I should have invested in Chipotle.
Considering the amount of money I’ve spent there you would think I was a primary investor and buying shares in the place. It’s still my go-to place to eat out but we all know that adds up quick and eating at home is not only a healthier option but going to save you money in the long run. Everyone wants to learn great tips to save money on groceries and that’s what this blog is all about.
If you’re looking to save money on groceries I thought I would pass on a bunch of tips that hopefully will lend you a hand.
100 Great Tips To Save Money On Groceries
1. Make A Grocery List & Stick With It
People who shop with a grocery list end up spending less money overall than those who don’t. When you go in with a plan you are less likely to grab things you don’t need.
2. Make A List Of What You ALREADY Have
This is just as important as a grocery list, how many times have you got to the store and can’t remember if you already had onions at home? This helps prevent you from overbuying on things that you already had.
3. Get To Know How Much Food Costs
Most people know the average cost of 3 things: Milk, bread and eggs. After that they tend to have no idea. It’s hard to know if you’re getting a deal or getting ripped off on something if you don’t know what it should cost. Start to get familiar with the staple items you buy when you’re out or by reading flyers.
4. Don’t Shop Hungry
If you find yourself eating a box of Count Chocula straight out of the box in the cereal aisle you’re too hungry. When you shop hungry you not only purchase items that tend to be unhealthy you purchase more of them. When hungry you tend to shop for what you want NOW and not later. With low blood sugar you tend to crave those fast acting carbs which tend to be junk so for your health and your wallet at least have a decent snack beforehand.
5. Shop At Bigger Grocery Stores Or Costco
Places like Whole Foods are great but you might have to give them one of your kidneys as collateral. Not always, but sometimes the big chain grocery stores can carry the exact same items that are marked up big time at specialty markets. So this is where getting familiar with produce and where it comes form can help educate you to save money on groceries.
6. Buy Generic Brands
This piggybacks a little off the last point. A lot of times the generic store brand product can come from the same location as the more expensive name brand. This tends to be the case with things like frozen vegetables and fruits which supplies grocery stores and more expensive name brands. For frozen produce go with the cheaper generic.
7. Buy Frozen Produce
Just, while we’re on the subject. Frozen food obviously will last longer and there will be less wastage. Fresh food needs to be the cornerstone of your diet but if you’re not on top of it quick it turns into a bigger mess than my love life. We throw away around 20 pounds of food a month and that adds up. With frozen you just use what you need and it leads to less wastage.
8. Look For Discount Grocery Stores
These are different than Costco or big supermarkets and the places can vary depending on where you live. Some of them are membership type places but the sell things at pretty big discounts.
9. Use Coupons
A complete no-brainer but basically these places are giving you discounts for free so it’s clearly worth using.
10. Sign Up For Grocery Discount eMails
This is dependent on where you shop or live but as we try to go more paperless some places will have online flyers and sign up lists so you can get notified of weekly specials. I’m just glad Chipotle doesn’t do this..
11. Stock Up On Sale Items
This works best for the frozen stuff but when it goes on sale grab a whole bunch of it! Especially if it’s things you know you use a lot. This works well for proteins. If there’s a sale on chicken drumsticks buy a bunch of them and freeze them to have ready for summer barbecues.
12. Pay With Cash Instead Of Credit
When you pay with cash you tend to refrain from spending too much, you can only buy a certain amount depending on how much money you have. People who shop with credit cards tend to spend more with the average amount spent going from $4.50 to $7. If you know you have more available money it tends to make you spend more than if you just have forty bucks in your pocket.
13. Plan Your Meals Based On Protein Sales
Protein, whether it be beef, chicken or fish tends to be the cornerstone of most meals and then we build the rest around it. Take a look at the flyers and sales for protein that week and then go with those sale items and then you know what the base of each meal will be for the next 7 days.
14. Shop Once A Week
We tend to spend more when we go for food every few days. When you make it a one stop shop each week it helps you narrow down just what you need.
