12 Things Most of Us Don’t Do at the Grocery Store That Could Save Us $100 or More
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Listen, we all know you could be spending less money on groceries.
We’re not saying you need to hoard 455 rolls of toilet paper or spend hours cutting coupons, but we do know a few weird — and easy — things you can do to cut that grocery bill each month.
How to Save Money on Groceries: Our Top Tips
Here are some of our favorite tricks to help you save money on groceries this week.
1. Take a Picture of Your Receipt
We know it sounds strange, but 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.
Some cash-back opportunities we’ve seen for groceries include:
- 25 cents back for any item.
- 25 cents back on strawberries.
- 50 cents back on frozen fruit snacks.
- $1 back on a box of tea.
- $5 back on a case of Shiner Bock beer.
Notice a lot of those aren’t tied to a brand — just shop for the staples on your list and earn cash back!
Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.
2. Share What’s in Your Fridge
Remember the Nielsen company? The one that’s always tracked TV ratings? Well, now it wants to know what’s in your fridge.
Once you sign up to be on the Nielsen Consumer Panel, you can either use your smartphone, or the company will send you a free barcode scanner. Every time you go shopping, you simply scan the UPC codes on the back of each product and send your data to Nielsen.
Nielsen will reward you with gift points, which you can redeem for free electronics, jewelry, household items or even toys for the kids.
The longer you stay on the panel, the more opportunity you have to earn points toward prizes. You’ll also receive entries for the panel’s many sweepstakes. Prizes include vacations and brand new vehicles.
3. Shop for Groceries Online
One of our favorite ways to save is with Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something. For example, Ebates gives you 10% cash-back on purchases at Walmart.
Plus you’ll get a free $10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.
To earn your gift card:
- Sign up for Ebates with your email or Facebook account.
- Use the Ebates portal the next time you need to buy something. It’s connected to thousands of stores, including Walmart, Amazon and Target. You’ll need to make your first purchase through the site within 90 days and spend at least $25.
- Your account will be credited with rewards points you can cash in for your $10 Walmart gift card.
4. Get 1.5% Back on Your Grocery Store Purchases
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.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)
Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.
5. Earn Cash for Sharing Your Thoughts on Food
Did you know packaged food companies will pay you for your thoughts? These companies are hungry for data on what shoppers think of their products, so paid food panels are becoming more and more common.
If you sign up for both, you could easily make an extra $20 or more each month. Most surveys pay between $3 to $4 each for 20 minutes of your time. Heck, you can even fill them out while you watch TV.
Larger panels might behosted locally — these usually take two to four hours, but they pay up to $75. Here's how to participate in a local panel.
6. Get up to $500 in Free Coupons
If you’re like us, you probably get bored making the same food week after week, so wouldn’t it be nice to occasionally be surprised with simple recipes you can make on a budget?
Sign up for Pillsbury.com 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.
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.
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!
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.)
7. Let Bread Save You up to 5%
Imagine not using any coupons or rebates and still saving 5% at the grocery store.
That’s what Bread promises to help you do.
Here’s how it works: Grocery stores pay a swipe fee every time you use your credit or debit card. Bread’s app eliminates those fees by linking your checking account directly to your grocer and passes the savings back to you.
When you first download the app, you’ll get 2% in savings, but you can increase your savings rate up to 5% by earning rewards (called “Bread”) while playing games and referring friends.
This app is scheduled to launch in a few months, but you’ll want to secure a place on the waiting list now. Early members get the opportunity to vote on which store the app launches with first (Whole Foods or Safeway).
Disclosure: Some of The Penny Hoarder's principals are both advisers and investors in Bread.
8. Find a Credit Card That Rewards You for Buying Groceries
So you want a credit card, but there are too many to choose from. What to do?
Should you leaf through your junk mail and just accept one of those credit card offers that show up in your mailbox? That would be quick and easy, right?
No, no, a thousand times no! Don’t do that. That’s a good way to end up unhappily shackled to a credit card that’s all wrong for you.
At least one in five cardholders are carrying around a credit card whose fees and rewards don’t match their actual spending habits, according to a 2016 study from J.D. Power.
To help you avoid becoming a statistic, here's our guide to everything you need to know about credit cards — including how to pick the one that's right for you.
9. Practice Meatless Mondays
Meat is expensive. Challenge your family to give it up on Mondays (or any one day of the week) to cut your grocery bill.
If you’re not sure how to still get an adequate amount of protein, Penny Hoarder contributor Kelly Gurnett compiled a list of 10 meat alternatives that’ll be cheaper than the real stuff.
10. Quit Costco (or BJ’s or Sam’s Club)
We love the wide aisles and free samples of a warehouse club, but it's gotten to the point where you can often buy bulk or wholesale groceries cheaper online.
One option is the bulk items section on Amazon Grocery. You’ll save around $50 a year in membership fees, and Amazon will ship most things to you for free.
Also, do you know about these Amazon-only coupons posted each week? We’ve seen coupons for formula, granola bars, K-cups and more. Just click the ones you want, and Amazon will automatically apply them to your bill before you check out.
11. Get Paid Just for Walking Into Stores
No extreme physical activity or pulled muscles required for this money-making trick. All you need to do is download the Shopkick app.
Once you sign up, the app pays you in “kicks” for walking into certain stores (including Walmart, Target, TJMaxx and more). You can redeem them for gift cards to a number of retailers, including Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Sephora and Best Buy.
It pays you even more kicks for photos of receipts that include qualifying items you purchased in-store with a connected credit or debit card. You can also earn kicks for online purchases. You don’t have to do anything; your linked cards will automatically apply your kicks.
But don’t make the mistake of buying things you don’t need just for kicks, you know better than that.
12. Turn Diapers Into Rewards
We’ve heard your average baby goes through six to 10 diapers a day, and 2,500 to 3,000 diapers in their first year alone. By the time your kid is finally potty-trained, you’ll have spent thousands on thousands of diapers.
Diaper companies know once you’ve started with their brand, you’re likely to continue using it. That’s why they offer rewards programs and why you should take advantage of these deals. Because let’s face it — you’re going to be buying all those diapers anyway.
One of the highest-rated loyalty programs is Huggies Rewards. Here’s how it works:
- Sign up online or via the iOS or Android app.
- Whenever you buy Huggies diapers or wipes, pull up the app on your phone and snap a photo of your receipt. (This includes printed, online or gift receipts.)
- Get points that you can redeem for diapers, toys, gift cards and more.
It’s that simple. You’ll also get exclusive coupons and offers. And you get 500 points just for signing up.
See Also >> The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Saving Money
*Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one.
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.