimes you can find spices or canned goods and sometimes seasonal items that the store didn’t sell out of. It’s always worth it to check your clearance section to see what you can find.
There are a couple of grocery stores that won’t honor sale prices if you don’t have a loyalty card. Each grocery store has different rules for their loyalty cards, however. Some offer points that can be used toward future purchases while some offer special discounts for certain items.
(Photo courtesy of sdc2027)