Jan 19, 2011

6 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

From gas to groceries, everything is getting more expensive, challenging our dollars to stretch further and further. We have to find ways to spend less on groceries while still getting the things that we need to feed ourselves and our families. Here are 6 ways to save money at the grocery store. Some are obvious, but maybe during better times, you have gotten out of the habit of practicing them, so it's time reconsider these simple ways to save.

  1. Clip coupons - Whether you clip coupons from newpapers, save the ones often printed out with your receipt when you shop, or search them out online and print them, coupons are one of the best ways to save. Couponing has become quite popular and the subject of television programs.
  2. Use a Loyalty Card - Most stores have cards that give their regular customers discounts on select items each week.  Our ShopRite offers what they call a "Price Plus" card.  That, added to coupons that you clip, or are sometimes generated at checkout, can give you significant savings.
  3. Use Digital Coupons - I am updating this post and including this method of saving as it has become popular in recent years. Our supermarket has a weekly list of digital coupons online that I check off after logging in. They are identified at checkout by my loyalty card which I and the amount is automatically deducted
  4. Buy more staples than prepared foods. It is easier to buy a box of macaroni and cheese, but is it more economical? Sometimes if may be, but you may be trading good nutrition by purchasing prepared foods with all the additional chemicals added.  More often than not, a large box of macaroni and a block of cheese will make more servings for your family than one box of prepared macaroni and cheese.  And you have the option to buy a better pasta...I like to use multi-grain pasta in my Macaroni and Cheese. The next time you go shopping and pick up a box or bag of an already prepared item, ask yourself if you can make that at home for less. If you can, then put that item back in favor of less expensive staples.
  5. Buy in bulk and buy extra when items are on sale. Consider the food items that you use most often. Cereals, meats, vegetables, condiments, juices, and paper products can be bought in bulk usually at a lower price at food warehouses like Costco, BJ’s, and Wal-Mart. Of course, storage will be a factor here, but do the best that you can.  We have an extra freezer, and I only buy meats at our "regular" supermarket when on sale and get an extra package each time so that we are always eating meat that was purchased on sale, and have a variety in the freezer at all times.  I do this with frozen vegetables as well.
  6. Don’t shop when you are hungry.  Shopping on an empty stomach means that you will pick up more things than you need. You are more likely to pick up that bag of chocolate chip cookies or that box of donuts when the growling gets underway.
  7. Use a shopping list - I keep a list going as things run out during the week and limit my shopping to what I need plus specials as mentioned above.  Check your cabinets and the fridge to see what you need and write them down, and stick with your list as much as possible. With the shop-at-home services that many stores offer that allow you to shop online, you can have a list of commonly used items readily available to you when you log in to your account at your supermarket.
  8. Shop at the same stores. This is easy for us as we are in a relatively rural area and there's only or two large stores in the area. Going to the same store each time makes you more familiar with the prices so you can estimate your bill as you write your grocery list.
Rising prices don’t have to mean a lean dinner table. There are ways to make your food dollar go further and if you take the time to implement the ideas listed above as well as others of your own, you’ll see savings each and every time you shop.

Updated 3/28/16

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