Hundreds of food items are reduced 25-60% each week by grocery stores to try and get you to come to their store instead of the competitions. There is no need to every pay regular prices for food items. If you do, you are spending at least 2-3 times more on groceries than a savvy shopper.
Lets go over a few good old common sense rules for frugal grocery store shopping:
- Never put bargains on a credit card. Credit is NEVER a bargain.
- Don't shop "on the fly". Take a few minutes to look at the sales brochures and plan your menu's for the week around what is on sale BEFORE you leave for the grocery store.
- Everything that goes on sale will come on sale again within about 8-10 weeks. It is a rotation process, so if you stock up on enough of the item to last that long, you will be able to re-stock at sale prices. Once you get into this you will find that you almost always have everything you use on hand, and you rarely have to pay full price for anything. (This is a great way to start a food storage.)
- Learn to read the price sticker near each item. It shows the name of the item, the size, the retail price, and cost per unit (by pound, ounce, liter, gallon or quart.) This makes it easier to compare the costs of different size containers. BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS A BETTER BUY! (In fact, when you are coupon shopping, the smaller item that has been put on special for the week is going to win over the larger bulk size every time.) For example, if a one liter bottle of soda is 60 cents, but a two liter is $1.50, it ends up saving you to buy two one liter bottles.
- When you are comparing costs, look at the high and low shelves as well as those in the middle. The more expensive brands are often displayed at eye level, with the cheaper or sale items placed where you have to bend or stretch.
- Be on the look out for end of the isle "bargains" which are anything BUT that! Sometimes a store will pile something that they are over stocked on at the end of an aisle, and put the price in big numbers hoping that you will mistake it for a bargain and buy a few of them.
- If you have limited space for value pack specials, shop with a relative or a friend and share. I used to shop at Costco with my mom or sister and we would split large packages of vegetables, meat or yeast for example. This would save us DOLLARS over the amount it would have cost us to buy the same items at the grocery store, and we wouldn't end up having so much that it would get wasted.
- Enjoy the free samples at the store and collect the coupons, but DON'T buy the items until they come on sale.
- Always, Always, Always check the scanner prices as the cashier scans everything. Often the computer makes an error which can cost you. If you don't think it is worth bringing it up for some cents, think again. Some stores have scanner guarantee's which promise you correct prices or you get an incentive. The little amounts that you let pass can add up to quite a bit in the course of a year. I always have my kids or hubby empty the cart while I watch the scanner so that I can have them correct the price immediately if it comes up wrong. This avoids lengthy waits at the customer service desk.
- Be flexible. If the price of the vegetable or other item you wanted is up, don't have your heart set on it so badly that you are not ready and willing to choose something else.
- Don't feel obligated to make every side dish from scratch. SOME convenience foods may actually cost less, and there is no waste. Canned beets, frozen squash, pearl onions and other sauced frozen veggies are examples of this... they have longer shelf life and there is little to no preparation.
Next up... helpful information about specific grocery items such as Cereals and Meats. :)