6.11.2011

My Top Grocery Shopping Tips

We cut $300 from our grocery budget when I quit working. These are my top tips.

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 1)   Organize grocery coupons by the MONTH they expire (not item).  Check before your weekly trip to see if you need the item.  Chances are the date will pass without you ever needing the item, because most coupons are for junk food or cleaning products that you really don’t need anyways.  That is big money saved.  Use coupons only for what you really need.  Coupons can cause you to waste money if you aren’t disciplined.

2)    Understand how supermarket fliers and loss leaders work. (Miserly Moms taught me.)

3)    Find the lowest priced grocery store in your area – you (or your child) may have to bag your own groceries.  I ended up going two miles farther, but my savings were immense on produce.  A full cart of food for only $30!  The store was in a “poorer” section of town – but I noted plenty of Mercedes in the parking lot.  However, this is not my main store because they do not carry enough of my staples.  I also go only when my husband can accompany me, because he likes to find new foods that are not on my staples list.  Because the produce is so cheap, we can eat to heart’s content.

4)    Keep a small grocery price book in your purse to compare prices when out and you “think” you see a good deal.  Your booklet will tell you if you are right.

5)    Eliminate breakfast cereals, except oatmeal.  Cereal is the number one money waster according to Miserly Moms.  It is a high price point for what you get, and it really doesn’t nourish your body.  Wean yourself.

6)    Try going grocery shopping only once a month!  This really works when you are desperate to cut expenses quickly and efficiently.  Plus it saves you a ton of time and really frees up your weekends.  I did this for quite a few years.  I’m sure my grocery bill was cheaper than anyone else’s in my area because I shopped two stores only once a month.  Usually by week 3 we were cleaning our cupboards of our non-favorites but good-for-you food.  It really helps you stick to your budget.  Buy frozen vegetables, freeze some bread and milk.  I occasionally had to make a run to a bread store outlet.  I used green storage bags for lettuce, celery and carrots and they lasted.  We ate a lot of fruit during the first week, not much for the remainder except in smoothies from frozen fruit.  We also ate canned pineapple and fruits, and I used canned milk for cooking.

7)    Use green bags for produce storage.  Have a chart on your cupboard that tells you which fruits and veggies are best stored together and follow it.  Don’t store onions anywhere near potatoes.  Put potatoes and onions in their own dark bags or boxes, in their own cabinets.  Onions can be separated in an old nylon with twisty ties between each onion. When you buy fresh berries, remove them from the carton they came in and put into a glass storage container.  With strawberries, put only ONE level of berries in the container and they will last at least 8 days.  Once you pile them on top of each other they go bad.  When slicing cheese, don’t touch the cheese with your hands.  Remove cheese from its toxic wrapper and keep in a glass container.  I found that Tillamook tastes better and doesn’t go moldy on me.

8)    Another great exercise to make the absolute most of your budget is to go to the grocery store and buy ONLY FOOD.  How much is the total?  Now, how much is in your grocery budget?  The next day go back to the store and buy your other necessities without exceeding your grocery budget.  Non-food items usually cost a lot more than food items.  This way you are ensuring your family will eat well.  You can always squeeze out a little more toothpaste or shampoo.  You can learn how to buy non-food items at a cheaper store like Target (but you must compare prices, and have a set amount in your envelope so you won’t overspend).  Then make a master list of these nonfood items with their size and price.  Some stores fool you into thinking the price is lower, but really they are just giving you less product (for instance, diapers and toilet paper).  Always check OUNCES you are receiving for make-up and other toiletries.  Carrying an old-fashioned, easy to use calculator in your purse to compare unit price is very helpful.

9)    Once you have your grocery list and budget fully set from doing the above, you can then shop like a true frugal homemaker:
A)  Once a month, after your main payday when you fill your money envelopes, do your main grocery shopping – every item you will need for the entire month.  If you eat spaghetti once a week, buy 4 or 5 packages of noodles and sauce, 4 cans of beans and frozen veggies, etc.  Always buy 4 or 5 of what you need, one for each week. 
B)  Then, choose a day each week when you will typically do your shopping, say, Monday.  The next 3 Mondays when you grocery shop, you are only buying fresh fruit, fresh veggies, bread….FRESH.  The first Monday your expenses are high.  The next three they are very low.  Plus you are in and out of there quick!  It works!!!

10)  You might have a bread outlet near you.  

11)  Don’t shop at membership warehouse clubs.  If you truly compare prices, you will find they are not lower after all.  There is much research to prove this.  Miserly Moms also backs this up.  (I did my own research and I can beat a warehouse anytime, without coupons, on both food and nonfood items.)  I know people will argue this, but many women have proved it true.  Plus, you won’t be over-buying or spending money on impulse buys.  (And your children won’t be wearing the same bargain holiday clothes as your neighbors!)  Plus, you don’t have to pay people to shop for your basic necessities!  You can shop online there without a card, and you can also fill prescriptions without a card, plus you can shop with a friend who has a card if need be, or you can quite simply break your shopping habit!  (Update - just beat warehouse store prices again in 2014)

12) Eat vegetarian at least once a week.

13)  Ask people where they shop and why.

14)  Quit buying cleaning products.  All you really need is a big bottle of vinegar (one for laundry and one for kitchen, plus a squirt bottle of it for the bathroom), Bon Ami, Borax and Washing Soda (Ace Hardware usually carries this; or you can order online & pick up at a store with no s/h charges). 

15)  Stop going through drive-thru’s. 

16)  Know what is worth your time versus what is worth your money.  Usually a mixture of using a few coupons, reducing grocery needs, and cooking from scratch are the top ways to save.

I will update this list as I remember items.   Janine     www.keeping-house.blogspot.com


2 comments:

  1. I tried many of your tips - the coupons by month saved me so much time! Now I don't feel overwhelmed. I did the big shopping trip after pay day and bought only FOOD. (Tip #8) I went home with plenty to eat, then re-evaluated my nonfood needs with my coupons for the month & my $ left over. It worked! I got everything we NEEDED for this month without going over! Yippee! Now I am doing Tip #9. I am also going to try Tip 11 & 14. Thanks!

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  2. Thank you for letting me know! I was afraid no one would believe me or think it was too time-consuming. Tip #8 really does help save a huge chunk of money. I live by #9 (well, all of them!). Good for you for IMPLEMENTING and not just reading!

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