50 Ways to Save at the Supermarket

Everyone's gotta eat. You might as well save while you do it!

Whether you’re an expert home chef making culinary masterpieces or a kitchen novice whose idea of home cooking is boxed mac and cheese, you’ve got to hit the supermarket to stock the kitchen. Grocery expenses add up, and you might be looking for ways to avoid sticker shock at the cash register.

Here are 50 ways to save at the supermarket.

1. Get a Store Loyalty Card

Many supermarkets offer some version of a store loyalty card, which can provide exclusive discounts and even custom deals based on your shopping preferences. Many loyalty cards can save you money at the pump with select gas stations.

2. Use Your Grocery Store’s Gas Rewards

If your supermarket loyalty card has a gas program, make sure to take advantage. They’re often tied to specific fuel providers, and the savings per gallon can really add up. While this doesn’t save on groceries, it will provide fuel savings as a direct result of your shopping.

3. Get a Cash Back Credit Card

Cash back credit cards earn money back on all purchases, including groceries. Some cards have special cash back rates on groceries, and can earn you as much as 6% back every time you spend at the supermarket. Most credit cards with great cash back require a decent credit score. Before applying, check your credit score for free with Credit.com to see where you stand.

4. Check Your Mail

Those flyers you tend to throw out with the rest of your junk mail may contain valuable offers at your local supermarkets. Next time you get some circulars in the mail, take a few minutes to page through them.

5. Check the Store Entrance

If you did throw away last week’s flyers, look around the supermarket entrance as you walk in. Oftentimes, you’ll find the current circular stacked up and waiting for your perusal, which is a great last-minute way to find deals.

6. Sign Up for Emails

Sign up online for emails from your supermarket of choice. They’ll send you current local deals and even personalized offers based on your shopping history if you tie a loyalty card to your account.

7. Save Your Receipts

When you get home, check your receipts before tossing them out. They may contain coupons on the back that you can use next time.

8. Look for Deals on Multiple Units

If you can save a bit by stocking up on multiple units of the same item, take advantage. You can save later by stocking up now.

9. …But Check the Unit Price

Be wary when looking at those “10 for $10” deals, however. They may simply use creative phrasing to encourage bulk buying. Check the unit price, because sometimes you can get the same price no matter how many units you buy.

10. Only Buy Nonperishable Items in Bulk

Only buy things in bulk if you can freeze them, stow them away or use them before they go bad. The best deals in the world won’t help if you have to throw away your goods before you get the chance to use them.

11. Shop at Warehouse/Bulk Stores

Bulk or warehouse membership clubs can offer great discounts. You may want to compare prices, but don’t assume that prices are lower based on the supermarket you’re in. Membership clubs tend to work best when you’re shopping for big families.

12. Look Out for Deals

Many supermarkets “flag” deals using labels that stand out as you walk down the aisle. Any time you’re hunting for a specific item, make sure to look for flags in the area.

13. Buy Generic When the Quality Is Similar

Some store brand items aren’t of the same quality as their brand name counterparts. Others are fairly equal in quality, and you can save by buying the generic brand.

14. Check the Top & Bottom Shelves

The most expensive goods are usually placed at eye level. It’s a trick that encourages shoppers to reach for the priciest items. Look up and down before choosing what to put in your cart.

15. Ask for Rain Checks

If the supermarket is out of a sale item, you can ask for a rain check, which is an IOU they will honor the next time you’re in the store. When you come back, they’ll give you the sale price, even if the sale is no longer running.

16. Make a List

Don’t head to the supermarket without a plan, as you can wind up wasting money on things you don’t need. Instead, plan your meals ahead of time and make a list, then stick to that list when you get to the store.

17. Don’t Buy Something You Already Have

As you’re making your shopping list, check your fridge, freezer and pantry. You may already have some of the items you need.

18. Plan Meals Around What You Already Have

You can also reverse engineer your shopping list based on what you already have stocked in your kitchen. Look at your existing supplies and plan meals around those, choosing recipes for which you already have some or all of the ingredients.

