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How to Save Money on Groceries - Grocery Shopping Tips

Updated on January 7, 2015
Aldi is my favorite grocery store.
Aldi is my favorite grocery store. | Source

Save on groceries

In today's economy, we can all use tips on saving money at the grocery store. You may already look for sales or use coupons, but perhaps there are a few other helpful ways that you can save money on groceries the next time you shop.

I'll share my tips, and you share yours!

Keep on ongoing shopping list

A shopping list will help you to keep on task in the grocery store. If you keep a shopping list at home that you add to as you run out of items, then you should have all the things you need on that list. There shouldn't be a need wandering through the aisles trying to remember what you have run out of--and grabbing impulse items in the process. Your list shows you exactly what you need.

I have a magnetized shopping pad on the refrigerator that I jot down needed items on as soon as I run low. That way I know that I won't forget them on my next shopping trip, and my jaunt around the grocery store should be pretty focused.

Many years ago, my brother and I scouted the store that we regularly frequented and typed out a shopping list with all the sections in order. We made lots of copies and used them to keep track of items we needed before the big shopping trip we would take now and then together. Weren't we clever? It was certainly great bonding time for us as we got everything we needed without straying!

Look through newspaper grocery ads

If you have access to several local competitive grocery stores, check out the weekly ads in the local newspaper. Compare deals at the different stores when looking at what you've compiled on your shopping list. For me, I buy the majority of my groceries at Aldi, which has the best deals around by far in my area. Using coupons in other grocery stores doesn't beat Aldi's regular prices.

Another way to save by pre-shopping is by signing up online for the weekly newsletter of your favorite stores. That way, you don't even have to spend the money for a weekly newspaper (unless you want the coupons).

Use only coupons you need

Save money with coupons by using them only on items that you would normally buy. Otherwise, you might end up spending more money on a brand that is more expensive even with the coupon.

I personally don't spend a lot of time looking for coupons, as my shopping at Aldi saves me more than most coupons could. At other stores, I do occasionally use coupons for items I regularly use when I come across them. If I am feeling ambitious, I will buy the Sunday paper and use applicable coupons I find in there. Sometimes I go online to particular websites to see if they have coupons available.

Don't go to the store at certain times

It is a really bad idea to go to buy groceries when you are tired, depressed, or hungry. If you're tired, you may grab the quickest things you see, whether they are cheap or not, you may forget things you really need (even though they are on your list), and you may be too weak to resist impulse junk food that jumps out at you.

Depression may lead you to the candy aisle. Or perhaps your comfort food is pizza. That's certainly one of mine. Before you know it, your cart could be full of sweets, pizza, and perhaps some chips and cheese dip to top it all off. Don't drown your depression in the grocery store.Your bank account will suffer right along with your belly.

Common sense will tell you not to go to around tempting foods when you are hungry. In the grocery store, you may spend more than you need--or even really want. Your stomach may do the talking instead of your brain.

To save money--and your waistline--just save your grocery shopping for another day if you're tired, depressed, or hungry. You will thank yourself later.

Grow a garden

If you grow just a few tomatoes in your garden or yard, or a few herbs in your kitchen, you will save money over grocery store prices. You can grow lettuce or spinach inside in pots all year long. Gardening is a whole other topic and just another way to save money on your grocery bill, even if you do just a little of it.

Buy foods in bulk that you will use

Buying in bulk is a very thrifty way to save money on items that you use. That's the key, though--items you use. Purchasing items just to save money is a big no-no if they are things you don't use often. Some foods go to waste quickly, so look at expiration dates to estimate if you will use everything up before it all goes bad.

I have a deep freeze, and I have to be careful about stuffing it full of great deals. Too many deals may get lost in a big freezer. They may get buried or forgotten. Even frozen foods don't last forever. The result of spoiled food is money lost instead of money saved.

Avoid Sales Tricks That Can Waste Your Money

Replace expensive items

Replace expensive items with cheaper items. Try brands that are cheaper to see if you can replace a more expensive brand. You will only know if you try, and it could save you many dollars in the long run.

