37 Ways To Save Money On Groceries [+ Household Items]



If you are looking how to save money on groceries and lower your grocery bill, using some of these grocery hacks at the grocery store will yield savings.

According to the BLS Expenditure Survey, household food expenditures for food at home increased by 6.4% from 2019 to 2020. There’s no doubt that the increase has put a massive dent in household food budgets.

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You can save money on groceries by planning meals, budgeting, following a grocery item list, clipping coupons, apps, and buying generic. Using these methods, you reduce your total grocery bill and reduce your shopping trips and food waste. And you can also save on household items as well in addition to groceries.

By learning how to shop smarter, you will put some money back into your household budget instead of spending it all on food. A key ingredient necessary for learning how to control grocery spending involves planning.

Best Ways To Save Money At The Grocery Store

We have all heard that famous quote “if you fail to plan, then plan to fail.” 

That quote also holds for saving money on groceries. Learning how to control grocery spending starts by planning.

Check out these planning tips below to help you strategize your grocery shopping experience and create a healthy grocery list on a budget.

1. Create A Menu

Creating a weekly meal menu can help determine how much money your groceries will cost ahead of time. By writing out meals each week, you will see the specific items you need to purchase and the necessary ingredients.

Be sure to check out our post on over 270 cheap meal ideas fit for any family.

Additionally, by writing out a menu each week, you will include what types of salads or side dishes will be necessary to complement your main course. You don’t have to spend money to have restaurant meals. Instead, you can have them at home for a fraction of the cost.

2. Create A Budget Grocery Shopping List

One of the main ways how to reduce your grocery bill is by utilizing a grocery list. It is essential only to buy items listed on your grocery list. By only buying things listed on your list, you will save yourself time and money.

When people go shopping, they make impulse purchases and buy things that they do not need. Those extra items purchased usually expire if they are perishables or never get used.

Hence…a wasted purchase.

Save yourself the time and money and only purchase things on your list to keep your grocery budget on track.

3. Create An Inventory List

It’s important to have a spot somewhere in your household to write down household items that you use regularly.

An inventory list is key for how to save money on groceries and household items when you shop.

These things may include:

  • toilet paper
  • paper towels
  • laundry detergent
  • shampoo and face wash

A good spot for your household inventory list would be on your refrigerator.

When you run out of these items, jot it down on the list, so you have a record of that.

Then next time you go to the store, take this list with you.

If you’re going to a store that carries other things besides groceries, this will save you time and money by purchasing those items along with your groceries.

You can also purchase these non-grocery items and your grocery items at the same store.

4. Freeze Meals

Writing out a grocery list that will make large portions is a good way to save money on groceries. 

If you can take half of a meal and freeze it for another meal, you stretch or double your food dollars.

Freezing meals is one of the best frugal living tips that can help save your household money. Be sure to use things such as freezer bags, so these items don’t get freezer burned until you’re ready to use them.

5. Check Your Pantry

Take a look at your menu and see if you need any additional items to create those meals.

  • Do you have basil in your pantry?
  • What about spaghetti sauce?
  • How about oatmeal on hand?

Be sure to check your pantry so you don’t buy more of the items you already have.

6. Don’t Grocery Shop When Hungry

If you go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, chances are you will end up purchasing things not on your grocery list. 

I have done this before and wound up with extra items in my shopping cart that were not on my list. This is not a good way to save money on groceries!

Be sure to eat something before you go grocery shopping.

7. Shop At Discount Grocery Stores

I am a big fan of grocery shopping on a budget.  By shopping at discount grocery stores, you can save yourself time and also a lot of money.

Discount grocery stores are usually much smaller and less crowded. As a result, you can get into the store to grocery shop, get all of your items quickly, and save yourself a lot of time.

Stores such as AldiKroger, and Publix often are far cheaper than other grocers.

save money groceries and household items

8. Avoid Membership Stores

If you are looking how to save money on groceries, you should avoid those bigger membership stores.