15. Shop On The Perimeter Of The Store
Any good list of tips to save money on groceries should start here. Every Grocery store you’ve pretty much ever been in has the exact same layout. All the healthy stuff you want is on the outside ring so stick to that. It’s not only better for you but this fresh stuff is actually cheaper than all the packaged and fake crap in the middle of the store.
16. Stay Shopping At The Same Place
Variety is good but to save money on groceries staying at the same place can be better for your wallet. When you are at a familiar place you know where everything is, know how to get in and out quick and don’t waste your time. When you go to a new place there is more to see and can take longer to get around. Remember, when it comes to retail the longer you spend in a place the more money you end up spending.
17. Shop With A Calculator
Add things up as you buy them, this will help keep you on budget and give you an idea how much you’re spending so there’s no shock when you see that final total pop up at the checkout.
18. Avoid Impulse Items
You know what these are, they are those last minute things that you are enticed to pick up by the checkout. These items tend to be candy and chocolate, magazines and drinks as most people get somewhat thirsty when shopping. These products are marked up heavily and appeal to kids who might be whining for them (aka me).
19. Watch Out For 10 for $10 Specials
Or any variation of this like 5 for $5. You need to check what the regular prices of these items are. This tactic is used to clear out inventory quickly. If a can of tuna is usually 79 cents buying 10 for a dollar a piece is not a deal.
20. Watch Out For The Color Red
Red gets our attention and it’s why signs for sales and promotions tend to always be in red. It’s kind of alarming and implies a sense of rush. When you see red promotion signs it’s a good chance there isn’t really a deal going on but more about promoting the product.
21. Don’t Fill Your Shopping Cart
Deep down we tend to all have a little bit of a hoarding mentality and have this desire to fill up the space provided. With a shopping cart this is the case and it’s why shopping cart sizes have gone up by almost 40% in the past few decades.
22. Shop With A Basket
Following up on the shopping carts. This will help you save money as you will only buy as much as you can hold and a basket makes you have to be more precise and selective. Stores want you to use carts to buy more. It’s why you see hundreds of shopping carts but maybe only a dozen or so baskets which aren’t usually out in the open
23. Don’ Be Afraid To Ditch Items
Have you tried to get rid of unwanted items in the checkout lane? It’s almost impossible as they’ve been made so narrow to discourage and make it difficult to ditch those things you don’t really need. So before you pay do a once over of your purchases and cut out what you know you don’t need.
24. Shop Later In The Day
This is when things tend to get discounted like ready made meals, breads, and baked goods.
25. Shop with Upbeat Music
Stores can use their own piped in music which tends to be slower to match your heart rate which calms and slows you down and the longer you’re in the more you spend. If you listen to higher beat per minute music it keeps you from lolly gagging and gets you focused.
26. Crunch The Numbers Before Buying In Bulk
Bulk buying can always save money but make sure it’s actually working out cheaper than buying the individual items.
27. Separate Bunches Of Bananas
You don’t have to buy a huge bunch of bananas if you don’t really need that many. Just break off the amount that you want. You’re paying for the weight, not the number.
28. You Don’t Have To Buy The Exact Amount Of A Promotion
If that 5 for $5 is actually a deal it doesn’t mean you have to buy all 5 if you don’t need them. Just get three or two if that’s all you want.
29. Shop On A Tuesday
Tuesday tends to be the slowest day in retail, this is why things like music tend to be released on Tuesdays and movies offer discounts. It’s slower and you can get in and out quicker.
30. Find The Quietest Time That Works Best For You
You might be too tired after work on Tuesday but that’s a better trade off than fighting the entire city in the supermarket on the weekend. I’ll keep saying it, the longer you are in the more you spend. It’s one of the best tips to save money on groceries so find the best time in the week where you know it’s going to be quiet.
31. Look For Substitutes
Keep your receipt and look for the most expensive items. Are those things you can replace with a less expensive option?
32. Make Multiple Trips
You might not totally agree with this and I understand but if you look at places in the area you might find some things cheaper in different locations. It’s more running around but even if it saves you $10 a week that’s over $5oo during the year.
