35 Tricks That'll Save You Serious Cash at the Grocery Store

Grocery Tricks Cover

Cheapism / RapidEye/TommL/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Grocery Tricks Cover
Cheapism / RapidEye/TommL/istockphoto

Supermarket Savings

Does anyone else feel grocery shopping is a total gut punch these days? The prices at the grocery store have gotten so out of hand that we're forced to psych ourselves up to go and then have an internal pep talk before the cashier tells us our total. Now more than ever, we're leaning on all the tips and tricks to save money at the grocery store, especially the ones we've listed below.

Mother and daughter grocery shop together using list
SDI Productions/istockphoto

1. Make a List & Stick to It

Going to the grocery store without a list is dangerous stuff. You'll wander around snatching up everything that catches your eye and before you know it, you'll have spent way more than you planned to. Make a grocery list and don't veer too far away from it. 

A Man Takes or Places Glass Jars Filled With Legumes From A Shelf In The Pantry
Human Hand Filling Meal Plan In Notebook

3. Plan Out Your Meals

Make your own menu for the week and double check the recipes to make a list of what ingredients you'll need to buy to make it happen. Knowing what you plan to make will help minimize unnecessary purchases.

Portrait Of Young  Asian  Lady Holding And Using Smartphone Buying  Groceries Walking In Supermarket With Trolley Cart.
onuma Inthapong/istockphoto

4. Use the Sale Ad for Inspiration

When you're making your meal plan, check your grocery store's sale ad to get started. For instance, if chicken breasts are on sale but ground beef is not, you might plan chicken quesadillas instead of beef nachos. 

A woman putting green bell peppers into fridge

5. Stock Your Freezer ...

A well-stocked freezer is comparable to having a full pantry. These types of food beg to be stored in bulk, so appease them and do so. This is especially useful with meat. If you get a good price on meat, you can fill your freezer, eliminating the need to keep buying it each week, reducing your per-trip spending.

Young woman searching food inside a refrigerator at home

6. ... And Plan Your Meals Around Your Freezer Stock

If you do have a full freezer, you can shop that the same you do your pantry before going grocery shopping. 

Woman uses grocery delivery app
SDI Productions/istockphoto

6. Download the App for Your Grocery Store ...

If your grocery store has an app (and it most likely does), be sure to download it. Depending on your store, you can take advantage of things like virtual coupons, rewards, and online ordering. 

Social media, connection and woman typing on a phone for communication, app and chat. Web, search and corporate employee reading a conversation on a mobile, networking and texting on a mobile app
Delmaine Donson/istockphoto

... And Explore Other Rewards Apps Too

You might be able to check out other apps to help save money at the grocery store. Apps like Ibotta will allow you to accumulate cashback rewards on everyday purchases. 

Woman shopping with coupons

9. Use Coupons

The days of pulling coupons from the red devices hanging off the shelves at the grocery store might be over, but you can still use coupons, and you absolutely should if you're trying to save money at the grocery store.

Attractive black woman with tote bag holding food product, buying groceries at supermarket

10. Buy Generic Brands

Don't get too hung up on buying big-name brands. If you can find more affordable generic brand substitutes, they are often suitable stand-ins (and sometimes even tastier than their name brand counterparts). 

woman with shopping cart at Costco
Anthony Devlin/Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty Images Europe

11. Buy in Bulk

Whether you're sweet on Sam's Club, cool with Costco, or besties with BJ's, wholesale clubs are key to saving money on groceries. Stock up on items you use often, buy meat in bulk, and don't miss out on the freezer aisle. 

Man Shopping in a Grocery Store in the Frozen Section

12. Shop By Yourself

Don't take your significant other with you to grocery shop and for the love of all things good and holy, leave the kids behind too. The last thing you need is the distraction of other people putting stuff in the cart you're trying to keep controlled. 

For more thrifty tips, sign up for our free newsletters.

Close up of full shopping cart in grocery store
Dan Dalton/istockphoto

13. Avoid Prepared Foods

Prepared foods, from whole meals and salads to already-cut fruits and vegetables, typically cost more than their raw form counterparts. Cut the fruit yourself — it will save you money.

Young woman in household chemistry department of supermarket chooses washing powder
Andrii Borodai/istockphoto

14. When Deciding Between Sizes, Check the Unit Price

That 250-count package of storage baggies for your sandwiches might cost more than the 50-count option, but if you break down the per-ounce price, the bigger package is usually the better deal. 

Related: The Big Short: How Popular Consumer Products Are Shrinking

Senior adult man grocery shopping

15. Don't Shop Hungry

Don't go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. You'll come out with a cart full of regret and an empty wallet.

brandon king / Flickr

16. Shop at Discount Grocers

We've said it before and we'll take this to our graves: Don't sleep on Aldi. You can hit up discount grocery stores to take advantage of savings, just make sure you read up on what's worth it and what's not first.

Cory M./Yelp

17. Buy Seasonal Produce

If you've ever tried to purchase corn on the cob in the winter or pomegranate during the summer, you've spent more than you should have. Only buy produce when it's in season if you want to score the best price. 

