Ask the Readers: What's Your Favorite Grocery Shopping Tip?

By Ashley Jacobs on 12 January 2016 94 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Kaye, Mita, and Michael for winning this week's contest!

There are many ways to save money on groceries. You can clip coupons, shop from a list, track weekly sales — just do a search on the Internet and you'll find dozens more! But what works for one person may not work for another, and it can take some trial and error to figure out the best savings strategy for you.

What is your favorite grocery shopping tip? Why do you think it works so well for you? Have you tried any common shopping strategies that just didn't work for you?

Tell us about your favorite grocery shopping tip and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For Extra Entries:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, January 18th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after January 18th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
     
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
     
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
     
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck! 

4
Average: 4 (1 vote)
Your rating: None
ShareThis

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


Guest's picture
Julie Wood

I use a grocery store coupon on top of a manufacturer coupon to really save money at the grocery store. And I stockpile coupons and wait for a sale and use the coupon to save even more on sale items.

Guest's picture
Mami2jcn

My favorite grocery shopping tip is to map out the store and make your shopping list in order of where the items are to save time.

Guest's picture
Elena

My tip is to use coupons and shop sales

Guest's picture
Gina

Match coupons up with sales and buy in bulk. Also buy clearance items - meat is often 50% off but must be cooked or frozen the same day.

Guest's picture
Jane

We take our time searching the sales ads then combine with coupons & app discounts every week. Our pantry is always full & we don't have to pay full price

Guest's picture
chau

bring coupons. always shop with coupons

Guest's picture
Abby

I use the grocery store apps to load coupons directly onto my card.

Guest's picture
Liisa R

Make a list and stock up when things are on sale!

Guest's picture
Renee

Always take a list, compare unit prices, and buy store brand whenever possible as long as it's cheaper.

Guest's picture
suzemagoo

"Buy ingredients" was the best tip we ever got years ago. It meant the elimination of processed stuff as our awareness kicked in. But wait, why is this a frugal idea? Because we're living proof one either pays the doctor or pays the grocer.

Guest's picture
Ernest S.

I like to keep a shopping list synced via Evernote. Also, I sometimes will force myself to carry a basket instead of using a cart so I don't get tempted to overload on unnecessary stuff!

Guest's picture
Rachel

We plan all of the upcoming week's meals every Saturday morning, then do all of our grocery shopping for that week's meals plus staples. As for recipes, we get them from the web or cookbooks checked out from the library. If we like something we cook, we write down the recipe on an index card, and save it in a recipe box. This means we have a wide variety of recipes to choose from every Saturday.

Guest's picture
Kellie

By far, my favorite grocery shopping tip is to plan menus and write a list. My boyfriend and I eat a mostly plant-based, vegan diet, so we purchase a lot of produce, but can still manage to plan and shop for 4-5 meals at a time without wasting much food. I stick pretty close to my list, but also purchase quick/easy meal items, like pasta and sauces or frozen foods, on occasion. Planning and shopping this way does take some extra time, but the ease of making meals and rarely needing to ask "what's for dinner?" more than makes up for the required effort. I also think planning meals keeps things fresh. We don't bore of our dinner ideas, because we have so many recipes that we've come to love! I've been planning and shopping this way for years and don't anticipate changing my ways.

Guest's picture
Matt

Use receipthog

Guest's picture
Kaye

I shop at Publix and LOVE to use their app to shop. I use it to make a list based on their currently weekly ad, use it to find mobile coupons - which are added to my account - and my favorite part? My list is automatically sorted by aisle based on the store I shop at. If I choose a different store to shop at, I just tell the app and it rearranges my list for me. I love it.

Guest's picture
Tina in NJ

I always shop with a list. If I don't, I'll forget something and have to go back, and you know I won't buy just that one item!

Guest's picture
Catseye

My current fave grocery shopping tip is to always check the clearance shelves. You never know when you'll discover at great deal or get the opportunity to try a brand/item you would never buy at full cost.

Guest's picture
kim

Check out clearance bins at Vons....you will find some good food for quite a bargain if you are willing to eat it same day or within a few days.

Guest's picture
Julie Lundstrom

I have a bad habit of impulse shopping so making a list and trying to stick to it helps save me money.

