14 ways to save money at the grocery store

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14 ways to save money at the grocery store
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Looking for more ways to save money the grocery store? Check out these suggestions:

Buy three copies of the Sunday newspaper

You want the glossy RedPlum and SmartSource coupon circulars. As an alternative, you can always visit RedPlum.com and SmartSource.com to print coupons for free. And if you live in a metro area, you may be able to find free Spanish language newspapers in your town that have these inserts. (Be sure to leave copies for others too!)

Do this to get additional coupons for organics

When it comes to getting organic food coupons, one of the best ways is to contact the manufacturer directly. If there’s a brand you particularly like, consider writing them an e-mail or a letter to express your appreciation for their product and to ask about coupons. People report scoring coupons from natural brands like Stonyfield and Applegate Farms this way.

Another method is to visit online organic coupon clearinghouses. Several sites specialize in coupons for natural and organic foods. Crystal Collins of NaturalThrifty.com maintains a list of online organic coupon resources here.

Know how to maximize your coupons

Once you’ve gathered all your coupons, it’s time to figure out how to maximize them. Visit a site like CouponMom.com that breaks down the weekly sales by state and explains which coupon to use where and when for maximum savings.

Know your stacking and doubling

The ideal way to use coupons is to stack as many coupons as you can to get the most value out of them. Retailers have varying policies on this practice. For example, you want to know if you can stack manufacturer’s coupons on top of store coupons for the same item.

Here’s another strategy: Shop only where your coupons will be doubled. Publix will double manufacturer’s coupons up to 50 cents in face value everyday. So a 50-cent coupon actually saves you $1. Select retailers like Kroger, Giant, Safeway and Acme Markets offer double coupon days where they’ll double higher-denomination coupons on select days of the week or month. So 75 cents off becomes $1.50 off!

Shop with the right app

Coupons have moved so far beyond the physical kinds these days. Today you can get deals and coupons right on your smartphone at the click of a button. Try playing around with these free apps to get started:

  • Cellfire – Sends coupons directly to your loyalty cards.
  • Coupons – Add grocery and drugstore coupons to your store loyalty cards and automatically save when you use them at the register.
  • Favado – Aggregates sales data for your local grocery, drug and big box stores. Compare and save up to 70% on everyday items.
  • GroceryIQ – Create and organize grocery lists quickly and easily.
  • Ibotta – Earn cash every time you go shopping.
  • Key Ring – Digitizes all your loyalty cards and stores them on a smartphone so you never have to fumble for the physical cards again.
  • Out of Milk – Keep track of your shopping needs and your pantry’s inventory, and manage your to-do list items.
  • SavingStar – Get grocery and food coupons, which convert into store savings or actual cash back.

Know your prices

Tracking the prices of your top 10 items for a month and a half or so. If you know the regular prices of your 10 most common purchases at local stores, then you’ll really know when to stock up on something when it goes on sale. If you have a coupon at that point, so much the better!

Be flexible

Brand loyalty will cost you money. If you have a coupon for a brand you’re not familiar with, why not give it a try and see if you like it? You may be surprised.

Sign up for loyalty programs

You can get greats savings through gas reward programs like the one Kroger offers and other similar plans at other grocers. But the real strength of loyalty programs may be something you don’t even think about: Because retailers are tracking your purchases through your loyalty card, they can quickly contact you in the event that some kind of foodborne illness is spreading through something you bought at their store. This could save your life!

Read more: 11 things you should never buy at a warehouse club

Shop salvage stores

Want deeply discounted groceries? Salvage stores that offer ‘unsellables’ like canned food that’s past its expiration date can be a great source of savings. Find the nearest salvage store in this directory. Of course, salvage stores are not for everybody; many people will balk at the idea of buying damaged goods. But Dr. Ted Labuza, a professor of food science at the University of Minnesota, told The Atlantic, ‘Foods can remain safe to consume for some time beyond sell-by and even use-by dates provided they are handled and stored properly.’

Scour the clearance rack

Talk to your store’s manager and find out where they keep the clearance items. Many stores will have a dedicated rack or shelf. It’s also helpful to know when new stock is added to the clearance rack or aisle. If you’re first to find it, you can score some real deals!

Pay attention to unit pricing

Paying attention to unit pricing in the supermarket can be your ally at time when manufacturers are trying to sneak by reductions in the amount of product they’re selling you. Here’s a common scenario you might encounter in the supermarket: You’re buying the store brand of something like toilet paper and you’re confronted with the choice of either a big package or a little package. Which is a better value? Most people would think the larger package because you’re buying in bulk, right?

Not so fast. Look at the small unit price numbers, not the actual price. The large package may have a unit price of 70 cents per 100 sheets of toilet paper, while you the smaller package has a unit price of 55 cents per 100 sheets. So the smaller package actually offers more value for your dollar, in this case. This varies widely by product, so take a closer look to find the best deal.

Change where you shop

If you’re not shopping at Aldi or Walmart for your groceries, chances are you’re throwing money away. Aldi claims to save shoppers 50% off traditional supermarket prices. Walmart, meanwhile, is generally 20% to 30% cheaper than comparable supermarkets.

Shop with the right card

Speaking of Aldi, now that they accept credit cards, you might consider getting this card: The American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card offers 6% cashback on groceries, up to a max of $6,000 annually. Be sure to pay your bill in full each and every month!

Try out Upromise at checkout

Upromise lets you register your grocery and drug store loyalty cards, and then activate the service’s eCoupons. Use one of those coupons at checkout and you’ll get money for qualifying grocery store purchases. That money can be used to pay down your student loan, save for a child’s college and more.  

Read more: This couple eats for less than $60 a month

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring unique savings tips to men and women like him who must face life without their spouses. He can be reached at [email protected]
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