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These Grocery Shopping Tweaks Can Help You Save Cash

A young couple comparing prices of jarred sauce at a grocery store.

We’ve all felt the impact of inflation lately, especially on our weekly trip to the grocery store. That’s why we went on an expedition to find more ways to save our hard-earned cash. Here are some tips we discovered that’ll help you get more discounts when food shopping.

As the cost of everything from gas to soda continues to rise, most of us are having to tighten our spending belts even more than usual. From signing up for store rewards programs to taking a weekly inventory before you head out, just a few small changes in your approach can significantly shorten that grocery receipt.

Store Brands and Rewards Programs

A woman looking at the nutritional details of a store brand product.
eldar nurkovic/Shutterstock.com

We know some store value brands just don’t cut it when compared to the name brands. However, it’s still likely you can swap out the majority of what you plan to put in your shopping cart for the store brand and save some money.

Most stores also offer rewards programs, that give you a certain percentage back for every store-brand item you purchase. By the end of a quarter or the year, you could get a nice chunk of change back after it’s removed from that day’s shopping trip.

When you finally get to see that $20 or $30 subtracted from your total, you’ll be really glad you signed up.

These are two of our favorite rewards programs:

  • Target: You earn 1% back when you shop, in addition to hundreds of other great deals.
  • CostcoIf you join this program, you’ll receive an annual 2% reward of up to $1,000 on qualified purchases.

Don’t have a Costco or Target nearby? Just head over to your grocery store’s website and see if it has a similar program. Most do, and if they don’t, maybe it’s time to take your business elsewhere.

Clip Those Coupons

A shopper looking at their new clipped coupons.
Erin Deleon/Shutterstock.com

Another perk of signing up for grocery rewards is you get some great coupons! After you digitally clip them, they’ll be subtracted from your next purchase. Some days, grocery stores also offer reward members some hefty savings. For example, we’ve gotten some coupons that took $15 off a purchase of $100. That’s pretty huge!

In addition to discounts on food, you’ll also get coupons for housewares, health and beauty products, and more! While most coupons are now online, you probably still receive hard copies in the mail, so be sure to check all that “junk” before you toss it in the recycle bin.

Shop Sales

An aisle with a large sale tag on the side.

Sales are a fantastic opportunity to save big. Before you plan your meals for the week, take a few minutes to go online and look at your supermarket’s sales. Most stores now offer an online version of their weekly flyer, which will give you a chance to look at meats, veggies, and any other foods that are on sale.

If you can’t find anything you and your family normally eat, consider it an opportunity to try something new, like eggplant or Brussels sprouts. A little flexibility can stretch that dollar even further.

Double-Check What You Already Have

a woman looking at some of the food she has in her pantry.

Before you head to the supermarket, set yourself up for success by having an organized plan in place. This means planning your meals for the week, making a grocery list you can follow based on those meals, and sticking to it.

To take it one step further, take an inventory of what you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry, and then plan your meals based on those ingredients. This is a fantastic way to save money each week. Plus, there are lots of creative tricks that can help you use up any random ingredients.

For example, if you have a few half-full boxes of pasta in your pantry, make a fun dinner using all them. Or, grab all those blocks and bags of cheeses you have in your fridge, and make one big pan of sauce out of all of them.

Evercio Grocery List Magnetic Notepad for Refrigerator

Makes shopping for meals much easier.

Grate Your Own Cheese

A Zulay box grater with the box and some shredded cheese on the side.

Grating your own cheese is better for a few reasons. First, pre-grated cheese is often loaded with anti-sticking agents to keep the shreds from clumping together. Those agents are why your shredded cheese often has a powdery texture (yuck!).

When you grate your own, your baked mac and cheese or cheddar broccoli soup will be free of any gritty residues and guaranteed to taste better. Your cheese will also taste better and offer a superior mouthfeel.

Finally (and most importantly), it’s less expensive to grate your own cheese. If you don’t already have a box grater, we highly recommend this option from Zulay. At this writing, it’s under $10, and you’ll save a ton more than that in no time by grating it all yourself, especially if you buy a lot of cheese.

