When asked about ways you can begin saving money on food, you probably have a supply of ready answers. Let’s see if yours are similar to mine:
- Go meatless at least once per week
- Make a list before heading to the store
- Do meal planning
- Eat before you go shopping
- Clip coupons
- Don’t be in love with a specific brand, or buy as many store brands as possible
Did I get most of your most common ways you can begin saving money on groceries? And yet, even if I did or even if you have a few more, there are a lot of lesser known ways to begin saving money on food and getting reduced prices or money back on food bills. In this article, we’ll go beyond the most basic ways to reduce expenses around the home and still eat super healthy.
Basic But Lesser Known Ways for Saving Money On Groceries
Are you someone who already makes a meal plan and a detailed list before heading to the store? Do you also look in flyers and online for coupons? Be sure you are using the many different techniques to make coupons really pay during grocery visits. For example, be sure you are visiting manufacturer’s sites for coupon offers and deals. Register at sites like SavingStar and Smartsource that let you automatically load rewards and coupons to loyalty cards and scan receipts to get money back. And of course, be sure you are saving money on food to the greatest extent by using the best coupon sites. My list of favorites includes:
- Coupon Cabin
- Coupon Mom
- Coupon Pro
- Coupon Surfer
- Grocery Coupon Cart
- Grocery Coupon Network
- Krazy Coupon Lady
- Red Plum
Also, it always pays to sign up for any and all loyalty cards. Most stores have apps that let you find the latest deals, find customized offers based on previous shopping trips, and more. Some stores also have gas stations affiliated with them, and you can begin earning less costly gallons of gas just by scanning the loyalty card at the register. It may seem annoying to have your shopping habits tracked and used to market to you, but it does come with a long list of rewards, and usually the use of loyalty cards leads to you saving money on groceries…quite a bit of it, actually.
You can also save money using shopping portals. And before you say that you won’t be able to get fresh foods, think again. There are shopping portals like Ebates that let you make your way to sites like Walmart, and you can actually do a lot of grocery shopping and opt for curbside pickup at your nearest store to get fresh foods and get rewards for it. I also highly recommend that you visit ev’reward, which is another portal that lets you enter the name of the store where you will shop and then see the most common rewards offered by stores, credit cards, rewards programs and more. As an example, enter Target and see what Ebates offers, Citi Bonus Cash provides, which hotel rewards or frequent flyer programs might give you cash back or points and miles and more.
Now, those are well known ways of saving money on groceries, and before you use any of the other tips for saving money on food, be sure that you have developed your own routines around them. It may seem time consuming, but just consider that you will be able to make an easy habit of it, and soon have only items that you know you will use and which you purchase at the most affordable prices possible.
Let me share my own example. I get a bundle of grocery flyers every Thursday or Friday in the mail. I scan them for deals I know I will use. I make note of the items I may need in the coming weeks. I look for any coupons that I have clipped in weeks prior. This is a very good way to begin saving money on food because advertised sales quite often follow coupons offered by manufacturers a few weeks earlier. That’s how you begin to cash in on them.
If your store accepts competitor’s coupons and lets you double up or “stack”, it then becomes possible to save a lot. I also look for products where gas points are multiplied. For instance, I was able to buy packages of flatbreads at 2/$5 that earned me five times the usual gas points. In other words, the three packages I purchased earned me 45 points, close to half what I would need for ten cents off each gallon.
Of course, one of my ways for saving money on groceries is also to use free passes, friends’ passes or free trial memberships to warehouse stores. I always make notes about the products in those stores that I use the most and which are at good prices. It pays to remember that buying in bulk does not always mean saving money on food. Before I would ever pay for a membership at a warehouse store, I go through it to be sure it would pay itself back within that year. If a warehouse doesn’t seem to offer enough, I just use those freebie opportunities and stock up on the items that do come at a lower price. Paper goods, electronics, prescription items, alcoholic beverages, and some foodstuffs meet my needs, and I end up saving money on groceries by making visits three to four times each year.
In the end, I spend about one hour per week planning meals, making lists, comparing prices and pulling together my coupons for the best deals and looking online to find more coupons or savings. I usually only visit one or two stores, and I have been saving money on food to a very high degree following this method for several years.
