15 Genius Grocery Shopping Tips That Will Change Your Life

Ever feel like everyone at the grocery store knows something that you don’t?

Sure, you know how to check the sale ad for weekly specials and you realize that the store brand oatmeal tastes almost the same as brand name (and it’s half the price). But when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, are you really maximizing your savings at the grocery store?

Ahead, check out some of the smartest grocery shopping tips that could just change your life.

1. Get the app

woman looking at her list at the grocery store

The grocery store’s app might offer exclusive savings. | iStock/Getty Images

Grocery stores often offer exclusive savings or even free merchandise through their mobile apps, and these discounts can be stacked on top of weekly sales, too.

Take advantage of all the discounts available to you by regularly checking the app, the store circular, and in-store promotions and combining all these together for the most discounts.

Next: Eat a granola bar before you go.

2. Never shop hungry

young woman holding a basket full of groceries

It’s a cliché for a reason. | Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images

It’s a cliché because it’s true: you’re more likely to overbuy when you grocery shop on an empty stomach. Eat a full meal before heading to the grocery store to avoid overfilling your cart with impulse buys that you don’t need just because you’re hungry. No time for a meal? Pack a snack and quell those tummy rumbles.

Next: A little math could save you money.

3. Do price comparisons

Senior woman at groceries store

Consider what you get for the price. | gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

Forget the sticker price — to determine if you’re getting the best value for the money, compare the price per ounce or price per item, which is often calculated for you on the item’s shelf sticker.

For example, a small jar of peanut butter may be cheaper, but you’ll often pay less per ounce when you opt for the bigger size, saving you money in the long run.

Next: Clearance isn’t just for Target.

4. Find the clearance section

woman holding a bag of fruit

You could pay less for perfectly fine food. | Choreograph/iStock/Getty Images

Your grocery store probably has a clearance section — or several. Look for about-to-expire baked goods, products with damaged packaging, and even pricey fruits and veggies that customers bag up and leave behind. You can often pay half the price for food that’s just as good.

Clearance meat is another great bargain at the grocery store. If you buy something that’s about to expire, throw it in the freezer until you need it.

Next: Invite a friend.

5. Shop with a buddy

Couple shopping together in grocery store

A shopping buddy might have some tips for you. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

We all have that friend who always seems to know how to score the best bargain. Schedule a shopping date with them and watch the habits they have while shopping the grocery store. You may discover something incredibly obvious that you can use for your future trips.

Next: Give generic a try.

6. Embrace generic brands

walmart employee

There’s nothing wrong with generic brands. | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Most of the time, generic brand items taste similar to name brand, but they’re a whole lot cheaper. Make the effort to try your store brand’s versions of all your favorite products to cut your grocery bill significantly. You may hate their tortilla chips, but love their coffee. You won’t know until you try.

Next: Not all coupons are worthwhile.

7. Don’t be a slave to coupons

senior cuts coupons

Sometimes, coupons might persuade you to buy something you normally wouldn’t. | ConnieTBallash/iStock/Getty Images

Sure, you can save $1 on mouthwash — but if you don’t use mouthwash, then why would you buy it?

Even the most fantastic deal in the world isn’t a good deal if it’s not something you really need. Don’t fall for manufacturer discounts that don’t apply to you — only pay attention to coupons for items you’ll actually use.

Next: Skip the cart.

8. Pick the smaller shopping cart

shopping cart in a grocery store aisle

You’ll be forced to skip some unnecessary purchases. | shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

Maybe you’ve heard that you’re more likely to eat more when you use a larger dinner plate. The same goes for shopping carts.

Choose a smaller shopping cart or even a basket whenever possible and you’ll automatically spend less money while grocery shopping. The fewer things you can fit in your cart, the less you’ll be able to take home.

Next: Don’t always buy multiples.

9. Don’t fall for bundle pricing

Woman stacking shelves in supermarket

It’s not always a better deal. | Jochen Sand/Getty Images

“Two for $5” sounds enticing — but before you buy two when you only want one, check to see if you must buy multiple items to get the discount. Sometimes you’ll get the reduced pricing even if you only purchase one item.

Next: Avoid the middle shelves.

10. Look high and low

Photograph of shelves with promotions in a supermarket

You’ll often find cheaper items outside of eye level. | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Brands pay big money for shelf placement, with the most desirable locations right at eye level. If you want to discover new (cheaper) brands, try looking high and low on the shelf instead of just blindly purchasing whatever is right in front of you.

Next: Round up, not down.

11. Beware the left-digit effect

People walking at Trader Joes grocery store

Train your brain to round up. | iStock.com/ablokhin

Grocery store retailers realize that consumers are more likely to buy something that’s $5.99 than they are to purchase that same item for $6. Train your brain to realize that the penny difference should be rounded up, not down.

Next: Don’t use a card to pay.

12. Pay with cash

Cashier handing receipt

You’ll be more aware of your spending if you pay in cash. | iStock/Getty Images

One study found that shoppers who paid with cash bought fewer processed foods and more nutritious items than those who used credit cards. Credit card users also purchased more junk food and spent 59% to 78% more on their total grocery bills.

You’re more likely to spend less when you use cash to shop, and using cash also puts a limit on how many of those extras you can load into your cart. Set a grocery budget and stick with it by avoiding the temptation to use debit or credit cards at the grocery store.

Next: Do it yourself.

13. Forget the prepared food

Woman chooses lecho tomato at grocery store

It’s often cheaper to make things yourself. | sergeyryzhov/iStock/Getty Images

Pre-chopped pineapple, spiralized vegetables, mashed potatoes — all of those convenience foods come at a premium. Save money by prepping your own food at home rather than falling for the supermarket’s ploy of getting you to spend more for the convenience factor.

Next: Don’t fall for those free samples.

14. Skip samples

Samples at a food festival

Don’t let a sample lead to an unnecessary purchase. | Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

All of those little sampling stations throughout the store aren’t just trying to get you to buy that specific product — they also whet your appetite for food in general, encouraging you to spend more money. Either sample with caution or skip them all together.

Next: Pick a home store and shop there often.

15. Get familiar with your store

Beautiful women shopping vegetables and fruits

Know the sale patterns. | nd3000/iStock/Getty Images

Shopping multiple grocery stores can help you save some money, but savvy shoppers always return to their home base to find the best deals. The more you shop a certain store, the more you start to see patterns of sales and markdowns, which can help save you money when you head to checkout.

Read more: 15 Tricks Grocery Stores Use to Get You to Spend More Money

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