You can shop at a warehouse club such as Costco and Sam’s Club, where you have to pay a yearly membership and buy minimum quantities of items.

Sometimes, buying bulk items and purchasing groceries in bulk may not be the best idea.

Often, these items can go bad before they have been consumed.

9. Leave The Kids Home

You may want to consider leaving your children at home when you go grocery shopping if you want to save money on groceries.

Often with younger kids, not only can it be hard to concentrate, but you may also find yourself with several extra items in the shopping cart!

Over the years, this has happened to me, so I know it’s not that unrealistic. Coming home and unloading your grocery bags only to find extra unnecessary items is a bit of a financial downer!

10. Check The Weekly Ads

I receive my weekly ads for grocery stores in the mail on Mondays.  It’s probably a different day in your community. Regardless of the day, a lot of these advertised sales ads get mailed directly to your mailbox.

healthy grocery list on a budget

If you are focused on saving money, be sure to check those circulars instead of pitching them right off the bat.

By focusing on the weekly circulars, you can see specific items and when they will be on sale.

If items such as granola bars, crackers, or cookies are on sale, then be sure to take note.

By utilizing the circulars, there is a great opportunity for you to stock up on the specific items that do have a little bit longer shelf life than produce.

Stocking up is a great way to keep more money in your savings account.

11. Utilize Coupons and Shopping Apps 

Be sure to check out hard copy ads and all of your shopping apps.

Things such as RakutenIbotta, and Paribus, can supercharge those coupons and ad sales.

  • Meijer mPerks Reward Program will allow you to sync some of those apps above to clip digital coupons and sometimes use manufacturer and paper coupons.

These policies differ by each grocery store, so you want to be sure you check before heading out.

You also want to be careful that if it is an item you do not need, don’t use the coupon.

Sometimes, even with the coupon, the name-brand items can cost far more than the generic version of that same product.

Be sure to review our best cashback apps for groceries and shopping available to reduce your grocery totals even further.

12. Check Out Farmers Markets

If you’re only going shopping for produce items, think about going to farmers’ markets.  The prices you will find at a farmers’ market are much lower than what you will find at the grocery store.

Aside from that benefit, you also support local people in your community.

13. Create Meals With Items In Your Pantry

Before going grocery shopping, see if you can make meals at home with items you already have in your pantry.

Often I run out of room in my pantry to store new items.

Items such as baking goods, boxes of cereal, and canned vegetables, sometimes max out all of my available space in my pantry.

Sometimes, there are unusual things I stopped buying and no longer use.

Being able to use up old stock ingredients will save money on groceries and help make room for new items purchased.

14. Bring CASH & Pay With CASH For Your Groceries

I pay cash for a lot of things in my life for several reasons. One of those items is for groceries.

One of the biggest ways to reduce my food budget is simply by paying cash.

This forces me to think about what I’m putting in my shopping cart.

If I only have a limited amount of cash available on hand, I scrutinize every single purchase and only focus on the things on my list.

How to Save Money on Groceries at the Grocery Store

15. Only Buy What You Need

Be sure to only buy the items on your grocery list.  Avoid impulse buys at all costs.

Buying items not on your grocery list is a sure way to derail your grocery budget.

That’s why it’s essential to only buy the items on your grocery list so you can get in and get out quickly without spending additional time shopping for things that you don’t need.

16. Buy Generic Brands

I buy generics a lot. Often you can find the same product in a generic version of the name brand.

You can also use this strategy for saving money on cable by looking for alternatives to cable TV that exist.

This adds up to substantial savings. Sometimes, although this is rare, you can even find a generic brand that is also organic.

Talk about a win-win for your grocery shopping budget! Not only is it cheaper and helps you save money on groceries, but it is better quality as well. Check out our basic college grocery list if you are a student.