When I get home after a shopping trip, I also scan barcodes on the items I buy. Why? Because our household signed up to be a Nielsen Consumer Panel family. By participating we are given points to use towards consumer goods and bonus rewards that can include cash. We also like being influential in the world of consumer goods. I take the time to put the groceries away, and so I just scan them as I do. Easy as pie and it is a way of saving money on groceries by getting gift cards from each trip.
You can also just give your feedback or time to begin saving money on your food bills. Sites like Opinion Outpost and Swagbucks pay you for your time when you take surveys on their site. Some are directly related to the consumer products you find in grocery stores and make it easy to quickly give answers and get paid for them.
Shopping Online and Saving Money On Food
Because I don’t belong to warehouse stores, I am often looking to saving money on groceries in other, more unique ways. So, I do as outlined above and use everything from rewards sites to coupons. I also look at ways to stock up more affordably and get some rewards and, honestly, Amazon is a great site for this. I have a Prime membership that entitles me to free shipping on almost all of the items I buy, and there is also the Pantry area and Amazon’s Grocery section. In these areas, I can cheaply stock up on an amazing range of canned goods and other items and do not pay a penny in shipping.
Because I use a rewards card, I am often able to really make the most of online shopping. For example, I pay attention to the times that Discover gives me 5% cash back for Amazon purchases, and that is when I spend the most at the site on pantry items. Of course, I have to pay off the balance on any cards I use, so remember to be sure you can afford a good stock up.
I can really make the most of rewards points because I also use the app known as Trim. This is something that a few friends have said they are nervous about because it gives the app access to a bunch of my credit and banking accounts. However, it is secure and has really rewarded my efforts and trust. How? It assesses all of my expenditures and then makes a large number of recommendations about how I can save money on groceries and other purchases. It alerts me to which cards are having good cash back offers on grocery stores or other places I frequent. Birch is also another site that offers many of the same benefits, so explore the one that works best for you.
If you think that one of those two apps is not for you, you should know that most consumers lose out on a possible $600 in credit card rewards each year. So, look around for one of the sites or apps that appeals to you the most and take the advice it offers.
Consider Delivery Services
And while I have been going on and on about the many ways you can start saving money on grocery bills, making it seem as if you have to do a lot of work with coupons, comparison shopping and all the rest, there is another way that many overlook. Using delivery services.
Yes, delivery services!
If you are like me, you might have thought that using a grocery delivery service is the epitome of luxury. It isn’t. Well, it’s definitely luxurious to have someone do all of the legwork and just deliver the food to the door, but there is a lot more to it. For example, when you use a grocery delivery service you:
- Get lots of information about discounts and special deals – If you wander grocery aisles, it can be very easy to miss the best prices, the special deals and anything that is offered at a discount. With grocery delivery, that is never a problem. Whatever the store has listed for its weekly sales, the warehouses where the shopping is done always have those products on hand.
- See previous items purchased in brick and mortar stores and online – You can streamline your shopping each week by just clicking everything you need in a matter of seconds. Most sites also list items you have purchased and which are on sale in special sections. They may also show similar items “of interest” based on previous purchases.
- Stay on budget – How often do you get to the checkout and have zero idea of the amount you are about to spend? Maybe you have a ballpark and usually come in over budget? With online shopping and grocery delivery, you see your total in real time. If you want to reduce the amount, you just remove something from the cart with a click.
- Don’t have to stick to one store – Though you can go with store specific services such as the Peapod service from Stop & Shop stores, you can also use services like Instacart that delivers from an array of stores in a specific area (keep in mind that this requires annual membership fees and delivery costs), and Shipt.
- Can use options like Walmart, which has home delivery in some areas in addition to curbside services. And Amazon Fresh has a few home delivery options, with plans to expand.
If you shop via the different delivery services, they even take coupons or let you earn via apps such as Savings Catcher (Walmart) and SavingStar.
The bank account doesn’t have to take a serious hit when you stock up on groceries. Take a bit of time starting now to figure out your best options, where you might save the most and build a strategy that lets you fill your belly and the wallet!