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Top Tips for Saving Money at the Supermarket

Updated on April 26, 2015

Supermarket grocery shopping is one of the biggest expenses faced by any family or household. This means that determining effective strategies for saving money at the supermarket can make life a lot easier and free up funds to be spent on other things. The money saving tips which are included on this page can all be adopted by almost anyone, they are free of financial cost to implement and require only that a little time and thought be expended in order to begin saving big at the supermarket from day one.

The points discussed on this page can either be taken in to account individually, or in multiples of two or more. This will depend on individual circumstances and requirements. It is perhaps therefore best practice to firstly read through all of them and only then decide which ones you are going to take on board and in which order.

Going to the supermarket when hungry and looking forward to the dinner you are going to prepare with your purchases is not a good idea
Going to the supermarket when hungry and looking forward to the dinner you are going to prepare with your purchases is not a good idea

Consider the Timing of your Visit to the Supermarket

Choosing the correct time to visit the supermarket can help save you money on your groceries in two different ways:

  1. Visiting the supermarket when hungry is not a good idea. Supermarkets deliberately display products in a fashion which is likely to make them as attractive as possible to consumers. Where these products are foodstuffs - as they are, more often than not, likely to be - resisting their allure at the best of times can be difficult. When you are visiting the supermarket in advance of your evening meal and therefore likely to be hungry, resisting these tasty looking products will be even more difficult and you may find yourself succumbing to temptation and buying one or more of these products which you quite simply do not require.
  2. Visiting the supermarket near to closing time can often be a way of obtaining incredible bargains. A great many products have sell by dates and have to be sold by a certain time or disposed of. This means that in the hour prior to closing time, many items which will otherwise have to be thrown away are sold at a fraction of their normal price. Provided that the products are then consumed quickly, or even deep frozen if they are suitable for this option, great savings are to be had.

Supermarkets' own products can very often represent considerable value in comparison to more popular brand names
Supermarkets' own products can very often represent considerable value in comparison to more popular brand names

Compare Supermarket Products against Brand Names

There is very often a perception when purchasing anything that the more expensive it is, the better quality it will be. While this is frequently the case, it is by no means always so and sampling the considerably less expensive, supermarket labelled products can in many instances provide excellent long term savings options. This method of saving money at the supermarket does involve some trial and error. There will be times where the supermarket product will be found to be greatly inferior and not to represent a saving but trying merely one or two different products a week in this way and maintaining a record of which measure up and which don't can pay handsome dividends over a period of time.

Exploring alternative supermarket options in your immediate area can represent substantial savings in grocery shopping costs
Exploring alternative supermarket options in your immediate area can represent substantial savings in grocery shopping costs

Perform a Price Comparison of Supermarkets in your Area

A majority of people are likely to have a number of different supermarkets in their immediate area. Through simple habit more than anything, however, most people will have a particular supermarket at which they like to do their shopping and never venture through the doors of the alternatives. While this is of course understandable, this factor alone may well be unnecessarily inflating grocery shopping costs.

Performing a price comparison of the different supermarkets in your area would at one time have involved visiting each supermarket in turn and recording prices with a notepad and pen. While the action can still be undertaken in this way, modern days of Internet and supermarket websites make this a much easier and simpler task.

Think of a number of products which you buy extremely regularly. Write them down as shown in the table below and then visit the website of each supermarket in your area and record the price in each instance. By simply adding up the figures in each column, it can ultimately be seen which supermarket offers the greatest all round value in respect of these products.

Note that the more products you compare in this way, the more accurate the overall result will be.

Product
Supermarket A
Supermarket B
Supermarket C
Item 1
9.95
9.75
10.25
Item 2
8.65
8.70
8.60
Item 3
8.50
7.99
8.50
Item 4
8.25
8.45
8.70
Item 5
9.00
8.70
9.20
Item 6
8.50
8.50
8.80
Item 7
8.25
8.10
7.99
Item 8
6.20
5.75
6.00
Item 9
5.90
6.00
6.20
Item 10
5.25
5.00
5.40
Totals
78.45
76.94
79.64

The results in the table above may seem too close to justify changing the supermarket at which you shop. It is important to remember, however, that these savings will mount up considerably over a period of time.

It is also worth conducting this exercise perhaps every few months, as supermarkets continue to compete with one another and change their pricing structure accordingly.

Supermarket loyalty and reward cards can provide excellent subsidiary benefits
Supermarket loyalty and reward cards can provide excellent subsidiary benefits

Supermarket Loyalty and Reward Cards

Loyalty and reward schemes of one type or another are operated by a great many larger supermarkets. While the schemes' specifics will vary, they generally afford customers points depending upon the level of their spend, which can later be used to purchase goods directly or to obtain vouchers. These totally sundry benefits can greatly reduce the cost of your shopping over the course of a year and enquiring in to the nature of the schemes available in your area is therefore an excellent idea.

Preparing a definitive list is essential to organised and budget controlled grocery shopping
Preparing a definitive list is essential to organised and budget controlled grocery shopping

Be Sure to Prepare a List for the Supermarket

Perhaps the most important factor of all in saving money at the supermarket is preparing a definitive list of what is required in advance. This means that you can visit the supermarket, pick up only that which you need and be less likely to be tempted by special offers, or purchase items which you are unsure whether you need or not. The list is best prepared over a period of time and items added to it as soon as they are identified as being required.

Purchasing excess perishable food can see much of it fit only for compost
Purchasing excess perishable food can see much of it fit only for compost

Waste Not, Want Not - Buy Only What You Need

Even where a list has been prepared, it will often be the case that you will come across special offers in supermarkets that will tempt you to buy that which you do not need. A particular danger in this respect are offers such as, "Buy one and get one half price!" While this may well represent excellent value, that will only be the case where the product is likely to be used. It is very much false economy to buy excess goods which will later have to be discarded. An exception to this rule would be where it is possible to put the relevant product in to the deep freeze.

Clipping coupons can lead to substantial savings at the supermarket
Clipping coupons can lead to substantial savings at the supermarket

Clip Coupons and Watch for Special Promotions

Very often, supermarkets will run special promotions, where they have significant price reductions on particular products or cause coupons to be published in newspapers or magazines which afford discounts. It is always worth watching newspapers and magazines for such offers, clipping the coupon where appropriate and using it on your next visit to the supermarket. The supermarkets' websites are also worth checking on a regular basis for offers of this type, or vouchers which may be printed.

Every little scrap saved in supermarket expenditure mounts up to form a bigger, healthier sum
Every little scrap saved in supermarket expenditure mounts up to form a bigger, healthier sum

Every Little Helps...

The entire concept of saving money at the supermarket in the long term is about following all of these smaller steps - and any more which can be determined - to form a bigger and more complete picture. Every small saving which these steps will produce is another piece in the jigsaw of substantial financial savings and a little more breathing space in the jungle that can often be the managing of your personal finances.

The short video below features an acknowledged expert in saving money at the supermarket and examines some of the more salient points on this page in greater detail. It makes for an excellent point of ongoing reference. Simply click on the arrow in the centre of the screen to play.

What's your top tip for saving money at the supermarket?

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Thank you for your visit to this site and your time spent looking through it. I hope that you found something it contains useful. Any feedback which you have, or tips of your own for saving money at the supermarket which you would like to share, may be left in the space below.

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    • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon Hamilton 

      7 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Thank you, Simone. It sounds as though you are a very savvy shopper! :)

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      This is a great breakdown - I love your photos and layout - everything is wonderfully organized and refreshingly easy to follow! I adhere to all of these things and it makes a big difference- great advice!

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