Some Generic Items To Consider:

  • Canned Items: Canned fruit or vegetables are the same in a generic brand. Be sure to look for the BPA-free liner cans as these are much healthier for you.
  • Snacks:  Buying things like granola bars, generic Oreos, tortilla chips, party mix, and trail mixes taste the same as name-brand items. You can save a lot of money by purchasing these on the generic label.
  • Food Staples: Items such as butter, cooking oil, olive oil, sugar, and flour are the same as national name brands. You can’t have a generic version of flour. It’s just sold under a generic label.
  • Frozen Items: Things such as frozen produce, chicken nuggets, tater tot‘s, waffles, frozen breakfast pancakes; all types of items can be bought in the generic version. According to Harvard, even your fresh produce may not be all that fresh after all, so a mix of frozen and fresh may be best.

17. Buy Based On Unit Prices

Most grocery stores such as Target, Meijer, Kroger, and even Walmart offer unit pricing on their labels. When I say unit pricing, that is the cost per unit than the item costs in the particular package it is in.

For example, you may have a 24 pack of waffles and a 20 pack of waffles. Calculating the cost per unit or waffle is a good way to compare across-the-board prices.

Per unit pricing is a great way to compare items, allowing you to quickly save money on groceries by knowing their unit cost.

18. Buy Produce In Bags

I normally buy those 3-pound bags of apples. They are typically cheaper than buying apples individually.

Also, think about purchasing your salads that are also in bags. A 3-pound bag of salad is not only cheaper, but it’s also cut and prepared, which saves time.

19. Buy Some Items In Bulk

Sometimes it makes more sense to buy certain items in bulk. 

This is only a good rule to follow if you know you will use the particular items in question. Sometimes you can catch a 3 for $5 sale. In that case, it would make sense to buy three things to get the sale price.

20. Buy Frozen Juices

I recently switched from buying fresh orange juice to frozen orange juice and apple juice.

I found myself throwing out a lot of unused orange juice that I was purchasing.

Therefore I switched over to frozen juice, which makes smaller portions. Not only is it more cost-effective, but there are also healthy organic frozen juices available now. It’s a hidden hack to save money on groceries, as fresh orange juice can cost 3x as much as frozen orange juice.

21. Don’t Buy Bottled Water

Americans are addicted to bottled water. I am fortunate enough to live in one of the country’s best areas for fresh tap water.

Using reusable water bottles is key to reducing bottled water consumption.

I have several BPA-free water bottles I fill up with tap water and store in the refrigerator. I simply grab one of my own bottles and take that with me when I’m heading out.

Additionally, you can also put filters on your tap faucets if you are concerned about the water quality where you live.

Buying reusable water bottles is suitable for your financial health, your physical health and a better cost-effective solution than buying bottled water that takes up space in the landfill.

22. Save Money on Groceries with Rainchecks

If you went grocery shopping to buy a particular item on sale and they were sold out of it, be sure to get a rain check. This is a guaranteed way to save money on groceries in the future.  

how to save money on groceries online

A raincheck is a great way for you to receive a guarantee of the item and the sale price when the item arrives back in stock. Simply file it away for the next time you visit the grocery store.

23. Shop Clearance Racks

Yes, even grocery stores have clearance racks. In particular, the bakery often has a lot of marked-down items on sale for clearance.

You can score great items such as pies, donuts, or other pastry treats, and the average cost is much lower. You can freeze a lot of the things as well.

This is a great way to save money on groceries because clearance discounts are usually significant.

24. Buy Fresh Baked Bread

Sometimes the bread made at the store bakery is often healthier and cheaper than the national brands.

Stock up on these items when they are on sale, and you can freeze one loaf of bread if necessary.

25. Avoid Checkout Aisle Items

Don’t ever buy anything in the checkout aisles.  These items are precisely placed there for you to purchase while waiting in line to check out.

Items such as soft drinks, energy drinks, even magazines are all designed for you to purchase while waiting.

More often than not, these items are not on sale and may also be old stock.

These are things to keep in mind while waiting at the checkout.

26. Watch Your Grocery Items Get Scanned

Although this can sometimes be challenging, it is best to try and watch each item pass through the scanner.

Many times, I have been double charged for items and didn’t save in those situations.

