Looking to save money at the grocery store?
Groceries are a big part of any household budget and they are plain expensive. If you’re trying to figure out how to save on groceries and how to cut your grocery bill, then you’re in the right place!
These money saving tips are simple and can be put into action almost immediately. It just takes some discipline, organizing and planning.
1. Meal Planning
Meal planning is a great way to save money grocery shopping since you only buy what you plan to eat that week. It helps you narrow down your grocery list and stick to what you NEED to buy.
I have only started meal planning this month and I feel so much more organized now that we meal plan every week. I consult with my family and we all suggest meals for the upcoming week, then I use our meal plan to write a proper grocery list.
You can browse your meals, double check your pantry for ingredients you are missing and base your grocery list on this. It helps you eliminate all unnecessary items, prevents you from impulse buys and reduces wastage at home! By getting the ingredients that you need for the week only, you will no longer end up with rotting veggies that get thrown out when you don’t use it.
In addition to saving on groceries, meal planning helps me save time too. That’s a busy win for a busy mom like me! Meal planning takes the guessing out of things. I just post our meal plan on the fridge and we know exactly what we’re going to cook each day.
Meal plan and stick to it! You’ll see the rewards as your grocery bill reduces and your savings account grows! We saved ₱1,350 from our grocery budget this month because of meal planning. If we can do it, I know you can too.
2. Prepare a Grocery List
When you are shopping at a grocery store, chances are you would end up going over your budget if you won’t bring a list with you. Thus, it is a good idea to make a list of all the things that you really need. Take note of the prices of the grocery items or refer to your price book so that you can have an idea how much you are going to spend when you buy your groceries.
3. Try different grocery stores and compare the prices
Shopping at multiple stores may seem like a hassle but it will help you get the best price on everything on your list. If you do all your grocery shopping at one store, no matter which store, you’re definitely going to be overpaying for at least some items.
There’s no single store that has the best deals on everything. Each of the six supermarkets near our place had better deals on some products than others, and none of them had the best prices on every product.
The six supermarkets near our place are:
- Daily Supermarket
- Robinsons (formerly Shopwise)
- SM Supermarket
The problem is, shopping lists generally contain dozens of grocery items every month. So how can you possibly keep track of which store has the best price on every item you buy?
What I did was – I checked the most recent receipts from our grocery shopping and I made a price book where I write down the items that I buy most frequently and their prices. With a price book in hand, I can comparison shop for every item on my list, just like I do for big purchases.
I use a small notebook to record the regular price for each item on my grocery list at each store. Then, I transfer it to a spreadsheet to make it even easier for me to see at a glance which store had the best price on any item on my list.
Here are some of the items in my price book. I didn’t include the size and unit price of the items in this table but they have the same brand and size.
|PF Corned Beef||96.75||93.50||95.00|
|PF Luncheon Meat||82.50||87.50||76.00||84.50|
|Mitra Cooking Oil||90.50||85.50|
It takes a little work to set up, but once you’ve done it, you have prices for all the items you buy at your fingertips. This allows you to plan shopping trips to take advantage of the best deals at each store. You’ll know what to buy where.
I remember, few months ago, I bought Ceelin Plus for my daughter at Puregold for ₱277. Outside Puregold, there’s Mercury Drugstore and the price of Ceelin Plus was ₱292. That’s a ₱15-peso difference!
I made my own conclusion that items including vitamins are cheaper at the supermarket than at the drugstore.
Last month, I bought Ceelin Plus at Savemore for ₱292.75. I saw Watsons on my way out of the grocery, and I asked the price of Ceelin Plus. I was surprised when the cashier told me that it’s only ₱279.00. It’s ₱13.75 cheaper at Watsons than at Savemore!
It only goes to show that items may not always be cheaper at the grocery. Next time, even if I already know what to buy where, I’ll make sure to ask first before I purchase Ceelin Plus! 🙂
Another tip, avoid buying items at the Convenience Stores. The same red wine in the table above costs ₱220 at 7-Eleven. You’ll save ₱40-₱60 when you buy it at the grocery store than at the convenience store.
In addition to everyday savings, your price book can also help you determine how good a sale price really is. For instance, if you see that a 3-piece Safeguard soap bundle is on sale for ₱150 at Robinsons, but your price book says the regular price at Savemore is only ₱140, you know the sale price isn’t actually a good deal.
