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16 Spending Tricks to Save Money on Groceries

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Grocery shopping

It’s becoming more and more important to arm yourself with tricks to save money on groceries – otherwise, you might go in thinking you’re only going to spend 30 dollars and accidentally add a zero. Groceries are one of those unpredictable household expenses that you need to keep a close eye on, and here are 16 spending tricks to give you a hand:

1. Always make a list

Start off your list with the essentials you always keep stocked, then add any odds and ends you’ll need for upcoming meals you have planned. This will help you make sure you don’t veer off course while you’re shopping.

2. Know your prices

Learn the prices of your essentials off-by-heart: This will help you find the best deals when browsing through flyers and in-store promotions. Just because something’s on sale, doesn’t mean it’s a good sale.

3. Buy essentials on sale (and stock up)

The typical length of a grocery store sale cycle is six to eight weeks, so if you find your fave almond butter on sale, then stockpile it to see you through until the next sale cycle.

4. Beware of quantity pricing

When you see a product is advertised for more than one quantity of the item, such as 2/$5, in most cases you don’t need to buy two to get the sale price – you can buy 1/$2.50. If you have to buy two, it will explicitly say so somewhere in the ad.

5. Shop at an optimal time

Shop for groceries when the store is less busy and when you’re not incredibly rushed. This gives you time to compare prices and bust out your calculator app if your math skills leave a lot to be desired (you know, like mine).

6. Shop less

Fewer trips to the store means you’ll be less likely to spontaneously splurge on items you don’t really need. Try extending the time between shopping trips and see how it goes. Keep in mind you’ll also save time and gas, so it’s totally a win/win.

7. Check expiry dates

One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to make sure they last as long as possible. Grocery stores stock their shelves with the items that are going to expire first at the front – so if you’d be so bold, always take the products you want from the back of the line.

8. Use a basket or a smaller shopping cart

Shopping carts are getting bigger because it encourages customers to buy more. Either take note to not fill your cart, or use a basket/smaller cart where possible.

9. Don’t look in the middle

The most expensive items are usually at eye level so you can easily stuff them in your cart. Always keep your eyes open to the higher and lower shelves.

10. Pay with cash

When you use your debit or credit card, it doesn’t feel as tangible compared to paying with cash. Plus, you can’t go over budget if cash is all you're carrying.

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11. Don’t bring the kids

Like, ever.

12. Ask for rain checks when the product is sold out

Most rain checks don’t expire for 30 days after they’ve been issued, so even if they’re out of stock you’ll still be able to enjoy the sale price long after it’s over.

13. Buy spices from the bulk area

For the rarer spices in your life, buy them from the bulk bins. That way, you’ll only ever have what you need on hand, instead of oodles of spice bottles collecting dust and losing freshness.

14. Plan a pantry week

Every season, challenge yourself to one week without going grocery shopping and use up what you have on hand in your pantry. You probably have way more than you think you do – and maybe even some hidden, delicious gems!

15. Practice proper portions

With dinner plates the size of hub caps and glasses the size of buckets, no wonder we have such a skewed perception of what portions even look like anymore! Get into the habit of recognizing proper portion sizes to cut down on waste (and you know, bingeing).

16. Buy a larger cut of meat and have it prepped

Find out if your grocery store’s butcher provides complimentary services. For example, when someone buys a roast where I live, our local butcher will remove the bone for soup, grind half of it for hamburger, and cut the rest for pot roast and stews. This can help you save money on groceries in one fell swoop – especially if the meat you’re buying is on sale.

What spending tricks do you use to save money on groceries?

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Image: Caden Crawford

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