7 Ingenious Ways to Save Money on Your Next Grocery Run
Buying groceries and cooking is a big part of our lives: Americans spend almost 53 hours per year in the grocery store, about 5.6% of their income and anywhere from $60 to $118 per week on grocery-related purchases. That is a lot of time and money when you add it all up!
If only someone had told us when we were young that growing up and being an adult means preparing three meals a day for ourselves, every day, for the rest of our lives….in truth though, grocery shopping and cooking can be a fun way to get creative and enjoy the company of family and friends. But that doesn’t make it any less expensive!
Before it’s too late to turn the cart around and drop that $5 Bitchin’ Sauce back onto the shelf (it is addictingly good though), we’ve rounded up a number of ways that you can consistently save money on your weekly grocery haul.
Tip #1: Time It Right
First things first: don’t go grocery shopping while you’re hungry, but do create a shopping list ahead of time.
It happens to the best of us: we head out to the store right before dinner or during a lunch break, and suddenly it takes a Herculean effort to resist your in-the-moment cravings while roaming the aisles. Avoid impulse purchases by timing your shopping trip right and sticking to a pre-existing grocery list.
Tip #2: Shop Strategically
Just as important as the when is the where of it all: if you’re looking to buy something in bulk, a retailer like Costco is perfect. If you want to grab some fresh produce while supporting local farmers or businesses, you can shop at your nearest farmers’ market.
Buying the basics like deli meat, bread, cheese, etc.? Swing by a larger retailer like Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s, Aldi, or Whole Foods. If you’re looking for a specialty item, then you might want to splurge at a high-end grocer like Erewhon or Sprouts as your budget allows.
Tip #3: Plan Ahead
Planning out what you are going to eat for the week will help you work your way through everything in your pantry while staying on top of your grocery budget. Make it a weekly routine: dedicate some time on Sundays to check out what’s in your pantry already, and create a list of the meals you want to make for the week to avoid wasting any food or buying excess goods.
Then, create your grocery list to keep your spending in check, and later prep all your meals for the week so you don’t fall victim to spur-of-the-moment takeout cravings.
Tip #4: Use Zip
You can’t go wrong with using a buy now, pay later service like Zip to help manage your grocery expenses. Zip splits any payment into four, making any big purchase more affordable. It’s so simple that you can even use it in the checkout line or online.
Tip #5: Coupon Like A Pro
Bring out the scissors and the paper clips, because it’s time. Whether you consider yourself an extreme couponer or not, today is the day that you lean into your thrifty genes. You can sign up for coupon newsletters from large markets like Costco or specific brands directly, or go the old-fashioned route and invest in the Sunday paper.
Some may require cutting and clipping, but a lot of retailers also have online coupons that you can use. There are also price comparison apps like Flipp that help you find the best bang for your buck. It may feel silly in the moment to collect clippings, but saving that dollar or two adds up quickly.
Tip #6: Rack In The Rewards
Wherever you decide to shop for your next week’s groceries, there is usually a way to save! If you’re frequenting Whole Foods, signing up for Amazon Prime will help you score discounts on different items each week. Most other larger markets also offer a rewards program that you can sign up for at no cost to save on their revolving discounts.
Tip #7: DIY
There is no better way to know exactly where your food’s coming from than by growing it yourself (space permitting, of course)! In this article from Smart About Money, one at-home gardener estimated that he saves “between $2,000 and $2,200 per year compared to conventional agriculture prices and about $3,000 to $3,200 per year compared to organic produce.”
That is a lot of money in your pocket! If you don’t have space for a full-on garden, you can invest in an indoor vegetable planter or grow smaller items in your kitchen—herbs like basil, chives, parsley, and more are resilient and can do well indoors.
Mix and match these tips and tricks and you’re sure to save more than you expect on your next grocery trip. We can’t make the meals for you, but we can make sure that you’re eating well without any financial worries in sight.
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Zip’s editorial content is not written by a financial advisor. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.