Save money on groceries with some simple substitutions

Inflation may be down, but grocery prices remain as high as ever. Smart shopper Trae Bodge shares some simple tips to save.
Posted at 7:33 AM, Apr 10, 2024

The latest consumer price index data is showing inflation cooling, down significantly from the 9% rate in mid-2022. But it may not feel that way when you're buying groceries.

"I used to take time to make recipes with my roommates. That was a thing during the pandemic to try new things," college student Lea Nyack said. "But I can't do that anymore. Especially things like mushrooms, for example. I was just looking at that right now, and that seems to have spiked a lot."

Rising prices have prompted shoppers like Nyack to change their shopping habits at grocery stores.

Trader Joe's bananas get first price increase in decades
People stand in line waiting to enter Trader Joe's to buy groceries in Pembroke Pines, Fla.

Trader Joe's bananas get first price increase in decades

Trader Joe's raised the price of bananas from 19 cents to 23 cents.


Ways to keep those prices down

For tips to battle bulging grocery prices, we turned to smart shopping expert Trae Bodge.She says first, be flexible with smart substitutions. For instance, make a change if an item on your shopping list isn't on sale. 

"You can maybe say, 'Maybe I'll use chicken in my chili instead of beef' and save a lot that way," she said.

She also says don't be afraid to buy frozen vegetables instead of fresh, especially when they are less expensive. She recommends stocking up on nonperishables when they are on sale.

"When you do run out of your fresh foods," she said, "then sometimes you turn to ordering in, and that becomes very expensive."

Bodge also says if you're buying the same things every week, see if there's something you can make yourself, such as granola or hummus. Also, she suggests swapping expensive name brands for generic.

"There are so many great store brands or generic brands that often are made in the same factory," she said. "They have exactly the same ingredients."

Plus, more apps are making it easier to save on soon-to-be expired or surplus items. The app Flashfood offers savings of up to 50% on food nearing its expiration date.

Lastly, be sure to join your store's loyalty program and do a mix of in-person and online shopping, where you can save extra money at store websites.

That way, shoppers like Cherita Czompoly won't have to cut back on so many of their favorite things.

"We cut out a lot of things like cheese, butter, which we like, but we back off because of the prices," she said.