17 ways to save money on groceries

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With a bit of planning and creativity, you can slash your grocery bill and reduce your overall expenses.

Here are 17 ways to save money on groceries.

1. Make a plan

When you plan your meals for the week, you’re more likely to only buy the items that you’re going to eat. Go to the grocery store with a list of what you intend to cook for the week to avoid overspending.

This might require a more planning on your part to lay out the meals and snacks for the week, but having a list and sticking to it can help you avoid impulse purchases.

2. Shop alone if you can

Impulse buying can be one of the most costly habits at the grocery store. If you’re shopping with a partner or children, the temptation to buy something on a whim is likely to escalate very quickly.

Consider wearing headphones and turning on some music while you grocery shop. This will help you keep to yourself and stay focused on the task at hand.

3. Shop the quietest days of the week

Crowds can have a negative impact on your grocery budget. When you’re in a crowded store, it’ll naturally take longer for you to complete your shopping trip. The longer you’re in the store, the greater the chance that you’ll purchase something that wasn’t part of the plan.

It might take some trial and error to figure out slow times at the store, but once you’ve figured it out, stick with that time.

4. Swap expensive cuts of meat for cheaper options

Depending on where you shop, ground turkey or even ground chicken might come at a lower price point than ground beef. Consider swapping your meat choice for one of the lower-cost options.

5. Buy generic products

There’s no denying that brand-name products are more expensive than their generic counterparts. While saving an extra $2 or $3 may not seem like much, saving a few extra bucks on 20 items can add up.

Also, it’s worth noting that many generic products are manufactured in the same facilities as your favorite name-brand products. In fact, some generic products are exactly the same as name-brands but with a smaller price tag.

6. Avoid buying hygiene products at the grocery store

Many people buy household products at the grocery store without realizing how much they’re overpaying for those items. You can find hygiene products for cheaper at places like Walmart or Target. Plus, those stores often run sales on hygiene products.

7. Drive to a smaller town

If you live in a large city or suburb, go to a smaller town to do your grocery shopping. While groceries tend to be more accessible in large cities, small towns often offer items for less.

8. Let the more frugal partner to do the shopping

Often, there is one partner who is more frugal than the other. When it comes to grocery shopping, this can be a huge perk. If you don’t have a partner at home who can help with this, perhaps a friend can help keep you on track or another family member.

9. Bring a calculator to the store

Use either your phone or an actual calculator to add up your groceries as you go along. This can be especially helpful if you have a strict budget to stick to.

You’ll also need to be aware of prices as you go along, in case you need to put something back, but the calculator will keep you on track.

If you’re looking for some extra budgeting help, you can sign up for Bankrate’s myMoney tool to categorize your spending transactions and identify ways to cut back.

10. Shop the sales

Make sure to check your local newspaper circulars or store apps to know what’s on sale and when. Focus on shopping what’s discounted as much as you can so you can save money there.

Be careful not to buy things on sale simply because they’re on sale, though. Instead, make your grocery list first and then check the sales to see what lines up.

11. Join grocery store loyalty programs

Plenty of grocery stores have loyalty programs you can sign up for that will earn you points and send you coupons. A lot of stores will also have discounts specifically for loyalty members as well.

12. Take advantage of curbside pickup

If you’re too tempted to overspend in the store, shop ahead online or on an app and pick it up curbside, or even have your groceries delivered if possible. Delivery fees might be expensive, though, so curbside is probably a more cost-efficient option.

13. Shop some items in bulk and freeze

Some items are cheaper when purchased in bulk, so when it makes sense, shop in bulk and freeze what you don’t need right now. This can go for bread, meat, cheese and more.

This can be an especially useful tip if there is a sale to buy in bulk. Sometimes you’ll find a deal on bread for two loaves or two packs of cheese. Rather than try to use it all at once, freeze the spare for later.

14. Shop on a full stomach

This is an age-old tip for grocery shopping. Going to a grocery store when you’re hungry will likely cause you to overspend. You’re much more likely to grab plenty of groceries you don’t need when all you can think about is your growling stomach.

Instead, eat a meal or snack before you head to the store so you’re not focused on how hungry you are.

15. Shop produce in season

Produce is more expensive when it’s out of season. Understand what produce is in season and when, so you can shop fruits and vegetables when they’re the most tasty and cheapest.

16. Shop bulk bins

If you shop at a grocery store with bulk bins, use those for some items. These will allow you to purchase smaller amounts of items like grains and nuts. If you’re buying a small amount, you’re also less likely to waste any.

17. Compare products across stores

If you have the luxury of having multiple grocery stores within shopping distance, compare products and prices across the board and shop where you find the best deals. It may not make sense to do too much running around to get all of your groceries, but perhaps one day of the week is reserved for one store, another day for another store, etc. This way you’re getting the best deals in an organized manner.