Groceries: Food For Thought


I’m not the ideal source for grocery savings for a few reasons:

  • My lovely spouse does most of the grocery shopping, and
  • It’s not primarily an online shopping category, which limits some of the fun, and
  • Grocery shopping for me is always a frustrating walk in a foreign land. Planners can always save more, so if that’s you, you’re in luck.

The simplest approach to grocery savings is to find credit cards that targets the category. My favorite is the AmEx Blue Cash Preferred, which kicks back 6% on your first $7K of annual spend. That’s significant, especially in a business with air-tight margins (ie, not much to share with you and me).

The Capital One Savor card is another to consider, and includes other popular categories like entertainment and dining.

Keep an eye on rotating category cards as well. Instead of the Preferred card, or in addition after you’ve spent your $7K, you’ll get 5% back from those. Chase Freedom and, especially, Discover, will name groceries as one of their revolving categories at least one quarter a year (for up to $1500 in spend), or have in the past. With Discover in particular, the gift card leverage they offer increases your kickback to 6.25%. See this section to learn how, and how much.

If you’re a Costco shopper, the Costco Anywhere Visa card makes their bargains on bulk grocery shopping even better. But you might need a bigger frig.

Other avenues require varying degrees of effort. For me, the effort level of “any” is close to a disqualifier, but YMMV.

  • Sign up for your favorite store’s rewards program. My local outlet, a Kroger brand, awards points toward gas purchases, redeemable at their affiliated stations. It’s not much, but it’s entirely effortless.
  • Leading grocery savings apps, which offer rebates instead of coupons, include Ibotta and Checkout 51. You claim offers from your chosen store ahead of time and scan your receipt after purchase for cash. Oh, and you can make shopping lists ahead of time as well. Honestly, this all feels like a lot of work.
  • Couponing is alive and well at groceries, but you’ll need your phone – and plenty of room for the many apps out there. Major grocery chains offer apps that allow you to apply coupons virtually, and even suggest them as you shop. Again, hmmm. Pretty sure I’m not ready for all this, but that could be me. Check that, it is me.

Don’t forget that Amazon now owns Whole Foods, which has some interesting angles. Primary is a couple of Amazon credit cards that can knock up to 5% off your purchases, as well as preferred pricing for Prime members on select items. Generally, the days of “Whole Paycheck” seem to be in the rearview, as Amazon relentlessly cuts prices at the chain to conform with its corporate motto of “if you sell stuff, we will crush you.”

I’ll pass on most of this that isn’t effortless. But there’s a universe of blogs and other sites devoted to squeezing every penny from grocery shopping. I endorse the commitment, but not the burden.

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