Tips For Cost Effective Grocery Shopping
The cost of food and feeding your family is one of the most expensive aspects to your budget.
For those looking for tips to save money at the grocery store and stretch your food budget further, you can save lots of money grocery shopping if you follow any or all of these tips…
Make a grocery shopping list. Buy only what’s on the list. If you go grocery shopping without a list, you’ll buy things you don’t need and forget some of the items that you do need. This will result in paying more money at the register. Keep the list handy at home, and add to it throughout the week.
Plan your meals. Planning your week of meals ahead of time will help you focus on the items that you will need when you make up your grocery list. This will help eliminate buying extra food as a result of not being sure of what you’ll be eating through the week.
Check sales flyers and look for coupons. Take advantage of sales (and coupons) and plan some of your meals around them. Sales flyers are often found in the newspaper, and online.
Don’t stop and look at other things. Only shop for the things on your list. This can be tough to do, but sticking to your list will save you money.
Don’t go when you’re hungry. It is definitely true that when you’re hungry, you will end up spending a lot more. Eat a meal first, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your list.
Buy in bulk when it makes sense. Although more up front cost, if you are truly going to use it before it spoils, it will be cheaper to buy in bulk. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you will use it up though. Be realistic.
Buy frozen veggies. Fresh veggies will taste a little better, but frozen veggies are almost as good, and usually costs less (and will keep in the freezer).
Avoid name brands. Store brands or brands other than well-known names are often less expensive and tastes nearly as good. Be willing to experiment. You may have a favorite brand of diced tomatoes, for example, but does it really matter?
Cut back on meat. Meat is more expensive than other foods. Avoid meat that has been handled for your convenience (skinned, etc.), it will cost more. Do it yourself. Better prices in family packs. Just freeze what you don’t need.
Cut back on your “one-item” trips. The cost of gasoline is a factor, and each trip may cost you lots more than you realize when you factor it it.
Avoid watery items. Things like broth, pre-mixed drinks, and all other items that are laden with mostly water are relatively expensive. Much of this you can make yourself from scratch for less money.
Buy produce in season. Fresh produce is always cheaper in-season. This gives you the opportunity to buy lots, and to preserve (dehydrate, jams, canning, etc.)
Rain check. If an item is on sale but the store has run out of stock, ask for a rain check.
Drink water. Not bottled water, but water from home. Buy a filter if your water tastes bad. If you regularly drink iced tea, sodas or other types of drinks, cut those out completely and just drink water. It’s much better for you, and much cheaper.
Stick to basic spices. When you buy pre-mixed spices, they are simply blends of basic ingredients which you are paying a premium for. Learn to combine your own spices from the basics. Check online for spice recipes.
Avoid “pre”. While pre-cubed, pre-diced, pre-sliced, pre-pounded, pre-seasoned, (pre-anything), processed, packaged foods, etc., may be more convenient, it costs LOTS less to make these things yourself, and is often healthier. Learn how. Make it from scratch.
Don’t give in to the kids. If you allow them, kids will eat the most expensive and worst least-healthy foods possible. Be disciplined. Don’t let them steer you to buy sugary sweets, and all those marketed foods that they see on TV. Be strong. Just because they really like this one thing or another, does not mean that they will starve to death if you buy healthy balanced meals for them. If they’re hungry, they’ll eat it. Who’s running the family… you or them?
Shop on the edge. Health-conscious shoppers know that the perimeter of the store is where the good stuff is. The baked goods, dairy products, fresh meats, and fruits and vegetables are generally placed along the outside edge of the supermarket, while the processed stuff can be found up and down the aisles. But shopping the edges isn’t just healthier — it’s cheaper too.
Check your receipt. Make sure your prices are scanned correctly. Make sure your coupons are scanned correctly. Sale items, especially, have a tendency to be in the computer wrong.
I would only add, don’t forget to look on products you are purchasing, for coupons. Have run into this twice recently, where products we were purchasing had large value coupons. except, only some in the stack did. we summerfallowed through the stacks, got the ones with coupons.
Always check the expiration dates. A lot of time the items in the front will expire the soonest.
Shop for meat and fresh foods in the 5 days or so before the 1st of the month for bargains. The food stamp recipients have spent all their benefits on beer and drugs by then and the store must move perishables so they discount them. Conversely if you want to buy the best cuts of meat, nice and fresh and you don’t mind spending full price buy on the first or second of the month when this is put out for the food stamp rush.
Pork prices or cyclical on about a six month cycle. Pay attention to the prices every time you shop and you will recognize when they are a bargain. Chicken prices are also cyclical but the cycle is much shorter and depends on what part of the country you are in. Same method; keep an eye on the price and you will know a bargain when you see it. The beef cycle is 12 months (usually) but it coincides with barbecue season so the best bet is to watch for a good price and load up when you see it. Again best times are the last week in the month especially Sunday or Monday.
