Whenever people ask me to help with their budgeting, one area I tend to focus on is groceries. We all need to buy groceries, but I find it amazing at how so many of us spend a small fortune on them.

You would think that having a high grocery bill means you’ll be eating healthy and saving money on eating out, but that’s rarely the case. There are many simple ways to save money on groceries without having to sacrifice your nutrition.

What to do before you go grocery shopping

Use flyers – Before you go grocery shopping always check your grocery store flyer, there are always great deals to be found. Retailers put their flyers online so you can easily plan your meals around any items on sale. The app Reebee also shows you all the flyers of grocery stores nearby making bargain hunting easy.

Price match – Now that you know all the different deals going on, it’s time to use that information to your knowledge. Instead of wasting your time going to multiple grocery stores, just bring in flyers to a store that does price matching. Most stores require you to bring in a physical flyer, so showing them your Reebee app won’t always work.

 Related: When a deal isn’t a deal

Meal plan – Meal planning is vital to saving money on groceries. When you plan your meals, you avoid food waste and impulse shopping. If you want to save even more money, plan your meals around items that are on sale.

Make a grocery list – With your meal plan in place it’ll be easy to create a grocery list. When shopping, stick to this list and avoid picking up any extra items.

Don’t waste food – Saving on groceries is easy as long as you’re not wasting food. Plan your meals every week and make different dishes with the groceries you have on hand.

ways to save money on groceries

Eat Less – I’m not saying starve yourself but think about cutting back on the amount of food you eat. Many of us overeat as it is, so it’ll actually benefit us if we practice portion control. At the very least, cut out any daily snacks you’ve been treating yourself to.

Drink more water – Not that juice/pop is very expensive but if you’re looking for ways to save money on groceries– every penny counts. Water is free, drink more of it.

Shopping at the grocery store

Avoid everything at the checkout counter – Small items in the checkout line are high markup items– avoid them at all costs. If you really need a pack of gum, buy a multi-pack, it’ll be much cheaper.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach – It’s impossible to save money on groceries if you go shopping when you’re hungry. We’re psychologically wired to pick up more items when we’re on an empty stomach.

Leave the kids at home – Many high markup items are positioned to be in plain view of kids. If kids see something they want, the odds are they’ll make a big fuss until mom or dad agrees to buy it. If you can, leave the kids at home when shopping at the grocery store.

grocery savings

Buy in bulk – Most of the time, buying in bulk offers much better value than buying the smallest size, so load up. Costco membership can offer good value just remember to calculate the cost per unit, as sometimes buying in bulk can cost you more.

Try store brands – Every store has a house brand that will always be cheaper than the name brand products. I admit that some of the house brand items taste terrible but often you’ll find items of the same quality.

Buy reduced items – When items are near their expiry date, grocery stores will often reduce prices just to clear them out. It’s actually perfectly safe to eat food past their “best before” date according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, just don’t expect the same freshness.

Shop at different stores – If you’re shopping exclusively at Metro, Loblaws, or Sobeys, you’re doing yourself a disservice. One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to shop at discount grocery stores such as No Frills, Price Chopper, and Fresh Co. These discount stores are owned by the larger companies, so you’ll find many of the same products with no loss in quality.

Use loyalty points – A few of the grocery stores have a loyalty program which offers grocery savings once you’ve accumulated a certain amount of points. If you shop at the same place on a regular basis you might as well sign up.

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Image courtesy: Taz & Calvin Chu via StockPholio.com