25 Tips to Save Money on Groceries

25 Tips to Save Money on Groceries

We all know the struggle of grocery shopping, with long lines and people everywhere, you might sometimes feel anxiety trying to figure out which fruit is ripe before the man behind you tries to pass you. Even without all of this stress, grocery shopping is one of those activities that takes time and can be expensive if done incorrectly. Whether you just want to start creating tastier meals or just simply trying to cut your grocery bill to save a bit of money, there are a ton of ways to cut costs so that you can get a more budget-friendly grocery bill.


Today, we are going to take a deep dive on some tips for when you go grocery shopping. Please note that these tips do not require you to be an incredible chef (although we know that you are quite skilled with a knife!). Feel free to mix and match any of these grocery tips and let me know which tips you found the most helpful below!

1.) Freezing Perishable Ingredients

If you have a large enough freezer at home, it is definitely worth buying some ingredients in bulk when there is a sale. This is great because whatever you do not end up eating right away can go directly into your freezer o that you can eat them later. This tip also works very well with completed meals where you double (or even triple) the recipe so that you can have enough leftovers for other days when you just don’t feel like cooking. For me, I love to freeze vegetables like peppers and onions, which go on sale every 2-3 months or so that I can buy in bulk. This avoids having to do a trip every now and than to satisfy my vegetable craving.

2.) Investing in Proper Food Storage Supplies

Although plastic is probably the cheapest and easiest way to store food (it can be bought at Dollarama or Dollar General), glass is actually recommended over plastic as it will keep your food fresher for a longer period of time. I have a mix of both glass and plastic containers because I tend to use my plastic containers for food that I make and eat immediately (usually up to 48 hours after it has been made). I use my glass containers for food that I plan on freezing and keeping in my fridge / freezer for longer periods of time.

3.) Meal Prepping is Key

Meal prep is probably the best tip on this list! By taking just a few minutes during one of your breaks in the day, you can organize yourself before going to grab your groceries. There is nothing worse than getting to the grocery store and having no idea what you need or feel like eating. I find the best way is to organize it by day and only for lunch and dinner as breakfast is straightforward toast and jam for me. I usually break it down into three categories for each day: base, protein and vegetable. As an example, I like to do Monday lunch - white rice, chicken and broccoli than dinner – quinoa, salmon and Brussel sprouts. By organizing yourself and knowing exactly what you need to buy in advance (especially the amount as you can have the same food item multiple times in a single week as I do with broccoli), it’ll help you reduce your grocery costs as you will be eating everything you purchase and not purchasing anything extra that you do not need. In addition, it is always cheaper to buy in bulk.

4.) Write out your Shopping List

Building from the meal prep tip, it is important that once you have figured out what you are going to be eating for the week, that you take the time to write everything you need to buy down so that you are very efficient once you arrive at the grocery store. This is also a great way of doing your kitchen inventory as you can determine which ingredients you already have at home so that you do not buy extras that you do not need.

5.) Finding Time to Cook

I know that most people are very busy and do not have the time or the energy to cook every day. My best advice is to pick a day (I usually take Sundays) and I spend 2 hours making all of my food for the week in advance so that I have already prepared frozen food during my busy weekdays that is heated and eaten quickly. By doing this, you can minimize the amount of clean up – you only need 1 knife to cut up all of your vegetables and proteins – rather than having to clean up every night after you cook dinner. I also find that it is a lot easier to eat healthier every day when the food is already made and you do not need to fight your laziness of ordering a pizza rather than cooking a full and healthy meal. This does not take too much time, but it is always helpful if you have all of your ingredients already purchased so that you do not need to go out and buy groceries and cook in the same evening.

6.) Snacks are a Necessity

Snacking is a lifesaver and saves a ton of money. I usually get hungry around 3pm and rather than struggling to survive until work is over to go eat and then debating grabbing takeout or going to a restaurant as I’m too hungry to wait to get home and cook dinner, snacks help tide you over to one of your frozen / fresh home cooked meals that is already made and just needs to be heated up. This saves you a ton of money as takeout is expensive and it is much healthier.

