The One Thing You Should Definitely Be Doing to Save Money on Groceries

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Woman wearing a protective face mask browsing the frozen food section while shopping at a supermarket.
Credit: Ivan Gener | Stocksy

As we continue to tentatively dip our toes into the waters of 2021, we’ll admit they’re a whole lot murkier than we’d hoped. The virus is at yet another peak, we’re still unable to gather and celebrate with friends and family, and an alarming amount of people are suffering financial hardship — especially when it comes to buying groceries.

Because we write a lot about groceries here at Kitchn, we want to take a slightly new approach this year. In 2021, we’re setting monthly “Grocery Goals,” which are digestible ways to incrementally change our shopping budgets and habits. (We’re setting January’s a bit late in the month, yes, but we figured it’s nice to space these resolutions out from others. And it’s a quick and easy one.) For many, this month’s goal might seem obvious (consider this goal finished, if you already do it!). For others, it might be the reminder you needed. This month’s goal: Join your grocery store’s loyalty program.

While there are tons of tiny ways to save money at the grocery store (we can think of at least 80 of them!), signing up for a store-specific rewards program is an immediate, and free, way to access savings meant for loyal shoppers. While not every single grocery store has one (we’re still waiting on Trader Joe’s to get in on the action), strategically taking advantage of the programs at other stores you frequent can make an impact.

While a few dollars of savings here and there might not seem like they’ll add up — we can assure you they do. Earlier this month, Kitchn contributor Nilina Mason-Campbell taught us just how immensely powerful this simple action can be. For Nilina, joining Safeway’s “just for U” program has helped her see a savings of up to 50 percent on certain grocery trips. (Yes, you read that right.)

No matter where you shop, make sure to check whether or not your store has a loyalty program app. Couple this with a scan of the store’s weekly flyer or email blast so you know what items will score you the most savings before you check out. Another tip from Nilina? “Swing by the customer service desk to make sure that your phone number is linked to your account, so that you never have to worry about leaving your membership card at home.”

Whether you shop at Albertsons, Safeway, Sprouts, Whole Foods, Kroger, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, Stew Leonard’s, Wegmans, or somewhere else, make sure you’re signed up — and don’t leave any money on the table. Stop promising yourself that you’ll sign up “next time,” and then promptly forgetting!

Which rewards program do you belong to?