33. Learn The lowest Price Point For An Item
As I’ve mentioned, most people don’t really know how much food costs, or is supposed to cost. When you educate yourself as much as possible you’ll know when something is at pretty much its lowest cost and you can swoop in for the kill. Great for expensive items like nuts and seafood.
34. Sign Up For Loyalty Programs
Getting air miles and rewards with your credit cards is great but some stores offer their own loyalty rewards program and you’ll be notified of promotions and sales as well.
35. Start Shopping Right Away
The average person spends 15 minutes in a store before making their first purchase. The over purchasing mechanism is now engaged and you will be spending more than if you go in with a plan.
36. Move Quickly Through The “Decompression” Zone
This is the area that greets you when you walk in. It is where you see flowers, colorful produce and there may be a bakery. The colors, freshness, and smells are there to relax and slow you down to lead to ultimately purchasing more.
37. Buy Chicken Breast With The Bone In
It’s a little more work to use it but this can cut the price in half. Also, cooking with the bone in gives the chicken a lot more flavor and keeps it moister.
38. Save Chicken Bones For Homemade Broth/Stock
Broth or stock is actually really healthy and I know store varieties are not that expensive but they can be filled with MSG and other additives. Making it at home is super easy, cheap and very nutritious.
39. If Buying Pork Choose The Shoulder
This is quite a bit cheaper than the loin and in my opinion tastes a lot better too.
40. Green Vegetables Are Cheap
There’s just not getting around this. Not only are green leafy vegetables the healthiest thing you can eat they are just not expensive at all. Where I shop I can buy a HUGE (yuge?) bunch of kale for $1.99. It’s enough for 3-5 big salads or almost 8 green smoothies. Greens only cost you pennies per serving.
41. Shop Alone
Not always an option but you are more likely to make impulse purchases when you group shop. About 65% of the purchases are unplanned when you shop with a group.
42. You Might Have To Leave The Kids At Home
Even if you don’t want to admit it you would be shocked at how much extra money is spent due to the fact kids dictate a lot of a families purchases. The actual term is called “pester power” and through a combination of annoyance, persistence and nagging kids do get what they want a lot of the time and it’s not necessarily things you planned on getting. (these also tend not the be the healthiest items)
43. Shop On The Lowest Shelves
Brand name companies pay big bucks to be on the middle shelves. This is the bullseye zone right in your line of sight and they are charged slotting fees to be there. The more expensive items tend to be up high and the generic items are low down. It doesn’t seem like much to bend down to get something but think of the times you don’t want to bend down to pick up something at home. The supermarkets are banking on your laziness to not reach down and go for the more easily accessible items.
44. Go For The Cheapest Cuts Of Beef
They are: Brisket, Skirt steak, Flank steak, Top rump, Chuck & blade
45. Start Buying Quinoa
A weird word to say but it’s becoming as cheap as rice and WAY more nutritious. Can be used in a rice cooker and added into salads and used in a multitude of ways.
46. Ask For Complimentary Add-Ons
This is something I had never been aware of. Ask employees for these add-ons as some places the butcher will tenderize meat for you, bakers will slice up loaves of bread and florists will add in fresh greenery with flowers. Just ask!
47. Seriously, Avoid The Center Aisles
Besides frozen produce, the stuff that will destroy your health is here and the supermarkets want you to buy it. Fresh food spoils quick but packaged food can have an indefinite shelf life because well, it’s not really food. As it pertains to the center aisles the more you see, the more you buy and according to the research into shopping psychology the NUMBER 1 thing they focus on is getting you down those aisles. So ignore the end caps which entice you down and force you to weave up and down them.
48. Get A Rain Check On Baked Goods
Some stores will let you buy bakery items up to one month in advance. So when you see a sale go for it but you don’t have to take the item home just yet. Keep the receipt and pick it up closer to the time you need the item.
49. Buy Frozen Seafood
Another one of the great tips to save money on groceries the stores don’t like to share. A lot of the “fresh” seafood in North America actually comes in frozen to the stores. So a lot of the time the seafood that you can find frozen in the store is the same as the thawed product being displayed which can cost up to 40% more.