Guest's picture
Dawnelle

Check the store you shop at for their weekly ad online, then plan your meals and particularly produce around what is on sale. Use coupons on top of those sales to increase your savings, if you have them. This strategy helps my large family (7 kids) get larger quantities (for example) of fruits and veggies, by buying loss leaders or buying the items that are on sale that week. For example, apples were on sale last week for a lower price per pound. So we had apples a few ways- whole, sliced with peanut butter, and sauteed with cinnamon for a fun dessert.

Guest's picture
Jasmine

Shop for produce through a wholesaler (company which supplies restaurants in your city, NOT a Costco style wholesale club) before you buy anything else.

If you front-load your fridge with fruits and veggies you're more inclined to eat the perishable produce rather than filling your fridge with more expensive goods such as cheese and meats. Has the added benefits of making you eat more veg.

Guest's picture
Kelli

Do not shop when you're hungry! If I do this then I end up making poor decisions, buying lots of junk food I devour as soon as I get home, rather than getting healthier food to make affordable meals for the week. And use coupons whenever possible.

Guest's picture
Trish

Sales! Sales! Sales!

Guest's picture
Susan Smith

I make out my list at the same time I plan my meals for the weeks and match what I need from the store with what coupons I have and what's on sale.

Guest's picture
MELISSA HANSSON

Try to buy at the best price (on sale or clearance, with stacked store & manufacturer coupons, using your store card, too) and stockpile so you never have to buy at regular prices.

Guest's picture
Betty

Go through the sale paper, make a list, and find coupons. Stick to your list no matter what!

Guest's picture
Clem

Look at what you have and make a list of what you need.

Guest's picture
Mary W

Do not shop when you are hungry! You will buy way more than usual and end up buying things that you might normally be able to resist. Stick to your list. You do have your list with you, don't you?

Guest's picture
Jeff

use a grocery store app to keep shopping list and for coupons

Guest's picture
Emily S.

Use coupons! I shop at Kroger (Ralph's) and they have an online version that is awesome!

Guest's picture
Susan P.

I make a list throughout the week and before I leave the house make sure I put it near my keys so I don't forget it!

Guest's picture
Guest

Have a list so you do not forget any items while shopping

Guest's picture
Emily

I buy things on sale and then freeze them! Ground turkey, veggies, sour cream, coconut water, cheese--I've bought and frozen all of them in the past week. I dream of the day I can have a separate deep freezer...swoon.

Guest's picture
Melsye

I load coupons right to my card

Guest's picture
Ced

I never shop when I am hungry!

Guest's picture
Lisa

sounds simple but having a list keeps me focused. it really helps me. i have a system too, where i circle the things i must get and then things less important i'll write on list but consider as a maybe

Guest's picture
Tamara Bronaugh

My favorite grocery shopping tip is to use your store's salad bar, ( if they have one ) for loose salad greens. Fill up your plastic container with fluffy romaine, spinach, spring mix, etc. Make sure it is DRY. Salad Bar items are sold by weight, so you end up spending only a small fraction of the price for the salad greens compared to buying prepackaged salad mix! Dry salad greens hardly weigh anything! I can get a whole plastic salad bar container filled with greens for about .50! Compare this to 3.99 for the same amount in a prepacked container!

Guest's picture
Olivia

Try alternative sources. Every locale has it's own options.

In the midwest, we belonged to a food coop. We sent our bulk orders in to a coordinator early in the month and worked at assigned jobs when the truck came in. If any of us wanted to split an order, we worked it out among ourselves.

Currently, we have farms nearby and buy eggs directly at $1 a flat. In season produce is available at pick your own farms, produce stands, and farmer's markets. If you can and freeze, buying by the bushel at the end of the day, is very cost effective.

Do a little raised bed or container garden.

A local potato farmer made their already machine harvested field open to gleaners.

Salvage grocers are a big thing around here. Overruns, discontinued products and sizes, buy outs. They don't take coupons but there is quite a variety and usually very good prices.

Guest's picture
Donna Sako

I did a research paper in college on grocery shopping. What an eye opener! Afterwards I have saved a bundle. When companies stock the shelves many times the higher priced items are at eye level as well as the products they need to push due to expiration dates. During the 80's there was a shortage of canning lids and supplies. Research revealed the owners of those products were also the canning companies who needed their items sold. So they artificially created a shortage to force people to buy their products. But people got smart and began to freeze and created jelly in the freezer. Watch for per unit pricing. Buying the large size is not always the better bargain. Many times the store brand is as good as or better than the name brands and healthier!

