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Top Tips for Being a Savvy Grocery Shopper

There are a few things that you can do on your next trip to the grocery store to make it go faster, and save money by becoming a savvy grocery shopper.

When it comes to grocery shopping, there are a few things you can do to maximize your efficiency. Let’s face it, most people don’t enjoy going to the grocery store, so the easier you can make it on yourself, the better.

Besides utilities, grocery bills are often one of the highest monthly expenses for most households. And it usually takes at least a few hours every month to get it done. So what can be done about that? Work on becoming a savvy shopper and increase your savings while decreasing the time it takes to get your shopping done.

Originally Published On: May 5, 2018

Last Updated On: April 10, 2020

Before you Leave for the Grocery Store

Make a Meal Plan

The first thing you should do is make a meal plan. How do you know what to buy if you don’t know what you are going to make?

I like to look through the pantry and refrigerator and see what needs to be used. Plan a few meals based on those ingredients. Ask your family for input on upcoming meals. They are more likely to enjoy a recipe if they requested it.

Start with a List and Stick to it

Make a detailed grocery list of everything you need to pick up. It helps to separate the list into groups. I usually do produce, cold, frozen, non-foods, and everything else. When I go into the store, I start at the produce, then move through the aisles. The cold is at the edges, so when I get to that area I check those sections on the list. You can break it down further if it would help you.

Then most important, stick to your list. If you start getting too many items that are not on the list, your bill will start adding up quickly. Not to mention the time it takes to run all over the store when you realize you forgot something 4 aisles ago!

Two cookbooks, a cell phone, a piece of paper with a grocery list, and an LED tablet all on a wooden surface

Be a Savvy Grocery Shopper at the Store

Don’t Wait at the Deli

We always prefer to get freshly sliced meats over pre-packaged. They tend to taste better and have fewer preservatives in them. The only thing I don’t like…. waiting forever to get my freshly sliced deli products. A lot of times, Justin and I both go to the store either while the boys are at school or we bring them with us. If we are both there, he usually waits at the deli while I do the rest of the shopping. Most of the time, I am almost done by the time he finds me.

Last time I went grocery shopping, it was just Tyler and me. The store was not very busy, and there was no one else at the deli. I told the lady behind the counter what I wanted, and she asked me for my entire list of deli selections. Then she said it would take a little while, to come back in about 15 minutes. I had never thought about that before! Now when I go by myself, if it isn’t busy, I’ll ask if I can give my entire order and come back when I’m done shopping to grab it. I’ve never been told no and it saves so much time!

Unit Price Matters

It’s always a good idea to compare prices. Which brand has a better price? Is it more cost-efficient to buy this in a larger size (as long as it won’t go to waste)? Do you know the easiest way to check this? Look at the “unit price” which is listed next to the price. It will say the price per a certain amount, such as $0.52 per oz. Now look at the item you are comparing that to, is the unit price more or less? Make sure that the units are being given for the same unit of measurement as well. You can’t compare gallons to quarts.

Apples wrapped in plastic in a refrigerated shelf at the grocery store

A Savvy Grocery Shopper knows how to Save Money!

Recognize Deals

Just because something is on sale does not mean you need to buy it. I repeat: just because something is on sale does NOT mean you have to buy it. Got it?

I know so many people who come home with something, and when asked what they got it for, say, “I don’t know, but it was on sale!” At first, it sounds like you got a deal. But in reality, you just spent money on something you didn’t need. Even if it was on sale.

Also, make sure that you will use everything if you buy a deal. If a certain item is buy one, get one half off, but you won’t use all of that before it goes bad, then you have again spent money that you didn’t need to. Yes, you got that second one at a “deal” but how much of a deal was it if it ends up getting thrown out?

Cash-Back Apps

If you haven’t started using cash-backs apps, what’s holding you back? Seriously?! I have made over $200 on my cash-back grocery apps on the food I was already buying. My favorite is Ibotta. It takes me about 5 minutes when I get home to go through it, and I get money back.

What I don’t do, is go through before I go to the store to see what’s on there. I know that seems counter-productive, but I don’t want to end up getting something just because I saw it on Ibotta. See Recognize Deals above. It would put you into that same cycle. My cash-back apps happen once I get home and have unloaded the groceries.

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34 thoughts on “Top Tips for Being a Savvy Grocery Shopper”

    1. Definitely! I try to get very few things that aren’t on the list. Although I don’t always write down the staples such as milk, cereal, bread, etc. since we need it every time.

  1. Love these tips! Time is so valuable these days and shops tend to be done in such a rush. Sticking to a list is hard but vital!

  2. Your tips are definitely something I need to start listening too! I rarely make a list and tend to shop around the time I’m hungry so lots of extras end up in the cart…

  3. I think the other thing I would do is make sure I ate before I went to the store so that I didn’t panic and buy something I didn’t need. I tend to forget about deals when I’m there on an empty stomach.

    1. That’s so true! We usually do our grocery shopping early in the morning, after breakfast and dropping the kids off at school so we aren’t hungry at that time.

  4. Sticking with the list is the most important tip. I have saved 100s of dollars with that alone. Also i am so thankful that there is never longer then a 5 minute wait at my deli! And they prepackage there top 5 meats and what not in half pound bags to grab at your convenience!

    With the savings apps i never make more then a few cents and i havent made anything on the walmarts saving catcher since december! What am i doing wrong =/

    1. Oh, the prepackaged meats is awesome! My mom just told me that at Publix, she can order her deli items ahead of time and they are in a refrigerator to grab while she is shopping.

  5. These sure are all so helpful! I love using Cashback apps to save some extra money.. because it definitely adds up 🙂

  6. Neely Moldovan

    My husband and I used to never meal plan or make a list and we wasted SO MUCH MONEY! I tell people all the time “stick to the list”

  7. oh wow!!! This is very useful and insightful, I had no idea I can save that much with grocery shopping, I have a lot to learn lol…Thank you…

  8. Great tips… I am usually rubbish at planning meals in advance which is why I always end up over-spending! However, lockdown has forced me to plan our meals in advance as we have been shopping online… I just need to keep it up now!

    1. There have been a few good things coming from the lockdown. I’ve gotten more creative and particular with my meal planning, too! Especially when some of the ingredients I need aren’t available.

  9. Melanie williams

    Great hints and tips here for sure. I always write a list as I find that every time I don’t I always overspend. Cashback apps are a good one too x

  10. These are all excellent tips and over the years I’ve tried them all. For some reason, I’ve never made money back from cash apps even the ones that told me I had money. Go figure. The best for me has been joining discount clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco. I truly get the best deals from them and I have a Prime account at Sam’s that gives me money back too. I will look at Ibotta again as everything helps.

    1. That’s strange, I’ve never had trouble getting my money from the apps. I use iBotta every time and once it gets to the threshold I send it to my Paypal account. I don’t have a membership to the big box stores, but my in-laws do to Sam’s so I just go with them when I need anything from there.

    1. Same! It was such a time-saver when I realized I could ask for a few things and then go shop while they prepared it. Especially if you’re getting more than one item.

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