31 Things Most of Us Don’t Do at the Grocery Store That Could Save Us $100 or More

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Want to slash your grocery tab? Saving money on groceries is easier than collecting binders of coupons and buying 455 rolls of toilet paper.

We’ve compiled a list of simple (and some unexpected) tips to help you maximize your grocery budget.

How to Save Money on Groceries: 31 Tools and Tricks

If you know what you’re doing, you can save a purse-full of money next time you hit the grocery store. Here are our favorite ways to save money on groceries:

Table of Contents

8 Tools and Apps That Help You Save Money on Groceries

woman using smart phone outside
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Your phone is a powerful tool, so download these grocery apps. (Using them all is easier than clipping coupons!)

1. Ebates: Get a Free $10 Walmart Gift Card

Want $10 for your next Walmart haul?

Sign up for Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you make an online purchase. When you give the site a try, you’ll pocket a $10 Walmart gift card.

Here’s how:

  • Sign up for Ebates.
  • Use the online portal next time you make an online purchase from a popular retailer like Walmart, Amazon or Target. Make this purchase within 90 days of signing up, and spend at least $25.
  • Your Ebates account will be credited with points, which you can cash out for a $10 Walmart gift card.

2. Swagbucks: Get $5 Cash for Shopping Online

Coffee and a muffin enjoyed on a budget in St Petersburg Florida
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Here’s a simple trick to snag a $5 gift card for your next grocery trip: Use the Swagbucks extension on Google Chrome on your computer or laptop, and save even more on purchases at some of your favorite sites like Amazon and Target.

You’ll get a $5 Swagbucks bonus when you earn 2,500 SB within your first 60 days of signing up. Cash the bonus out through PayPal.

3. Ibotta: Take a Picture of Your Receipt, and Snag $10

Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts.

Here’s how it works: Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.

Bam. Cash back.

Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.

4. Shopkick: Get Paid to Walk Around the Mall

woman walking in cosmetics department at the mall
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Shopkick is a shopping rewards app that allows you to earn kicks (the equivalent of points) when you walk into a store, scan specific items’ barcodes or purchase certain items.

For example, earn kicks when you walk into CVS, Publix, Walmart or Sam’s Club. Scan items’ barcodes (it’s like a scavenger hunt!) at Aldi, Safeway or Costco.

Once you earn enough kicks, exchange them for gift cards to popular retailers like Target and Walmart. For context, 500 kicks equates to a $2 gift card.

5. Drop: Snag a $5 Gift Card 

The best kind of savings are the kind where you don’t have to do a thing. That’s what makes the Drop app so appealing.

What’s special about Drop is all you have to do is link your credit and debit cards (no coupon clipping or hoarding receipts!). When you make a Drop-qualified purchase, you’ll automatically earn points, whether you’re grocery shopping at Walmart, hailing an Uber or ordering a pizza.

The points will add up, and you can exchange them for gift cards in the app to popular retailers like Amazon and Starbucks.

6. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Get a $150 Bonus

If you're not using a rewards card for your grocery purchases, you’re really just leaving free money on the table.

Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card*. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.

7. Phil: Get up to $30 off Your Next Prescription

man reaches for one of his prescription medication bottles as he sits at his dining room table.
DNY59/Getty Images

Are you running to the grocery store pharmacy because you forgot to pick up your refill? Next month, save time and money with Phil, a refill service that delivers your prescription right to your door.

It even talks to your insurance company to handle payment issues and renew refills so you don’t have to.

Plus, as a new customer, you’ll get up to $30 off your first prescription.

8. Store Loyalty Apps: Clip Digital Coupons

What’s your go-to grocery store? Chances are, it has a loyalty app.

For example, the Aldi app allows you to tap into its weekly coupons, create a shopping list and find the nearest store. The Publix app works similarly, allowing you to clip digital coupons to use at checkout.

Bonus: Nielsen Consumer Panel

Want to get rewarded for showing off your grocery haul? Nielsen will do that for you.

You’re probably familiar with Nielsen. It’s the company that tracks TV ratings. Now, it wants to track what’s in your fridge.

Join the Nielsen Consumer Panel, then use your smartphone to scan your items’ barcodes after your next grocery run. When the data is sent off to Nielsen, you’ll earn gift points, which you can use to redeem for free electronics, household items or toys.