Guest's picture
cherie

If there's a product you buy and use regularly, keep checking the prices on Amazon! Both subscribe and save, coupons [and sometimes these can be combined] and the warehouse often have great deals on things I use often enough to be willing to give storage space to multiples.

Guest's picture
Kay

Plan out your menu for main meal/s for the next week or two based off of what's on sale, then make a list and stick to it. Simply making a well-planned list based on what you've planned to eat in the near future cuts that bill waaay down as you're not throwing things in the cart on impulse.

Guest's picture
Guest

Plan ahead and use a list

Guest's picture
Lisa Puckett, @MykidsMylife72

Shop sales, use coupons and use your reward card if available. :)

Guest's picture
Louly

I use lots and lots of blogs to find the best savings matchups and I also download each store's app where you can find exclusive savings.

Guest's picture
SKB

I think having a list ( and taking it with you ) is my best tip. I also use coupons and price matching.

Guest's picture
Cashinasnap

Well Grocery mode or criteria may differ from person to person, but the end result should bear positive result towards saving hard earned money out of the pocket.

Guest's picture
Elle

Match up weekly sales with coupons for bigger deals.

Guest's picture
Patrick

My tip is to only buy what you need. Between alluring packaging and enticing smells of fresh foods, there are lots of opportunities to buy extra goodies, but if you stick to grocery list, you can avoid these impulses. It helps both your budget and your waistline :)

Guest's picture
AN G

Never go grocery shopping hungry!
Also use coupons and check to see if they have a loyalty card.

Guest's picture
Integritygirl

My fav trick for saving $$ at the grocery store is to always look at the marked down items. Our kroger store calls these Woo-Hoo items. I have bought 3-4 Organic OJ with the pulp for 1.00 each, regular 3.99. They stay fresh and delicious even after date, just keep them in the back of the fridge and open when needed. I have bought organic butter for 1.50 regular 6.99. When I find those I buy all I can get my hands on, then I put them in the freezer! Organic ground turkey for 1.99, regular 5.49. I buy all I can and freeze them.
Its a great way to SAVE!!!

Guest's picture
Jenny D

We have a local farmer who we buy our grass-fed beef from. We can purchase a quarter or a half, depending on if there are others who want to share. This is amazingly cost effective, the meat is wonderful, and it's so easy to just shop the freezer.

Guest's picture
Miss kim

I shop sales and use coupons.

Guest's picture
Laura J

For me, I find that I need to do one shopping trip and buy meals for the whole week. If I do smaller trips a few times a week and buy a few meals at a time...I spend more.

Guest's picture
Tiffany Sparks

If you do your grocery shopping at Walmart, I highly recommend checking out Savings Catcher https://savingscatcher.walmart.com// It is also available on the Walmart app. This is a great way to earn money back! All you do is scan the barcode on your receipt using the app or you can manually type it in, Walmart then checks for competitors in your area for deals on eligible items. If they find a lower price, you'll get this difference in a form of an eGift Card which you can redeem at any time. This method has worked very well for me and I've earned well over $100 so far, which I plan on using towards a future grocery shopping trip.

Guest's picture
Amy

I live on an island in Southeast Alaska where groceries are expensive. Though I do choose to spend some of my grocery dollars in the store to support local business, most of my food dollars funnel through local, informal buying co-ops (you can start one yourself!) to Organically Grown Co (a produce wholesaler in Oregon) and Azure Standard (a natural foods wholesaler, also in Oregon). Our produce co-op orders through foodclub.org, a site built to facilitate co-op orders. The food is shipped from Seattle by barge every two weeks. It took some time after moving here to wrap my brain around ordering food that far ahead of schedule, but it's actually made grocery shopping so much easier, especially since I have small kids. Just order online and pick up when it comes in!

I also supplement through Vitacost.com (via eBates or Topcashback for additional savings), which has great prices and fast shipping.

I'm hoping for additional savings as I start using my menu-planning app to its full potential, Plan To Eat. I choose my meals and it will give me a grocery list for them.

Guest's picture
Rebecca Ross

Always check the unit price to see which item is the cheapest.

Guest's picture
Tanya

My biggest money saver is doing my main grocery shopping once a month. I then do another small trip later in the month for fresh fruits/veggies, milk, bread, etc.

I start by going over our monthly menu plan. I have several I have created that I just rotate.

My husband created a master list of items we use, I check this list before my trip and write down what we need. I then check for sales at various stores and add those items if we use them. I also might check for online coupons if I have the extra time.

