Grocery prices have me out here sweating this summer, and not because of the heat.
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Luckily, my time as a supermarket cashier in high school did teach me a few things about saving money while shopping for food and household necessities.
Here are some of those tips that can really make a difference.
1. Check out all the grocery stores in your area and choose wisely.
Most shoppers are tempted to run to the closest spot, but many times, convenience can cost you. Sometimes, shopping for specialty items in different stores from your staples can also help you save.
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2. Buy more frozen and canned veggies (especially if you’re throwing out unused fresh veggies at the end of the week).
Some people are ambitious shoppers and can’t get through as many fresh fruits and veggies as they buy, creating unnecessary food waste. If you’ve recognized the pattern in yourself and are looking to save, think about subbing in frozen or canned products for those veggies whenever possible.
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3. Get your spices elsewhere.
Supermarkets are great for a lot of things, but spices aren’t one of them. You can easily find cheaper spices at many dollar stores and international markets.
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4. Buy your staples in bulk if you’re able.
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Not everyone has the luxury of space, but if you can buy things like beans, rice, oatmeal, etc., in bulk, it’s a great place to save a few bucks. If you’re thinking about buying meat in bulk, a vacuum sealer can help protect your investment.
5. Explore all your different options for protein.
Many people look to meat for their protein, but meat is pricey. Beans, eggs, and canned fish are some of the many cheaper alternatives you can use in recipes you already love.
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6. Track the prices on your staples.
Pay attention to what you’re paying for the items that frequently appear on your list. It makes it easy to tell if prices are going up for a normal, recurring reason or for other reasons, but knowing may allow you to find better prices elsewhere.
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7. Shop the sales, but pay attention.
It may feel great to get that item on sale, but if it’s on sale because it’s going to expire before you plan to use it, it’s just money wasted.
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8. Join all of your store’s coupon apps and reward programs.
Those little keychains can save you some big bucks, and now they don’t even have to live in your pocket. Thanks to technology, you can get a lot of savings with minimal effort with store apps, coupon apps, and store reward programs.
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9. Learn how to cook your prepackaged favorites from scratch.
There’s convenience in prepackaged foods, but if you really like certain meals, learning how to make them from scratch will save you money in the long run.
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10. Check out the damaged and discounted items.
Many markets have a shelf in the back that features items that are discounted because of damage or being close to expiration. For nonperishable items, such as cans and cereal boxes, this can be a place that makes a pretty big difference to your pocket without making a difference in your culinary experience.
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11. Shop later at night.
Some supermarkets discount items in the last hour or two of their day so that there’s less waste at the end of the night. You can score savings, ideally on items you plan to use relatively soon.
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12. The rotisserie chicken is a seriously great value.
Many people can get multiple meals out of one rotisserie chicken. You can also boil the carcass to make broth.
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13. Don’t sleep on store brands.
A lot of people have reservations about store brand items, but just try them. You may not choose them every time, but the times you do, you’ll save.
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14. Avoid things that are in any way pre-prepared.
Buying your garlic minced, or buying a stir-fry mix instead of chopping up veggies yourself may seem convenient, but it’s also more expensive. Sometimes, devoting a few more minutes can make all the difference.
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15. Stay away from the snacks by the register.
You’d be surprised how many people can’t resist the temptation of that candy bar or little bag of chips. These items are rarely discounted and can end up adding up fast.
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16. Bring your own bags!
Many stores are charging extra for bags nowadays, whether they’re offering paper or plastic or you’re forced to buy their reusable bags. Getting in the habit of bringing your own can save you money and precious space in your house.
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17. Talk to your cashier!
We are people, too, and knowledgeable ones at that. If there’s a new way to get savings, your cashier will have the scoop.
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Fellow employees and survivors of places where foods are sold, share your secrets! There’s no gatekeeping allowed in this comment section.