The 8 Best Ways to Slash Your Grocery Bill Right Now

published Dec 13, 2022
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Cashier scanning items at grocery store
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This year, the rise in grocery prices made sticking to a budget increasingly more challenging. It also inspired (okay, forced) us to take a good look at our shopping strategies and find fresh ways to keep our spending in check. We chatted with financial experts, chefs, professional cooks, and budget-minded shoppers, to learn what they were doing to stretch their grocery dollars each week. And, wow, did they have a ton of helpful ideas to share, including a few old-school money-saving tips worth avoiding.

These eight savvy tips had a big impact on how we shopped and saved in 2022.

Credit: Katrina Wittkamp/Getty Images

1. Pick up produce in the freezer section.

Think fresh is better than frozen? That’s not always the case — especially when it comes to produce. Vegetables and fruit are flash frozen at peak ripeness, ensuring optimal nutrients when they’re defrosted. Even more surprisingly, studies show that fresh produce loses nutrient value after sitting on a store or refrigerator shelf for a couple of days. Most importantly, though, frozen produce is cheaper (even more so if you opt for the generic or store-brand option). Stocking your freezer with your favorite veggies can also make it easy to whip up an inexpensive stir-fry, omelette, or smoothie to keep you from ordering takeout.

Credit: Thomas Hoerup

2. Don’t shop hop to chase deals.

Long considered a solid strategy, driving from store to store to chase the best deals is one tactic Dr. Saboe-Wounded Head, an extension field specialist with South Dakota State University, advises against. Chances are the money you save on groceries won’t offset the time and gas money you spend traveling to and shopping at multiple stores. And then there’s the temptation factor. How many times have you gone into a store for three items and come out with four or more? You’re definitely not the only one.

3. Think outside your usual grocery store.

TV food personality, chef, and author Andrew Zimmern regularly includes his neighborhood’s Asian and Mexican grocery stores during his shopping trips. The quality of their produce and meat is top-notch, and it’s typically much less expensive than at chain stores. He lists mustard greens, bok choy, cabbage, garlic, shallots, ginger, bananas, apples, and oranges as his regular scores. Plus, you may even find a new favorite ingredient. “At my local Mexican supermarket, skirt steak was recently $11.99 a pound. That incredible cut isn’t available at any other supermarket in my city,” he notes.

4. Download the Flashfood app.

Do you shop at a retailer that partners with Flashfood? Frequent shopper and Grocery Diary participant, Bridget found out about the company earlier this year when she noticed a big industrial-sized fridge wrapped in Flashfood decals. The company partners with grocery stores in different parts of the country to help sell food that’s about to expire for 50 percent off (or sometimes more). She’s scored some incredible finds, including a box of 15 bell peppers for $5, rolls of puff pastry for $0.50, and big pieces of salmon for $2.50.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Start your meal planning with a bag of rice.

Easy-to-prepare grains, like rice, are the base of easy, affordable, and versatile meals. Associate Food Editor Cory Fernandez makes a big batch of rice on Sunday or Monday and then uses it throughout the week. You can create dozens of budget-friendly meals just by pairing rice with a simple protein, fresh or frozen vegetables (more on that below), and maybe a vibrant sauce.

Credit: Michele Metych

6. Buy your beef from a local farm and in bulk.

Do you live within driving distance to a local farm? Say, 100 miles or so. Then buying your meat in bulk is ideal for a few reasons: First, you know exactly where your meat comes from and how the animals were raised. You also save money by cutting out the proverbial middleman, plus you support the farm and, by extension, the local community. And finally, it can last you six months to one year (depending on your family). Of course, you may need to snag a chest freezer … if you don’t already have one.

Credit: Cory Woodruff

7. If you order your groceries online, opt to pick them up.

If you or someone in your home has a car, it is cheaper to order your groceries online and opt for curbside pickup than it is to have them delivered. By how much? It varies: The fees depend on the retailer, where you live, and how far the delivery person has to travel.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: CC Buckley

8. Give your virtual cart a final look … but not for the reason you think.

Shopping solely online made Michael mindful of what he calls “the convenience of clicking,” which is when he sees an advertised item or a “related product” and absentmindedly adds it to his cart. This can add up very quickly, so now he does a final run-through of his cart prior to checking out. He makes sure he has everything he needs, yes, but also to remove any extras that feel overly expensive.

Have a savvy budgeting tip you want to share? Tell us about it in the comments.