Grocery prices seem to be constantly be on the rise, making your budget hard to control. However, there are few simple things you can do that will help you get control — and stay there!
Make It At Home
First things first — do you really have to buy those box mixes, packets and frozen foods? No! Make what you can at home and stick to buying the basics from the store. No more worrying about what is in your food!
Shop Less Often
This one goes hand in hand with the first tip — go to the store less. If you’re not in the store then you won’t be tempted to purchase things you might not actually need.
When you do go shopping, leave the debit cards and checks at home and commit to paying with just cash. You’ll find that you purchase less and only get what you need.
Shop Loss Leaders
Loss leaders are the items that grocery stores deeply discount in order to get you in the store. Typically they can be found on the first and last pages of the sales ad.
Use coupons on items that are already on sale to maximize your savings!
Create Meal Plans
Create a meal plan so you know exactly what ingredients you will need from the store — saving time, money and helping life be less stressful!
Compare Unit Prices
Those big packages aren’t always the best buy! Be sure to compare the unit prices before assuming the biggest package is more economical.
Create a Price Book
Keep track of the prices of the items you buy the most, so you know what is a good price, and which store has it. You can either use a spreadsheet on your computer or traditional pen and paper.
You might find it easier to implement just a couple of these tips at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Once you’ve used to your new changes, add in some of the other tips. Even if you choose to just do a couple of these tips — you’ll find that you will be controlling your grocery budget, instead of it controlling you!
Take From The Back
When buying frozen goods take your item from the back of the freezer. First of all, it will have the latest expiration date because all the sooner expiration dates are pushed to the front so that they will sell sooner. Secondly, it is less likely you will pick up an item put back in the freezer after it has been out and about in the store for who knows how long of a ride in someone else’s shopping cart.
This rule also applies to refrigerated goods and carbonated beverages. In the case of carbonated beverages, it may have been replaced after being dropped and is now good as new …except flat.
Some weeks we drink milk like it’s the last drink on the planet. Other weeks my family avoids milk like the plague. I can never tell what type of milk drinking week it’s going to be. That’s why I buy a minimum amount and then keep powdered milk on hand. I also keep Gatorade mix, hot chocolate mix, and Emergence C mix on hand. To round it out I also keep herbal teas on hand to give me variety in my drinking life. It keeps my family happily hydrated with enough choices without breaking the bank. Powdered drinks often cost less than their liquid counterparts.
Look up recipes ahead of your shipping trip. Choose easy fast recipes that share many of the same ingredients. This does a couple things for you. First, it’s less for you to hunt for in the store. The less time you spend there, the less likely it is you will wander around and end up impulse buying. The second thing it does is ensure you will be able to cook different meals for your family quickly, but with the same basic ingredients.
This is such a great way to find new recipes, organize favorite recipes, and plan your grocery shopping and meal plans! Join Cookmmore.com for FREE!
If you have children you are totally going to relate to this. If you don’t have kids, don’t say we didn’t warn you. And if you have kids that don’t act up when you are shopping consider yourself blessed! I have definitely learned a few tricks the short 3 years I have been a mom. Going to the store without a game plan can seriously cause you to spend money where you shouldn’t and rush through while not paying attention to prices.
Here are Discount Debbie’s tips for shopping with your kids.
1. Bring snacks. Doesn’t this work for everything though? If I bring snacks, I can almost ensure that my children will be happy at least half of the time. It also helps them not want everything in sight causing you to spend money unplanned.
2. Go when your store isn’t busy. Generally this is mid morning during the week. But you know your store better than we do, so pay attention to those down times. This will also help you not to feel rushed. It also helps you not feel judged by a bunch of people if your children have meltdowns. I have had some seriously ugly encounters with people who aren’t too happy with my misbehaving kids. Less people means less drama.
3. Don’t be afraid to put off your shopping trip. Are your kids too tired or not feeling well? Don’t go to the store then. It’s not worth it. Just wait it out until they are well rested and feeling better.
4. Let your kids help. My son is 3 and he loves to help me shop. He’s really great about not just throwing things into our cart and does really well when I am giving him a purpose. Have your children “help” you shop by putting specific items into your cart and even putting it onto the belt at check out.
5. Use the kid shopping carts. If I could, I would hug the person who came up with the idea for the little cars you can push around in the store. My kids are happy at least half of the time with those carts. Couple that with the other tips I listed and you’ve got yourself a successful grocery trip!
What do you do to help with those stressful trips to the store? Am I alone here?
Couponing isn’t just about saving money. As you’ve probably seen on TV and online there are definitely somw crazy couponers out there. Don’t be one of them! Some unethical couponers have gone as far to make the 6 o’clock news. It’s important for those of us that follow the rules to teach the “newbies” so that we can all be couponing for years to come. What is ethical couponing?
An ethical couponer will…
1. Never copy a coupon. Photocopying a coupon is fraud. This especially goes for coupons that you print from the internet. It would be pretty easy to use them over and over in a store, but it’s wrong.
2. Follow the directions of the coupon. If it said buy 4 and you buy 2 and get away with it, that’s wrong. Even though the coupon may scan, don’t buy the smaller/cheaper size.
