Grocery Store Employees Revealed Their Best Secrets To Save Money On Food, And Their Advice Is So Good

We recently asked grocery store employees of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their best tips to save money on food. Here are the helpful results:

1."For everyone who shops at Costco and buys their Kirkland brand: These products are required to be as good or better than their competitors, so you're generally getting quality stuff for less."


Two people shopping for meat at a Costco, standing behind a counter with various meat products
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

2."Most box chains have an app. If it's free, get it! I easily save $20 at a time clipping all the coupons. I also save more when I do an in-store pickup because I actually shop the coupons. The BEST advice though: Ask their customer service if they do a mark-down program."

"My store uses one called Flashfood. All the food departments in my store put things that are close to dating in a special fridge in the front, like cheese, meat, and produce. Everything is marked down 30–75% off."


Woman in supermarket with cart, shopping while checking phone
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3."Shop in the morning or at night for markdowns/discounts; the items are still good for a day or you can freeze them. When buying from any service counter, be nice to the employees assisting you, and we will generally give some sort of discount — especially if you're a regular. We remember faces and attitudes, good or bad!"

—28, Illinois

Supermarket cashier smiling as she hands a bag of groceries to a customer at the checkout
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4."I live in Canada, where food pricing nowhere near matches what is offered in the US. While working for a particular grocery chain, I couldn’t afford to shop for my own groceries where I was employed. Granted, it was an 'upscale' store that catered to rich people in the area and actors who were in town for shoots, but my base wage was at the poverty level, and there was no staff discount. This was not a boutique shop, it was a full-on supermarket. Guests, please respect the retail workers who choose to serve you, and the other hundred people they see daily!"

"When on lunch breaks, I would buy something to eat at my workplace, but only via the bulk food section and/or the deli. For a sandwich: I could purchase a bulk bun for 35 cents, a slice of cheese for about the same, and if I was feeling spendy, a couple of slices of meat for a dollar or two. A handful of candy or chocolates from the bulk section would be about 50 cents. People tend to shy away from bulk foods (especially post-COVID), but they allow you to choose what you need and what suits your budget that day; if you’re strapped, buy the minimum necessary to make your meal. Also, be mindful of what you tend to find yourself throwing away on a regular basis (looking at you, cilantro!), and go to shops that allow you to buy what you need that day or the next"

—40, Canada

Meat counter displaying various cuts with price tags in a refrigerator case at a store
Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

5."Check the price per ounce. Sometimes, it's cheaper to buy the smaller size. Shop at WinCo Foods. The prices are hard to beat, particularly when buying from bulk foods. Plus, it's employee-owned, so the workers get good benefits."

—29, Oregon

Various fresh vegetables displayed in organized bins at a supermarket
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6."A lot of people know this, but just because it's 'on sale' doesn't mean it's a good deal. And yes, ask for discounts on damaged cans and packaging. You will get discounted almost every time."

—21, Indiana

Man in grocery store aisle examining a product with an employee in the background
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7."Target manager here! People underestimate the savings they can get through Target Circle. There are countless items on discount in addition to manufacturer coupons and other options to save. The best part is that the app learns your shopping habits and gives you more discounts on things you typically buy."

"There’s also the RedCard, which saves 5% on every single transaction. If you don’t want the credit, there’s a debit option too. I save a considerable amount with these regardless of my team member discount. And don’t forget to price match if you can (but for all of our sakes, read the policy first!) ;)"

—31, Maryland

Person shopping in a Target grocery store aisle with a red cart
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8."I worked for Target, and I definitely recommend downloading the Circle app. You get coupons in the app, and you can check to see if the price online is cheaper so you can price match. Plus, if you order your groceries for pickup, it eliminates any impulse buys you would have made wandering around the store."

—28, Pennsylvania

A Target price sign reads "$2.49 ORGANIC BANANAS 2 lbs" hanging above bananas in a store; there's a shopper with a cart in the background
Mario Tama / Getty Images

9."Go to your store about 15 minutes after they open the sale items; I go out during the first shift when I fill my deep freezer, and I buy in bulk (10) pounds of hamburger meat instead of getting the 1-pound rolls. I work at Walmart, and we usually have an end cap with things that are marked down."

—30, Oklahoma

Grocery store aisle lined with shelves of packaged food items
Hispanolistic / Getty Images

10."Do not buy the 'in-store prepared' items — the markup is wild, and a lot of times, they are just kits or bags of stuff we just dump into a container. I’ve done the math, and at the rate we assemble these, you are paying the equivalent of $75/hour to $125/hour for the convenience of us doing the minimal work for you, versus buying the items in the same store you are already shopping in and doing it yourself."

"And no, the employees are not getting any of that extra money, it all goes to the company’s bottom line."

—51, Virginia

Pre-packaged vegetables for stir-fry, priced at $5 each, displayed in a grocery store
Kameleon007 / Getty Images

11."People will often throw money away instead of throwing food away. They will often buy a bigger package of something, especially if it’s on sale because the price per pound is cheaper than the smaller size, but they end up throwing it out."

—51, Virginia

Adult and child selecting beverages from grocery store refrigerator section
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12."Most tags have a breakdown of the price per ounce on the tag. You can easily compare sizes or brands and find what the cheapest item per ounce is to save money. Another easy trick is usually the bigger the item, the better the price."

—40, California

Person comparing two bottles in a grocery store aisle
Noel Hendrickson / Getty Images

13."Look at the ads! My store does a deal on rotisserie chicken every Friday with no limit, so you can get four chickens for $6 a pop. There are also some good deals every week that people ignore because they don’t want to seem cheap."

—23, Minnesota

Various discount coupons overlapping, offering savings from 35 cents to $10
Mphillips007 / Getty Images

And finally...

14."Try shopping around 9 a.m. — that's when meats and produce are marked down the most. Also, go around an hour or two before the store is closed for a statutory holiday; they reduce so much product, even premade meals and other perishables."

—52, Canada

Person selecting tomatoes in a grocery store produce section
Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

Fellow grocery store employees, what are some other tips more people should know to save money on food? Let us know in the comments below!

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.