Grocery Store Hacks: 10 Tips to Help You Save at Check-out! - Smart Money Seed

1/31/18

Grocery Store Hacks: 10 Tips to Help You Save at Check-out!

Grocery Store Hacks

Start Shopping Like a Pro

Aside from the Goliath monthly expenses like rent and car payments, one of the biggest recurring costs that hits your bank statement each month is grocery shopping. Based on USDA averages, the average monthly grocery bill for a family of two can range between $300 and $700. Whether you think this is too high or too low, the fact of the matter is that grocery shopping is a costly bill relative to your income. For most, it's probably the 2nd or 3rd highest bill of the month.

PSA: If you spend more money eating out than you do at the grocery store, I HIGHLY recommend you go back and read all of the Smart Money Seed articles for tips to get your finances in order.



Regardless if you enjoy grocery shopping or hate it, it's an expensive bill that is tough to avoid. Unlike your rent, however, your grocery bill is variable and you have the power to change how much you spend each month.

At Smart Money Seed, our goal is to equip you with the tools and resources needed to become a financially rocking generation. If you follow these tips below, I'm confident you can save some extra cash to spend on things like:

  • That trip you've been wanting to take
  • Extra investment for your retirement
  • An extra night out with the gang
  • (Insert other awesome idea here)

If you are able to save $50 a month, that equates to $600 on an annual basis! I don't know about you, but if saving on groceries can buy a mini vacation (or a new set of irons), I'm all in! Without further ado, here are our top 10 tips for saving on the monthly grocery bill:

1. Name Brand vs Off-Brand

We've all seen the Private Selection, Great Value, and Psst brands at Walmart and Kroger, but are these cheap off-brands very trustworthy? In many cases, yes! I'm not advocating that you buy the Great Value brand Twist and Shouts (a.k.a. knock-off Oreos - no one can compete with milk's favorite cookie), but for many items, Great Value and Private Selection offer great alternatives to the more expensive name brands without sacrificing much quality. Don't assume that just because it is a name brand means it's automatically better.

You may still need to go name brand for the more signature items like Oreos or Coca-Cola (yes, I'm currently accepting tips for eating healthier), but try using the off-brand for more standard ingredients like flour and sugar. Believe it or not, most of the off-brand products are made in the exact same factory as the name brand products!

Need more proof? Check out this article by NPR (click here) that shows how even doctors and chefs choose off-brand products in their own field of expertise.


2. Go shopping on a full stomach

This one is a no-brainer, but if you've gone grocery shopping while you're hungry, your wallet probably hates you. Eat before you go to make sure you don't get the "gimmees" and grab every item of food that you want to devour.

3. Meal Planning

If you're anything like me, one of the easiest ways to spend too much money eating out is by not having a meal plan for dinner. Take charge and solve this issue by planning your meals out a week in advance to make sure you have the ingredients you need.

Want an added bonus? Plan your meals around the current sales at the grocery store and you'll save even more!

4. Get paid to shop

Many credit cards offer some sweet cash-back perks for money spent on groceries. Take advantage of this and earn some free cash by spending on groceries that you would have bought in the first place. According to Wise Bread, the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express offers 6% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 annually - that could easily mean at least a few hundred bucks for the average grocery shopper!

Extra tip: You can also use the "Ibotta" app which offers cash-back perks by simply linking your store loyalty card and submitting your receipts. Check out Ibotta for more details (don't worry, we aren't big enough for sponsors yet, we really think this is awesome!).

5. Only shop once a week

The more often you walk into the grocery store, the more likely you are to pick up useless nonsense and put it in your grocery cart. Limit your splurging by limiting your trips to the grocery store to once a week.

6. Look up and down

Jump up and down, and move it all around. Lou Bega may not have been singing about grocery shopping, but we can use his words of wisdom to put some extra cash in our pocket. Grocery stores put the highest margin items at eye level - for the best deals, be sure to check the shelves high and low!

7. Don't count out the drugstore

I'm not going to lie, this tip really surprised me! I always thought stores likes CVS and Walgreens were more expensive, but for some items items like milk and eggs, their prices can actually be lower than the big grocers like Giant Eagle and Kroger. The big grocery stores often mark up the prices of these items because they know consumers are going to buy them! It's not always practical to make a completely separate trip for these items, but keep this mind the next time you go to CVS.

8. Consider your primary shopping spot

I think most of us realize that stores like Aldi and Costco are substantially cheaper than that of Giant Eagle and Kroger. One of the most common excuses for avoiding Aldi and Costco are that they simply don't offer a big enough selection for some products. Try splitting your grocery bill between the locations by buying your main items (i.e. bread, cereal, tissues) at Aldi and deferring only the specialty items for Giant Eagle.

9. Cash budget

If you've tried setting a grocery budget but just can't seem to follow it, try shopping with cash only. Bring a set amount to the store and I bet you'll have a tougher time going over your budget!

10. Make a list

It's another no-brainer, but we all break this rule. Stop the mindless spending and make a list before you go to the store and stick to it.

Find your groove

At the end of day, grocery shopping is just like budgeting, investing, saving, and any other topic we've covered on Smart Money Seed: you need to do what works for you. Not all of these tips apply to everyone, but if you can adopt just 2 or 3, you're bound some save some money.

Go forth, shop with a purpose, and make sure you're doing everything you can to save on the grocery bill!

6 comments:

  1. Great post, Christian! I always make a list to avoid buying extra items or spending too much time at the store - Alex definitely needs to follow that tip. I use an app that brings up every grocery ad in my area and allows me to "clip" coupons and promotions from the ads to generate a shopping list full of sale items! That has helped me save a lot of grocery money. And stores like Meijer and CVS track your purchase habits when you use your phone number or rewards card so that they can print you a customized set of coupons for the items you buy the most!-Amanda

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    1. Making a list is definitely key! I know I always end up with way too much stuff if I go in without a plan. Coupons are something I could improve upon - I'm sure there is a lot of money to be saved there!

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    2. What grocery app do you use

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  2. I normally at least make a mental list. Sometimes I even write it down! That and meal planning really help me stick to my budget.

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    1. I agree, even a mental list can help reduce those extra items that drive the grocery bill up. I've done some meal planning before, but it's something I could benefit to do a little more often!

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