Having a price book can help you every time you shop. If you need just one item, you can check your price book to find out which store sells it for the lowest price. If you need only a couple of items and only want to make one trip, you can check the prices of each item in your price book, add them up, and determine where they cost the least in total.
If you have a longer list of groceries to buy, you can compare the prices on all of them and figure out how much they differ from store to store. If the differences are fairly small, you can choose the store that has the best prices overall and pick up everything in one trip. On the other hand, if some of the items you want are much cheaper at one store and others are much cheaper at a different store, you could decide that it’s worth visiting both stores to maximize your savings.
4. Check the PROMO Aisle and Take Advantage of Clearance Offers
Most grocery stores usually have a small display of ‘PROMO’ items in one of the aisles. I always check to see what’s available, to see if it matches up with our meal plan for the week or if some items on our grocery list are on sale.
Many groceries sell items that have little dents or scratches at a reduced price! Some also offer good deals and slashed prices on items that are expiring soon. They basically want to get rid of the goods quickly because once the expiry dates reach, they need to pull the items from the shelves. You can snatch these up and use them in your meal planning way before the products expire.
Don’t worry, you are NOT actually purchasing expired items. As long as you’re not buying opened or compromised products for consumption, you’re good to go. No frugal habit is worth risking your health!
Another tip: Ignore eye-level items. Why? The most expensive items on the grocery shelves tend to be right at your eye level. So look up and down as you shop. The more affordable brands could be higher or lower on the shelves.
5. Try the Store Brand
If you’re only buying name brand products, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to save. Store brands often are just as good as name brands but at a fraction of the price. In many cases, the products are manufactured in the same facility but packaged differently.
Next time you go grocery shopping, make it a point to try one or two store brand items. Once you’ve found a few substitutions that work for you and your family, consider trying other store brand options. Go one-by-one through each item that you buy regularly and try a generic equivalent.
For some items, you’ll find something that you like just as well (or better); for others, you may end up going back to the name brand. The more generic alternatives you can swap out, the lower your grocery bill.
6. Shop at the less expensive grocery stores
You probably already know the grocery stores around your town that are generally less expensive and those that are more. So why do you shop at the more expensive stores?
Is it to impress people—in case you might see someone you know? Is it to feel good that you can “afford” the food at the more expensive place? Wouldn’t you rather feel great that you have saved up enough for your emergency fund or you have started investing in the stock market or mutual fund this year to help you enjoy an awesome retirement, contributed substantially to your child’s college fund, or paid for your next amazing vacation with cash?
My husband and I have been considering signing up for a membership card with S&R and Landers, but we think we’re not ready for it yet. There are just so many other things we would rather spend our money on. Plus, we’re still saving up for our Emergency Fund and Sinking Funds.
7. Use Rewards Points and Vouchers
There are grocery stores which offer customer rewards programs. If the store that you usually purchase items from offer one, consider signing up to earn points.
Even if the prices of some items at Savemore are a bit more expensive than the other stores, I still consider shopping there because I have SM Advantage Card that allows me to earn rewards points which can be as good as cash when I have enough points.
For example, last month, I used my SM Advantage card rewards points to buy some items at Watsons worth ₱313.
Although it takes some time to rack up some points, it can still provide you with something, which can help you extend your budget. Aside from that, some of these reward programs can also give you coupons or vouchers and discounts on certain items.
I also suggest that you take time checking the labels of the items you buy at the grocery. Sometimes, there are vouchers that are readily available for redemption.
For example, while I was unpacking our groceries at home, I noticed that this bear brand came with a voucher. I followed the instructions and I got ₱40 Gcash voucher which I was able to redeem on our next trip to the grocery.
8. Try Online Shopping
My husband and I like grocery shopping. It’s one of our stress relievers and we enjoy walking the aisles, picking the items from the shelves, and checking off our grocery list. We haven’t really considered online grocery shopping, but I did try buying one grocery item on Lazada during the 11.11 sale. 🙂
Yes, just one grocery item and it’s the Yamang Bukid Turmeric Tea. The regular price of this item at the grocery is ₱380, but I only bought it for ₱276 online with free shipping. But I have to be honest, I also bought non-grocery items on Lazada during the sale, but I made sure it was worth the wait and the money! 🙂
Like this one. This is a big purchase and the original price of this item at the hardware store is around ₱8,000. During the Lazada 11.11 Sale, the price was only ₱5,799. After using all my available vouchers, I only paid ₱5,288 for this item. I saved a total of ₱2,718!