7.) Stocking Up on Basic Non-Perishables

It is important to figure out what type of food you like so that you can buy in bulk. Non-Perishables are food items that do not expire for many years. Some examples would be rice, pasta, coffee and tea. It is worth making bulk purchases every once in a while as these items do not go bad and its actually a lot cheaper to buy a big bag of rice than it is to buy smaller bags of rice.

8.) Respecting the Rotisserie Chicken

Most people do not buy the Rotisserie chicken that can be found at most grocery stores as they find it too greasy or too difficult to clean. I always take the time to buy the rotisserie chicken at Costco or at my local grocery store because I like to pick off all of the meat to make sandwiches or to add to my rice and vegetables. Afterwards, you can use the leftover bones to make a delicious chicken stock. I use my homemade chicken stock to season my soups and my couscous. The Costco rotisseries chicken is $5 and I use it for about four meals. Definitely worth every penny!

9.) Cooking With Less Meat

Although meat is tasty and helps you feel full – there are actually many alternatives that are cheaper and can give you the same amount of protein. I find that I am buying less and less meat the past few weeks as I am being more careful about the money I spend grocery shopping. I find that you can get the exact same amount of protein that you get from meat, without the extra cost, from eggs and beans which have large amounts of protein in them. Usually a can of beans, which cost about $1, can be used for two meals and has always filled me up.

10.) Buy your Produce when it is in Season

If you are a big fan of a certain vegetable or fruit, it is definitely worth checking out when that produce is in season. Let’s say you are a big fan of carrots, carrots are in season from July to November. This means that there is a surplus of carrots in your grocery stores and the prices are much lower than they are usually year round as they are trying to sell them quickly before their next batch of carrots come in. My best advice is that you buy your produce in season and in bulk and you can just freeze the extra for future use.

11.) Talking about Beans

Before I forget, it is very important to highlight the fact that if you are eating beans on a regular basis, it is a lot cheaper to buy dried beans (usually found in a plastic bag) than to buy canned beans. This is because buying dried beans instead of canned beans is about 60% cheaper and your beans have a lot less sodium. Although it does take a little bit more preparation as you have to soak the beans, it will save you a lot of money over the long-term.

12.) Keep an Updated Grocery List

I find that sometimes when I go grocery shopping I forget to buy things that I need because I forget to put them on my grocery list. What I started doing recently – and which has worked very well – is that I keep an updated grocery list on my phone, as I am able to update it whenever I think of another ingredient I need for a recipe. It is also helpful because it keeps you from spending money on items that I might already have at home. Trust me, before the list on my phone, I had ended up buying three different bottles of ketchup by accident.

13.) Downloading a Cashback app for groceries

Depending on where you are located, there are many cashback apps that you can download and begin saving money from your regular grocery shopping purchases. My personal favorite is the PC Optimum app that gives you anywhere from 10-20% off weekly items that you buy regularly. The app is designed to see what you purchase often (like bananas for me), and it gives you 20% of the cost in points back so that you can use them towards you next purchase. I find this incredible because on a bill of $50, I might get back anywhere from $5-$10 which I can use towards my next grocery bill.

14.) Cashback Credit Cards

There are also many credit cards that give you an increased cashback rate if you are purchasing groceries. I personally have a BMO Cashback Credit Card that gives me 3.5% cashback on groceries. This means that for every $1000 I spent on groceries, I get $35 back. This means that just by purchasing groceries that I would either way; I am getting money back. Also, this specific card has no annual fee so that 3.5% cashback is all profit for me.

15.) Join Costco or Sam’s Club 

Wholesalers like Costco or Sam’s Club can offer ridiculously low prices because they do not charge a retail markup. Now, you do need to pay a membership fee up front but everyone needs to eat and you will definitely save a lot more money with their low prices than the actual cost of the membership. I purchased a membership many years ago but I find that paying $99 a year is nothing compared to the $650 I have saved from their low prices.