Luckily, I caught these in the checkout line and alerted the store associate to make the adjustment they did.

Additional Ways How To Save Money On Groceries and Household Items

27. Do Your Grocery Shopping Online

One of the best ways to avoid impulse buys is simply by purchasing your essential items on your grocery list online.

Many stores offer online grocery shopping, even with home grocery delivery. Check out your local grocery store to see if they provide this service.

By having someone else do your shopping, you save money on groceries and save time.

28. Use Cash Reward Credit Cards

Another way to save money on groceries indirectly would be to use cashback credit cards to pay.

By using these credit cards at the register, you can earn from 1% up to 5% cashback on your purchases, depending on offers.

29. Pay With Gift Cards

Often when you pay for your groceries with gift cards, you are also receiving a bit of a discount.

Some sites offer purchasing store gift cards at a discount. You can save money on the face value of the gift card in addition to grocery store sales.

30. Contact Companies For Coupons

If you don’t necessarily want to wait for your ad circulars, you can also save money on groceries by contacting companies for coupons.

By reaching out to your favorite companies about products, you may be able to score some significant coupons directly from the manufacturer.

31. Start A Garden

You can also save money on groceries by starting a garden in your backyard.  

There are very easy and inexpensive ways to make a garden directly at your house.

The best part is not only are you saving money on produce, but you can also grow your food items organically as well. That is also a significant health benefit to you and your family!

32. Buy Meat When On Sale Only

One of the most expensive items on your grocery list will be meat. Avoid paying sky-high prices for meats.

Trying to catch a pot roast or Angus steak when it is on sale. Considering meat is one of the most expensive items, buy in bulk. You can then create freezer meals and stretch out your menu.

33. Take Leftovers For Lunch

If your meal plan includes making large portion meals, think about taking some of those leftovers for lunch the next day.

It is much cheaper to take leftovers than buying lunch out every day and a local restaurant. By taking lunch and leftovers every day, you could save as much as $50 a week or even $200 a month.

34. Buy Groceries Online

You can also avoid big box stores and shop online for groceries at grocery chains. Use a shopping list, shop multiple stores online, and skip going into a store altogether.

Simple buy the same ingredients and fresh fruits you normally would as if in person in the store. By shopping online, you don’t fall subject to marketing tricks at the store and buying stuff not needed. Approximately 88.6% of Americans are guilty of impulse buying.

Most stores such as Trader Joe’s offer online shopping. Many stores will allow you to place your order online and will contact you for grocery pickup when your order is ready.

35. Shop Amazon Prime Pantry

You can shop Amazon prime pantry as another option. You can buy staple items and save more money on unit price vs. in many stores. You can check out how does Prime Pantry work for details.

36. Eat a Plant-Based Diet

By focusing less on meat protein and more on plant-based meal ideas, you can reduce your meat purchases. Sure, you will have to buy some chicken breasts now and then, but there is also plant-based protein. Buying large quantities of store-brand dried beans and whole foods is not only cheaper protein, but you will be pleasantly surprised it’s also healthier.

37. Ditch Junk Food

Everyone has splurge items, including junk food. Every grocery trip includes one. Junk food, however, is not only expensive, but it’s also unhealthy. Look for other alternatives that are whole foods.

Summary

Everyone struggles with how to save money on groceries. Creating a budget, tracking your expenses, and staying organized make it possible to save hundreds of dollars per month.

Not only can you save money on groceries by these hacks, but you are also eating healthier.

If you are spending more time eating meals prepared at home instead of going out and purchasing food at restaurants, you are making health-conscious changes in your lifestyle.

And that is good news for the bottom line of every family.

Looking for more ways to save money?  

grocery budget

BG Vance

For over 20 years, BG Vance has been a leader in public and personal financial management. He's developed and managed public budgets in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. He is passionate about the FIRE movement and was featured in the Detroit News in 2001 about saving for retirement. Through the years, he's assisted families and individuals with getting their finances on track. He holds an MPA, is a licensed Realtor, and is currently working on a book about personal finance.

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