Make your own gravies and broths. Learn to make brown gravy from meat drippings and white gravy with a little oil and flour.

Do the same thing with seasonings. Instead of buying expensive seasoning packets for chili, tacos, and spaghetti sauce, look up what spices typically go into these recipes. If you already have the spices, there is no need to buy expensive packets.

Continually be creative, looking for items you can replace with less expensive ones.

Shop dollar stores for certain items

Taking an occasional trip to the local dollar store can save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Some of the better stores are The Dollar Tree and Deals, where you know that everything in there costs just one buck.

Dollar stores are great places to buy items such as party supplies, greeting cards, cleaning products, and various grocery items. You can often find household items such as dishes, towels, and picture frames. They have toys, books, and always have seasonal items.

The quality of certain items may not be up to par, but there are many name brand or other items that work just fine. So don't discount (no pun intended) these dollar stores.

Assess cart and put things back

Another trick that I do is to look in my cart before I check out of the store. Do I really need this? Do I really need that? Did I throw some impulse items into my cart? Look in your cart before you go to the check-out line. This is something I regularly do, and I often find myself putting something I really don't need back on the shelf. Try it, and add up how much you save when you do that.

Share your own shopping tips

Perhaps you have your own grocery shopping tips for saving money. I would love to hear from you as I am always trying to incorporate new ways to save money.

Your Grocery Shopping Saving Habits

Do you have methods to save money on groceries?

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    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      MarloByDesign--I do all those things, too! Thanks for weighing in!

    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 2 years ago from United States

      I rated your Hub 'Useful' and 'Voted Up'. Wonderfully written Hub! I always go shopping with a list and organize and print out coupons before I go. Also, looking at store fliers - ahead of time - is an absolute must! I also stock up on sale items!!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Diana-I also look at bargain bins. I try not to stock up too much with sale items, if they'll go bad. Thanks for he great comments!

    • Diana Grant profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from London

      I always use a shopping list, but still wander round the whole shop, looking for bargains, and I always go to the reduced price area where things are on their last sell-by date - I've tried all sorts of new things this way, but sometimes find it difficult to resist the temptation to buy more than I need just because it's cheap. I buy meat from the local market rather than the big-name stores - it's about one third cheaper.

      I know about not shopping when you're hungry, but your advice not to shop when tired or depressed was a real heads-up warning for me.

      Very good advice all round.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Peggy W--I would love a 99 cent store as you mention. We have a few dollar stores, but they don't sell fresh fruit and vegetables. How cool! I'm glad you have an Aldi, too. I love the store! Thanks for pinning the hub. I enjoyed your comments.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Glimmer Twin Fan--Glad to hear that others use the keeping a list tip. Thanks for your input!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I do all of these things that you mentioned. At one of our local dollar is actually called the 99 cents store...they have fantastic produce at times. Such things like 2 or 3 red peppers for a dollar, heads of cauliflower, honeydew melons, fresh pineapples, etc. I go there first before shopping in regular grocery stores for produce. We have a new Aldi in our area! They really do have great prices! Will be shopping at Costco and Aldi today. Up and useful votes and pinning to my Useful Tips and Ideas board. If people are not already doing this, they will definitely save money by adopting these ideas.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      georgialgal--I bet you are in the store a lot. It's good that you have some garden food to help. Thanks for your comments!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      For me your first tip on keeping a grocery list is the one I use. If I don't have a list I'll buy way too much junk and extra stuff. Good tips.

