Saturday, October 11, 2008

Grocery Shopping -- Getting the Most for Your $

Yay!! We've been getting some GREAT comments and ideas from you over this series! I just love that everyone out there wants to help each other :)!! Let's keep up the "discussion" today!!!

Today let's share tips on ways to save $$ at the grocery store! I decided to do this post today so that you have the weekend to learn, clip coupons with the Sunday paper, organize, & plan your meals! I am first to admit that I HATE grocery shopping. So, anything that will make the process faster and easier (on me AND my wallet) is ok by me! :)
  • Gather the Goods! Get yourself a binder, Sunday paper, scissors, etc., and start clipping those coupons! Also, if you Google "coupons", you'll have TONS of sites pop up where you can print out coupons for everything under the sun! Ms. Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam has a WONDERFUL TUTORIAL for getting started with a coupon binder! She has been a great inspiration for those of us in blogland oblivious to the true $ saving power of the coupon! Also inspired by Jen was Imperfect at Beautifully Imperfect, who showed off her lovely coupon binder and how she put hers together! I'm going to try this this week! Thanks you guys! :)
  • Learn about your Grocery Store! Check if your grocery store has a free customer card that will save you $ automatically at check out -- most do, and you should ALWAYS use it! Plus, this alone will more often than not spit out an extra coupon or 2 for your next visit attached to your receipt! Find out if your stores accept coupons printed from the internet. Watch for when certain stores have double or triple coupon days!
  • Look at the Weekly Flyers! Check what is on sale at your local stores by reading those grocery flyers stuffed in your mailbox each week! Compare the stores to each other, and make your weekly grocery list/meal plan from what is on sale. Be sure to check the lesser known brands at the store to make sure that you are really getting the best price. See what you have a coupon for that's also on sale -- this is how you save big!
  • Organize your Shopping List! Once you've made your meal plan for the week based on what's on sale, combined with what you have coupons for, you need to make your Shopping List! I like to organize mine by what goes together at the grocery store. For example, I list all of the frozen things I need together, the dairy items together, baking needs, etc. I think this makes it easier when I go down an aisle to just glance at one section of the list, not having to scan up & down over and over again to make sure I didn't forget anything, and thus having to backtrack in the store!

Now, I'd like to stop right here and go over the past 2 lessons: Know your Budget, and Needs vs. Wants:

You must have a grocery budget for the month in mind, a $ amount that you should stick to to keep the rest of the monthly budget in line. Split this over the number of weeks, and there's your weekly grocery budget. STICK TO IT!!!

Honestly think about what is a Need and what is a Want! You NEED things like: milk, bread, meat, eggs, etc. You do NOT need things like: pop, alcohol, chips, packaged cookies, or individual frozen meals. These things are NOT necessary. They are fun, they taste good, our families may love them, but push come to shove, they are the last things to use our grocery $$ on! I know a lot of us want to just save a few dollars and we'll be happy with that, yet there's a lot of us who also have to streeeetch those few grocery dollars for everything they're worth, and I really believe that we need to make healthy, smart grocery choices as a priority. I'm sure that your family would agree to skip getting so many packaged snack foods in order for the family to have $$ for other necessary things, or even a family fun day with saved $$!

With this in mind, here's some more Grocery Shopping Tips! :) :

