Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Food


Find the quickest ways to save money on your grocery bill. Some spending is easy to cut, but when it comes to essentials like food, your budget can use all the help it can get.

saving money on groceries is easy if you take the right steps
“groceries in transit” by Matt MacGillivray is licensed under CC-by-2.0 Saving money on groceries is easy if you take the right steps.

Spend Less on Food Without Getting Less

You don’t always have to make sacrifices to get the most out of your money. For something as important as food, trying to cut your spending doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy eating. Some of the most important tips you are probably already familiar with. Taking these steps will make a difference if you are consistent:

  • Buy in bulk for non-perishables, food you go through quickly and when there are sales. Freeze any extra items that may spoil before you have the chance to use them. Not only will you spend less by buying in bulk or when savings are at their best, but you’ll have to shop less often to replenish your supply. Example items: Milk, pasta, soup, etc.
  • Buy store-brand or private-label items for commodities, food staples and items that you are not brand-loyal to. Some items have a large portion of their cost attributed to brand equity, advertising costs, or artificially created quality perceptions. Many store-brand items are manufactured by the same companies as big brands, often in the same facilities, with the same equipment and ingredients. Some items may have small changes in formulation due to contractual obligations, but you’ll reap the savings, often without a noticeable difference. Example items: Cereal, breakfast bars, rice, etc. Counter examples: Toilet paper, Paper towels
  • Compare prices on similar items. If you’re in the mood for steak, but pork is on sale, consider changing your plans. Adjust your eating habits to align better with prices and you don’t have to sacrifice the nutritional value or quality of your diet; instead, adjust the timing of your food consumption on certain items.

These tips for saving money on food are well-known, but not always well-practiced. To become a pro at reining in your food spending, getting the fundamentals right will give you a good foundation for saving, but to take it to the next level, there’s still more advanced techniques you can do.

More Ways to Save on Groceries

Some of the more advanced techniques for saving on food spending build on the basics you already know. Others involve a mix of common sense and thought. To save money over the long run requires a contradiction: to make a concerted effort to save, and to build habits that let you spend less without trying to. Try these tips out for an extra kick in your grocery cost saving routine:

Be careful about pricing across item sizes.

While the general rule of thumb calls for items to be cheaper in bulk, the math does not always work out that way. Some sales are only on the medium or smaller size of items, while other times grocery stores have small pricing errors. Either way, divide the price by the unit size to determine the price per ounce, gram, item, etc – whatever is most relevant to the item you are dealing with. You may wish to use your cellphone’s calculator to quickly compare items.

It’s not uncommon for stores to use confusing pricing (3 items for $5, for instance). Beat their tricks with simple math! Some manufacturers also like to change their packaging size without reducing the item price. Counter this by comparing against other brands – using the price divided by the quantity.

Example items: Sale prices on toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, etc.

Use The Ethnic Food Aisle

“spice_1” by Clyde Robinson is licensed under CC-by-2.0 Prices of spices can add up quickly.

Some item categories are repeated in multiple parts of the store. This is especially true in the ethnic food aisle. Certain items may be priced differently in the ethnic food aisle, without any major difference in taste. This is an especially great way to save money on spices. Many grocers charge much less for “ethnic aisle” spices, even if they’re exactly the same as elsewhere in the store! It is not uncommon to see one to two dollar savings per spice. ¬†Also compare rice, beans, and noodles.

No matter what kind of food you like, or where you shop, chances are you have more ways to save. Try to leverage the tools you already use to maximize the amount you get for the money, but don’t forget to try new techniques too! Once you make saving a habit, you’ll be able to reduce your spending effortlessly. Food is an essential item, so look for ways to save outside the grocery store as well!

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