Kroger is the largest grocery retailer in the U.S. Considering it has about $132.5 billion in annual sales at its nearly 2,750 supermarkets, a lot of shoppers are clearly spending a lot of money at Kroger.
However, savvy shoppers know that there are plenty of ways to spend less at this grocery chain, which also operates under banners such as Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Smith's, Dillons and Harris Teeter. If Kroger or one of its subsidiaries is your supermarket of choice, here are nine ways that you can save money on groceries by shopping there.
1. Get a Kroger Plus Card
If you don't already have a Kroger Plus Card, you should get this free card that entitles you to savings when you swipe it at the checkout. You can fill out a short application at the customer service desk and get a card instantly. Or, sign up online for a free virtual card. In store, you'll enter your phone number at the register to receive your savings.
Items that are on sale for Plus Card holders are clearly marked in the store and on its website if you shop from home.
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2. Create an Account Online
If you create an account at the Kroger website by entering your email address, you can download digital coupons directly to your Plus card. You'll also get email-only offers and alerts when your store is running special promotions.
3. Get the Kroger App
Kroger's free mobile app is a great way to score savings and know what's on sale -- especially if you don't subscribe to a newspaper to see the ad circular or take the time to check the supermarket's site before heading to the store.
"With a simple click, you can download manufacturer and store coupons to your club card and find sales and deals," said Teri Gault, author of "Shop Smart, Save More."
4. Earn Fuel Discounts
In addition to savings on grocery items, the Plus Card lets you rack up points for discounted gas at its fuel centers. "Every dollar spent in-store gets you one fuel point, and 100 points are good for 10 cents off each gallon of gas in a single fill-up," said Josh Elledge, founder of SavingsAngel.com. You can redeem up to 1,000 fuel points at a time -- a discount of up to $1 off per gallon -- by simply scanning your Plus Card at the pump or entering your alternate ID.
You'll earn fuel points for most items you buy, and that includes prescriptions. You can use these points to save money on gas at fuel centers at any store in the Kroger family and at participating Shell gas stations.
5. Get Double or More Fuel Points
You can rack up fuel points even faster by buying gift cards at Kroger. You can earn two fuel points for every dollar spent on gift cards, excluding Kroger gift cards and gift cards from card issuers such as Visa and MasterCard.
Occasionally, the grocer has promotions that let you earn even more points. For example, Kroger recently gave customers the chance to earn four times the fuel points by downloading a coupon for the offer directly to their Plus Card.
6. Get the Free Friday Download
On select Fridays each month, Kroger offers a digital coupon for one free item. You can download the coupon to your Plus Card through the Kroger site or app on Friday only, but you have up to two weeks to redeem it. You can sign up through your Kroger digital account to have a text message sent to you when the Friday promotion is available.
7. Nab Manager's Specials
Items that need to be sold quickly because they're nearing their sell-by date often are labeled as manager's specials and marked down by 50 percent or more. "Especially for perishable food, manager's specials at Kroger can be incredible deals," Gault said. "The savings are even more amazing when they're manager's specials on top of sales."
Look for these deals on fresh meat, deli meat and bakery items, especially.
8. Buy Kroger Brands
Buying the store brand instead of name-brand items can be a money-saving move -- and you don't necessarily have to sacrifice quality. "Kroger's private labels are very good, and the sales are wonderful," Gault said. Kroger's brands include Private Selection and Simple Truth.
Kroger's private label brand meals are an especially good option for weeknights when you don't have time to make a meal from scratch. For example, you can get a frozen store-brand pizza for $4.99 or a family-size tray of frozen lasagna for $8.99. "On a crazy-busy day, instead of spending $40 on takeout, you'll toss a salad and pop in a delicious frozen meal at 70 percent to 80 percent savings," she said.
9. Look for Mix-and-Match Deals
Kroger used to double the value of manufacturer coupons, but now only accepts coupons at face value. "When double coupons disappeared from the scene, they were swallowed up by instant cash off at the register," Gault said.
Kroger frequently offers a promotion that will give you $5 off when you buy five items from a specific list.
"Yes, it's really worth it to buy three bottles of dish soap and two bags of frozen veggies to make your purchase of five in a mix-and-match," Gault said. "You'll get $5 off at the register, which means you just saved a $1 on each, and you didn't even need a coupon."
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Jami Farkas contributed to the reporting for this article.