Use These 4 Sites to Get Coupons for Groceries

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Michaela Estes writes in her notebook in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Oct. 18, 2018. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

A simple way to save a ton of money at checkout is to deal stack, the art of layering cash-back apps and coupons.

If you’re looking for coupons — because not many of us receive the Sunday newspaper anymore — you can find a trove of coupons to print from these sites.

1. Betty Crocker: Up to $250 in Free Coupons

Give Betty Crocker your email address, and it’ll send you up to $250 worth of coupons that can help you get deeply discounted or free canned goods, cereal and yogurt.

In addition to coupons, Betty Crocker’s free email delivers the best of Betty’s 15,000 kitchen-tested recipes, how-tos and more — straight to your inbox.

2. Pillsbury: Up to $250 in Coupons

Sign up for Pillsbury emails to receive up to $250 in yearly coupons, access to free product samples (quantities limited, one per member) and the easiest recipes sent right to your inbox.

Pro tip: Because of the high value of these coupons, they’ve limited it to one set of coupons per person, so if you need more, get someone else in your household to sign up, too

Pillsbury's free Pie Guide sign-up page.

3. Tablespoon: Up to $250 in Free Coupons

Sign up for Tablespoon’s free email, and score up to $250 per year in coupon savings. Plus, stay on top of your food game with free recipes for doable dinners, delish desserts, party snacks and more.

Fill out the short form here (it takes 10 seconds) and select “coupon & sales.” Then click the button marked “clip all” to claim your coupons.

(Side note: A few readers have reported not seeing the “coupon & sales” link. You may have to log out and log back in for it show up.)


4. Kelloggs: Earn Rewards When You Buy Your Favorites

Just when you think you’ve exhausted all your coupon resources, think again.

Tap into exclusive discounts through the Kellogg’s Family Rewards portal. Find printable and digital coupons for cereals, diapers, laundry detergent — more than just Kellogg’s products.

Additionally, use the tool to earn points on other qualifying items. Exchange them for gift cards to popular retailers, like Starbucks, Domino’s and Sephora.

Sign up with your email address, and answer a few questions to earn an easy 100 bonus points. Then start collecting!

11 Simple Ways to Save Without Coupons

Jennifer Bishop brings her piggybank as she prepares to grocery shop, Tampa Fla, on November 3th, 2017
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Jennifer Bishop brings her piggybank as she prepares to grocery shop, Tampa Fla, on November 3th, 2017. Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Now that you’ve got your go-to savings apps and your coupons, it’s time to hit the aisles. Use these tips to save even more money on groceries.

1. Check Unit Prices

Sure, it’s tempting to think bulk is better, but that’s not always the case. That modest two pack of paper towels might actually be more affordable than the insanely large case of 16.

To calculate the unit price, divide an item’s price by its quantity. Consider how much you’ll actually be saving (if anything — and definitely not shelf space) by buying the bulk item.

2. Meal Prep to Make a Shopping List

Food items photographed in St Petersburg, Fla., on May 5th, 2018.
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

We know, we know. This seems soooo obvious, but meal planning for the week and making a grocery list can help you stay on task, not waste food and avoid frivolous purchases — like cheese wedges.

3. Don’t Shop at Eye Level

Dedicated professionals study the psychology of grocery shopping.

For example, shelves at eye level are prime real estate. You’ll often find more expensive items there — or items that attract kids.

Or think about this: Between 1975 and 2000, the size of shopping carts tripled. A bigger cart doesn’t mean you have to fill it all the way up.

Once you recognize these mind games, you can more easily avoid them.

4. Ask for a Rain Check

You know when there’s a BOGO for Nutella — but then you get to the store and it’s gone? Someone else got greedy.

Don’t be afraid to ask your grocer for a rain check so you can still snag the sale when the store restocks.

5. Store Your Food Properly

You buy a container of spinach or bundle of avocados, but before you’re able to devour all the green goodness, it goes bad.

Avoid wasting money at the grocery store by storing your food properly, so it lasts longer.

6. Have Your Groceries Delivered

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anyaberkut/Getty Imagers

Sure, you’ll have to pay for a grocery delivery service if someone brings your groceries to you, but opting to get your groceries dropped off at your door can actually save you a ton of time and money because you’ll be forced to plan out your meals.

