20 Unexpected Ways To Save Money on Groceries

The cost of groceries can add up quickly. For many families, the grocery bill is one of the biggest parts of their monthly budget. In 2022, the average American family of four spent over $8,000 on food at home. Saving money when you go to the grocery store can make a big impact on your budget and personal finances.

Luckily, you can reduce your grocery bill without compromising on the quality of your food. Let’s take a look at some tips to help you save money and make each shopping trip less stressful.

1. Create a Meal Plan

Creating a plan for what you want to cook in the weeks ahead can help you avoid buying unnecessary items. When you plan meals, you’ll have a guide to follow during your shopping trip. This helps you steer clear of those random purchases that catch your eye and ultimately cut down on food waste. By buying only what you need, you can help ensure that nothing goes unused or forgotten in the back of the fridge. It can also make deciding what to cook for dinner a lot less stressful.

2. Take Inventory

Before you head to the grocery store, take a quick inventory of what you need to stock up on and what you already have. This can help you make your list and prevent you from buying things you may already have.

3. Prepare a Shopping List

A detailed grocery list can help you remember everything you need, but it also helps avoid impulse buying.

“Impulse buys” are the little extras you pick up around the store. They may seem harmless, but they can add up quickly. Sticking to your list helps you keep within your grocery budget and ensures you only bring home what you need.

A shopping list can also help you compare prices from different stores and identify coupons that can help you save even more. Once you have your list, take a moment to look online or on the store’s app for any deals on the items you need.

4. Eat Before You Go

Shopping on an empty stomach can lead to impulse buying. When you’re hungry, everything looks good and you may end up buying unhealthy food or extra items that you don’t need. If you eat a meal or have a snack before you go, it will be easier to keep your shopping more focused.

5. Set a Strict Budget

Before you shop, you should decide on a realistic limit to spend. This will help you balance affordability with maintaining a healthy and enjoyable diet. With high food prices, sticking to a budget may mean you need to make some tough choices. You may have to choose a more affordable brand or skip your favorite non-essential snacks. Each time you resist an unnecessary purchase, it’s a victory for your budget.

6. Avoid “One-Item” Trips

When you pop into the store to pick up one thing, you may find yourself at checkout with items you didn’t need. These impulse purchases can add up quickly. To keep this in check, try consolidating your shopping into fewer trips. Planning your trips can help you make more thoughtful purchasing decisions and stick to your list.

7. Follow a Planned Route

Planning a route through the grocery store that aligns with your grocery list makes shopping easier and can help you avoid wandering each aisle. You’re less likely to get sucked in by eye-catching displays and promotional items that retailers strategically place to catch your attention. This strategy helps you stay focused on what you need, and it can help save time.

8. Avoid Samples

Some grocery stores offer in-store samples to tempt you into buying products you didn’t intend to purchase. This can steer you away from your carefully planned list and lead to overspending at the grocery store.

9. Don’t Touch the Impulse Items

Impulse items are placed around the store, but the biggest temptations are often near the checkout. Think of items like candy bars, packs of gum and other extras that you don’t need. Stores do this in the hope that you’ll pick something up, thinking a few extra dollars won’t make much of a difference. Stay away from these items to stay on budget.

10. Avoid the Deli Counter

Prepared foods at the deli counter are often more expensive than the unprepared versions. It’s more cost-effective to buy the whole ingredients and prepare the food at home. This not only saves you money, but it allows you to have more control over the nutritional content of your meals.

11. Overlook the End-Of-Aisle Promotions

Grocery stores often advertise special deals at the end of the aisles, but they may not be saving you as much as you think. Companies often pay a lot to have their items placed here and the extra cost is frequently passed on to the consumer.

12. Give Yourself a Time Limit

The more time you spend in the grocery store, the more money you may spend. Don’t waste time wandering the aisles. Instead, set a time limit and stick to it to keep your shopping trip focused.

13. Listen to Upbeat Music

Music can make a big difference in how you shop. Slower music can slow your pace down and make you spend more time in the store. Grab some headphones and play upbeat music to help you move more quickly through the store.

14. Choose Whole Products

Whole products, like a block of cheese or whole chicken, are often cheaper per serving than their sliced or butchered counterparts. When you can, opt for whole foods instead of prepared cuts of meat, pre-sliced veggies and pre-shredded cheese. This can also help you control portion size and nutrition better.

15. Check Lower Shelves

Stores place expensive, name-brand items right at eye-level. Check the lower shelves for cheaper options. Store brands and other generic brands are often just as good as the brand name product.

16. Choose a Basket or Small Cart

Research found that customers buy more when their carts are larger. If you can, opt for a smaller cart or even a basket. Having limited space can help you pass up on those unnecessary purchases.

17. Be Selective With Bulk Purchases

Retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club offer deals on bulk purchases. This can help save money on non-perishable items like toilet paper since it reduces the per unit price. However, it’s not cost-effective for everything. If you buy in bulk, be sure you’ll use everything before it goes bad.

You should also keep in mind that these types of retailers also charge an annual fee for membership, which is an additional cost you’ll need to factor into your grocery budget.

18. Choose Your Coupons Wisely

In general, no sale is saving you money unless you already planned to purchase the item. If the item is not on your list, don’t buy it.

19. Try Non-Branded Products

Grocery prices are high, and grocery stores and brand names know how to target their audience. Branding and packaging are all influences that work to get customers to buy the more expensive version of an item. If you’re a savvy shopper, you can opt for the cheaper generic brands.

20. Buy Fewer Discounted Items

No matter how good the deal is, if it’s not on your list it’s still money you weren’t planning on spending. Discounts can often tempt shoppers into buying items that they don’t need. Avoiding these discounted items could help you save money on your bill.

Savings Tips for Grocery Shopping

grocery infographic


Groenfeldt, T. (2013). Kroger Knows Your Shopping Patterns Better Than You Do. forbes.com

Rupp, R. (2015). Surviving the Sneaky Psychology of Supermarkets. nationalgeographic.com

Crouch, M. (2014). 50 Supermarket Tricks You Still Fall For. rd.com

Kieler, A. (2014). Do Super-Sized Shopping Carts Equal Super-Sized Bills? consumerist.com

Tuttle, B. (2012). Former ‘Extreme Couponer’ Admits: It’s a Waste of Time. time.com

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