Tips & Tricks: Saving Money at the Grocery Store

30 Jun

Groceries are probably one of the biggest items on a family budget and the cost of food just keeps increasing. There are however a few ways that you can save a few cents or in some cases up to ten dollars on a single item.

Here are just a few ways to save your pennies:

  • Check out sales south of the border – Lots of things can be significantly cheaper in the US. See my post on that here.
  • Consult the flyers– Yes, this involves checking out the flyers each week but this is one of the best ways to consistently save

    Courtesy of TechEh

    money each week. If you don’t get flyers delivered to your door, all of the grocery stores have their flyers posted to their website. For those of you in Ontario (especially Ottawa), the Ottawa Citizen’s food guru Ron Eade actually does most of the work for you, posting a list of the top grocery store deals on his blog.

  • Plan your menu – Have a basic idea of what meals you’ll make during the week so you don’t wind up buying things you don’t need or won’t get a chance to use. It’s even better if you plan meals based on what’s on sale.
  • Make a list – Keep tabs on what you’ve used up at home and what you’re missing to complete the meals you’re planning to make. Stick to the list and avoid picking up things you’ve already got in your pantry or stuff you pick up on a whim.
  • Pick up staples when they’re on sale – Why buy canned tomatoes at 1.69 a tin when you can buy a flat when they’re on sale for .99  cents? They’re not going to go bad! Same goes for any other non-perishables.
  • Know how much things cost at different stores – This seems like a no-brainer, but if you usually go to Walmart and a grocery store, it pays to know that Tostitos are around .40 cents cheaper per bag at Walmart.
  • Do the math – Compare the price per oz. or pound or unit on different sized packages. Just because it’s a bigger size doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheaper. Some stores will actually have this information on the shelf label for you.
  • Buy in bulk – Club packs or large sizes from places like Costco or even regular grocery stores can mean significant savings. Example – I used to buy ready chopped garlic in the little sized jar for between $2.50 and $3.50 but we like our garlic and I’d go through it pretty quickly. I got wise and picked up the jumbo size which = at least 6 or 7 of the smaller packages for about $4.50.
  • Don’t buy spices at the grocery store – Bulk food stores are much cheaper for spices because you’re not paying for the fancy bottle. Plus, you can buy only as much as you need, especially if it’s not a spice you use commonly.
  • Courtesy of

    Invest in a deep freezer – Having open freezer space allows you to take advantage of sale prices to stock up on meats, butter and other things that freeze well. Split them up into meal sized portions before freezing, or make meals in big batches (like spaghetti sauce) when the items are fresh and freeze as ready made meals.

  • Don’t shop on auto pilot Keep your eyes peeled for savings you aren’t expecting. For example, I almost missed that a certain brand of milk was on sale because I usually bought what was regularly the cheapest. Tonight, I almost missed a larger bottle of laundry detergent for cheaper than its smaller counterpart, just because it wasn’t in the same shelf area.
  • Look for coupons – Coupons aren’t as big of a deal here as they are in the states, but lots of stores (especially the Loblaws brand ones) have a coupon station at the front of the store. The savings can be huge, especially if those items are already on sale.

All of these tips will help cut your grocery bills on an every day regular basis but the secret to slashing your bill by as much as $10 on a single item is simply knowing about the scanning code of practice. The scanning code of practice is a voluntary code that most major Canadian retailers (grocery stores, Walmart, drug stores etc.) participate in.

The basics of it are pretty simple – if the item you buy scans in higher than the price listed on the shelf you are entitled to the item FOR FREE if it’s below $10, and if it’s above you get a $10 reduction in its price. This applies only to the first of multiple items. The remainder just get price adjusted.

Want an example? Remember that big bottle of laundry detergent that was cheaper than it’s smaller cousin I was telling you about? Well, it was even cheaper because the tag on the shelf said $12 but it scanned in at $18. I just told the cashier that the item scanned in wrong. She had someone verify the shelf tag and confirmed it was priced at $12. Most stores will just adjust the price at this point in order to save themselves the cash so be bold and tell them the code and what you should get. Many newer cashiers don’t even know this exists but their managers do.

And that’s how I got a $2 jug of name brand laundry soap.

I’ve also gotten free pork souvlaki and free nailpolish.

Courtesy of CBC

One Response to “Tips & Tricks: Saving Money at the Grocery Store”

  1. Mom July 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    You were so well trained!

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