Revealed: These Insider Hacks Will Save You Hundreds of Dollars on Groceries

For nearly five years in my youth, I slaved away at a grocery store. I started out as a high school kid, bringing in carts and sweeping the floor, ending as the assistant grocery manager who was regularly left in charge of the whole store.

During the five and a half years I spent working in the industry, I picked up a few tricks of the trade that don’t normally make it into articles like this one. These tips will save you money the next time you go to the store.


There’s one really easy way to save money on groceries, at least at the store I worked at. Just find the grocery manager and see if there are any expired products he’s willing to sell to you.

When a product becomes expired on the shelf, the grocery department has to pull it off the sales floor even though most of the time there’s nothing wrong with it. Nobody wants to get chewed out by a customer for having rotten products on the shelf. Yes, many people do believe a product is unfit for consumption as soon as it passes the expiry date.

When it comes to getting paid for expired products, the store is usually out of luck. They have to pull it off the shelf and eat the cost. If you come along and offer to buy these products, often they can be had for pennies on the dollar. The manager just wants to get rid of them.

Next, let’s talk about the Scanning Code of Practice. Most major retailers in Canada are voluntary followers of the code which exists to hold grocers accountable for the accuracy of prices displayed on the shelf.

If you notice an item that isn’t priced accurately, point it out to the cashier. If the price was wrong on the shelf, you get the item for free or $10 off, whichever is less. Pay attention; this happens far more often than you’d think.

Some retailers won’t be very willing to give into a customer quoting the Scanning Code of Practice, but you’ll win if you stand your ground.

Fresh departments

The easiest and best way to save money on produce, meat, and bakery items is to go early in the morning. That’ll give you the best selection of discounted items.

Fresh department managers are way more proactive when it comes to getting rid of close-dated products. Each morning an employee scours the department and marks down any merchandise that is close to expiring. As long as you get there soon after, you’ll have a great selection.

You’ll want to immediately freeze any meat bought with a close expiry date. Most meats can be safely frozen for up to six months without any noticeable effect.

Next, figure out what’s in season. September and October are great times to buy things like apples, blueberries, cauliflower, cucumbers, and a myriad of other vegetables. That produce will be cheaper than usual, so eat away when things are cheap. Come spring, switch to things like oranges, kiwis, potatoes, and carrots.

Meat is somewhat similar. Turkeys and hams will be cheap around Thanksgiving and Christmas, so make sure to stock up while prices are cheap.

Ready to get extreme?

There’s one other way to save some big money on food, something 95% of you will immediately dismiss.

Check out the store’s dumpster out back.

I know, I know. There are a lot of issues with dumpster diving. But we live in a world where stores will throw out perfectly good stuff because it no longer has a spot on the shelf or because it has passed a magical expiry date.

By jumping inside of a dumpster, you’re saving the earth while saving money at the same time. Think of it as your sustainable duty.

Okay, so maybe not on the dumpster diving. Still, now that you have a better idea of the inner workings of a store, saving money on groceries shouldn’t be hard.

My 5 Most Important Money Lessons

Over my 33+ years on the planet, I’ve spent more time than I’d care to admit thinking about money. I’ve thought about earning more of it. I’ve thought about investing it. I’ve definitely thought about spending it.

And after all those hours, I realize money isn’t really that hard. In fact, all people really need to do is follow a few basic rules and they’re already 90% of the way to becoming wealthy. Yes, I realize these things are hard, but it’s not the concepts that are hard. Implementing them is the tricky part.

These five financial rules are as simple as they get. And yet, they’re still incredibly powerful.

Spend less than you earn

I’ve read stories about probably thousands of early retirees over the years, and there’s really only one thing they all have in common. They were really good savers.

Some made their money by investing in a broad portfolio of stocks. Some loaded up on one company, riding it to riches. Some started their own company. Others did it through real estate. And so on.

A high savings rate and the desire to take on risk is the only thing separating an early retiree or financially independent person from the rest of us.

Big wins

Much has been said about the Latte Factor, which personifies an important personal finance lesson. Little costs really have a way of adding up over time.

But they don’t matter nearly as much as the big stuff. Bank fees are a great example. Yeah, it stinks paying $5 or $10 in bank fees. If you can avoid this, it’s probably a good idea. But there are far bigger things to be concerned about.

Take your mortgage as an example. If you pay 2.75% instead of 2.5% on a $300,000 loan, that’s an additional $750 a year.

$750 buys a lot of bank fees.

Focusing on these big wins is far more important than the little things.

Pay down debt

Even though interest rates are lower than they’ve ever been, I still maintain paying down debt is a great investment for many people.

Not only does paying down debt offer a guaranteed return (unlike stocks, which can be extremely volatile), but it also offers a psychological boost. There’s nothing that beats the feeling of paying off your student loan or burning your mortgage.

There’s one other benefit to paying off debt too, and that’s increased cash flow. When you don’t have hundreds of dollars leaving your account each month, you can really supercharge your other savings goals.

Low expectations

What separates people like us from the proverbial Joneses, those neighbors who need to have the latest and greatest thing?

I think it’s low expectations.

Folks who care about getting ahead haven’t just valued security over possessions. They’ve also successfully lowered their expectations. Instead of desiring everything, they only lust for a few things, making due with what they already own.

By having this attitude, folks who are happy with what they have don’t need to spend money. So they don’t, further adding to an already inflated savings rate. Good things happen, and the next thing you know, they’re financially independent.


Every good financial plan needs to be simple. Without an easy to execute plan, things go sideways. And when things go sideways, goals don’t happen.

Some finance nerds might want to pore over spreadsheets and income statements all night, but most of us would rather go golfing instead. So when investing, stick your cash in a simple ETF portfolio and leave the details to the folks on Reddit. Or when coming up with a savings plan, simply pay yourself first and let the rest of the details work themselves out. And so on.

Choosing a simple plan will increase your likelihood of following through, which is the ultimate goal.

That’s about it

Finance doesn’t have to be complicated. Just remember these five important lessons and you’re already 80% of the way towards getting your finances in order. All that’s left is to execute.