All fresh produce is cyclical, learn the cycles. You can buy the fresh vegetable almost any time of the year but you will pay a pretty high premium buying it out of season. Canned food quality varies. If you see a good price I would suggest you buy a single can and open it for dinner that evening. If you like it then go back and buy a case. But usually canned goods are priced correctly. That is they are cheap for a reason.
“Check your receipt. Make sure your prices are scanned correctly. Make sure your coupons are scanned correctly. Sale items, especially, have a tendency to be in the computer wrong.”
in the last twenty or so grocery trips (on which we purchase mostly big sale items), have found items not come up correct (at sale) on computer.
it seems to be a “normal” occurrence…to the point we are truly wondering if it is intentional…get those folks who don’t check..etc..
You are right, Anon! I’ve always checked my receipt, and will occasionally find a few items wrong. Then a new Groc store came to town, EVERY time I go there I have at least 5 things rung up wrong. All the Mgr does is key in the price I say it is, and she goes away. It’s to the point now that the checkers do the “eye roll” when they see me. If you look at the big picture, one groc chain can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a day extra, all because people don’t pay attention.
yup, it has happened so often in the past yr, at many different chains, I am believing it is no accident.
Also helps to get in the habit of making sure products are,in fact, in the correct space on the shelf.Virtually all labels will have UPC/part # or description of product in them. I’ve seen many times(for ex.) 16oz cottage cheese labeled for $3.49,when it its the 12oz location. In short, make sure everything is in the right product is in the right place
I would also add to check the unit price if the item you are buying has multiple sizes. I have often found that buying several of the smaller size is less expensive than the bargain size.
Also, it does matter what store you shop at. We have one store that is really just out of my range (fuel costs) for shopping there regularly, and they don’t have especially good prices. But, they do have something I like well enough to make me go there every few months. They have an excellent meat dept. and since I don’t raise my own beef, it has to come from somewhere. This store will do anything you like to the meat for free–like when I’m going to make beef jerky, I pick out a big roast (very inexpensive way to make jerky) and ask the butcher to slice it up very thin and remove all the fat; this saves me a lot of prep work at home and costs me nothing. Steaks the same way, I love a good Rib eye, but they are pricey, so I buy a rib eye roast and get it cut up into steaks for free, saving about $2 per pound, on a ten pound roast I save about $20.
I’ll add that I think purchasing a vacuum packer has saved us money over the long term, especially for things like crackers and chips that we found went stale before the box was used up.
Tiny, if packed with a vacuum packer, then, do chips and crackers and such not end up getting “soft” / stale?
I have found, that even un opened plain soda crackers seem to get softish. would’ve thought that plastic stuff they factory sealed each “sleeve” in would’ve kept it crisp, but it doesn’t.
I tried the “Don’t go when you’re hungry” technique and it didn’t work for me. I guess I’m a little too thrifty. I had to go back to the store at the end of the week to get more food.
I find that if there’s an item you can never get enough of, such as shampoo, bar soap, toothpaste, razors, band aids, etc and they’re on sale, I will by 12 of that item, or do a 6/6 purchase in two trips. Then, I don’t have to think about that item for an entire year and I can concentrate more completely on food items on subsequent trips.
unless you’re buying locally-grown fresh produce, you’re better off with frozen. frozen fruits and vegs are frozen within a day or so of picking, whereas “fresh” ones have been transported to you, sometimes for as long as 3-4 weeks. especially now, with the drought in california, we’re getting produce from faraway places, and it could have been in a truck for quite a while. of course, if you live in texas, that may not be a problem, but here in new york i’m going with frozen foods, which hopefully have a few vitamins and minerals left in them!
Best buy in grocery store is the frozen spinach(according to Rachael Ray).
I buy Cheerios on sale typically 8 to 10 boxes at a time. On bad weather days I like to have stocks of bulky items so they won’t get soaked in rain or sleet for instance. This is just ordinary weather related. I purchase toilet paper twice a year. I always purchase milk and bread for 2 weeks at a time in normal circumstances. I freeze excess for the second week. I have 10 cans of tuna in case of a power failure, severe snow storm, civil unrest, riots, police shootings and ambushes – if people in my city are killing or attacking armed law enforcement, I am not leaving my home. I purchase plain t shirts I just donated my two shirts from New Orleans with the city logo on it in case I run into someone who considers the city sinful and wants to kill me. Crazies abound. I seek to be a plain Jane to hide in plain sight.