I personally love grocery shopping. However, I can't help but gasp when I see the prices of some of my favorite items and how expensive the essentials are.
In the hopes of getting my weekly grocery bill down, I asked the BuzzFeed Community to share what their money-saving tips are when food shopping. Let's just say, I made note of these tips for my next grocery store run because they're THAT good. Here are some of them.
1. "The easiest tips are the ones that work best: Pre-plan your meals and make a list of what you need to make those meals. Only buy what's on the list. In fact, don't even go down aisles that don't have things on your list. You can't be tempted by things you don't see."
2. "Look at the price per unit when you’re shopping. Many grocery chains will put how much an item costs per ounce or pound in tiny writing directly on the shelf label. You can always bust out your calculator and quickly do the math to figure out what brand is actually the best deal. Pro-tip: It’s not always the generic brand. Paper goods like toilet paper will often print how many square feet you’re getting per roll or package so you can quickly figure out what brand and unit size is giving you the most for the best price. You can do this for everything from household goods like detergent to fruits and vegetables. Always be looking to maximize your dollar."
3. "Definitely do online orders whether it's for pickup or delivery. It keeps you focused on what you actually need, and it helps to be able to look in your kitchen to make sure you don't accidentally buy a bag of rice when you still have an unopened bag in the pantry."
4. "I’ve worked in a grocery store for over two years now, and here are my tips: Consider a paid membership like Walmart+ — my dad’s credit card actually reimburses it, so we get it for free. Unlimited grocery delivery is included; just tip your driver. It's totally worth it for the price of gas and lugging things upstairs. There's less impulse buying. Yes, it is a bit of an investment, but you could earn that money back easily depending on how you’d use the membership."
"Buy the Sunday paper at the dollar store every week, and turn to the coupon pages. Or, you can even find them online for free. You can match those coupons with store sales for big savings. I had someone in my line once get 10 jars of pasta sauce for free because she had coupons to combine with the sale."
5. "Shop at bulk stores like Sam’s Club and Costco, but split the quantity with a friend. That way it can help save on costs and not waste."
6. "Download whatever app the store has. There are usually extra online coupons that you won't get just for having a loyalty card or number. Also, you can check prices on those apps without actually going to the store."
7. "Have a few 'everything but the kitchen sink' recipes. Things like stir fry and pasta all can take different odds and ends."
8. "Make sure you double-check those sale prices. The ones with the sales tag are not always the cheapest. It's also a good idea to be able to squeeze multiple meals out of things if you're cooking from scratch. Try to plan at least one main ingredient that can be repurposed or used multiple ways per week. For example, I'll buy ham and bake it for dinner the first night, then I freeze the leftover ham to use in split pea soup, red beans, rice, and ham and scalloped potatoes."
"If you're shopping on a budget, use the calculator app or an online calculator on your phone. Or, carry a pocket calculator with you. Put in your budget, then subtract whatever the total sales tax for that amount might be to get the real amount you should spend. As you shop, subtract the cost of each item from your budget. I usually round prices up to the nearest dollar amount to give myself a little wiggle room at the end, in case there's something I forgot to write down."
9. "Where you shop matters. I have a Wegmans and a Lidl in my town. While Wegmans is a nicer shopping experience, I will literally spend double there than when I buy the same thing as Lidl. Similarly, buy store brands or on-sale brands as much as possible as opposed to choosing a preferred name brand. Finally, I tailor my weekly shop based on sales. If apples are on sale, that's my fruit of choice that week; if it's ground chicken, guess I'm making meatballs. Being flexible with what you buy week to week allows for better deals with the added benefit of forcing yourself out of a food rut!"
10. "If you can, invest in a farm share. We paid upfront for a winter share, and it ends up being $17 a week for 20 weeks of fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. It forces you to be creative and try new things. Like, I didn't know turmeric is a root, but put that in some homemade curry, and wow! Ever have sunchokes? Me neither, but they are amazing! You also get to support a local farmer and their family, and it's way better for the environment to buy locally."
11. "If you’re open to giving plant-based food a shot or aren’t sure how to go about it in a budget-friendly way, Plant-Based on a Budget puts out weekly meal plans — 4 weeks’ worth, as well as snack and dessert recipes. I think it’s about $35 to buy the meal plans themselves, but if you stick to the recipes and recommended grocery list, you’ll end up spending less than that each week on food. It seriously blew my mind when I saw my grocery bill."
12. "Embrace seasonality and try out some veggies that aren't as sought after. If you only eat things that are in season, you will save a lot of money, and there is so much you can do with simple, inexpensive veggies."
13. "We throw away so much perfectly good food in this country that it’s shameful. Learn more about the difference between best-by and sell-by dates (they are mostly arbitrary). I also challenge myself to make meals out of what I have in the fridge or make what I jokingly call 'leftover salad' or 'leftover soup' from whatever is there. If I have fresh fruits, vegetables, or even dairy that I’m worried I won’t use or is about to go bad, I cut it up or portion it out and freeze it. The sad carrots that were starting to go limp and brown will be great in next month’s soup. Just remember to label what it is when you freeze it."
14. "If your store has a rewards program, join it. You get special access to sales, and the rewards points add up to free groceries."
"I came here to say this! I just bought $200 worth of groceries for $60, and I don't even go to that store that often! Just make sure to find out how many points you get per dollar spent and how you're allowed to use the points. Not every store automatically credits you; some offer vouchers that only come in a given value, and there may be a limit."