Everyone has to go to the grocery store. Some of us do it on a weekly basis to pick up all the essential food items for our family’s meal in the coming week. Some of us do it sporadically, only when we need a certain product or are feeling a bit peckish.
While shopping for food at the grocery store is a better alternative to eating out, not everything on the shelves is worth the cost — specifically, anything that isn’t food.
GOBankingRates reached out to Ashley Schuering, the blogger behind Confessions of a Grocery Addict, a food blog dedicated to helping people save more with different grocery shopping tips and tricks. Here are her top ideas for where to cut back on grocery store expenses.
It’s the paper product nearly every kitchen has, but you don’t necessarily need to buy it at the grocery store.
“About 6 months ago, I invested in a set of ‘un-paper’ towels made from flannel,” said Schuering. “They launder beautifully, stick to each other when you put them back on the roll, and have saved us SO MUCH MONEY (not to mention are better for the environment).”
“We used to buy a 12-pack of jumbo rolls of paper towels from Costco every 4-6 months,” Schuering recalled. “Nowadays, we go through an actual roll of real paper towels every 3-4 months since we only use them for a few grimy tasks (like cleaning up pet messes or sopping up leftover fat). Granted, they’re about $15 upfront, which is about what you’d pay for that giant 12-pack at Costco, but they’re still going strong after a half year of use.”
Where there is food being made, messes are sure to follow. However, if you think throwing some cleaning supplies in your grocery cart is the cheapest option, think again.
“When it comes to cleaning supplies, you’re often paying for the packaging as much as the product itself,” Schuering said. “Switching to an all-purpose cleaning concentrate (like Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds) from Amazon yields dozens of bottles of cleaner for just $11.”
“Alternatively, you can also make your own cleaner using white distilled vinegar and spent orange or lemon rinds,” Schuering added.
When it comes to picking up a few rolls at the grocery store, you can skip on the TP.
“First off, invest in a bidet that attaches to your current toilet,” Schuering recommended.
“Secondly, always shop in bulk. Costco used to be my go-to spot for TP, but now we use Grove’s bamboo TP to be a bit more environmentally friendly. Eight giant rolls cost just $8.99 and last our two-person WFH household more than a month.”
Just when you think your shelves are stocked with tupperware, you notice they’ve gone missing. Don’t go to the grocery store to restock because there is a better, cheaper route.
“The food storage at grocery stores is usually pretty flimsy, plus the lids and bases are all different shapes and sizes, so keeping them organized is a pain,” Schuering pointed out. “Spend a little more upfront to buy sturdier versions (like Snapware) on Amazon.
“Alternatively, if you like the [deli containers] from takeout, you can get them super cheap on Amazon or Webstaurant Store,” Schuering recommended. “As an extra benefit of going [that] route, all the bases are stackable, and all the lids are the same size. Bonus points if you install a browser plug-in to track prices and alert you when your dream set goes on sale.”
Sending the kids off to school with their lunch ensures that they have healthy options to eat when they get hungry. Just don’t expect those zip-top bags to come home and when they don’t, stay away from buying more at the grocery store.
“Getting reusable sandwich, snack and gallon bags will save you a boatload in the long term,” Schuering said. “I like the ones from Grove because they’re affordable but durable and easy to zip. I’m holding out for a massive sale on Stasher bags because they’re super pricey, but also very nice.”
Taking out the trash does not mean you have to waste money at the grocery store. But if you do need to pick some up, Schuering says one place stands out above the rest.
“Costco comes to the rescue again,” Schuering said. “We buy 200 trash bags at a time for just $13. Since we recycle and compost regularly, the giant box we have now has literally lasted us since the beginning of 2021.”
As spring kicks off, you might think about growing your own garden this year. However, stay away from any plant food you might pick up with your groceries.
“While you can often score great deals on inexpensive plants at certain grocery stores, hold off on buying the plant food,” Schuering recommended. “Not only is synthetic fertilizer like Miracle Grow not as good for your plants and possibly toxic to humans, it’s also way marked up at the grocery store. Do yourself a favor and go to a nursery or farming co-op to get better quality plant food for less.”
Feminine Products and Diapers
You don’t want to strategize when and where you might need to buy feminine products or diapers, especially in an emergency. Luckily, Schuering has a few places you can stock up that aren’t necessarily the grocery store.
“Costco, Target and Amazon generally offer more brands (many of which are organic) for much less than you’d pay at Kroger,” noted Schuering. “Grove is also a great option.”
Another tip is to stay on the lookout for coupons or sales on well-known diaper brands like Huggies and Pampers. Try signing up for loyalty reward programs with those brands or join Amazon Family, which offers up to 20% off with a diaper subscription.
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