5 Tips to Save Like a Pro at the Grocery Store

Do you check your smartphone before grocery shopping? Are you tracking what you spend at the grocery store? If not, you’re probably wasting money every week.

Dori Zinn is a foodie as much as she’s a journalist. She worked her way through high school and college as a waitress, started her own food blog, and has written food reviews for a Village Voice-owned publication.

These days, she keeps busy writing for a national trade publication and managing the social media networks of websites like Money Talks News. (Say hi to her the next time you’re on our Facebook or Twitter.) But in her free time, Dori still enjoys cooking homemade meals, trying new restaurants, and tweeting about it.

She recently talked to me about how she saves money on food. These are Dori’s top tips for grocery shopping…

  1. Clip coupons. No, really. Coupons can save you more money at the supermarket than perhaps anywhere else simply because of how many grocery coupons are out there. “I don’t care if I’m 25. I clip coupons like my coupon queen Grandma taught me to,” Dori says. If you’re too lazy to clip coupons the old-fashioned way or too cheap to buy the Sunday newspaper – which can actually pay for itself in savings – there’s still no excuse. It only takes a minute or two to check coupon websites like Coupons.com and SmartSource.com, the coupons page of your local grocery stores, and aggregators like our Deals page.
  2. Check ads. Dori and I both read the weekly ads of our local grocery stores. A few minutes each week can save you several bucks, if not more, each time you go grocery shopping. The best way to find the ads of the stores you frequent is to go right to their website. If you still have trouble finding them, do a web search for the store name and the words “weekly ad” or “store ad.” (Sometimes the word “circular” works better than “ad.”)
  3. Use mobile apps. Many retail chains have their own free apps these days. Dori uses Publix’s app to stay on top of their weekly buy-one-get-one-free deals. Other grocery stores with free apps include Aldi and Kroger. To find out if your local grocery stores have apps, Google for the store name and the words “mobile app” or search your smartphone’s app store.
  4. Shop around. “While it’s a hassle to go around to three or four different stores to get the best deals, sometimes I save a lot more than the convenience of going to one store,” Dori says. If you don’t have time to visit multiple stores, shop around online. For an introduction to e-grocery shopping, check out The Cheapest Groceries Online.
  5. Track your spending. “I didn’t realize how much money I was spending on food until I got on Mint.com,” Dori admits. “I know Money Talks News has talked about budgeting before, but once people get acquainted with how their money is getting spent, it really helps them cut back on spending on worthless items and putting more effort into saving. Getting on Mint was actually the No. 1 thing that helped me get a new car.”

Want to be quoted in one of my next articles? Leave a comment below or on Facebook or email me with your single best piece of advice for saving money while eating out.

Karla Bowsher runs our Deals page, writes “Today’s Deals” posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and covers consumer and retail issues. If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, leave a comment below or contact her at karla@moneytalksnews.com.

Stacy Johnson

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  • One thing you didn’t mention was to consider buying generic store brands of merchandise, especially when it comes to products that are heavily advertised on TV.  I have found that I can’t tell the difference in taste between the big name rasin bran and the local store brand and I can save as much as $2 per box by buying generic.  You can save even more if you buy a bulk bag of cereal instead of boxes.  I’ve even found that I like the bulk honeyed puffed wheat better than the big name boxed version and it stays fresher in a zip lock bag instead of a box.

    As for shopping around, I decided to try a local discount branch of Save-A-Lot and see if I could really save A LOT!  I was hesitant at first to buy a lot of anything because I was unfamiliar with the brands so I bought just one of things I buy regularly to try them.  I found the canned green beans tasted as good as the more familiar brand I was used to and cost almost half as much.  Canned milk was another winner.  Coburg Farms evaporated milk taste as good as Carnation and sold for 89 cents compared to $1.29 – $1.49 for Carnation.  I found I saved up to $2 per item on some of the meat items and the produce was tasty and cost about half of the price of produce at the big name grocery stores.  Very nice Braeburn apples sold for 69¢ per lb. when at the two big name grocery stores the same variety of apple sold for $1.29 – $1.99 per lb.

    I’ve learned over time what items I can purchase at the discount grocery and what items I must get elsewhere (usually because I need something that is not a common product variety like HE laundry soap because I have a washing machine that requires an HE soap formulation) and I estimate my monthly savings at $100-$150 for a monthly supply of groceries for just two people.

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