19. Plan Your Meals Around Sales

If you know what deals are currently available, you can plan your meals around discounts and source all your meals from sale items.

20. Don’t Shop Hungry

Shopping while hungry can lead to indulgences, and you may end up stocking your cart with things you desire in the moment. If you want to avoid splurging on ice cream and potato chips, eat before leaving home.

21. Shop Alone

Heading to the supermarket with friends and family (especially kids) can lead to unnecessary purchases. If you can, head to the supermarket alone so you can stick to your list.

22. Buy Reusable, Not Disposable

Reusable goods can reduce your reliance on disposables, which must be continuously restocked. For example, Tupperware containers will last indefinitely, while paper bowls are thrown out after one use.

23. Bring Your Own Bags

Some states, counties and cities impose taxes on plastic bags to discourage their use. Buying reusable bags once can help you avoid those taxes forever. Plus, you’ll be helping the environment.

24. Start Your Own Kitchen Herb Garden

If you have a green thumb, you may already supplement your grocery shopping with an outdoor garden. Even if you aren’t botanically gifted or you don’t have space for a garden, you can create a mini herb garden in your kitchen to complement your recipes.

25. Buy Seasonal

When it comes to produce, buying what’s in season will save cash. For instance, peaches are cheaper in the summertime. While you may be able to get peaches in the winter, you’ll have to pay a steeper price.

26. Get a Grocery App

There are many grocery apps available for your mobile phone. These apps may offer rebates, compare prices across multiple stores or help you plan recipes. Check out what’s available for your phone to identify apps that can help you save.

27. Use the Smaller Cart

If you can fit your necessities in a basket or mini shopping cart, roll with the smaller option. The large shopping carts may encourage you to fill them up with unnecessary goods.

28. Double Couponing

Some supermarkets allow double couponing, which means you can get twice the advertised savings. Not all stores offer double coupons, and those that do may only honor double coupons for certain deals or on certain days. Check with your local supermarkets to learn their policies.

29. Price Matching

Some stores have price matching policies in place if you can demonstrate that another store has a lower price. Some supermarkets will even honor competitor coupons.

30. Drink Tap Water

It’s much more cost effective to get your drinking water straight from the tap or keep a water filter in your refrigerator. In most cases, bottled water is an unnecessary expense.

31. Don’t Buy Single-Use Items

It will always be cheaper to buy an item in a large container and avoid single-use items. For instance, a two-liter of soda is cheaper than canned or bottled soft drinks.

32. Don’t Wander the Aisles

Only visit the aisles and areas that have the items on your list. If you wander the aisles aimlessly, you’re bound to see something you want (but don’t need).

33. Don’t Buy Premade Meals

Premade meals will cost you dearly for the prep work. If you’re tempted by the salad buffet or the deli’s premade pasta, remember that you can eat these meals at a fraction of the price if you buy the ingredients and make them yourself.

34. Slice and Dice Your Own Food

Whether it’s fruit, deli meats or cheese, you’ll pay extra for the privilege of buying your foods pre-sliced or pre-diced when you could cut them yourself. And while we don’t all have deli slicers at home, you can chop up your fruits and veggies in a matter of minutes.

35. Shop Around

If you shop at the same supermarket out of habit, you may want to try shopping at other area stores. Pay attention to the prices of your favorite items as you shop around. You can compare receipts from different stores to see where you’re getting the best deals.

36. Review Your Receipts

When you get home from your shopping trips, take a close look at your receipts. You may start to see patterns: unnecessary purchases, items you’re paying too much for and what tends to cost you the most. You can use this information to make frugal decisions the next time you shop.

37. Buy Frozen Veggies When They’re Out of Season

When your vegetables of choice are out of season, you can find them bagged up in the frozen aisle, usually at a cheaper price than the fresh versions.

38. Eat Your Leftovers

Depending on its size, yesterday’s dinner can provide today’s lunch or feed you for a week. Don’t pass over leftovers in favor of something fresh. It might be even tastier today.

