Supermarket Hacks: 9 Ways To Save Money on Groceries

By Melody Chi on October 16, 2014
Grocery Shopping Food

image via https://www.flickr.com

We all well know (and deservedly complain about) how expensive college tuition is. But one thing people don’t tell you when you’re raring to move out of your parents’ house is just how expensive other items can be once you have to pay for them on your own.

One of those things? Groceries. But there’s hope!

These 9 tips can help you save a bundle so you’ll always have enough food to fuel those late night cram sessions.

1.)    Shop on Wednesdays. 

Wednesday Daily Calendar

Wednesday is the prime day to buy! (https://www.flickr.com)

Research shows that this is the best day to buy food because new sales typically begin on Wednesdays. On top of that, sales from the week before may also still be in effect.

As an extra bonus, many stores receive new shipments of products on Mondays or Tuesdays, so items will be fresh mid-week when you snap them up!

2.)    Transform old fruits & veggies.

Admittedly, this is a way to not waste money you’ve already spent on food rather than a means to prevent you from spending in the first place, but it’s equally as important. The U.S. throws away about 133 billion pounds of food (worth $161.6 billion) each year, and vegetables make up 19 percent of that.

To prevent losing both food and money, turn old or ugly veggies and fruits into juices or soups. France’s Intermarche supermarket chain did this on a large scale, as explained in this Youtube video: Intermarché – “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables”.

3.)    Snag in-season produce.

Mixed Vegetables

In season = savings. (https://www.flickr.com)

Fruits and vegetables that are in season are almost always cheaper because there is a good local supply of them, so your wallet will thank you if you buy according to the time of year. This trick is a piece of cake (or should that be apple pie?) thanks to online guides that keep track of when certain produce is in season.

But keep an eye out: even when produce is in season, the first and last crops tend to be more expensive, so buy at the peak of the season.

4.)   Buy near closing time at farmer’s markets.

Farmers will often lower their prices to get rid of the remainder of their products and avoid lugging them back home. Take advantage of these last-minute bargains by shopping late.

5.)    Avoid brand names.

Generic Potato Chips

Store Brand is spectacular! (https://www.flickr.com)

This may be the most obvious tip on the list, but that far from makes it worthless. I’m constantly shocked by how many people don’t buy generic (a.k.a. supermarket brand) products, sometimes simply because they’ve gotten used to buying name brands.

However, generic items often taste the same but are significantly cheaper, and I’ve even found some generic alternatives that I prefer to the brand name versions.

So you can cling onto those brand name foods if you swear they taste better, but I prefer to flavor my generic food with savings.

6.)    Shop during holiday sales.

Certain holidays can drive some food prices to an ultimate low. For instance, be sure to stock up on condiments, salad dressing, ground beef, hot dogs, chicken, chips, soda, beer, or paper products around Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day.

Near Thanksgiving, aside from bargains on regular Thanksgiving fare like turkey, there are also often sales on canned goods and baking ingredients.

On the other hand, you can take advantage of low prices for frozen meals and appetizers, cold remedies, teas and soups from New Year’s Eve through January.

Finally, snag steaks on Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day, as they’ll commonly be discounted.

7.)    Buy spices at dollar stores.

Dollar Tree Sign

Dollar stores can be great sources of savings. (https://www.flickr.com)

Dollar stores get a bad rap, but they can actually be savings central for certain items, including expensive products such as spices. In fact, spices can be as much as several dollars cheaper at dollar stores, and like generic versions of foods, still just as good.

8.)    Get coupons from supermarket apps or online coupon sites.

Nowadays, supermarkets are savvy enough to realize that people want to carry their entire lives (and coupon books) on their phones, so many grocery stores offer apps or websites you can easily virtually “clip” coupons from.

For example, Safeway has a smartphone app that works on both iPhones and Android phones. There are also general shopping list apps for consolidated supermarket savings. Similarly, Walmart, which already offers competitive prices, has a coupon site that can save you even more bucks.

That not enough for you? A Google search of coupon websites brings up a treasure trove of potential savings big enough to make any coupon lover weep with joy.

9.)    Pay with cash.

Cash money

Using cash can save you cash! (https://www.flickr.com)

Like tip #2, this one is more of a preventative measure. Paying with cash instead of plastic can stop you from buying impulse purchases that you really don’t need.

Admittedly, this may seem like more trouble than it’s worth when so many of us (myself included) purchase the majority of our items so easily with a debit or credit card, but that’s the point: it’s oftentimes too easy to buy an extra item or three when you don’t have to physically fork over the dough at the end.

The solution? Set aside a strict amount of cash for each grocery trip and leave your card at home. That way, you only have enough for what’s on your list and no more.

By Melody Chi

Uloop Writer
Hello, I'm Melody! I am a recent graduate of UC Davis and a new Uloop writer. My excitement over writing for such a wonderful company is only eclipsed by my love of tea, reading, and snowboarding.

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