How to Save Money at Grocery Store – Cut Bill in Half!

1. Plan Meals & Write a List

When you do not plan your meals, you end up hunting for anything that sounds or smells good at the time. By the time you get back from the grocery store, you cannot remember if you have even purchased enough food for a full meal. By planning, you are setting your intention to only purchase certain items, which gets you in the right frame of mind to spend less money.

    • Sit down and plan your meals (major meals) for the next 1-4 weeks
      This means, creating a weekly or monthly menu. It sounds cheesy, but it works.

      • Some households plan to make large batches of pasta or other entrees that they can reheat during the week so that they do not have to keep cooking constantly. If this is something that works for your household, it will save you a lot of money and time.
    • When you are done planning your meals, write down all of the ingredients you need for the meals
    • Add anything you ordinarily eat or need for snacks and in between meals – just remember not to buy individually packaged snacks as you will pay more for the packaging than the food.

2.Clip coupons & Read Sales Flyers

Use double coupons whenever possible. Most Safeway’s allow you to double coupons. This includes Ralph’s and Von’s. You can even double manufacturers coupons that you find and print out online. You can sometimes get brand name products “nearly free” when you employ this tactic. The Sunday paper is usually around $1-2.00, but when you consider that there are valuable coupons in there, it becomes more worth it. Also, if you hit up your local coffee shop in the morning, you might be able to score some coupons while you buy a cup of coffee and start your bargain hunt.

  • Online – You can get all kinds of manufacturers coupons to print online from:
    • Coolsavings
    • Printable Coupons
    • Coupon Clippers – A lot of times, you can get things for pennies on the dollar. At Coupon Clipper you can get coupons from .05-.15 each with a small administrative fee of .50 per order and a .39 shipping cost for the stamp on the envelope.  Many times, they have 500 copies or more of the same coupon, and some of them are for $1.00-2.00 off cereals. Can you imagine doubling those when there is a sale? Right now, they have nearly 1500 coupons listed.
    • SmartSource
  • Sunday newspaper
  • Local discount publicationsFind out who has the best deals at your local stores – You know what you need to get. Sometimes it is worth it to check the sales flyers online to see who has the best deal for the 10 lbs of chicken you plan to purchase for the 4th of July. GrocerySavingTips.com has a list of all of the grocery savings flyer you could ever want.
    • When you read the sales flyers, look for items that are on your list. Try not to get sucked into the “But, it’s on sale” mentality.

3. Navigate store strategically according to list

  • Shop the perimeter of the store for the freshest foods. Typically, produce, diary, meat, and bread is on the outer skirts of the store. Non-perishable foods, canned items, and misc. non-food items are usually more costly and are on the interior aisles of the store.
  • Keep list at hand and bring calculator to tally up how much you are spending. If you have a budget that you must stick to, this is a good way to do it.
  • Hit the deli/bakery last as the smells will drive you crazy and make you buy more
  • Ask you butcher and baker when they mark down the meat and bread, so you can plan your shopping trip accordingly.
  • Be aware that the most expensive items are usually at eye level. If you are looking for the least expensive yellow mustard, it’s probably closer to the floor than where your eyes naturally look.
  • Compare price per ounce on store tag (bigger is not always cheaper)

4.Stock up on things you know you will use, and freeze them.

  • You can freeze milk. Just pour a little out so that it has room to expand, and use it within 3 months.
  • When meat is close to “sell by” date it is often discounted up to 50% off. The only difference is that someone else bought it for full price yesterday, and you bought it for 1/2 price today. Freeze it for a meal next week.
  • Buy “loss leaders” – Loss leaders are items that are heavily advertised in the weekly circulars to get you into the store. Oftentimes, they lose money on these items just to get you to come in. An example of this is: whole chicken advertised for 29 cents/lb. If it is something you need, buy in volume while the price is so low.

More Useful Money Saving Tips:

  • Eat BEFORE you shop
  • Use a cart if you only plan to purchase a cart full of groceries. Otherwise, use a hand basket.
  • Buy produce according to its seasonality. Incorporate lettuce, strawberries, mango, asparagus, etc. into meals more often when they are in season and the price is lower.
  • Try to shop alone and when the store is not busy (past 8 pm or early in the morning)
  • Watch out for “super specials” – Just because it is on sale does not mean you need it. Is it on your list?TRY NOT TO BUY:Non-food products – Cleaning products, toiletries, diapers, etc. at grocery store. Generally, such items can be had much cheaper to larger department stores that buy on volume.Individually packaged dr inks such as soda, bottled water, and juices can add 30% or more to your grocery bill. Instead, buy larger sizes such as 2-liter soda, 2-quart juice, and 2 gallon bottles of water. Refill your thermos or water bottle as needed. This even works well in kids lunches.
    • Anything that is individually packaged will be more expensive. If you buy larger sizes of chips, snacks, and other food items and use plastic baggies to divide out servings, you will notice a big dip in your grocery bill.

Where else should I shop for food besides the grocery store?

You can buy fruits and vegetables at farmers market – Shopping at your local produce market is not only fun, but it is a good way to support your farming community

If you want to buy in bulk or purchase health food items, it may be smart to join a co-op .Check out the co-op directory for more information.

To buy for large families or events, it is smart to shop for specific items at Costco, Smart and Final, or other superstores where you can find large sizes of goods you would normally buy. Although, people usually purchase much more than they need and end up with wasted food when they shop at such stores. If you are firm at what you need, Costco is a great place to shop for things like milk, pasta sauce, hot coco mix, etc.

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