It's no secret that inflation has hit grocery stores hard, with prices for basics like eggs, milk, and bread soaring in 2022, and are expected to keep climbing in 2023. Beyond rising prices, staying on budget as you peruse the supermarket aisles can be more challenging than figuring out what to cook for dinner tonight.
Or so we thought. A few weeks ago, we took to Instagram to ask Simply Recipes readers how they save money at the grocery store, and one answer kept showing up over and over again: shop for deals using grocery apps.
Instead of clipping coupons (my mom had one of those accordion binders to save and sort her coupons) or manually searching for deals in newspapers and flyers, grocery apps make sales easy to shop for and can help save money. Most major supermarket chains, including Kroger, Aldi, and Costco, have apps users can download to peruse weekly deals. Apps like Flipp allow you to enter your zip code and find discounts on a wide range of products, from groceries and clothing to automotive goods—including supermarkets and big-box stores with grocery departments.
"I use the Meijer app both ahead of time and while I shop," says Gayle Levine Schindler, a Cincinnati-based food writer and author of the book STOCKED: Flavor Bombs & Staples For Your Kitchen. "Before I leave, I check for available coupons that match something on my shopping list. Also, if there are coupons for items that I use regularly but aren't on my list, I might add them if the coupon is a good one, like a BOGO [buy one, get one free]. These offers in the app change every week."
Schindler uses the Meijer app enough that she bought a phone holder that clips to her shopping cart. "The Meijer app helps me use more store coupons because it gives me access to in-app digital deals that aren't available anywhere else, so that feature helps me save money," she says. "But I think the more impactful money saving happens when I compare brands or similar items in the store by using shelf tags to compare price per ounce or unit."
The spirit of comparing prices extends beyond the confines of one app. "My husband and I love Yasso bars, but they're so expensive, so I usually see if they're on sale at Jewel or Mariano's, then I decide which store to shop," says Ariel Kanter, a freelance food writer in Highland Park, Illinois, who uses Instacart to shop for deals across local grocery stores. "Since Instacart allows you to view multiple grocery stores, I generally go by which grocery store has the cheapest Yasso bars. Whichever store I choose, I always look at the deals because you never know what is going to inspire a recipe."
Su-Jit Lin, a lifestyle and groceries writer based in Atlanta, uses Flipp to look through new circulars every week, but notes that sales can sometimes be more tempting than economical. “It puts certain stores top of mind, and certain coupons and incentives can entice me to make a trip when I don’t actually need to, just to take advantage of a special savings on something that’s a treat! It has helped me save money, but also helped me spend it, too, since I’m buying things I don’t NEED because the sale is good.” In the end, though, Lin comes out on top. “I save roughly $10 every $30 trip.”
I downloaded the Aldi app and was surprised to see various deals on produce, meat, and household items. You can organize a shopping list based on weekly deals, search for discounts by category, and if something isn't on sale this week, you can check the upcoming Aldi deals section for what's to come. Deals aren't limited to one section or type of food. When I pulled up the app, I saw things like chicken tenderloins ($2.29/lb), gala apples ($1.99/lb), organic kale ($2.89 per 12-ounce bag), and peanut butter ($2.89) all on sale, so folks can quickly put together meals for their household and find fun, affordable snacks.
Advice From Our Readers and Experts
So if you're looking to cut down on your grocery bills, take the advice of our readers and experts:
- Download your favorite grocery store's app
- Use grocery apps that aggregate deals so you can see what's on sale across supermarkets in your area.
- Even if you don't shop through apps like Instacart, use them to see what's on sale
- Be mindful of shopping for an item because you want or will use it versus because it’s on sale—try making a list of items you need beforehand to prevent impulse buys
- Optional: buy a phone clip for your shopping cart
Good luck and happy shopping!