50. Go For Chicken Thighs
Boneless skinless chicken thighs will save you around $2.50 per pound over a pound of chicken breast. They are also more tender and don’t dry out as quick as chicken breast.
51. Buy Dry Beans Over Canned
1 1/2 cup of dry beans cost only around .34 cents and once cooked you get the same amount as you would from two 15 ounce cans.
52. Shop At Farmers Markets
Not only is it the best source of local food but it’s one of the last places you can actually haggle on price. You can’t get away with that at a Walmart, trust me I’ve tried. The best thing is to go regularly so you’re a recognized customer and that’s when you can start negotiating on price or getting some extra stuff thrown in for free.
53. The IOU Still Exists
See a sale item but they are out of it? Ask for an IOU or a raincheck. You’ll get a slip of paper and can get that item at the sale price when it’s back in stock even if the promotion is not still going. You can even ask managers to sub in a similar item. Just don’t bat your eyes and smile when asking or you get yourself banned from the store like I did..
54. Use Self Checkout To Save Money
I love self-checkout because I get to pretend I’m a cashier and can do it in pajamas. People who use self-checkout spend less than those who don’t. You tend to be more specific with the items you’re there to get so you don’t overbuy. Also, the self-checkout doesn’t have all those impulse items around them.
55. Cut Up Your Own Foods
It’s amazing what we’ll do for convenience as you can find pre-cut things like apples, chicken, even potatoes to mash up. But as usual, you pay for being able to skip those steps. A whole pineapple is going to cost at least a few dollars less than an already sliced one.
56. Buy Whole Chickens
It’s not actually that hard to divide up a chicken and they end up being WAY cheaper than buying the individual pieces. It’s a combination of people not knowing how and just wanting it done for them that makes you overpay for something that needn’t be that way. Here’s an easy video showing how to cut up a chicken.
57. Make Stock Out Of Leftover Bones
We’re on a roll with these last few points. You’ve bought the whole chicken now you’ve got all these great bones that can make one of the healthiest things there is, stock or broth. This also ends up costing you pennies and will not be full of additives and MSG like store bought stock. Here’s my blog on the benefits, and how to make bone broth/stock.
58. Grow Your Own Herbs & Vegetables
Probably the most obvious point but another thing that people are hesitant about. Herbs will cost you pennies in the long run compared to how much they cost in the store. And some vegetables don’t take a lot of effort to keep them going such as tomatoes, peppers, and garlic. The easiest herbs to grow are also some of the healthiest such as:
59. Don’t Store Bread In Paper Bags
Have you noticed bakeries always give you your bread in paper bags? This is because it can make the bread dry out quicker leading you to spend more. Transfer that bread to an airtight plastic bag when you get home.
60. Buy The Whole T-Bone Steak
This is especially if you’re a fan of filet mignon. Every T-bone has a small filet mignon on the bone and also a New York strip on the other side and this can save you $3-5 a pound. T-bone was also the nickname I tried to give myself in high school but it never caught on..
61. Compare The Unit Price For Similar Items
The unit price tells you how much something cost per “unit” such as price per 100 grams or 100ml. But you don’t have to crunch the numbers to find the actual price as it should be listed in small print under the main price. You can then determine if a large or small item is the better buy.
62. Don’t Buy Toiletries In A Supermarket
It’s easy to grab all the conditioners and hair products I need all in one shot but you’re overpaying for that convenience. You’ve probably noticed the price increase on those items so stick to saving money by getting them at drug stores/pharmacies where they are usually cheaper.
63. Don’t Buy Exotic Foods In The Grocery Store
Specific spices and exotic ingredients will cost a lot more in a grocery store as opposed to a specialty or international food market. The regular grocery store only brings in a small amount of those items which drives up the cost per unit. The specialty market will carry a lot more for a lower price.
64. Bottled Water Really Isn’t A Deal
Things like Perrier, San Bennedeto and Fiji water is really good but not super cheap but I’m talking about those regular multipack bottled water. A lot of the time this water is no different than the water you get out of your tap and the store variety can cost you up to $1 a bottle. Buy a good steel water bottle and drink the free stuff at home. Or get a good water filter or Brita to make your water even cleaner.
