The grocery bill can be a source of stress for a lot of households.
But we all have to eat, which makes grocery shopping unavoidable.
And one of our favorite things here at The Penny Hoarder is finding ways to make money doing the things we already have to do every day.
Turning an everyday grocery trip into a cash source can not only help curb some food expenses, but also make it a little more fun!
Here are eight ways we found to make money while grocery shopping:
1. Be a Mystery Shopper
Mystery shopping is a brilliant side gig for a Penny Hoarder. Not only are you paid for your time, but you often get compensated for your purchases, too!
But why not mystery shop a grocery store and get paid for shopping you have to do anyway?
You may be wary of mystery shopping companies. Probably because there are, indeed, plenty of scammers out there who try to make you pay them.
Don’t ever do that.
Instead, find legitimate jobs with our list of reputable mystery shopping companies.
2. Pick Up Other People’s Groceries
While you’re at the store, earn extra money picking up someone else’s groceries.
Use these apps to work whenever you want to make some extra money. You might as well pick up a job anytime you’re headed to the store yourself.
Instacart is an app designed solely for grocery pickup and delivery in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
After brief training, you can log on to Instacart when you want to work and accept job assignments. Shoppers can earn up to $25 an hour during peak hours, plus occasional tips.
On the other hand, TaskRabbit is a general gig site available in 18 U.S. cities and London.
You can pick up tasks from housecleaning to bartending at a private party — or shopping and delivery.
3. Get Paid for Your Steps
Have you ever wondered how much walking you actually do while you’re shopping?
Think about the size of warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club, or enormous big box retailers like Walmart. I’m tempted to consider every Walmart shopping escapade a workout, as long as I don’t tear into the snacks I bought as soon as I get back to the car…
Get credit for the work you put in traipsing the aisles!
Wear your FitBit or other activity tracker when you hit the grocery store so your steps are counted. Then, turn those steps into cash by earning rewards through FitStudio.
If you use FitStudio, your workouts earn rewards points, which you can redeem for savings at Sears and Kmart.
(Update: Fitstudio just announced it’s shutting down on Feb. 10, 2016, so you’ll no longer be able to earn points this way.)
4. Pay With a Cash-Back Credit Card
This tip is almost too simple, but worth the reminder: Always pay with your cash-back credit card.
A cash-back or rewards credit card lets you earn money or points for money you’re already spending.
As long as you budget well and pay off your balance each month, it’s free money in your pocket.
Our favorite rewards card is the Barclaycard Cash Forward World Mastercard® — it offers 1.5% cash rewards on everything you spend.
A family of four spends an average $216 per week on groceries — which could earn them $168 a year in cash rewards.
5. Use Moneymaker Coupons
Did you know you can be so clever with coupons, you’ll leave a store with more money than you brought?
It involves smart deal-stacking and a little planning — but it’s possible.
With the growing popularity of extreme couponing, many stores have adjusted their coupon policies to avoid paying coupon overages, or “moneymakers.”
But some will still put the cash in your hand!
A quick search for “[store name] coupon policy” should bring you information on your favorite grocer. If the policy isn’t online (kudos for shopping small!), just ask a cashier or manager next time you’re in the store.
6. Wager With Friends to Get Healthy
If you’re looking for extra incentive to eat healthier and lose weight this year, would money help?
Or do it the old-fashioned way: Create an in-person weight-loss challenge pool with friends, family or co-workers.
What you eat has a huge impact on how much weight you will — or won’t — lose.
Consider the challenge a way to reward yourself for bypassing sweets and non-nutritious treats on your trips through the grocery store.
7. Use Rebate Apps
Rebates are like coupons you don’t have to find before grocery shopping.
Using these apps, scan your receipt and item bar codes when you get home to discover rebates and earn cash back.
To optimize each shopping trip, check the app before you head out to see which items are offering rebates.
Ibotta even offers rebates for everyday items like milk, bread and eggs! Earn rewards on these staples, regardless of the brand you buy. It should help you stay away from processed foods and make progress on your get-healthy challenge, huh? (See above.)
8. Shop Online and Pick Up in Store
If you’re shopping for items in the store, you’re missing a key opportunity to make money: cash-back websites.
If you do your grocery shopping through a major chain like Walmart or Target, order online through a cash-back website and pick your items up at a store near you.
When you shop through cash-back sites (or “shopping portals”) like Swagbucks, you’ll earn points for every dollar you spend. You can redeem those points for rewards — usually a gift card or PayPal deposit.
Start on Cashbackholic to find the cash-back site that offers the best deal for the store you want to shop. For example, as of this writing, BeFrugal is offering 5% cash back and a $10 bonus when you shop at Walmart.com.
Your Turn: Do you use any of these tricks to make money while you’re grocery shopping? What tips can you add?
Disclosure: Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which ThePennyHoarder.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). We do not feature all available credit card offers or all credit card issuers.
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more.