This past year has had many of us grocery shopping way more than we're used to in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We've also seen prices for groceries creep up amid shortages, increased production costs, sky-high demand, and for a whole slew of other reasons. These days, as budgets remain tight for many Americans, 36% of Harris Poll survey respondents in a recent Instacart survey said that "how to save money on groceries" is among the food lessons they've learned in these pandemic times. So what's a hungry guy or gal to do to actually, you know, achieve that? Make like a savvy shopper and follow this expert advice.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. "Buying frozen produce can help you save extra money on your weekly grocery order," says Instacart shopper Rhonda O. from San Antonio, Texas, who has completed nearly 400 grocery orders since November of last year. "Frozen fruits and vegetables can often be half the price compared to their fresh counterparts, and since they can be stored in your freezer for months at a time, it’s an easy way to cut down on waste." Bonus: frozen fruit and veggies can be healthier than their fresh counterparts since they're picked at the peak of ripeness and then quickly frozen to lock in all the nutrients.
Get only what you need for perishables. Shopping at Whole Foods? Here's a smart strategy: "In most of our departments, you can ask a team member to trim down a whole product to precisely the size you need," shares Molly Siegler, a chef on the Whole Foods Market culinary team in Austin, Texas. "We are always happy to cut a smaller wedge of cheese or send you home with a quarter head of cabbage, so you only take home what you really want." Rhonda echoes that sentiment, adding, "the last year has fueled our tendency to stock up, often resulting in buying more than we actually need. Instead of stocking your pantry to the brim, focus on what meals you will make for the week ahead and only buy ingredients for those."
Buy in bulk for pantry staples to save. Another tip for the Whole Foods shopper, Siegler shares that you can — get discounted pricing on many items — such as beverages and snacks — by purchasing a full case. "Shoppers receive a 10 percent discount when they buy a full case of an item in one flavor," she shares.
Shop in season. "When produce is in season, it’s abundantly available and typically offered at a lower price. Right now, veggies like asparagus, cauliflower, collards, and okra are more affordable in Southern parts of the country because the supply is higher which drives the price down," notes Rhonda. "And with summer around the corner, we’ll continue to see lots of fresh, affordable options."
Compare unit pricing. "Comparing prices while grocery shopping can be tricky, especially when items you need come in different sizes. To ensure you’re getting the best price, check the unit price, so you can compare the per ounce or per pound pricing as well," offers Rhonda, adding that on the Instacart app, the unit price is listed to the right of the overall price when you click into an item. For a deal on canned and dry goods and other staples at Whole Foods, seek out their two private label brands, 365 by Whole Foods Market and Whole Foods Market (which offers specialty items like the popular Dutch-Style Pancake Bites) lines to save, says Siegler.
Save more with membership programs. With an Instacart Express membership ($99/year or $9.99/month), you get unlimited free delivery from a wide range of supermarkets and convenience stores and a reduced service fee on all orders over $35. "Most people don’t know Instacart has one the world’s largest digital coupon platforms with hundreds of thousands of deals and coupon offers available each day," Rhonda comments further. "As you grocery shop for the week, take note about which items are on sale and plan your meals around those ingredients. Within the app, sale items are featured prominently with the estimated coupon savings available at a glance." For Whole Foods shoppers, being an Amazon Prime member also pays off with special benefits. "Prime members get exclusive (and impressive!) weekly deals at Whole Foods Market and an extra 10% off items with yellow sale signs — just be sure to scan your app at checkout in-store," says Siegler.
We'd love to hear from you. What are your go-to tips and tricks for saving money on the supermarket?