39. Use Your Senior Discount

Senior discounts vary between supermarkets and locations, and some stores only offer senior discounts on certain days. If you’re eligible for a senior discount, make sure to ask about your store’s policy. If they don’t have one, you may want to start shopping elsewhere, because an automatic discount can really rack up savings over time.

40. Follow Supermarkets on Social Media

Already on Facebook and Twitter? Make sure to follow your supermarket. They could share deals you can’t find elsewhere.

41. Avoid Impulse Buys Near the Checkout Line

The candy, magazines and other goodies by the checkout line are meant to tempt you for one last impulse buy before you leave. When you’re that close to the exit, try to resist temptation.

42. Shop Earlier in the Day

If you shop earlier in the day, you’ll have access to a better selection of goods that haven’t been picked over. Not only will you have better options, you won’t have to choose a more expensive substitute if the store has run out of a certain item.

43. Eat Less Meat

Eating less meat can reduce your risk of preventable diseases and health conditions and reduce your carbon footprint. Meat can be also be expensive, and removing meat from a few meals a week can cut your grocery bill. If a few meals a week sounds like a lot, you can try Meatless Mondays, which are exactly what they sound like but can still save significant dough.

44. Eat Less Cheese

Cheese can be quite expensive. Removing the cheese from a few meals a week should cut down on your spending.

45. Check Expiration Dates

When buying perishable products like milk, make sure to check the expiration date. You don’t want to buy something that expires in two days and you’ll have to throw away.

46. …But Know the Limits of Expiration Dates

Expiration dates aren’t well-regulated, and are often used to indicate peak freshness, not warn you that a product is no longer safe to consume. Many people don’t understand this, with 90% of Americans throwing out food before it’s gone bad. Do a little online research to educate yourself before you toss something out.

47. Properly Store Your Food

Anything that you can freeze — such as meat and bread — should go in the freezer if you aren’t using it soon. You don’t want to forget about some fish in the fridge until it starts smelling. Properly organizing your fridge and freezer will certainly help.

48. Practice Portion Control

Eating smaller meals can be good for your figure and your wallet.

49. Take Advantage of Your Workplace’s Food

Does your workplace offer breakfast, coffee or snacks in the break room? Make sure to take advantage.

50. Hunt Down Free Meals

Free meals are a boon to the frugal. Employer-sponsored dinners, backyard barbecues and meals with a generous family member can help get you through the week. Of course, if you’re afraid of looking like a freeloader, you could ask for gift cards to your favorite restaurant for your next birthday.

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15 Ways to Save at ShopRite

Whether you hate grocery shopping or find it incredibly relaxing (seriously, some people do), one thing you’re bound to appreciate is saving at the store. If ShopRite is your go-to grocer, try using some of these tips to cut back on what you spend there.

Here are 15 ways to save at ShopRite.

1. Create an Account Online

Sign in to your ShopRite account online to load coupons from their Digital Coupon Center directly onto your Price Plus Club Card (more on that below). You’ll also get access to your past purchases and shopping lists, recipes, a tally of your Price Plus points and more.

2. Join the Price Plus Club

Members of ShopRite’s Price Plus Club get instant cash discounts on hundreds of items throughout the store at checkout, as well as special offers and promotions (like free items around the holidays) and exclusive mailings and offers.

3. Shop the Circulars

Set your home ShopRite location online and gain access to weekly circulars with tons of coupons and savings deals happening right now at your nearest store.

4. Check Out Their Offers & Promotions Page

Every now and then (especially around the holidays), ShopRite will offer additional ways for customers to save through sweepstakes and other contests that often offer gift card prizes. Visit their Offers & Promotions page frequently to see what’s happening.

5. Take Advantage of the SavingStar Program

Join the SavingStar program by setting up an account, then check out the offers page to see what’s available for a discounted price. Click on the offers you like and they’ll get linked directly to your store loyalty card. Use your card at checkout and the savings will be added to your SavingStar account. When you reach $5, you can select which method of payout you’d like.