65. Wash Your Own Vegetables
With pre-washed salads, you are paying more for something that only takes you a few seconds at home and the pre-washed stuff can cost you 3 times as much.
66. Grate Your Own Cheese
These pre-grated cheese can cost 2-3 times more than the normal block would. Find the best deal on cheese and remember it only takes like 30 seconds to do.
67. Buy Bagged Potatoes
Even if you don’t think you need that many a few loose potatoes can cost just as much as a 5-pound bag. Just store the potatoes in a cool dark place and they’ll last for awhile.
68. Buy Bagged Onions
Same deal here. Sometimes the bag of onions is actually cheaper than buying the individual ones.
69. Make Your Own Spice Mixes
These are not cheap for some reason. Usually, because they have a picture of Emeril or Jamie Oliver on them. If you like a certain rub or spice mix just check the ingredients and you can buy the individual ingredients that cost next to nothing and make your own. You might even like this better as you can adjust the ingredients however you want.
70. Create A Menu
If you have your week set out ahead of time you’ll know exactly what you need to buy to make those dishes as opposed to buying various ingredients you might not end up using at all.
71. Shop Monthly
This might not be practical for you but also might be right up your ally. The advantage of not shopping so often means you’ll stock up on the essentials and the less time you spend in grocery stores the less you’ll succumb to impulse items or things you don’t need.
73. Check Out The Dollar Store
I probably wouldn’t buy canned spam from them but they are actually an overlooked place for things like spices and herbs. Also, a good spot to pick up cleaning supplies and even toiletries.
74. Keep An Eye On The Scanned Price
Sometimes promotion or sale price don’t get in the system by the time you have your items rung up. Keep an eye what the display says so nothing get’s missed that you’re trying to save money on.
75. Play With Overage
Some stores like Walmart give what is called “overage”. That means if you have a coupon for $3 and the item only costs $2 that extra dollar can be applied to other items. Then you can apply that overage to items that don’t often have coupons such as milk or meat.
76. Load Up On The Cheap, But Nutritionally Denser Foods
Instead of white rice go for brown or wild rice, buy quinoa which is super nutritious and use things like that instead of pasta.
77. Don’t Forget About Bulk Barns
I live in these places, and a lot of people think they are just places to buy pinatas and copious amounts of jelly beans. Bulk stores though are pretty much health food stores. They are the best place to get some of those items I mentioned above such as wild rices and quinoa. It’s also a cheaper source of natural nut butters, teas, raw nuts and seeds, chia and flax seeds, you name it!
78. Shop Online
You’d be surprised what you can find as far as food goes that can end up a lot cheaper, even if you’re too cheap like me to pay for Amazon prime. And you can do it while wearing a onesie..
79. Ditch The Instant Oatmeal for Bulk Oats
Instant oatmeal can be ok when you’re pressed for time but let’s be honest, we’re talking about oats here that don’t take too long in general. You can let oats sit in water or almond milk overnight and in the morning heat it up if you like it warm and just throw on some berries, ground flax seed and almonds for a really good breakfast. Another tip is add 1/2 cup of oats to a Tupperware container with hot water and it’ll be good to go by the time you get to work.
80. Buy Canned Salmon
Hear me out, obviously, fresh salmon is amazing but not honestly the cheapest thing whereas canned salmon is not the worst alternative in the world. It still provides you with the omega-3’s which are amazing for your health. Canned salmon is also great to have on hand for use in salads to bump up the protein content.
FOOD STORAGE TIPS
Saving money on groceries starts with saving money at home and that means better food storage so you’re not throwing out as much food each month. The average household is throwing out around 20 pounds of food a month. Added up this is around $2000 a year, around the same cost as 3 lattes from Starbucks.
So let’s keep this list going:
81. Store Onions In Pantyhose
This can keep them good for 8 months. Just put them in and tie a knot between each onion. Also, doubles as the worst Christmas decoration ever.
82. Keep Green Onion In The Freezer
Chop up some green onion and put them in an empty water bottle and put in the freezer. It vastly extends its life and they thaw out very quickly and you can just throw them in a stir-fry.