If time equals money, buying online will definitely help you save. No more wandering the aisles and standing in lines at the cashier. If you’re not in the store, you’re not tempted by things you don’t need. You can comparison shop without driving from store to store and checkout takes just a click or two.
If you’re having the groceries delivered, you’re saving the money you’d spend on gas to get to the store. If you pay a delivery fee, you can easily figure whether that costs more than your gas would have.
But, there are also some downsides to online grocery shopping. You might not get everything on your list, you don’t get to pick the perfect produce, shipping may take a few hours to days, and you won’t have the “joy of the hunt.” You also might miss out on deals only available in the store. If that’s a deal breaker for you, consider buying the basics online or at the grocery store for a good deal and visiting your local wet market for fresh fruits and vegetables.
The bottom line is – do what works for your family and is best for your budget. If you enjoy grocery shopping, like us, and scouring the aisles for deals, go for it! Otherwise, see if an online service is worth checking out—it may just save you time and money.
9. Use a Cashback Credit Card for your Groceries
I don’t normally recommend using credit cards for grocery shopping, but if you have the discipline not to go over budget or to buy your wants more than your needs, you can pay your groceries using your credit card and start earning cashback and rewards.
I have a few credit cards and I use them depending on their deals or promos.
For example, last September, I earned a total of ₱1,247 cashback when HSBC offered a grocery cash back on top of the regular cashback for my credit card purchases.
I also receive cashback and other rewards occasionally from my other credit cards including Jollibee e-vouchers from BPI, Yellow Cab pizza vouchers from Citibank, Tim Hortons coffee e-vouchers and Lazada vouchers from HSBC.
I used my cashback to pay my credit card purchases, I used my Lazada vouchers to purchase items during the 11.11 sale, I treated my family using my Yellow Cab and Jollibee vouchers, and I donated my Tim Hortons coffee vouchers to our medical frontliners.
However, if you don’t have a credit card or if you don’t want to use a credit card for your groceries, that’s totally fine. Stick to your budget, pay with cash, and I’m sure you’ll end up with a lower grocery bill.
When you go to the store with cash in hand, you know exactly how much you can spend because once the cash runs out, that’s it!
10. Be smart when buying items in bulk
Sometimes, buying in bulk saves us money because it’s offered at a cheaper price or we get an item or two for free. But the question is, do you need all of it? Or are you going to use or consume it immediately?
For example, you bought a bulk of canned goods. Instead of paying ₱50 each, you only paid ₱400 for a box of 10. Yay! You saved ₱100.
Three months later, you realized that you have only eaten 5 and the rest are already expired. Aww! Or let’s say they’re expiring within the week, would you force yourself to eat the remaining 5 just so it won’t end up in the trash? Or would you give it to others?
If this is the case, do you think it’s worth buying in bulk? As tempting as it is to stock up, don’t buy more than you really need.
11. Bring your own grocery bags
When you have a bunch of reusable bags at your place, then you can bring it with you when you buy your groceries. Some grocery stores even offer discounts, tokens, or coupons if you bring your own bag for your purchased goods. By doing that, you won’t just be saving money, but you could also be saving the world by using lesser plastic bags.
Most grocery stores charge ₱2 for every plastic bag. It may seem like a small amount, but it’s still an expense and it adds up overtime. When I go grocery shopping, I always make sure that I have my own grocery bag or I ask the cashier/bagger to put my groceries in a box which is free of charge.
12. Go to the grocery store after eating and not before
When you go to a store to shop for groceries, it is always best to do it after grabbing a snack, or eating lunch. This is because shopping in groceries when you are hungry can make you purchase food items, which you really do not need. In most cases, when you get home from shopping and eat lunch, you would realize later on that you have gone over your budget, for taking in too many food items.
Sometimes, we avoid going to Daily Supermarket even if most of the items there are cheaper than Savemore, because there are restaurants and food stalls along the way and more often than not, we end up buying something before or after grocery shopping.
