How to Save Money on Groceries: 10 Tips to Lower Your Bill

A person doing grocery shopping, illustrating how to save money on groceries

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Amanda Cardoso
Amanda Cardoso
July 21, 2024 at 10:49PM UTC

Knowing how to save money on basic needs is crucial, especially with rising inflation and living costs. Without planning and smart shopping strategies, grocery expenses can quickly spiral. The good news is that cutting down on your grocery bill doesn't necessarily mean sacrificing a healthy diet or living on the bare minimum—and we're here to guide you through it.

It's all about intelligently planning, budgeting, and using technology to your advantage. Below, you'll find expert tips on how to save money on groceries.

10 tips on how to save money on groceries

We asked personal finance experts for practical tips on cutting costs at the grocery store. Here's what they recommend:

1. Take inventory of your pantry

Heading to grocery stores without knowing exactly what you have in your pantry and fridge can cost you a lot of money. Think about how many times you've ended up buying products and food you already had at home—it happens more often than we realize. To avoid spending on things you don't currently need, take inventory of your pantry. Write down or take pictures of your stock so you don't forget what you have.

2. Plan your meals and make a list

“Meal planning and creating a shopping list is one of the most effective ways to save money on groceries,” says Brian Chasin, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with Soba New Jersey. “It prevents impulse buys and ensures you only purchase items you need, reducing waste and keeping your spending in check.”

Financial Educator Andrea Belzer recommends creating a menu using your leftovers. “For example, if I have hamburger buns leftover from the prior week. I may add tuna to the list to make tuna melts. Then I don’t waste the buns and reduce costs for the upcoming week,” she says.

3. Buy in bulk

Some grocery stores offer good deals on items purchased in bulk. Leveraging these discounts can save you money and time. “Take advantage of sales and bulk pricing for items you use regularly,” Chasin says. “This not only reduces cost per unit but also minimizes the frequency of shopping trips.”

4. Leverage loyalty programs discounts

Most grocery stores offer loyalty programs where signing up can earn you special discounts and coupons. “Sign up for store loyalty cards and regularly check for digital coupons online,” Chasin says. “Combining these discounts can reduce your grocery bill significantly.” 

5. Buy seasonal and local produce

Taking a few minutes to learn about seasonal produce can help you save on groceries. Weather influences agriculture, affecting the prices of fruits and vegetables throughout the year. “Buying seasonal and local produce is cost-effective and ensures fresher, tastier ingredients,” Chasin says. “Plan your meals around what’s in season to take advantage of lower prices and support local farmers.”

6. Buy generic brands

Buying generic brands is another simple and practical way to cut your grocery bill. You don't have to eliminate all your favorite name-brand products, but consider swapping out items where the brand doesn't matter much.

For example, if you have specific dietary needs, stick with name-brand products that meet those requirements and switch to generic options for condiments, spices, and hygiene products.

Keep in mind that supermarkets often place expensive items at eye level—part of their strategy to make people spend more—so take a moment to browse the lower shelves where you might find better deals.

7. Compare prices

Depending on where you live, a grocery shopping trip might not always be the quickest or easiest task. When possible, consider visiting different local grocery stores to compare prices. While it may not be convenient to split your purchases, calculating your average spending at each store can help you find the best overall deal.

8. Shop less frequently

“Shopping less frequently can help curb unnecessary spending,” Chasin says. “Plan to shop once a week or bi-weekly, ensuring you get everything you need in one trip. This reduces the temptation to make impulsive buys and helps you stick to your budget.” Buying items in bulk (remember tip number three?) can also help you reduce your shopping trips.

9. Avoid impulse purchases

Grocery stores are strategically designed to make you spend more and pick up items not on your original shopping lists. If you find yourself adding snacks conveniently placed near the checkout,  try some tricks to resist temptation. For instance, don't shop when you're hungry or during rush times when stress can affect your choices.

10. Meal prep for the week

Sticking to your weekly meal plan can reduce your grocery bill and save you time. It helps avoid wasting perishables and reduces the temptation to buy snacks or order food out of convenience.

To make the most of your groceries, include meals that provide tasty leftovers in your planning. “Make recipes that will work for multiple meals and are good leftovers. For example, casseroles and soups,” Belzer says. “Not all meals work great for leftovers so I am intentional about what I can utilize in multiple ways.” 

How to save money on groceries online

Online grocery shopping can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you do it. “Some companies charge more for online services,” Belzer says. “I only recommend it for items that you don’t need to monitor the condition. For example, yes for items like cereal. No for items like fruit and vegetables.”

On the other hand, you have the advantage of accessing multiple grocery store websites and apps at once to compare prices and find good deals on non-perishable items. “Look for subscription services that offer discounts and free delivery to maximize savings,” Chasin says.

Cashback programs and coupon sites can also make online grocery shopping more affordable. “Platforms like Rakuten and Honey help you find discounts and earn rebates, making your online shopping more cost-effective,” he adds.

How to budget for groceries?

Creating and sticking to a grocery budget can be challenging due to price variations. But it's still feasible to plan and save a set amount of money weekly. 

“Have a consistent amount, then adapt what you buy and make for meals,” Belzer says. “For example, always have a $100 grocery budget, but what you buy is based on what is on sale. Have many recipe options for you to be able to manage this.”

“Tracking your grocery spending is essential for effective budgeting. Use budgeting apps or spreadsheets to monitor expenses, set a realistic weekly or monthly budget, and adjust as needed,” Chasin says.

Last but not least, know that it's OK to be flexible with your grocery list. Although the ideal is making a list and sticking to it, your original plan might not always be the most affordable. “Flexibility with your grocery list allows you to take advantage of sales and promotions. If you find a great deal, adjust your meal plan accordingly,” he says. “This adaptability can lead to significant savings over time.”

Read this next: How to Create a Family Budget: A Step-by-Step Guide

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