83. Extend The Life Of Your Herbs
Cover the leafy part of the plant in wrapped plastic and use an elastic at the base of the plastic and store in the fridge.
84. Keep Avocado Lasting Longer
Use some lemon juice on the exposed avocado and wrap in plastic to keep it lasting much longer. Store in the fridge.
85. Keeping Guacamole Longer
Like my love life, guac goes bad pretty quick. The extend its freshness spray with an olive oil cooking spray and wrap in plastic to prevent it from going brown. And remember this song, always..
86. Keep Salad Longer
This is no joke but if you wrap your salad in a towel and keep it in the fridge you can get an extra week out of it.
87. Vegetables In Tinfoil
Store crunchy vegetables like carrots, celery and broccoli in tin foil in the fridge to greatly extend their life and freshness.
88. Butter Keeps Cheese Fresher
I guess because they’re basically like cousins or something but when you cut cheese (nope, not making that joke. This is a classy blog..) the ends tend to dry out very easily. Spreading a little bit of butter keeps it from drying out.
89. Asparagus In A Vase
Though not technically a flower, asparagus needs to be stored like them and put upright in a vase with water.
90. Mushrooms In Paper
Asparagus in a vase, mushrooms in paper; these sound like great band names. Mushrooms do much better stored in paper bags. So when you get them home take them out of the plastic they usually come in.
91. Keep Milk In The Back Of The Fridge
The coldest part of a fridge is up top and at the back and that’s an ideal place for milk as it needs the coldest spot. Try to avoid keeping it on the door of the fridge as the door gets exposed to all the warm room air as it’s constantly opened and closed.
92. Don’t Store Onions & Potatoes Together
These two things don’t play well together and need to be kept separated. A better storage match is potatoes and apples. For some reason, apples help prevent potatoes from sprouting.
93. Keep Bananas Away From Other Fruit
Just while we’re on the subject of difficult produce. Bananas emit a gas called ethylene which accelerates ripening in fruit. So find a time out corner for your bananas somewhere. They know what they did…
94. Bananas Can Use TinFoil
I was a little rough on the bananas so here’s a tip just for them: The top of a bunch of bananas is called the crown and if you cover that part in plastic wrap or tinfoil it can make them last a few days longer.
95. Tomatoes Shouldn’t Be Bunched Together
Keeping tomatoes piled on each other is a sure fire way to get them to spoil quicker as the weight can break them down. Also being in a plastic bag can make them spoil quicker so they do better stored in a single layer and at room temperature.
96. Make Your Own Berry Cleaning Solution
97. Store Ginger In The Freezer
Like my bank account, ginger can dry out and be unusable pretty quick. Storing it in the freezer makes it last indefinitely and it can still be easily peeled and grated for use when cooking.
98. Store Bread In Plastic
I made mention of this before but bread dries out really quick and is better stored in plastic that is tightly wrapped around it to keep it fresher longer.
99. Wayne Gretzky
No tip here it’s just that #99 Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all time
100. Scrambled Eggs In The Freezer
Yep. Mix up the eggs like you normally would and add in a little salt in sugar then put in an airtight freezer bag. You can then thaw out on the stovetop in a pan a year later if you like. This works well if you have a bunch of eggs that could be going bad soon that you don’t want to ditch.
Wrapping It Up
Phew, I’m exhausted. And kudos to you for making it through 100 great tips to save money on groceries. They might not be monumentally big changes but all these little things can really add up and save you a lot of money in the long run.
If you liked this article please share with anyone you think may enjoy. There are some fancy social media sharing buttons around here somewhere.
If you want to check out more on food shopping strategy you can check out my eBook on Amazon called: ”
It’s got a lot of this info plus a ton of other info on the psychology that goes behind grocery store design to keep you in and make you spend more money.
And if you want some more health enhancing info you can check out my other book which is an Amazon #1 best seller and that I’ve got available in 3 different packages called:
But if you’re like me and like the low price of free I have a free download called the Healthy Eating Starter Kit. It’s an eBook with a great breakdown of things you want to eat, what to avoid and even some recipes to get you started.