I don’t mind buying it, but you know, sometimes it’s unnecessary especially if we have just eaten at home or if we have a tight budget. We may have saved ₱5 or ₱10 from the groceries, but we ended up paying more because of the additional items we bought outside the grocery.
13. Avoid the vending machine
When you want a snack and you visit the vending machine for it, most likely, you would be paying a lot more for the food that you eat, than if you were buying them from the grocery store. Therefore, the next time you purchase goods from the grocery, make sure to include your snack food items.
Put some in your locker at the office so that every time you feel like eating snacks, you don’t have to go to the vending machine. Have some snacks like biscuits or candies in your bag too so that in case you get caught in a heavy traffic and you get hungry, you have something to eat immediately.
Sometimes, when you’re hungry, you may not be able to think about saving money anymore. All you want is to buy whatever is available no matter how much it is.
14. Reduce your number of shopping trips
One of the best things you can do to save money on groceries is to shop less often. The less often you’re in the store, the less often you’re tempted to buy more than you intended. And the best way to do that is to start planning your meals and to shop for what you can online
15. Walk towards the grocery store
The price of gasoline these days continue to go up, which is why it is a good idea to come up with ways to lessen your vehicle usage. One of which would be to walk towards the grocery store, especially if it is just a few blocks or steps away from your house. Make it fun by walking with your spouse or child, so that aside from saving money, you both can also shed some weight.
I’m glad that there are 5 grocery stores in our our area. There’s Savemore which is just a few blocks away from our house and which only takes 5 minutes for me to walk going there; there’s Daily Supermarket which is a bit farther, but I can definitely walk going there for about 10-15 minutes; and there’s Isetan Supermarket, which is a few steps away from Daily Supermarket but offers great deals.
How much do I save?
- ₱0 – If I walk from the house to the grocery store, I don’t have to spend anything for gas or transpo.
- Advantage – I save money, I get to exercise which is good for my health
- Disadvantage – I spend more time walking
- ₱18 – If I commute by riding the tricycle going to Savemore or Daily, that would cost me ₱18 one way.
- Advantage – I save money than when I drive my own car, I save time, No need to park the car
- Disadvantage – I still spend money
- ₱30-50 – If I drive the car, that would cost me around ₱30-50 for gas consumption and ₱20-50 tip for the parking boy if there’s one.
- Advantage – It’s convenient, I save time
- Disadvantage – I spend more money for gas, and sometimes, it’s hard to find a parking space, which eats up my time and my gas!
Each of these options has its pros and cons. So, it’s up to you decide which option works best for you. If you’re a busy person and you don’t have time to walk, I suggest you commute. You may spend money, but you save time by not having to walk and find a parking slot. If you have a car and you have more time, then you may bring it and enjoy the convenience of having your own car.
If you don’t have a car, or you’re short on budget and and you want to save money by not commuting, and you like the idea of exercising, I guess you know what to do. Walk! 🙂
16. Learn to say NO
If your kids are quite fond of telling you what they want at the grocery store or at the toy store, then you should practice saying no to them. Aside from that, you should also learn to say no to your friends, if they want you to go out with them for drinks. Saying no would not just feel liberating, but it can also help you save some dough.
My seven-year old daughter now knows what she wants when we’re at the grocery. She’d pick pencils, crayons, chocolates, cookies, junk food, or anything that’s appealing to her. When I say no, sometimes, she’d throw a tantrum. But I learned to divert her attention to something else and before she knew it, we’re already at home.
17. Grow your own Food at Home
This might not be for everyone, but if you can grow your own vegetables in your garden, you’re sure to save money at the grocery store.
In our garden, we have eggplants, okra, sili, alugbati, and more! We don’t have to buy them anymore. We just go out and grab them from our garden.
That’s it! These are 17 of the best tips on how to save money on groceries! Using a combination of these grocery shopping tips will definitely help you cut your grocery bills.
Try one of these tips, and you could be pleasantly surprised by how much cash stays in your pocket! That means more cash to pay down debt, save up for emergency fund, invest for the future, or save for something fun—like a nice meal out where someone else cooks and cleans up.
Do you have any other frugal tips for the grocery store? Share and comment below! I’d love to hear from you!