Certain items at the grocery store are easy to take off your shopping list when money gets tight.
But laundry detergent, diapers and some foods like ground beef aren’t as easy to avoid. Here’s how to save on expensive necessities (and a few luxury items) on your list.
1. Buy meat and seafood at Target to save up to 50%.
If you’ve read the Quick Start Guide to Couponing, you already know how to stack coupons with a sale at Target. In fact, it’s so easy that if you’re a beginner, you should start there.
About once every three months, Target offers a mobile coupon inside the Target app for a “Free $5 Target gift card with a meat or seafood purchase of $20 or more.” Usually you can also find Cartwheel offers for a percentage-off certain meat purchases as well in the app. And if the universe loves you that day, you’ll also find manufacturer coupons to print from Coupons.com. (Hate coupons? You can still save a lot of money at the grocery store.)
Here are some meats that have been known to show up with at least a Cartwheel offer or a manufacturer coupon at the same time as the Target mobile offer. Plan your weekly meals around whatever meat is on sale!
- Ground beef
- Ground turkey
- Pork chops
- Frozen fish, shrimp and scallops
We have a lot more bizarre (more extreme) ways to get meat for cheap if you’re up for it.
2. Get brand-name medication and health items at Dollar Tree for free.
You can use two printable manufacturer coupons per transaction (when you have two items) at Dollar Tree. But here’s the tricky part — Dollar Tree won’t give you money back when you use a coupon. Also, pay attention to quantities listed on your coupon, because Dollar Tree quantities often differ from retail-chain quantities, making coupons void.
So, if you have a $2/1 Aleve coupon and the Aleve costs $1.00, you’re not going to make a dollar on the deal. But you will walk out only paying for taxes on $1.00. Do multiple transactions so you can stock up!
Here are the brands Dollar Tree carries, along with links to current coupons for each:
- Curad coupons
- Aleve coupons
- Theraflu coupons
- Excedrin coupons
- Advil coupons
- Halls coupons
- Zantac coupons
- Tums coupons
- Triaminic coupons
- Little Remedies coupons
3. Buy coconut oil from Amazon to save almost 50%.
Amazon offers Nutiva-brand gallon-size refined coconut oil for almost half of what it would cost to buy it from Nutiva directly.
4. Buy infant formula at Sam’s Club or Costco and save up to $450 per year.
You probably already know formula can be a budget-breaker. But you can save at least 53% when you ditch Similac and go with the Member’s Mark brand at Sam’s Club.
Don’t have a Sam’s Club? The Kirkland brand at Costco costs just a teeny bit more, but it’s still cheaper than any other competitors.
Generic infant formula:
- Sam’s Club: $0.48/oz.
- Costco: $0.50/oz.
5. Use coupons to buy laundry detergent at drugstores, and save up to 60%.
The reason I say to go with drugstores for laundry detergent is because they tend to have lucrative store loyalty programs that boost your savings when you use coupons. Like Rite Aid: “Spend $30, get a $10 bonus cash card.” Or Walgreens: “Spend $10, Receive 2,000 Balance Reward points” ($2.00 in points).
When you stack a sale on laundry detergent with coupons, Ibotta offers, and points from the store’s loyalty program, you’ll have a laundry stockpile in just a few months. Especially if you’re not picky about brand or store.
Stock up on detergent when it reaches $3.00 a bottle or less.
You know how you can head to the bulk aisle and grind your own nut butter at some grocery stores? Costco’s almond butter is even cheaper than that. And definitely cheaper than nearest competitor, Walmart.
- Costco: Kirkland brand almond butter, $0.26/oz.
- Walmart: Sam’s Choice almond butter, $0.42/oz.
7. Buy spices in the ethnic-food aisle of any grocery store to save up to 78%.
If you are buying those little jars of McCormick spices, you’re overspending. You can often find similar items a couple aisles over in the ethnic foods section.
Chili powder, for example, is $1.29/oz. for the fancy McCormick jar at my local grocery store, but ground chilis are only $0.30/oz. for a large packet in the ethnic foods aisle.
