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10 Tips to Save Money at the Grocery Store

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grocery cart in supermarket

Do you find yourself short on money before your next paycheck arrives? Living paycheck to paycheck can feel overwhelming. If you find yourself in this situation or maybe you are simply looking for a way to save a few extra dollars, little changes can make a big difference.

Here are 10 easy tips to save money while shopping at the grocery store:

  1. Create a budget. With a budget, you can plan how much you will allow yourself to spend on groceries each week. For this to work, you must stick to the budget without exceptions.
  2. Make a list. Make a list before you go shopping with all the groceries you will need for the week. Bring the list with you and stick to what is on it. When you have a list, you can avoid aisles that don’t have what you need in an effort to avoid temptation to stray from the list.
  3. Shop on a full stomach. Go grocery shopping after you have eaten a full meal. You’ll be more easily tempted to buy things that are not on the list when you are shopping on an empty stomach.
  4. Eat with the seasons. Eating with the seasons ensures you get the best price and taste for your food. Fruits and vegetables that are in season typically have less distance to travel and therefore are less expensive than those out of season.
  5. Pay attention to brand names. Typically, generic store brands of the same product with the bigger brand names are less expensive. However, be sure to check the ingredients to ensure the product is the same.
  6. Look at higher and lower shelves. The products stocked on the shelves at eye level tend to be the most expensive, so remember to look up and down for less expensive items.
  7. Don’t buy toiletries. Toiletries can be found in most grocery stores; however, they are usually very pricey. Skip buying toiletries at the grocery store and buy them at a discount retailer instead.
  8. Use coupons and rebate apps. Coupons are not limited to paper flyers anymore. Some stores have an app where you can select coupons and scan them on your phone at checkout. You also can download free rebate apps on your phone that will give you money back, either through cash or gift card, for your purchases.
  9. Try to shop alone. Whenever possible, go to the grocery store alone. Staying focused can be hard on the list when you have a child, roommate or partner who might want other things. Sticking to the list will be easier for you if you are shopping without distractions from others.
  10. Check out the weekly sale ads. Look at the weekly sale ads before you make your grocery list. This way you can make your list according to what is on sale that week. However, be sure not to buy something just because it is on sale if it is not something you need.

Candace Kornelsen, Graduate Assistant
North Dakota State University

Carrie Johnson, Ph.D., AFC®
NDSU Extension Specialist and Associate Professor  /  Human Development and Family Science