Target can be a one-stop shop for just about everything on your list of errands. That’s true whether you need to stock up on shampoo or just pick up decorations for a party. You can save money on everything by learning Target’s insider secrets. And even though Target isn’t the most popular destination for grocery shopping, you can actually save money on many of your food purchases by checking out what Target has to offer.
Here are 15 of the best ways you can save money on your groceries at Target.
1. Shop the store brand
We all know in some cases, store-brand foods actually taste better than the name-brand products. Target’s generic grocery items are no exception. A few known gems include the Archer Farms maple syrup, the Market Pantry fiber bars, Market Pantry ketchup, and Market Pantry graham crackers. By buying delicious store-brand items when you’d normally buy name-brand, you’ll save money — and sometimes even get better flavor.
2. Don’t forget Target’s private labels
As Marketplace explains, a key part of Target’s grocery strategy is its private labels. That includes not only the Market Pantry line of budget-friendly essentials, but also the wellness-focused items found under the Simply Balanced brand. Even if you need items that don’t form a part of the Market Pantry line, you can often find them for a better deal via Target’s private labels rather than from other manufacturers’ name brands. “Private-label brands generally cost less than the big name-brands, which manufacturers price higher to recuperate costs like advertising,” Marketplace notes.
Whether you split your grocery shopping between Target and Wal-Mart or between Target and a local grocery chain, you should always compare prices for the items you buy the most. Business Insider reports Wal-Mart, for instance, often offers cheaper prices than Target for items, including eggs, milk, peanut butter, and olive oil. But items, such as grapefruit, coconut oil, and canola oil, usually come cheaper at Target. Even if one store is, across the board, more expensive (Target is often pricier than Wal-Mart) you can often save on specific items by knowing which ones to buy at each store.
4. Make a list
This might not be specific to Target, but it’s worth reiterating when you visit such a big store with so many tempting displays. If you really want to save money on your groceries, you should make a list — and make a point of sticking to it. It’s easy to buy foods that look interesting but won’t actually lend themselves to the recipes you want to make. If you stick to your list, you’ll get the items you need and avoid spending money on anything you don’t.
5. Look out for price match opportunities
While we’re on the topic of comparison-shopping, Target offers a price match policy that can help you get more of your grocery shopping done at the store, even if its prices aren’t the lowest around. The blog Rather Be Shopping points out the price match guarantee applies to grocery items — even to produce. The blog notes, “As long as the brand is the same, like Chiquita, Dole, or Driscoll, Target will offer a price match. The cool thing about this is that it’s easy to scroll through your local grocery store ads to find lower prices at Target and save some money in the process.”
6. Know what not to buy
Saving money on your groceries is as much about knowing what’s a good buy at one grocery store as it is about identifying which items are a bad purchase at another chain. Consumer Reports found Target doesn’t offer much in the way of produce variety. That means if you want your choice of lots of vegetables and fruits, you should plan to do that part of your shopping at another store.
7. Check out the end caps
If you want to save on anything at Target — groceries, household essentials, cosmetics, etc. — you should get in the habit of checking out the end caps in the section in question. End caps — the official term for the displays at the end of each aisle — often end up housing clearance items or items that are on a significant sale. You don’t want to fill your cart with impulse buys and items you don’t need. But if something you’ll use is on sale, those markdowns can end up saving you money.
8. Know the markdown schedule
If you’re hoping to find grocery items on clearance, it pays to know Target’s markdown schedule. According to All Things Target, “Market” or grocery items generally get marked down on Tuesdays. Of course, schedules vary from store to store. But once you start looking out for the patterns, you’ll know which days of the week you can look forward to the widest assortment of clearance items.
9. Look for free gift card offers
If you only shop at a store once or twice a year, getting a free gift card might not sound all that enticing. But because so many of us shop at Target frequently, those offers make a lot more sense. You might be able to get a $5 or $10 gift card for spending a specific amount on napkins or buying a particular brand of the juice. Taking advantage of those offers can save you money in the long run. Who doesn’t love free groceries?
10. Search for coupons
Wherever you do your grocery shopping, it often pays to check for coupons. You can search for coupons right on Target’s website, in addition to using Cartwheel. But you can also use manufacturer’s coupons at Target. The best part is Target famously allows you to stack coupons, so you might be able to use two offers on the same item. In some cases, that can bring the prices far below what you’d get at the grocery store. Spend 10 minutes looking for coupons, and you could end up with some serious savings.
11. Take your own grocery bags
If you usually take your own cloth bags to the grocery store, you might as well throw them in the car when you go to Target, too. When you shop at Target, you’ll get a 5 cent discount for every reusable bag you use. The savings might be smaller than what you’ll get with a coupon or a markdown. But over time as you do your grocery shopping at Target, your savings will add up.
12. Buy holiday items after the holiday
Stores’ habit of putting seasonal items on sale after the holiday might not help if you need wrapping paper before Christmas or sparklers before the Fourth of July. But the discounts can end up working in your favor when you do your grocery shopping. Target will put items in holiday packaging — even items that aren’t different from the regular versions — on sale after the holidays. These items often get marked down to 50% off the day after the holiday, but they can see discounts of up to 90% if stock hangs around a little longer.
13. Get a Target RedCard
Customers with a RedCard save 5% on all their purchases. So if you buy your groceries at Target even occasionally, opening one will likely pay off. You can apply for the RedCard credit card if you’re OK with the terms. But for most shoppers, the smarter choice is to open a RedCard debit card. Link it with your bank account, and use it just like your usual debit card. You won’t have to worry about a high APR — which would be especially bothersome if you end up paying interest on food that was consumed quickly. Plus, you’ll still get that 5% discount.
14. Take advantage of Cartwheel
Frequent Target shoppers have likely heard of Cartwheel, the company’s platform for coupons and discounts. You can log in either via the Carthweel app or the website to find offers on the grocery items you want to buy. Then, you’ll just show the cashier your bar code at checkout. It’s an easy way to save money on the foods and kitchen essentials you buy at Target — and to get in the habit of looking for discounts and checking prices before you buy.
15. Use rebate apps
In addition to taking advantage of Target offers and manufacturer coupons, it might pay to check out the variety of rebate apps available to you. There are many general rebate apps, but some focus specifically on grocery items. BerryCart, for instance, focuses on finding you the best deals on organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO foods. And SavingStar helps you save money on grocery essentials.