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Want to slash your grocery tab? Saving money on groceries is easier than collecting binders of coupons and buying 455 rolls of toilet paper.
We’ve compiled a list of simple (and some unexpected) tips to help you maximize your grocery budget.
1. You Don’t Make a List
This is grocery shopping 101, y’all. Did you seriously think you could walk into Piggly Wiggly unchecked and somehow waltz back to the car with only the necessities?
You know that fancy olive bar lures you in you every time. You know that Sunday dinner you’re planning requires an oddly measured ingredient whose name you’ll probably forget.
Stop trusting yourself to make good decisions on the fly!
Making a list cuts down on the time you’ll spend crisscrossing the store trying to remember everything you need. Making a list also helps you stick to a budget, especially when you think ahead to deal-stack coupons and rebates.
If you’re not making a grocery list — I don’t care if it’s on the fanciest notepad in the world or on the back of an old envelope — you’re not doing yourself any favors.
2. You Don’t Turn Those Crumpled Grocery Receipts Into Free Gift Cards
What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, they hand you a mile-long piece of paper and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.
But a free app called Fetch Rewards will turn your receipts into gift cards. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for prepaid cards for Visa and MasterCard.
And it’s perfect for those of us who don’t want to put a ton of work into this. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.
When you download the app, use the code PENNY to get a bonus towards your first gift card.
When your budget is at its limit, these cards can go a long way on your next grocery run. Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?
3. You Don’t Get Take This Free $225 With You
If we told you that before you head to the grocery store, you could get paid to watch cooking videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh.
It’s too good to be true, right?
But we’re serious. A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch a chef teach you the recipe for fudge brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.
All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut onto you.
It’s possible to earn up to $225 per month watching these videos — that could make a serious dent in your grocery bill.
Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards — and it’s already paid its users more than $56 million.
It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonus to get you started.
4. You Don’t Get a Box of Free Samples Every Month
What if we told you there was a way to get a box of samples each month — from leading brands like Olay, Tide, Purina, V8 — and in exchange, all you’d need to do is share your honest feedback?
PINCHme promises to do just that.
When we registered, we found out we could choose from samples of ZzzQuil Sleep-Aid, Purina One Tender Selects Cat food, Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt Dressing, and a V8 Veggie Blend Juice and +Energy 2 pack (these were full size samples).
But, the samples change each month, and options vary based on your profile and location.
We love that PINCHme sends the samples to you (who doesn’t get excited about mail?) and doesn’t require a credit card to sign up or payment for shipping.
Once you fill out your profile, PINCHme presents you with relevant samples it has available.
Then next month, just rinse and repeat.
5. You Dont Get Free Food
Here’s one of our favorite ways to cut grocery costs: Sign up for Pillsbury.com emails. You’ll get up to $250 in yearly coupons, access to free product samples (quantities limited, one per member) and the easiest recipes sent right to your inbox.
And if you need more coupons? Get someone else in your house to sign up. That’s $500 worth of savings.
6. You Don’t Get Paid For Buying Your Dry Goods Online
Some people find the grocery store relaxing, but if you have a massive shopping list, it can easily become overwhelming. Next thing you know, you’re lugging out hundreds of pounds of groceries — or at least that’s what it feels like.
Make life easier for yourself (and your arms) by buying your pantry and dry goods online — and earn cash bonuses along the way.
A free website called Rakuten has connections with more than 2,500 stores, which means it can give you a cash kickback when you shop at one. When we checked, we found cash-back deals at Amazon, Safeway, Sam’s Club, Boxed and Walmart.
It takes less than 60 seconds to create a Rakuten account. All you need is an email address. Plus, if you use Rakuten to earn money back within the first 90 days of signing up, it’ll give you an extra $10.
Now you don’t have to worry about fitting that 36-pack of toilet paper in your trunk or hauling a box of cat litter across the store. Just have someone deliver it to your door and earn cash back along the way!
Actual amount earned will vary, depending on a number of factors. You’ll see how much you earned after each delivery and exactly how your earnings were calculated.
7. You Don’t Check the Unit Price
Bigger is always better, right? Maybe, but it’s not always cheaper.
Don’t blindly choose the largest can of coffee or bottle of detergent just because someone taught you once that buying in bulk will help you save.
Do a unit-price comparison. The unit price is often located on the price tag affixed to the shelf below the product, with phrasing like “$0.59 per ounce.”
If the unit price isn’t listed, divide the price of the item by the number of ounces or other unit of measurement. You might find that the smaller item is a better buy, especially if the product is on sale.
8. You Don’t Use This Credit Card
If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.
You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
The card also offers 5% cash-back on select rotating categories. For example, in one quarter, you can earn 5% cash back on gas. The next quarter? Groceries. The categories continue to rotate throughout the year.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire.
*The information for the Chase Freedom card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.
9. You Don’t Use This Free $20 at The Grocery Store
Did you know that Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts?
Here’s how it works: Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.
Bam. Cash back.
Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $20 sign-up bonus after redeeming your first 10 offers within 14 days.