Shop Smart

13 Ways to Save Money Grocery Shopping

Is possible to sidestep the marketing and psychological tricks that grocery stores use to get you to spend more money?


The first way to shop smart is just to know and be aware of the ticks stores play. That is half the battle right there. Knowledge is power.

Here are a few more tips:

1. Eat real food as often as possible. Buy less prepackaged and processed food. They are more expensive.

2. Plan what you are going to eat for at least a few days at a time. Use the super market weekly ad to help do this. Build your meal plan around what is on sale. Then make a list of the food items you will need to make those meals. Only buy items on your list. At least that is what the experts say. And I agree. But I would add this caveat. Be flexible enough to take advantage of a great deal or markdown you may run into.

3. Shop alone. Especially don’t bring children with you. I know this tip is not always practical when you have young children. But the more people you have with you when you shop, the more likely you will stray from your list and end up spending more.


I think having one child at a time would work provided you had them help you with some grocery shopping tasks.  Children like to feel useful and this would be one way to do that. This is a topic worth exploring more. Maybe I will do a post on this.

4. Eat before you go to the grocery store. Don’t go hungry. Research has shown people who go to the store hungry buy more and make more impulse purchases. I have noticed with myself this is all too true.

5. Compare brands. Store brands and generic brands are often less expensive than brand names. Often times these items will be found on the lower shelves or on the top shelves. Stores tend to place the most expensive items at eye level. Also, don’t forget to check the unit price. Sometimes the smaller size package is the better value.

6. Use coupons for the items on your list. Try to pair a good coupon with store sales to maximize the savings. Some stores also have double coupons up to 99 cents.

7. Here are some very expensive items you should try to avoid if at all possible:

Salad kits*

Individual servings of anything

Trail mix (Make your own. It will be cheaper.)

Powdered and prepared iced teas (But I love Arizona teas. )

Bottled water

Box rice entrees & side dish mixes

Tomato based pasta sauces

I know, sometimes convenience just trumps cost. That’s life. Sometimes I buy these items too. Even using less of these items will save you money.

*One thing I don’t buy is bagged lettuce. E.V.E.R. Too often it is already wilting and rotting in the bag. Plus there have been too many recalls of these products. In fact, there have been several recently. RECALLS: Fresh Express Veggie Lovers this month. And last month it was Fresh Express Romaine lettuce. To read more about these recalls, click here.

8. Use discount bread stores if your community has one.

9. Use discount stores for paper products and staples. Use dollar stores for health and beauty products.

Paper products like napkins and paper towels are very expensive. Consider using more cloth napkins and cloth kitchen towels if you really want to save money.

I use cloth kitchen towels as much as I can. I do use paper too, just not so often. I have about 30 cloth kitchen towels purchased over several years. That is normally about a month’s worth. So I only have to wash them once a month. Since I started doing this I do save money.

10. Buy day old meat.

11. Grow a garden.

12. Don’t purchase non-food items at the grocery store. Usually you can find them elsewhere for less.

13. Watch the scanner screen as your groceries are rung up. Sometimes the correct price is not in the computer. Let the cashier know right away. Some stores have a guarantee if the scanner price is wrong you get the item for free. Check.

It is probably not practical for most of us in this day and age to do all of these suggestions all of the time. But even if you just try half of these ideas some of the time, you will begin to save some money. And while what you save may not add up to a fortune, in today’s economy every little bit helps.

Featured Recipe:   Bruschetta

This is one of the easiest and simplest recipes you can make. It is also one of the most delicious.

This is also a great recipe for hot and humid days, like those we are experiencing right now in the Midwest, when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen too much. Serve this with a salad and you have a complete meal.

This recipe is also a great finger-food or party recipe. Just use smaller bread like a French baguette. As a party food it is fun to make these little bundles of taste with your guests. Get them involved in the process. That is what a party is all about, having fun and laughing it up.

This is also a good recipe to use for cooking with children. Depending on their age, you will do the chopping. But they can assemble the Bruschetta adding what they want.

This recipe is an easy, great and delicious way to use up tomatoes at the end of the season.

You can make just the classic, basic recipe as I have here. (This is my favorite.) Or you can add all sorts of other things you like; chopped black olives, cheese, chopped anchovies to name just a few. Anything you want or have left over in your fridge.

This is what you will need for 3 people:

Good crusty or rustic bread

3 tomatoes ~ I am using Roma here but any will do.

1-2 Cloves garlic

Olive oil (about 1 tablespoon per slice of bread)

Basil (about 1 stalk)

Salt & pepper

Here is what you do:

Slice the bread on a diagonal.

Peel the garlic.

Chop your tomatoes.

Slice the basil in thin strips.

QUESTION: Is there anything that smells as sweet as fresh sliced basil? My taste buds salivate in anticipation of eating this.

We are almost at the eating stage. But not quite yet. Just a few more details………

I like to get an assembly line going becasue you have to move fast in assembling this if you want to eat the Bruschetta hot ~ highly recommended.

Toast the bread. I use my toaster oven because it does not get the house as hot as the oven.

When the bread is toasted remove from the oven (I recommend using a towel as the bread will be very hot) and immediately while still hot rub the cut garlic over the hot bread.

ANSWER: In answer to my question about the aroma of basil, the answer is YES. There is something that smells even beter than that. It is garlic. I love the smell of garlic being rubbed on hot toast. It is soooooooooooooooooo wonderful. Now I so want to eat this Bruschetta.

ASIDE: You can tell from the above, cooking and eating for me is a five-senses activity.  I touch the food, I smell it, I see it, I hear the garlic rubbing the toast, and then  finally, the best part, I taste it.

I don’t think we ever get over playing with our food as adults. We just find more ingenious, creative, and socially acceptable ways of doing it.

OK. I have rambled enough, back to the recipe.

After rubbing the hot toast with garlic, add your tomatoes.

Next drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes. I do it now so that the salt & pepper are not washed off and the basil does not get wimpy. I hate wimpy basil.

Now add a bit of salt and pepper, and then add the basil.

Last of all, bite into a little slice of heaven right here on earth. Repeat process until you are sated.

After eating something so scrumptious I almost hate having to deal with something so mundane as cost. But I must do my duty with a happy frame of mind.


Good crusty bread        $2.19

3 tomatoes                  $1.11

Garlic                         $0.20

Olive oil                      $1.00

Basil                           $0.75

Salt & pepper

Total cost = $5.25
Cost per person = $1.75

Bon Appetit, dear friends!!!!

Quote of the Day:   Ever consider what pets must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul – chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we’re the greatest hunters on earth!
Anne Tyler

Print Friendly

1 comment to Shop Smart