6. Use a Rewards Credit Card

Some credit cards reward you handsomely for grocery shopping. See American Express’ Blue Cash EveryDay Preferred, which offers a whopping 6% back on up to $6,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets (1% after that), 3% at U.S. gas stations and 1% everywhere else. (Full card review right here.)

Just be sure to pay any balance you put on a cash back credit card off in full — otherwise, you’ll lose those dollars to interest. (You can see how your credit card balances are affecting your credit score by viewing your free credit report summary on Credit.com.)

7. Use ShopRite From Home for Additional Coupon Codes

If it’s available in your area, customers who sign up to use ShopRite from Home can check out the Shop Rite from Home promotions page for access to even more deals, like discounts on delivery, savings on health and wellness products, baby and pet items, etc.

8. Load Up on Manufacturer Coupons

ShopRite will accept these! (You can find its coupon policy here.)

9. Know Your Store’s Double Coupon Policy

While double coupon policies vary by store — you should check your specific store for more details — most Shop Rite stores will double up to four identical coupons per household per day on manufacturer coupons up to $0.99. (Use a nifty little Double Coupon App that you download to your smartphone to determine if your coupons will be doubled or not.)

10. Find the Catalina Machine

Catalina machines are usually located on the side of the register (ask the customer service rep if you aren’t sure if your local ShopRite has one). Most of these deals require you to purchase a certain dollar amount or quantity of product before you can use it on your next purchase, but once you do so the savings can really add up.

11. Stock Up During the ShopRite Can Can Sale

Though this sale only happens once a year (usually in January), it’s worth the wait to stock up on grocery goods, especially non-perishable items, throughout the store when it does.

12. Seek Out the Wall of Values

When you’re in your local ShopRite, make a beeline for the Wall of Values — usually right by the front door near the produce section — for dry goods on discount.

13. Make Use of $10 Deals

If you have the room, $10 Deals help customers save by allowing them to stock up on bulk items for just $10. Be on the lookout for $10 Deal signs.

14. Search Online for More Coupons 

Use sites like Retail Me Not and Coupons.com to find promo codes and coupons for the grocery store.

15. Follow ShopRite on Social Media

The grocery superstore shares all their biggest sale and coupon deals on their Facebook and Twitter sites, so be sure to follow them for the latest offers.

Want more brand hacks? You’re in luck — we’ve got 19 ways to save at Target right here. And, if there’s a brand you’d like us to tackle, shout it out in the comments section. 

At publishing time, the Blue Cash EveryDay Preferred credit card from American Express is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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10 Ways to Save on Groceries … Without Clipping Coupons

Hate clipping coupons? There are plenty of other ways to save on groceries.

One of the largest expenses for most budgets is groceries. As much as we want to save money on food, it can feel next to impossible — that is, unless you want to sit and clip coupons.

While using coupons works for many, it is just not an option for some. Of course, if you do clip, these are additional things you can do to increase your overall savings. Here are a few of them.

1. Shop Store Brands

There is a common misconception that store brand means lower quality. This is not true. In fact, many store brands are the exact same name-brand product, just with a different label on the front.

2. Look High & Low

When you shop, the most expensive products are usually placed at eye level. You will often find less expensive items on the very top or lower shelves.

3. Avoid the End Caps

People are drawn here, and when they see items, they often assume that because they are on display, it must mean they are a good deal. Check the original and competitor prices to make sure you’re really getting a bargain.

4. Don’t Fall for Gimmicks

There are some common gimmicks stores use to help trick you into spending more. Here are two you will want to watch for:

  • Buy quantities at a set price. For example, if you see something priced at 2 for $5, you do not have to purchase two items, you can buy one. Be sure to check any details.
  • Purchase limits. When you see terms like “limit three” next to a display, it makes you think that if there is a limit, it is a must-have item.

5. Redefine Dinner

There is no rule that says you have to make a huge three-course meal every night of the week. It is OK to have soup, sandwiches or even salads for dinner. By making simpler meals, you can save on the food you need to purchase, thereby dropping your grocery bill.

