How to Cut the Cost of Canned Foods

Find out how you can get deals on your favorite canned foods.

Individually, canned foods are usually not the most expensive items that are purchased at the grocery store, but collectively it can be one of the categories where we spend a large portion of our grocery dollars.

Paying close attention to how much is spent on canned goods is important when trying to save on groceries. While grabbing 10 canned foods for $10 may seem like a great deal, often when shoppers take a closer look, they discover that the same 10 items normally sell for just $5, sometimes even less. Consider the following tips to save on canned goods during your next shopping trip.

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Check Unit Prices

How to cut the cost of canned goods

The best tip for saving on canned foods is to buy only the store brands unless you can find the name-brand products deeply discounted. If there is no store brand available, compare the unit prices of the name brand products to get the best deal. Also, check the prices on the frozen products if available. Sometimes frozen products cost less than canned items.

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Buy in Bulk

When you find canned foods you want that are on sale, make an investment and buy in bulk. Most canned foods have a shelf life of at least two years, so do not be afraid to stock up. Canned foods will last longer than two years and are safe to eat, but the taste might be somewhat compromised.

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Canned Goods You Should Avoid Buying

Avoid buying the pricey canned foods such as soups, sauces and chili. Instead, make a big batch of your own and freeze in smaller meal-sized batches.

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Seek Family Sizes

If you are doubling a recipe that calls for more than one can of an item, try to find the big family-sized cans. You should see significant savings when you compare the unit prices. What is left over can be frozen.

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Stack Coupons

Buy canned goods when you have coupons that can be stacked. An example of stacking a coupon is when you can use a manufacturer's coupon with a store coupon together on the same item.

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Optimize Seasonal Offerings

Buy out of season. Just like all seasonal foods, canned foods also have selling peaks. Have you ever noticed how expensive canned cranberry sauce is during the holidays? Look for deals on premium holiday canned products and stock up when you see price drops.

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Be Careful Where You Shop

Shop at stores that sell cheap canned goods, even if it's not the same store where you buy your fresh produce, such as Dollar General. Many times, the stores will stock canned goods that are equally as good as stores like Whole Foods Market but for 60 percent less in price.

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Sign up for Deals

Sign up for discounts at all your local grocery stores, even those where you don't normally shop, and compare the weekly grocery circulars. You may find buy-one-get-one-free deals or loss leaders on canned goods from the stores that are not known for having the lowest prices. If the store is in your neighborhood, stop in, get the deal, and then leave.

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Drug Stores Are Fair Game

Don't pass up the aisle of canned food found at most of the chain drug stores. The promotions can be outstanding, plus if you belong to the customer loyalty programs you can compound the savings and sometimes get canned foods for free or nearly free.

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Reference A Price Book

Keep a price book handy so you know what a good price is on the canned goods that you normally buy. A glance in your price book will help you determine if it is a good enough deal to buy in bulk. This is particularly important when shopping for canned goods at the warehouse stores when items are packaged and priced in bulk.

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Bonus Tip

Some of the more expensive canned goods are products that can easily be made from scratch and actually taste better.

  1. Avoid buying expensive sauces and canned chicken, fish or beef stock. It is simple to make your own, and all of it can be frozen.
  2. Check the ingredients on canned goods. Many contain an extraordinary amount of sugar or salt. There are plenty of healthy canned foods to select from, even if it costs a few cents more.
  3. Check the "use by" dates. Some of the less popular canned goods that are past or close to this date may still be on the store shelves.
  4. Do not buy dented cans. Food inside dented cans is not always harmful, except those deeply dented on the sides or even slightly dented on the top or bottom. The savings from buying a dented can is not worth it. Even a tiny hole in the can may compromise the safety of the food.