I then pick a day and shop several stores to get the lowest price. I do keep a low price list that I check to compare prices.

In the long run this saves us time and money.

Guest's picture
Nico

We have a list of staples that we budget to buy at full price, but always grab them whenever we see them on special -- brown rice, tinned beans, olive oil and kitty litter. Then calculate the difference between their full price and the discounted price, and put aside that money into our savings or paying off debt. For items like brown rice, it's sometimes only $0.50, but for big items like olive oil it can be up to $10 -- it doesn't sound like much, but we all know a little goes a long way.

Guest's picture
carol

Im not big on couponing because a lot of items we just don't buy anymore since my husbands bypass surgery. I have bought items to get free items and shared them with other people. I also by fresh vegetables on sale and dry them in my dehydrators, then grind them up into vege powder. Usually make enough to lasts 3-6 months, my husband loves to make his own vege broth or just add the powder to stir fry's, soups, bean dishes, whatever you cook.

Guest's picture
Kellie Baker

Meal planning! I try to make similar recipes so I can buy the ingredients in bulk and save. Aldis is always my first stop and then anything additional they don't carry I make a second stop.

Guest's picture
Kim

Stock up on sale items so you won't need to make another purchase until the item goes on sale in another six to eight weeks depending upon the way your favorite grocer rotates their sales.

Guest's picture
Monique

I recommend shopping mainly the edges, which means you'll avoid a lot of processed and snack foods, resulting in healthier meals and savings. Also, if your grocery store does weekly sales and allows overlap, shop on the one day when both sales are in effect.

Guest's picture
Guest

Before I go shopping I always load up my store card with digital discount coupons and usually save quite a bit of money, often $25 or $30. I also write out my shopping list in Spanish as a way of practicing learning a second language. Since it's in Spanish, I tend to pay more attention to studying my list so I don't go home hungry. It works.

Guest's picture
Michelle D.

I like to plan my meals around what's at sale at the market.

Guest's picture
Chris

I make a meal plan for the week before I go to the grocery store - knowing which days we will need to pack lunches as well as dinners - always take a list. Keeping a freezer and buying (especially meats) when things are a good price has helped to costs down too.

Guest's picture
Suz_Glo

I make my list using the grocery stores online sales ad. It's more comprehensive and helps me find items on sale that I might not notice/look for while shopping. I also note on my list the items for which I have store and/or manufacturers coupons. This method helps me save money and gets me in and out of the store in less time.

Guest's picture
Erin

Stacking manufacture and store coupons to maximize savings

Guest's picture
Guest

Shop the sales, buy in bulk when it's on sake.

Guest's picture
Maureen

Price match your groceries. It saves you an average of 30% and it is saves on time as well. I sit down with the circulars or view them online and just dictate the best sales on my phone. I then go shop at Walmart and use the list that I dictated to my phone. When checking out place your price match items last on the conveyor belt and then just read the prices off as the cashier gets to that item. Walmart does not require that you have the ads with you so it is easy and efficient. If there is a question about a sale the cashier has the ads at the register.
As a working mother of four I have tried just about every grocery-saving strategy out there and this is by far the best way to save the most time and money.

Guest's picture
Pam r

I shop with coupons!

Guest's picture
Chris

What's worked best for me is using online shopping/delivery via Peapod. I started when I broke my ankle, but found that it was worth continuing (though only with an annual membership, individual orders are too expensive without that). It makes it easy to instantly compare prices, check ingredients, find out what's on sale, and mark favorites for things I need on a regular basis. They also accept coupons! I'd estimate that I've saved at least 25-30% just by doing this. I use the delivery service, but some areas also have a pickup option. Haven't tried any other grocery shop online services, but Peapod really works for me.

Guest's picture
Liz

I try to make sure I only buy what I know we will eat so I'm not throwing food away!

Guest's picture
C Hui

I like to use digital coupons from the store website.

Guest's picture
Michael

I write down a grocery list in my cell phone so I don't forget the list at home.

Guest's picture
MikeS

Though it does have a low monthly fee, I cannot express how much time and money an online meal planning service has saved my family. I use emeals.com and it costs about $5 a month, but there are a ton of other similar services online, and I can say that I have cut my monthly shopping budget by $150.
The money I save by having a planned shopping lists prevents me from buying things "just because I have a coupon", or "just because its on sale."
Added bonus? I spend zero time pouring over sale advertisements and recipes, and just simply enjoy spending time with my kid.

