Spending more on groceries than you'd like to be? If you're willing to make some small changes to the way you shop, you could cut your grocery bill by as much as half. Here are 25 things you can do to max out your savings at the grocery store.
Only Buy on Sale
Switch from buying groceries as you need them, to only buying what's on sale each week. If you buy enough of each item to get you to the next sale, you'll never get stuck paying full price for anything on your shopping list.
Plan Your Menu Around the Sales
Enjoy cheap meals throughout the week by planning your menu around the weekly sales flyers. Since fruits and vegetables are cheapest when they're in season, this means you'll only be eating produce that's at its best.
Be Willing to Substitute
Making a recipe that calls for an ingredient you don't have? See if you can substitute it for an ingredient that you do have. It'll save you money at the store and space in your pantry.
Buy Ingredients, Instead of Prepared Meals
Frozen dinners and boxed mixes may be convenient, but they're also more costly. Get in the habit of buying the ingredients that you need to prepare the foods that you eat, and your grocery dollars will go further.
Switch to the Store Brand
Make the leap from name brand to store brand, and you'll shave an easy 25 percent or more off of your grocery bill. Most of the store brands are made by the name brand companies anyway, so you probably won't even notice a difference.
Buy Reduced-Price Items
Want a true bargain-basement price?
Then, scour every aisle of the store for reduced-priced groceries. Ultra-ripe produce, scratch and dent items, closeouts, food at or near its use-by-date — it's all reason for a reduced-price sticker.
Not sure you'll be able to use something before its use-by date? Toss it in the freezer when you get home, and you won't have to.
Shop at Drug Stores
Grocery stores aren't the only place to look for grocery bargains. Get in the habit of checking the drug store ads for deals on cereal, oatmeal, spices, baking supplies, soda, paper goods, and more.
A sale is nice, but a sale combined with a coupon and a rebate is even better. Look for opportunities to stack discounts, so you get out of the store for less. Lots of grocery stores offer digital coupons that you can load directly to your store card, so you don't even have to be a coupon clipper to save.
Local produce stands, farmer's markets and u-pick farms can be a great source for low-cost, high-quality produce, and when you shop this way, you get to meet the people who grew your food.
Grow Your Own Food
Fill a few containers or a garden plot with the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you use most. It's a great way to reduce your produce bill, and a great way to gain control over how your food is grown.
Never Pay Full Price for Meat
Something is always on sale in the meat department. Focus in on those items, and you'll shave an easy 25 percent off your tab. Want to save even more?
Then, choose lean cuts of meat. When you buy a package of 70 percent lean beef, 30 percent of what you're paying for is fat. When you buy 96 percent lean, only 4 percent of what you're paying for is fat — and that means a lot more meat for your money.
Buy Bagged Produce
Whenever possible, buy your fruits and veggies by the bag instead of by the piece. Apples, potatoes and many other produce items get sorted by size, with the largest pieces being sold individually (at a premium) and the rest being sold in bags.
Buy Dried Beans
Buy dried beans, instead of canned. If you cook them up in big batches and freeze them, they'll be just as convenient as canned.
Bigger packages are usually (but not always) cheaper. Compare unit prices to see if buying the biggest package will save you money. Then, weigh whether you'll be able to use it up before it goes bad.
Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Always throwing away spoiled produce? Switch to buying frozen, and you can dole out just what you need, so there isn't any waste.
Don't Buy Your Cheese in the Deli
Buy cheese from the refrigerated section, instead. You'll pay less per pound, and it'll stay fresh longer. Sometimes block cheese is cheaper than sliced cheese. When that's the case, carry the blocks to the deli, and see if they'll slice them for you. They're usually happy to do it.
Buy Spices in Bulk
Buy your spices from the bulk bins. They're usually cheaper, and you can buy just what you need, so you don't end up throwing away stale spices later. If your grocery store doesn't have bulk bins, try an international grocery store or natural foods store.
Buy Whole Foods
Buy whole fruits and vegetables, instead of prepared. You may have to spend a few minutes chopping or shredding when you get home, but your produce will be fresher and cheaper.
Skip Store-Bought Baking Mixes
Many store-bought mixes — cake mix, pancake mix, muffin mix, etc. — are made from little more than flour, baking powder, and sugar. Take a few minutes to mix the ingredients together yourself, and you'll save a ton.
Avoid Foods With Added Water
When choosing a ham, look for one that's labeled, "No water added," to ensure that you're paying for the weight of the ham and nothing more. Do the same when buying juice. Take a closer look at product labels, and you'll find added water in all sorts of foods and cleaners.
Don't Buy Drink Mixes
You can make real iced tea, lemonade and hot cocoa for a lot less coin (and your taste buds will thank you for making the switch). Check the package that your tea bags, lemon juice or cocoa powder came in for a basic recipe to get you started. Then, customize the recipe to your tastes over time. Try adding fresh fruit or herbs to create your own gourmet blends.
Avoid Individual Servings
Like the 100-calorie snack pack concept? Then, buy full-size packages of your favorite snacks, and make up your own snack packs. You'll get the same portion control, without paying a premium for it. This is true for foods like yogurt, too. A quart of yogurt is cheaper than a bunch of individual cups, and it only takes a sec to spoon out a serving.
Buy Frozen Seafood
Buy frozen seafood, instead of fresh. Since both products generally ship to the store frozen, the only difference between the two is the price tag and who does the thawing.
Mix Up Your Own Spices
Many spice and seasoning blends are made from spices that you probably already have on hand. Before you add another jar to your collection, check to see if it's something that you can make yourself.
Check Your Receipts for Mistakes
Mis-rings are common and costly. Bring all receipt errors to the store's attention, and you may just get your mis-rung items for free!