3 Ideas for Saving Money on Groceries (That You’ve Probably Never Heard Before)

updated Dec 17, 2019
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Have you ever gone to the store to pick up “just a few things” and balked as your cheery checkout clerk told you the total was more than $100? Yeah, me too. Even when you have a smart shopping list and a plan, it’s easy to get derailed or just spend money where you don’t need to.

That’s why we rounded up these surprising tips for stretching your budget a little further. They all go beyond the tips you’ve heard for years (don’t shop hungry, compare unit price, shop generic brands, institute meatless Mondays, pay in cash, blah, blah, blah). Not only are they sure to teach you something new, but they’re also sure to save you money!

1. Take five things out of your shopping cart before you check out.

This tip comes from Jennifer Faherty, certified financial planner, money coach, and founder of Financial Wealth-Being, who says most of her clients could be saving more on food. She suggests taking a hard look at your shopping cart once you’re ready to check out — and putting five items back. The idea is that, even if you have a list, you probably picked up a few spontaneous purchases.

2. Stick to foods that are $1 per pound or less.

Jeff Yeager, a personal finance expert and author, is slightly irreverent and has a rule that really stands out to me: He says that most of the food you should buy is $1 a pound or less. That goes for produce but also, say, yogurt and meat. If it sounds impossible to you, know this: Jeff lives in the very-expensive Washington, DC, area and he makes his rule work there.

3. Go to the store with two bags: one for produce, one for everything else.

Our friends over at The Financial Diet shared this tip and all the editors at Kitchn took a collective gasp! “I bring a large bag that is specifically for fruits and veggies, and I cannot get anything else until that bag is full,” one of them said. “I do carry another bag with me, and all my non-fruits and vegetables (both frozen and fresh) must fight for space in that one extra bag.” This way, she doesn’t buy more than she needs — and she forces herself to load up on the good stuff.

Do you have any surprising tips to share? Beyond the ones we’ve all heard again and again? Leave them in the comments below!