Check out these tips from Kaija Helmetag and Yelena Moroz on how to cut down on your grocery bills. Your friends here at Ziggy’s have added a few bonus tips too.
Visit ethnic grocery stores to score items like avocados, mangoes, limes, and red onions for less than what you would pay elsewhere, says Billy Vasquez, the creator of the blog The 99 Cent Chef. For other fruits and vegetables, stick with buying those that are in season—you’ll save 10 to 15 percent on average. (Go to realsimple.com/inseason to find out what to buy right now.)
Annual savings: $30
Head to a chain pharmacy, such as RiteAid, Walgreens, or CVS. These merchants may have fewer varieties of milk than grocery stores do (not as many organic options, for example), but you can save up to 20 percent a gallon.
Annual savings: $35
Bonus Tip: Check the expiration date on the jug! Grocery stores sell so much milk that it doesn’t have a chance to go bad. Chain pharmacies do not sell as much milk, so sometimes you might grab a jug that is close to the expiration date. Savings don’t mean much if your milk goes bad after only one or two days and you have to return to the store to exchange it, wasting time and gas.
This often goes on sale. Be on the lookout for deals published in your supermarket’s weekly circular, which is often where the best deals are (like two name-brand boxes for $6 instead of $5.60 each).
Annual savings: $69
If you drink a lot of sparkling water, invest in a SodaStream seltzer kit (from $80, sodastreamusa.com). SodaStream sells different mixes, but Gabi Moskowitz, a chef who focuses on affordable ingredients, suggests adding juice, a powdered drink mix (like Crystal Light), or syrup to fizzy water.
Annual savings: $398
Bread and Baked Goods
If you’re in the store near closing time, you could find the prices of rolls, muffins, and other bakery items discounted by up to 50 percent, says Andrea Woroch, a consultant to multiple money-saving websites.
Annual savings: $118
Canned Vegetables and Soup
When manufacturers have too much of a particular item or need to clear out warehouses to make room for new things, they often sell their excess goods to dollar stores, says Phil Lempert, the food-trend analyst for NBC’s Today show. Head to those establishments to pick up nonperishable goods on the cheap.
Annual savings: $150
Combine manufacturers’ coupons on 64-ounce bottles (find them in Sunday newspapers) with grocery-store sales and you could score a discount that’s larger than the amount you would save at a warehouse store, says Teri Gault, the CEO and founder of TheGroceryGame.com, a website that tracks supermarket sales across the United States.
Annual savings: $98
Steer clear of individual containers (say, five six-ounce cartons). Instead, pick up large ones that contain at least 32 ounces, from brands such as Dannon and Stonyfield Farm. You’ll pay up to 40 percent less.
Annual savings: $111
Dollar stores and discount grocery outlets are good places to find half-price cake and muffin mixes. They might not be in the most recent packaging, but the expiration date will still be listed, says Lempert.
Annual savings: $12
Bonus tip: Try making your own mixes! Here are a few to get you started.
Frozen Prepared Foods
Download the free app Coupon Sherpa, which allows you to redeem local in-store coupons instantly without having to clip or print them. Click on a merchant and link its loyalty card to your account. Select the available discounts you want and they will be applied to your purchase when your loyalty card is scanned.
Annual savings: $71
Ready-to-Serve Prepared Foods
Ask if your supermarket has “Friday dinner specials,” like a pizza and sides for just $10, says Gault. And to get more bang for your buck at pay-by-weight grocery salad bars, she suggests loading up on lightweight, nutritious items, like spinach, and staying away from heavier vegetables, like carrots and tomatoes.
Annual savings: $194
Condiments, Gravy, and Sauces
Examine shelf labels to compare the cost per unit. While the prices of bigger containers often run 15 to 30 percent less per unit, there are exceptions, so don’t automatically reach for the largest bottle or jar. In summer, look for big sales at your supermarket on ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, which will be discounted by as much as 30 percent for barbecue season, says Julia Scott, the founder of BargainBabe.com, a money-saving website.
Annual savings: $206
You may already know that wine shops typically offer up to 20 percent off if you purchase your favorite vintage by the case. But you can land as much as a 30 percent price reduction if you buy three or more cases at one time, says Scott.
Annual savings: $52
Go to SaveOnBrew.com to find low prices on big-name brands, such as Heineken and Samuel Adams. Simply enter your ZIP code and the site will scan more than 50,000 retailers nationwide to give you a list of the best bargains at local stores.
Annual savings: $192
Pick up a case at a chain like Target instead of buying single bottles at gas stations and convenience stores, where they can be nearly four times as expensive.
Annual savings: $668
Bonus tip: Break the bottled water habit and save even more.
Nothing beats the convenience of pre-shredded, but opting for a brick of Cheddar or a ball of mozzarella will save you $2 to $3 a pound.
Annual savings: $210