    • georgialgal1984 profile image

      Mrs Clark 4 years ago from United States

      Great tips! I use all of these on a regular basis. With a family of seven, I fill like I live in the grocery store some days! :) Our garden is giving us some produce now of blackberries, peas, lemon boy tomatoes, spinach, oregano, mint, and chives. Hope your day is wonderful~

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      helmrose--That's a great tip. Good idea to find out when your local grocery store marks things down. Thanks for the input!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I know, Carol! It becomes imperative to cut back. I'll take any tips I can to try! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • profile image

      helmrose 4 years ago

      I sometimes go to my local supermarket on a night when they reduce items right down, you have some useful tips. Thanks :)

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Really good advice here and we do try. I know we can cut back on what we spend..especially when you see prices go up right before your very eyes.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Outbound Dan--That's a great point about Aldi being simple instead of having so many different brands to choose from. I can get in and out of there much faster that way. That's great about the Farmer's Market. I buy a few things occasionally, but our local one is pretty pricey. I always thought farmer's markets were supposed to be cheaper, but ours isn't. :-( Still, sometimes it's worth paying extra to get the fresh stuff. Thanks for your comments!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Ruchira--It really does help to reassess the cart before checking out! Thanks for reading. Always a pleasure to see you!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Alphadogg16--LOL! Well, at least you're honest. Love your comments. Work on those shopping habits! :-)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Thanks, random! I agree. Doing at least a few things helps!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I hear ya, Maria, and totally agree! Impulse shopping leads to a lot of extra money spent. Thanks for the great input, votes, and especially the hugs! :-)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      livingsta--Thanks for your comments and sharing. I appreciate it!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Angelo--That's a good tip, too. Going out of one's way defeats the purpose in saving money. Thanks for the great comments!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      kaiyan--I know what you mean about using coupons. Store brands are cheaper, anyway, without them, usually. Plus, couponing a lot does take a lot of time. I do the same thing with meat--separate it and freeze it. Saves a lot to buy the jumbo pack. Thanks for the comments!

    • Outbound Dan profile image

      Dan Human 4 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      Great tips here and I admit that Aldi's is one of my favorite stores. I like not being overwhelmed by thirty feet of the same product in different packaged all at different prices - they are simple and I like that.

      I save money by shopping at the farmer's market - I can get a whole reusable shopping bag full of fresh fruits and vegetables for under ten dollars. Best of all, I can walk to the market - so it is an environmentally green choice too.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Great tips, and you mentioned all those tips that I usually not go shopping when hungry and assess the cart when near the check out...I have always taken out 2-3 items which were found unnecessary.

      Once again...great tips!!

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 4 years ago from Texas

      Great tips, unfortunately I don't follow most of them and 'Im probably in the top 10 worse shoppers of all time. Something Ill have to work on. Thumbs up

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Georgie--that's a great tip on buying meats! Thanks. And thanks for passing along the tips. :-)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great set of tips! I'm proud to say that I do most of them on a regular basis. However, even doing one or two of them can make a big difference. Very comprehensive article.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Excellent suggestions, most of which we do...getting much wiser through the years.

      I especially believe in avoidance of impulse shopping...and always carry the list. Learning there is no difference in quality and plenty of savings to be had, store brands are now bought without a blink.

      Excellent and useful...Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great tips on saving money on groceries. Thank you for sharing.

      Votes up...sharing!

    • Angelo52 profile image

      Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Great article. I use a lot of these tips including growing some fresh produce - mostly peppers. I try not to go out of my way to a store just because they have 1 item on "sale". Saves gas. If it is on my way to wherever I'm going then I might stop.

    • kaiyan717 profile image

      kaiyan717 4 years ago from West Virginia

      Great tips, I use all but coupons because it seems the generic is cheaper even with the coupon. I was inspired by Extreme Couponing for a minute until I realized it was pure madness lol. I like to go early in the morning and catch the manager specials, then separate into indivdual meals to freeze. Saves me a lot on meat which can get pretty pricey.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      Georgianna Lowery 4 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Great tips! I use quite a few of these. Something that also might help is knowing what day of the week your favorite grocery store discounts their fresh meats - you can usually save a ton. These are things that have to be sold within a couple of days. I hit up my Food Lion on Tuesdays and put the meat straight into the freezer.

      Will pass this along because I have some friends I know will appreciate your tips!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Bill, I figured you would be on board with everything! Like minds! :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yep, we do it all, especially the garden at this time of year. Great suggestions, Vicki, and I'm proud to say I'm on board all the way.