Photograph of shelves with promotions

18. Check the Clearance Section

Some grocery stores have a clearance section you can peruse. Just keep in mind that these areas often display soon-expiring items, so plan accordingly when you purchase. 

Black man at the supermarket buying packaged meat and choosing it from the refrigerated section

19. Stock Up on Meat When It's On Sale

If you find a good deal on meat, take full advantage and stock up — just make sure you have plenty of freezer space to spare.

Online Grocery Pickup
Mary Baratto/istockphoto

20. Order Your Groceries Online

Ordering your groceries online is a good way to keep yourself reeled in. Only search for what's on your list and you'll be good to go. The pull of in-person browsing can't rear its ugly head.

Snacks sign close up in supermarket aisle

21. Scale Back on Snacks

We love a good snack, but sometimes when you're grocery shopping, it's easy to fill your cart with an assortment of snack foods just because they look tasty. Just ask yourself if you really need that many snacks, because they can tend to be a bit pricier than some of the other things on your grocery list, so dialing them back a bit might deliver substantial savings.

Customer buying beer in liquor store

22. Explore Cheaper Drink Options

If you like the satisfaction of a carbonated beverage at the end of a long work day but you don't want to pay the expensive prices of a 12-pack of pop, try exploring cheaper alternatives. One of our favorite hacks is to get a two-liter of generic brand club soda and some generic flavor sticks to mix together. Much cheaper and satisfies the craving.

Related: We Tried 9 Water Flavor Packets — These Are the Best

Man shopping in the produce aisle at the supermarket

23. Choose the Right Time to Shop

Maybe you want to go to the store right after a restock to make sure the availability is optimal so you don't have to veer away from your original plan. Or you want to shop during a time when the crowds will be lighter so there isn't added stress that makes it hard to focus on paying attention to what you're spending. In either case, there's a right time to shop and finding it can be really helpful.

online grocery ordering prices

24. Compare Prices at Other Stores

It can be tedious to take a look at other stores' prices to see how they stack up against your usual grocery store, but sometimes the results can save you money in the long run.

Senior man shopping in a supermarket buying vegetables

25. Abide By Your Budget

Your budget is your bible for grocery shopping. Respect it. Fear it. Live by it. 

Woman With Food Basket at Grocery Store

26. Resist the Temptation of Delivery

The convenience of grocery delivery is undeniable, but it's rarely a free service. Unless you'll spend more on the gas it will take you to drive to the store than it will to pay the delivery fee, the sometimes raised per-item prices, and the tip (we doubt it), it's better to just resist.

Exterior of Sprouts Farmers Market store with farm fresh produce sign on street

27. Avoid High-End Grocery Stores

Where do you think you should shop if you want to save as much money as possible: Aldi or Erewhon? C'mon. 

Shelf in Kitchen Pantry with Legumes

28. Have a Solid Supply of Pantry Staples

From flour and sugar to rice and pasta, having certain items on hand at all times can make grocery shopping easier and cheaper for you. Just make sure you pay attention to when you're running low on your staples and if you see something with a long shelf life on sale, bonus up.

Related: 17 Essential Items That Your Pantry is Missing

Close-up holding a rewards card at the supermarket

29. Become a Loyalty Rewards Member

Some grocery stores offer loyalty rewards programs and if you're not taking advantage of them already, you should, because the savings can be substantial.

Senior shopping in supermarket

30. Don't Get Sucked In By What's Eye-Level

The layout of your favorite grocery style isn't just happenstance. The shelves are carefully curated to get consumers to spend more money. If you pay attention, you might notice that the items that are eye-level tend to cost more than those that are up higher or down by your ankles. Get on those tippy toes, guys.

Buying organic rice

31. Buy Groceries You Can Stretch Further

We love to buy grocery items that we can use for more than one meal. A $3 box of rice can be stir-fry one night, a side dish the next, and filler for a soup the night after that. 

Person Putting Bananas On Conveyor At Store  Checkout

32. Don't Let the 5 for $5 Sale Fool You

Sales that tout five specific items for $1 each also come with a "you have to buy 5" requirement. Often, these sales are just designed to get you to buy more items you don't need that many of, and the savings are barely there when you dissect the "deals."

Customer and employees at supermarket checkout

33. Ask for Rainchecks

Some stores will give you rainchecks if a sale item you were hoping to purchase is out of stock. Just head to the customer service desk to take advantage of the opportunity.

Close up of hand selecting green bananas on a farmers market stall

34. Get Green Bananas

We know bananas aren't the straw that broke the camel's back when we're equating that analogy to groceries and overspending, but still — wasting money is wasting money. Unless you're devoted to baking banana bread every time your bananas turn brown, make sure they're decently green at the point of purchase so they last longer on your counter. 

Related: Waste Management: Save Money by Cutting Food Waste With These 25 Tips

Sale signage Supermarket shelf Marketing Promotion Discount
VTT Studio/istockphoto

35. 'It Was On Sale' Shouldn't Be an Excuse

If you're only buying a grocery item because it was on sale and you felt like it was a good deal, that's not actually the way to go about saving at the grocery store. Buy what you need and stick to your list. Don't get sucked in by every sale you see.