It’s a Monday night, and I’ve found myself wandering through the grocery store with my toddler.
I just came in for milk and eggs (two things which we can never seem to keep around the house) but the late hour, my exhaustion, and the fact that I haven’t eaten yet have led to some bad decisions at the grocery store.
My cart is filled to the brim, my daughter has a grossly overpriced toy she couldn’t live without, and I’m debating whether it’s better to expend the energy to put everything back, or if I should just grit my teeth and pay for it.
Grocery stores are a comforting trap for most of us.
They’re necessary, but even if you’ve locked down your grocery spending, that monthly bill takes quite a big chunk out of your earnings.
But I’m about to change all of that.
Whether you’re singe or have ten kids, you can save at the grocery store with these 22 strategies:
Buy on Amazon or Use The App
Suspect you’re seeing a vastly inflated price? Check Amazon.
Amazon’s App allows you to take a picture of the item and then search with that picture, bringing up the exact item you’re looking at in the store, as well as Amazon’s price for it. Orders over $35 ship free for most items (without Amazon Prime), many items ship will arrive at your door in 2 business days (with Amazon Prime), and I’ve found Amazon’s prices to be very competitive.
Have You Considered Thrive?
Many grocery stores don’t stock a large assortment of specialty health food products, and the ones that they do stock are often outrageously priced.
When in doubt – or just to save yourself exasperation at the store – consider shopping with Thrive Market if you routinely purchase specialty products. There is a fee to join Thrive Market, but the savings can more than pay the fee if you use once a month or more.
Shop The Outer, Not Inner Aisles
The inner aisles of a grocery store contain the items with the highest cost per unit – and also the most processing and unhealthy ingredients. Stick to the outside aisles for produce, meat, dairy, and healthy grains, and as a bonus you’ll have a lower bill when you check out.
Keep Your Receipt
Ibotta, Snap by Groupon, and Checkout 51 all offer rebates on food you bought at the grocery store. Many of the rebates are for name-brand items, but often you’ll find rebates for milk, eggs, fresh produce. These services offer weekly rotating offers, and all you need to do to redeem offers is to purchase the item, snap a picture of your receipt, and upload it into the app.
Buy Meat In Bulk
Washington-based Zaycon Foods can help bridge the gap between cost-savings, freshness, and buying in bulk. If offers chicken breasts for as low as $1.19/pound – provided you’re willing to buy in units of 40 pounds each. To get the deals on chicken breast, pork, beef, seafood, and more, you’ll have to buy online, and then pick up your order from a pre-assigned drop off location at a prearranged date.
Most likely the pickup will be in the parking lot of a church or community center and you’ll pick up your order directly from the back of a refridgerated truck. Make sure to bring your receipt with you, but otherwise the pickup process is incredibly easy.
Don’t want to buy 40 pounds of chicken? Reach out on Facebook to find friends to split it with.
Leave The Produce Department For Last
Produce departments are stationed so that you have to walk through them to get to the rest of the store, all part of the con groceries stores run to try to get you to spend more money.
Because the bright colors, fragrances, and even the feel-good feelings that the memory of fresh fruits and vegetables stir up put you in a better mood, more likely to spend money, indulge, and fill your cart. If you want to avoid the happiness-inducing fruits and veggies, start shopping at the opposite end of the store from the produce and save picking up your fresh products for last.
Scope Out End Caps
If it’s on an end cap, it’s isn’t necessarily a good price. Because of how competitive companies are about where their products are place (i.e. the closer to eye level the more desirable the shelf position) many companies have paid to have their items placed on that end cap specifically for promotion, not because they’re on sale.
Look Down & Up
Before you snag the item that is at eye level, look up and down for generics, lower-priced name brands, or items that you wouldn’t have thought of as an alternative. Most of the name brand alternatives are of excellent quality and priced up to 40% lower.
Ask For Anything & Everything
Grocery store employees will do an awful lot for your if you ask. Why? Becauase they can and they care.
Purchase a roast, and they’ll cut it into stew meat chunks. Ask them to tenderize your meat, slice that loaf of bread, or even give you free greenery for the flower arrangement you just bought. All you have to do is ask.
At Kroger, employees in the meat department will even season your fish in flour or Cajun seasoning and fry it up for free.
Skip The Deli Cabinet
The meats and cheeses behind the deli counter look great, but the exact same products – think meat, seafood, and cheeses – are available in their respective refrigerated and frozen sections in the same quality for as much as 40% less.
That “fresh“seafood you’ve been eyeing?
Most likely prefrozen (look for the word “Frozen” in minuscule print on the labels).
Those gourmet cheeses? Available in packaged for in the dairy case.
And those deli meats? The same (or better) quality meats are available with the pre-packaged lunch meats for considerably less.
Skip The Milk
Believe it or not, grocery stores don’t have the best prices on milk. Not even Walmart.
Pharmacies tend to have the best everyday prices on milk, and when stacked with things like CVS ExtraBucks or Walgreens Balance Rewards, their prices are unbeatable. Try picking up a gallon of milk when you pick up your prescriptions, shampoo, or cosmetics for a convenient way to save at the grocery store (pharmacy).
For moms like us, shopping alone at the grocery store is a luxury, which makes us relax and more likely to indulge in a sweet treat, a convenience product, or something that we would never buy otherwise.
But, the flip side of that is shopping with kids. When we’re shopping with the kiddos we’re frazzled – to put it mildly – making us more likely to shop quickly rather than for the lowest price, or even shopping strategically, and may even mean that we end up with cookies, candy or an extra toy in the shopping cart by the time we finally make it to the checkout.
Either way, grocery shopping can be dangerous.
And with the average american family spending between $800 – $1,200 a month on groceries, many of us could benefit from employing a few of these grocery store savings strategies on our next trip.
What is your favorite way to save at the grocery store? Share it below in the comments!