6. Shop the Right Day

Many grocery stores offer “short-sales” which are one-, two- or three-day sales. If you shop on one of these days, you will not only get those additional discounts, you will also get the regular weekly deals. Doing this will put you in the store just one day a week, which can absolutely help you save money.

7. Change Things Up

If you have more than one store near you, why not try a different one? If you can split your trip and shop the sales at each of them, you can save on your overall grocery bill. Of course, if they are not close, take into account the time and fuel you’ll spend on making two trips.

8. Make a Menu & Shopping List

By planning a menu and a shopping list, you not only know what you will need to purchase at the store, you’ll feel more organized when you get home from work and need to prepare dinner. You might check out my menu plan and shopping list forms.

9. Shop on a Full Stomach (& Alone if You Can)

If you have ever shopped when you are hungry, you usually find that you toss in additional items you normally would not purchase. If you shop when you are full, you will be more likely to stick to your list.

It is also easier to not purchase additional items when you shop alone. I realize this may not be an option for a lot of families, so just make sure that you shop once everyone has already eaten. You can also ask your kids to help you find certain items, which will keep their minds on what you need.

10. Shop in Season

When you shop produce, only purchase the in-season items. For example, black grapes are in season during the summer months. Sure, you might find them during the winter months, but you will pay a premium, as they are more difficult to get into your store.

Looking for more tips for lowering your food bill? Here’s 7 ways shopping like a chef can help you save. And, for more smart spending reads, visit Credit.com’s personal finance learning center.

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5 Pricey Groceries You Can Grow In Your Own Garden

grow-in-your-own-garden

If you’re lucky enough to have space for a vegetable garden, not to mention the time and inclination to do the gardening, you’ll want to be sure to get the most out of your efforts. That’s because gardening isn’t necessarily the most cost effective way to get your veggies.

It turns out some vegetables are actually cheaper to buy at the grocery store, particularly when bought in season. So, if you want to grow your own vegetables to save money, you’ll need to be selective in what you grow. Here are five vegetables that are cost effective for growing in your own garden.

1. Bell Peppers

Green bell peppers can cost $1.50 or more each at the grocery store, and yellow, red or orange peppers can be even more expensive. Pepper starter plants at your local gardening center, however, typically average about $1 each. Given that bell peppers also are reasonably hardy and easy to grow, they can end up saving you plenty of money, even when you consider costs for water, fertilizer and any necessary pesticides.

2. Lettuce

Lettuce can be really expensive at the grocery store, particularly if you’re buying it pre-washed in a bag or plastic container. But if you grow your own lettuce from a package of seed, typically costing $2 or less, you’ll easily recoup the expense within just a few weeks of your plants maturing. Leaf lettuces are particularly good because you can harvest the amount you need while still allowing the plant to grow, meaning you can have lettuce from just a handful of plants throughout the growing season.

3. Squash

Summer squash, zucchini and winter squash are all hardy and easy to grow, and the plants tend to be very productive, meaning you’ll have an abundance of them in no time. The initial cost for starter plants is more than for peppers or lettuce — typically about $2 each — but well worth the investment.

4. Garlic

If you love garlic, this is a no-brainer. Depending on whether you’re buying conventional or organic garlic, prices range from $2 to $4 a pound. You can easily grow your own for a fraction of the cost. It’s also very easy to grow, but you’ll need to properly cure the bulbs so they will keep for a longer period of time.

5. Tomatoes

Tomatoes come in so many varieties that it can be hard to decide which kind to plant. And because of that variety, it’s also hard to accurately estimate just how much you may save by growing your own. But because tomato plants typically yield a large number of fruit, you’ll likely have plenty for eating now plus enough left over for canning or freezing.

As you plan your garden for next year (or perhaps even this fall) keep in mind that you’ll not only be saving money, you’ll be providing your family with some of the absolute freshest produce available. If saving money is a big consideration for you, also keep in mind that you can save money on interest rates on loans and credit cards by improving your credit score. If you don’t know what your credit score is, you can check your two free credit scores, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

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