16.) Buying Groceries Online

If your lifestyle and preferences make it tough for you to find the time to grocery shop and this lack of time pushes you to order food online, here is a tip for you! It is definitely worth purchasing your groceries online if you do not have the time and/or transportation to go grocery shopping. Usually, most grocery stores will charge $4.99 for delivery but during the recession that we are currently in, they have all waived this fee. Online grocery shopping, as long as you have followed the other tips and know what you want to buy, is actually very simple – as simple as a click of a button!

17.) Using a Meal Delivery Subscription Service

If you are still learning how to cook or trying to reduce the cost of dining out / takeout, meal kits are a good transition to cooking at home. Although it might not be cheaper than grocery shopping, these meal delivery services provide you with all of the ingredients, down to the last grain of salt, that are needed to make excellent meals. This saves you the effort of going grocery shopping but you are also paying a small premium on the groceries as someone else is bringing them to your house for you. When it comes to the price, grocery shopping is the cheapest, followed by meal kits and lastly dining out.

18.) Eat before you Go

This might sound strange but you should definitely eat a full meal before going grocery shopping. This is because if you are very hungry, you might be more willing to impulse buy readily available food, like chips, that can be eaten immediately.

19.) Shop Late at Night

I always try to do my grocery shopping late at night because I enjoy taking my time going down the aisles and prefer when there are less people around. Also, later in the evening is a better time to get better prices on perishable foods. If you wait until 9pm (usually grocery stores close at 10pm), you can find a lot of food that has been marked down by 50%. One of items that is constantly marked down 50% every night is fresh-baked bread. If I ever need to buy bread, I will just go the night before and buy them for half price and refrigerate them immediately. This bread is still tasty for about a week after purchase and it feels great that I only paid half price rather than full price for the same bread.

20.) Do not Pay for Fancy Packaging

When you are buying in bulk, some items like spices can be expensive. Always look for spices that come in resealable bags or small plastic containers rather than nice glass containers as these will be much cheaper. This is because you are actually paying for the packaging itself and glass is a lot more expensive than plastic to produce.

21.) Shopping at Ethnic Markets / Grocery Stores

If you are currently living in a densely populated area, you probably have a couple of ethnic markets near you. I personally have a fantastic Russian-owned grocery store close by. These stores tend to offer cheaper options on classic ingredients like potatoes or cabbages and they are a great place to find new ingredients to test out or to find ingredients that are tougher to find in a normal grocery store.

22.) Farmer’s Market

It is definitely worth taking a look at your weekly farmer’s market as they usually are willing to sell their produce at a discount as they do not have any fixed prices. It happens often that you can haggle the price of produce with the vendor. I usually pay $3 for a big back of carrots after I have haggled with the vendor from $8. Also, slightly older produce can be offered at a markdown and, as long as you are eating it soon, the vendor will be glad to charge you a lot less to avoid spoilage.

23.) Comparison Shopping 

Chances are that you live close to a couple of grocery stores. In the 21st century, it is your duty to quickly take a look at the grocery store’s online catalogues to see which deals are happening. If you know that you need to purchase a ton of vegetables, take a look and see which grocery store is having a sale on vegetables so you buy at the cheapest price. By price checking, you can actually save yourself anywhere from 15-50% on certain items. I personally find that vegetables, frozen pizzas and soft drinks go on sale often and are definitely worth checking out a couple of grocery stores for the best deal.

24.) Buy Generic Products

I am a firm believer that generic ingredients are the exact same thing as the brand name ingredients and the only difference is the price. Save yourself the extra money and purchase generic brands.

25.) Do not Buy Pre-Cut Food

Instead of paying a premium on pre-sliced fruits and vegetables, you can get a much cheaper uncut produce. The fact that they charge you 30% more just because they have cut up the produce is a very strange thing for me. With pre-cut food, it goes bad faster, it doesn’t taste as fresh and it costs more, definitely something that I avoid when I am grocery shopping.

Comments

There are many tips to save money when you are grocery shopping, I have listed a few but let me know if you have any other ideas or if you think I might have forgotten something! Let me know down in the comments below!

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