You can also use your grater to shred carrots, zucchini, cabbage, and even eggs to put on top of your avocado toast.

Zulay Cheese Grater

Save money one shred at a time.

Prep Your Produce

a young woman prepping veggies for dinner.

Those bags of pre-cut and peeled fruits and vegetables are super convenient, but that convenience comes at an extra cost. Like grating your own cheese, you can save money if you buy produce whole, and cut it yourself. Instead of buying bagged broccoli and prepared butternut squash, take the extra few minutes to prep it at home.

That cantaloupe and watermelon will also come at a more affordable price if you buy them whole. While we’re on the topic, though, always be sure to wash your lettuce.

Buy In Season

Someone shopping for seasonal produce.

Have you ever wondered why berries and pineapples are inexpensive throughout the summer months, while oranges and clementines are super cheap throughout the winter?

This is because in-season produce is grown in bulk during that particular time of year. It costs much less for the producers and farmers that way, so, in the end, you pay less for the overabundance.

Because these foods are grown in favorable environments, producers also rely less on chemicals to help them grow. Of course, when food’s grown naturally, you get more nutritional perks, along with genuine flavor when you prepare your meals.

Get Some Flour Sack Towels

A Utopia flour sack towel placed over a cutting board alongside a wooden spoon and a whisk.

Let’s all say it out loud: paper towels are expensive. They’re also not great for the environment. So, if you want to save money, consider purchasing some flour sack towels instead.

An eight-pack of Bounty paper towels will run you just under $20, whereas a 12-pack of Utopia flour sack towels costs almost exactly the same. The difference is, you’ll be able to reuse your flour sack towels for months, or even years on end.

Flour sack towels are similar to tea towels, but they’re thicker, sturdier, and more absorbent. They’re also great at cleaning up spills, drying your hands, or anything else you’d normally grab a paper towel for. They’re well worth the investment.

Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Towels

A sustainable alternative to expensive paper towels.

Try Meatless Mondays (Plus One)

A delicious vegetarian buddah bowl.
Vladislav Noseek/Shutterstock.com

Let’s face it, meat is super expensive these days, so you can easily stretch your dollar by planning one or two meatless meals each week. If you’re worried about missing out on that meaty texture, keep in mind that loads of other ingredients, like eggplant, mushrooms, and legumes, all make fantastic substitutions.

Even some plant-based burgers taste amazing when you find the best recipes. If you can only do Meatless Mondays, no problem—you’ll still save some cash.

Buy Frozen and Canned Produce

Three cans of Del Monte vegetables including carrots, beets, and corn.
Del Monte

While we’re on the topic of going plant-based to save money, remember your produce doesn’t all have to come from the fresh section. There are plenty of frozen and canned options that’ll get the job done if you don’t mind a little change in texture.

Soups, stews, chili, and casseroles are all great meals to use frozen or canned veggies in because the texture is already altered.

Some people might be unsure whether canned veggies are healthy or not, but the truth is canning preserves most of a food’s nutrients. Just be sure to read all the ingredients and keep and avoid anything with high sodium.

Canned varieties like mixed medleys or peas and carrots combos are great for pot pies, soups, and casseroles!

Never Shop Hungry

A hungry woman shopping in the pastry section at a grocery store, getting donuts because she is hungry.

We’ve all done it, but shopping on an empty stomach is a very dangerous game. You’ll be tempted by all kinds of yummy (and expensive) treats that aren’t on your grocery list. Worst of all, when you’re hungry, it’s the processed stuff that will usually end up in your shopping basket.

To avoid all of that, try to plan your shopping trip after lunch or dinner, so you won’t be so tempted to grab those unhealthy (and expensive) chips and/or cookies.

Rising costs have made everyone’s weekly trip to the grocery store pretty painful for the pocketbook. If you can employ even a few of these tips, though, you’ll be surprised just how far you can stretch those dollars.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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