  • Don't go to the store hungry! That's how you end up with so many chips and ice cream and checkout candy items on the conveyor belt! If you're hungry, you'll grab more stuff. Go shopping with a satisfied tummy, and your wallet will thank you!
  • Just because something is on sale, doesn't mean you have to get it! So many of us are LURED like sailors to a Siren (anyone else remember Homer's The Odyssey?) when we see a SALE sign!! We think, "What a bargain! This is a great price! I. must. have. this. item!!! I don't know if my family will: wear/fit/eat/like/want/need this particular item, but it's on sale! Look how much I saved on this possibly useless item!" (And this applies at the grocery, garage sales, mall, etc.) Really think about every purchase that you plan to make, and see if it's truly necessary. You may save some money on a sale item, but money is also usually SPENT! Pennies and dimes add up to money lost, my friends. Shop sales wisely.
  • Check the Bakery for FREE treats! If your little ones are with you, often times a quick swing by the bakery for a free cookie will keep them happy as they "help" mommy around the store! Lots of groceries do this -- just ask!
  • Stick to the List! Don't sway from your list -- this just adds $$ to your total bill. Resist. Stay firm! You'll be glad :) you did!
  • Always compare prices! Sale prices aren't always the cheapest. Sometimes a store or generic brand will be less than even the sale price. Compare, being sure to factor in coupons too, for the best bargain!
  • Carry a Calculator! This is something I'm going to start to do! Add items up roughly as you shop, and you'll know you won't go over budget!
  • Split with a Friend! Some of you like to shop the warehouse type of store for items in bulk. My warning: know your prices. Sometimes this is a deal, and sometimes the Grocery chain store sales are cheaper! Divide it out, and check the math. If you find a good price at the warehouse store, ask a friend to split the cost! Don't need 40 chicken breasts? Split with a friend. Can't eat 25 apples this week? Ask your friend to split the cost and the apples. Just be sure to work this out ahead of time! :) My sister and I have done this sucessfully.
  • Decide How Far You'll Go! My mother in law and best friend will happily drive all around because this store has berries on sale, and that has chicken breasts on sale. I don't have the time or energy to do that. We stick to one or 2 stores, and get the job done. Decide for yourself. You may be able to save some $, but how much would you spend on gas? Know your store locations and different sales, and see what's worth it to you.
  • Shop discount stores! Anyone have an ALDI near them? They have great items for super-great prices. We recently found that Wal-Mart has good grocery prices too, though not the full variety of a regular store.
  • Share With Others! Think about getting a couple of non-perishable items every month to donate to a local food pantry. There are lots of good people who could use the extra help that these services provide. Bless someone else this week!

That's it for today! Don't forget to check out Jen and Imperfect, and let's continue to share ideas with each other!! Leave a comment with how you like to save $$ at the Grocery Store!


Imperfect said...

I'm honored to be linked today because all of this is really great advice, Stacey! Especially when it comes to not going to the store hungry. That's almost always when I get into grocery trouble. One other fun incentive (if you can afford it) for doing the homework necessary to save money is putting a percentage of the money saved into a want fund. For example, putting 10% of the amount you saved on your grocery bill (most receipts list it somewhere on the bottom) into a fund for a weekend trip, a new piece of furniture etc.

Thanks again for doing this series!

bec4 said...

What great ideas--I missed some of these posts (bloglines didn't show that you had new posts up :( ). A list and meal planning ahead of time is my number one way to not over-spend at the store. Also, not bringing my children along! I do say know, but my oldest has a remarkable ability to convince me we need something. Hop on over to my blog--I am having a give away if you leave a money saving tip by Sunday.

Sandy Toes said...

I am out of town but I am going to do this when I get back. It has really gotten out of control with Krogers and me...I go about 3 to 4 times a sales...and my food spending it bad! I am with you!
-Sandy Toes

Jennylou's Projects said...

Buy fresh fruits and veggies while they are in season only - better yet, find a farmers stand. Just last week we got 13 ears of corn, five zuchinnis, butternut squash and a summer squash for $7. Yes, seven. So, I got super fresh food for cheap and I supported the local farmer. In the winter, I tend to buy my veggies frozen - they're cheaper that way.

Jenny S said...

If you have the time, is a great free site that you can check and sort sales for certain stores and can save witht eh right coupon up to 75 percent off. I got toothpaste for 17 cents the other day!!

Stacey @ The Blessed Nest said...

You guys are awesome!! :)

I love hearing all of your ideas! Keep them coming, everyone!!!


Cherry's Jubilee said...

Great tips Stacey! I hate to grocery shop..but it becomes almost fun with coupons etc and how much you can save. cherry

maryanne420 said...

i also use both and

Crystal said...

Wow.. love the blog. I know I can learn lots from you. Just getting into the whole coupon saving lots of money thing. LOL

Katie @ 3 Blondes and a Redhead said...

My new thing is to stick to the list. I've only bought a few non-listed items in the last month and WOW what a difference! I never would have thought. I always scour the day-old bakery shelf and look for manager's specials (I've gotten some steals that way) but I never thought the "list" would make such a difference.

I'm also thinking about moving to the cash-in-envelope system. I kind of dread it, but I've heard that you spend 15-20% more when you use a credit card. (even though we pay ours off and buy on it just to get the will probably "hurt" more if I hand over cash!!!)