Guest's picture
Rich

Make a shopping list and buy what's on sale for the week.

Guest's picture
BRB

Buy from sources other than the grocery store. Bountiful Baskets, grocery outlets, farmers, Buy Nothing groups are all great resources.

Guest's picture
Bethany M

I do a better job when I leave the kids with my husband.

Guest's picture
SLK

I rarely use store or manufacturer's coupons, because they typically are offered for food that is a) more highly processed and therefore less healthy than things I cook for myself, b) branded and therefore higher-priced (because the money the manufacturers spent on marketing is built into the price), and/or c) not stuff I normally cook with, anyway. I do scratch cooking, buy spices and staples in bulk (and bring my own containers with the tare weights written on them in permanent marker, so my life isn't cluttered up with plastic bags and twist ties), and buy produce in season that's mostly been grown close to where I live.

Guest's picture
Cynthia K

One tip that works for me is to shop early Monday morning, after the weekend. That is when my grocery store discounts the meat they stocked for the weekend! Also at least try the store brand of an item. Many times, especially if you are making a casserole, you won't notice the difference between the big name brands and the store brand.

Guest's picture
Happy Love

I use my grocery store's web site to view the sale ads, and I'm able to click on the items I want to make my shopping list.

Guest's picture
Lynda

Stack coupons with sales to maximize savings

Guest's picture
Jan

One thing I've learned is to be realistic about the amount of fresh veggies I can eat, and only buy what I'm sure I won't waste! I'm sure this saves a lot of money - and frustration!

Guest's picture
Sheryl

I stick to my shopping list.

Guest's picture
Kim D

Planning ahead! I do an assessment every weekend of what meals I will need to make (e.g., sometimes I'll have a lunch meeting at work so I know I won't have to bring lunch that day) and then I think about what I want to cook. I then make a list so when I go to the grocery store I know exactly what I need and don't end up throwing things in the cart that will go to waste.

Guest's picture
Patty

Check your receipt before you leave the store. Make sure all your coupons scanned, sale prices registered correctly, etc. The database doesn't always match the shelf price. More than once I've been charged for an expensive produce item that wasn't what I bought at all (ex: Chinese long beans vs. regular old green beans).

You'd be surprised--or maybe you wouldn't--at how often you get charged several dollars more than you should have.

Guest's picture
Donna D

Shop the sales and stock up when you have coupons to go along with it and plan your meals around your sale purchases.

Guest's picture
Sarah

I use coupons and cash back sites like Ibotta when I shop

Guest's picture
Pamela

I make a list. As I buy things, I also list the food items I can make with the ingredients I buy. I put that on the fridge when I get home. It keeps me from wasting food.

Guest's picture
Ana Lee

I always make a shopping list so I don't forget anything and have to go back.

Guest's picture
Bekki

I make a meal plan before shopping and buy just what I need

Guest's picture
Cynthia

Just today I noticed I saved myself some bucks by going through my shopping cart one more time before I paid for my items. Sometimes I shop based off my old habits or on impulse, and going through the cart one more time gives me the chance to let go of things I don't really need or do not go along with the new eating habits I'm trying to implement. Also, I noticed that sometimes using coupons makes me buy more items I normally wouldn't buy and only find myself purchasing them because I have a coupon for them.

Guest's picture
Robynn

I have an "All Out Of" list that I bought on my fridge that has every category imaginable, so when I run out of something I can just check the box, and that creates my list for shopping. That way I know everything I might need and can grab only that instead of wandering the aisles. If I write the list myself, I might feel like I forgot something and start buying 'just in case'.
To keep myself from impulse buying, I'm allowed one treat each shopping trip- usually just a candy bar- but knowing I can buy something makes me not want to splurge.

Guest's picture
Guest

I make a list in order of the store. So I start from the right of the store and move left so everything on my list is in order with the store set up. That way I'm not running back and forth forgetting this or finding that. Also make an entire dinner menu and make your list from it. You can use one green pepper or onion for two dinners if you plan accordingly.

Guest's picture
jalia1028

I browse the meat section of my local Kroger for items a couple days away from the "freeze by/sell by date." And ask for the markdown price ahead of what it says on the package. I have tried this in a couple stores, never got a "NO"(and sometimes you can talk them down on prices.) Also if you ask they will season your meat for you. It really speeds up the dinner cooking processq