3. Throw away or donate your expired coupons. Did you know you can send your coupons to the Overseas Coupon Program and they will send them overseas? Yep! Our military can use coupons for much longer than we can.
4. Use coupon “peelies” immediately. You see those stickers on items in the store that say save now. They really do want you to do it NOW. Don’t save them for later.
5. Don’t clear shelves. Personally I think it’s a poor coupon practice to go and buy 50 things of shampoo. Even if you can, you are keeping other people from sharing in the loot.
What do you do to stay ethical? Have you seen some unethical couponing? Tell us about it.
You may have heard the Wal-Mart price matches. Sounds good doesn’t it? But a lot of people don’t take advantage of it because they don’t really know what it means.
Just yesterday I read a Facebook status from a friend who said they saved $30 just by price matching at Wal-Mart. Imagine being able to save actual money just by using other stores ads! Sounds pretty great doesn’t it? Here how you can do it.
1. Gather up ads from all your different stores. Note the best deals and write them down. For example if you see Kroger has Granny Smith apples on sale for $.49 cent a pound, write that down in your list and keep a hold of the ad. Do this until you’ve made a list of everything you want to price match. It will be easier if you have a list with what paper the ad is in. Being organized with this is very important so that checking out goes smoother.
2. Study the Wal-Mart ad matching rules listed below. You can also print one out HERE.
We gladly match the price in the following types of ads:
- Buy one, get one free ads with a specified price
- Example: Buy one for $2.49, get one free (BOGO)
- Competitors’ ads that feature a specific item for a specified price.
- Preferred shopping card prices for specific items that are in a printed ad.
- For fresh produce and meat items when the price is offered in the same unit type (lb. for lb.; each for each)
*The following are guidelines and limitations:
- We will match any local competitor’s advertised price.
- We do not require customers to have the ad with them to honor a competitor’s ad.
- Items purchased must be identical to the ad (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc.)
We DO NOT match the price in the following types of competitor ads:
- Items that require a separate purchase to get the ad price
- example: “Buy [item A] to get [item B] for $C”
- Items with no actual price that require a purchase to get free product
- example: “Buy both [items A & B] to get [item C] for free”
- Items that require a purchase to get a competitors’ gift card
- example: “Buy [item A] to get a $B gift card
- Buy one, get one free (BOGO) ads with no actual price given
- Going out of business or closeout prices
- Percentage off
- example: “All mascara, 40% off”
- Competitors’ private label price promotions
We do not honor:
- Ads when the actual price for items cannot be determined.
- Internet pricing
- Misprinted ad prices of other retailers
- “Going out of business” sales or “close out” prices
3. Go to Wal-Mart with your list and your advertisements. Do your normal shopping, but keep these things you want to price match together.
4. Check out. Keep your price matching items separate from your regular items. It would actually be best to do them last so your cashier can be warned you will be price matching. Have the rules of price matching with you so that if you hit a snag, you can refer to them.
5. Save money!
How much have you saved at Wal-Mart price matching?
Growing up my parents went to the store almost every day. I guess they thought about what they wanted for dinner and went to the store. It wasn’t until I was older and started doing that myself that I was spending more at the store than I needed to. Then I stumbled into the amazing world of meal planning. I was amazed at how much money I started saving.
Meal planning helps in so many ways.
1. It helps you avoid impulse buying. If you go to the store every day you don’t just buy what you need for dinner, you end up buying things you don’t need.
2. You’ll avoid eating out. We all know eating at home is cheaper than eating out. I guarantee that you are more likely to eat out without a meal plan. I know anytime I don’t meal plan, we end up going out and spending a weeks worth of meals on our bill.
3. Less waste. When you meal plan you are more likely to use what’s in your pantry and freezer.
4. Save time. When you go to the store once a week or even twice a month, you save all that time you didn’t go to the store.
So how do I start meal planning?
Contrary to many beliefs, meal planning is quite simple and isn’t nearly as time consuming as some think it is. I hear all the time people say they don’t have time to meal plan. Personally I spend triple the amount of time on meals or going out when I don’t meal plan.
1. Pick one day a week that you will plan and shop. This is the easiest way to get it done. Pick a day you are usually home and just do it. You don’t need anything fancier than a pen and paper.
2. Look around your pantry and cupboards. Take a mental inventory of items you already have. It’s best to use what’s in there to save money.
3. Make a menu. Don’t worry about a list right now. Break it down by days and even breakfast, lunch and dinner if you prefer. We only plan dinners right now since we usually do leftovers for lunch.
4. Make a list. Once you have your menu, make a list from it.
5. Go shopping and make sure you have everything on your list. You don’t want to have to go back to the store. Our point is to save time.
Now you have everything for the week and you shouldn’t have to go back to the store. But, there are some tips to remember.
1. You don’t have to follow your menu religiously. Don’t feel like spaghetti tonight? That’s ok, switch it for Fridays meal. Even though you have a menu, you can be flexible.
2. If you are flexible make sure to cook foods first that may spoil. This especially matters if you cook with a lot of fresh vegetables like we do.
3. Save your menus. It’s hard to come up with new ideas every week or even ideas to rotate. So I always keep my menus so I can go back to them.
Do you meal plan? What’s your strategy for thrifty meals?