Another option is to hit up a local ethnic market if you have one near you.
8. Buy frozen berries at Sam’s Club for year-round savings.
Berries are spendy and outside of using a one-time $0.50-off Driscoll’s berry coupon, or stocking up in the summer when they’re in season and then freezing them, it’s a challenge to consistently save money on them.
I’ve found the best price on frozen triple berries at Sam’s Club.
Frozen Triple Berries:
- Sam’s Club: $2.25/lb.
- Costco: $2.37/lb.
9. Buy K-Cups at CVS when they reach $0.30 or less per cup.
The best way to save on coffee would be to break up with your Keurig and adopt a French press or a regular old coffee pot instead. But since I know that’s not an option for many people, I have good news: it’s possible to avoid paying full price for K-Cups!
Once or twice a month at CVS, you can find stock-up deals on K-Cup brands like Dunkin’ Donuts, McCafe, Green Mountain and more. Stock up when prices reach $0.30 or less per cup. Some of these deals require K-Cup coupons, but some are simply sale prices.
10. Scan your receipts to redeem Ibotta offers for organic items like quinoa, milk and coffee.
You can find dozens of Ibotta rebates ranging in value from $0.50-$4.00 cash back on organic groceries. Plus, you’ll often find “bonuses” for organic offers. This means when you redeem offers for certain organic products, Ibotta gives you a “bonus” of up to $1.00. You’ll get the dollar amount for the item you’re redeeming, plus the “bonus.” Basically, free money.
Best part? You don’t have to worry about anything during checkout. Scan your receipt with the Ibotta app at home or the next day if you want to.
Here are examples of organic items you may find when you download Ibotta and search the organic category:
- Grass-fed milk
- Bone broth
- Roasted kale
- Ice cream
- Baby food
It’s no secret that the cost of vanilla extract has gone up in the past year or two. Buy it at Costco — or Amazon even — just avoid buying it at Walmart if you can.
12. Buy nuts and seeds in the bulk section to save up to 35%.
Always buy nuts and seeds in bulk instead of buying the packages in the baking or snack aisle!
- Bulk: $0.50/oz.
- Pre-packaged: $0.77/oz.
- Bulk: $0.37/oz.
- Pre-packaged: $0.56/oz.
- Bulk: $0.81/oz.
- Pre-packaged: $0.99/oz.
Pumpkin seeds (pepitas):
- Bulk: $0.31/oz.
- Pre-packaged: $0.44.oz.
- Bulk: $0.31/oz.
- Pre-packaged: $0.33/oz.
13. Buy Huggies and Pampers using coupons to save at least 40%.
When you use coupons and store promotions at Target, you can save up to 40% on brand-name diapers. Here’s how:
Step 1: Get coupons.
You can focus on printable-only deals, or you can grab a couple newspapers at your local Dollar Store every Sunday and hoard newspaper coupons.
Step 2. Download the Target app.
Inside the Target app, look for coupons under “Wallet.” About once every other month, you’ll see a mobile coupon for “Free $20 Target gift card with select baby department purchases of $100 or more.” It’s the same type of coupon as the meat and seafood coupon (Tip #1).
Step 3: Use your coupons to reach the minimum spend for the mobile-coupon promo.
KCL will always tell you about baby deals so you know when to pull the trigger. Plan to stock up when diapers reach about $4.00-$5.00 per pack after you apply all coupons and promotions.
14. Buy pet food at Target to save up to 70%.
Once a quarter, Target offers a $5 Target gift card for every few bags of dog food you buy. Print manufacturer coupons from TheKrazyCouponLady.com and look for Cartwheel offers inside the Target app to save up to 30% more with the scan of your phone at checkout.
You can easily get 8 lb. bags of dog food for $2.00-$4.00 this way.
TIP: If you like to buy higher-quality food for your pets, I recommend you plan to shop PetSmart early (like 6 a.m.) if you’re shopping online. This is because PetSmart has limited quantities of newly marked-down items, and when they’re gone, they’re gone! Promotions begin at 6 a.m. Eastern Time.