Plus, there’s no veering off into the snack aisle.

7. Don’t Shop Hungry

The golden rule of grocery shopping: Thou shall not step into an aisle the least bit hungry.

Seriously.

You’ll start grabbing anything and everything that looks good. Then, because you’re planning for an immediate meal, you’ll have a ton of fresh, ready-to-eat impulse purchases that’ll linger in your fridge and go bad before you have time to devour them all.

8. Shop Your Pantry First

Before your next grocery run, take stock of what’s already in your pantry, fridge and freezer. What can you make with those items? Chances are you have a box of noodles or a carton of eggs. Use those already-purchased staples to build out your weekly meals.

9. Don’t Buy Pre-Cut Produce

man peeling vegetables at home
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Yes, it’s tempting to buy the already-spiralized zucchini or the pre-cut butternut squash. However, it costs a lot more than buying the “real” thing. Plus, you won’t get nearly as much, and the pre-cut stuff won’t stay fresh nearly as long.

10. Practice Meatless Mondays

Plain and simple: Meat is expensive. Enough ground beef for tacos for two can cost nearly $8. You might as well go to Taco Bell at that point…

To save money on your weekly grocery haul, practice meatless Mondays. Just giving it up once a week can help you save money.

Check out these meatless meals to get started.

11. Compare Stores

Ah, the store loyalists.

It’s easy to lean into one grocery store. You grow close with its aisles, its products, its cashiers… But you can save a bundle of money by jumping around. Use a grocery comparison chart to determine the best stores to buy your go-to items.

For example, you could save a ton of money on paper products at the dollar store. Then, hit up your favorite grocer for your fresh fruits and veggies.

6 Ways to Save on Organic Groceries

A women tends to her home Garden. Saturday Aug. 24, 2018, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

We get it: You just feel better about buying some items organic. That doesn’t mean you have to spend more money, though. Here are some strategies to help you save on organic groceries:

1. Grow a Cost-Effective Garden

If you have a yard — or even shelf space for herbs — consider growing your own fresh produce.

Because some veggies require more time, money and love upfront, plant the most cost-effective vegetables, which include salad greens, cherry tomatoes, green beans, herbs, summer squash, carrots and zucchini.

Another perk? You’ll know exactly how your produce was grown.

2. Shop Seasonally

Woman working, arranging produce at farmer's market
Django/Getty Images

Stay in your lane — or season.

Buying organic strawberries out of season, for example, can cost you a ton of money. Instead, shop and plan your meals seasonally. If you need out-of-season produce, buy it frozen.

3. Buy Organic Meat in Bulk

Did you know you can buy meat in bulk? The idea of it sounds kind of gross, but you can save a ton of money by shopping at your local wholesale meat supplier.

Penny Hoarder contributor Shannon Quinn buys her meat in bulk from her local supplier.  She gets three months’ worth of beef, pork, chicken and fish for $50 — and it all fits in her standard-sized freezer.

4. Tap Into a Local CSA

Find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to tap into your area’s organic fruits, vegetables, meat and even honey.

It’s like a subscription box. You’ll receive monthly, biweekly or weekly boxes of goods. Plus, you’re supporting local agriculture!

Find CSA programs near you by searching the USDA’s CSA database.

5. Know the Organic Store Brands

woman comparing fruit in grocery store
Tassii/Getty Images

You probably know grocery stores offer store-brand items, which can typically help you save some money. But did you know some also offer organic store brands?

Here are a few examples:

  • Aldi: SimplyNature
  • Kroger: Simple Truth
  • Publix: Greenwise
  • Safeway: O Organics
  • Target: Simply Balanced
  • Whole Foods: 365 Everyday Value

6. Understand What’s Worth Buying Organic

If you’re tried-and-true, always organic, that’s fine. But if you buy organic because you’re a sucker for green labels or simply feel like it’s healthier, then do some research. Know what that “organic” label means, and determine what’s worth buying organic and what’s not.

Saving Money on Groceries: Easier Than You’d Think

Maximizing your grocery budget doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right apps, coupons and strategies, you can easily cut your monthly grocery spend.

If you’re looking for even more ways to save money, check out our ultimate step-by-step guide to saving money.

*The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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