This blog is equally, if not more important than the coupon blog. Yes, I said it could possibly be more important. Why? Because couponing is a tool to a lifestyle. These tips help you develop the lifestyle. Couponing helps you do it extra extra cheap. (And you'll be surprised how much just these tips will help your budget!)
So here we go! Grocery shopping tips I think everyone can benefit from! No matter how coupon savvy you are!
- Find a local grocery store and shop there. Avoid supercenters. Why? Because their 'always low prices' are not always low. Their slogan should say 'pretty consistent prices', because this would be true. Here is basically how this works: shop at Wal-Mart or other supercenters constantly and you'll pay higher prices on virtually everything that is in your local grocer's sale bill. You may find items cheaper if they are not on sale at your grocer (but this is why you shop sales, get the always low price for real), but you may find out if you can wait a couple days for the new sale bill to come out, you can get huge savings. Remember the milk I talked about in a previous post? So find your local grocery store, I shop at Kroger almost exclusively, and watch their sale ads (which are easily available to find online!). You may find some items are cheaper elsewhere, if so, buy those items where they are cheapest if it doesn't require an extra trip. For example... we only use 93% hamburger unless we are making burgers. It's a quality of meat and a healthy choice I make for our family. WalMart, yes, the supercenter, always has 1 lb rolls of 93% for $2.98, almost $2 cheaper than our Kroger's normal price (and still cheaper than the sale price when it hits rotation), so I always buy my hamburger from the super center.
- Stock up on items you use often when they are on sale at your grocer. Why, because a rotation of sale items is about every 6-8 weeks. So I've found that when something goes on sale, if I stock up then, I may not need that item again for a few weeks - a month (or more). And that's nice because I never have to pay full price for the item. (Of course there are some items you can't do this with, such as milk, eggs, etc.) Some of our staple items: tomato sauce, beans and rotel (for chili), pasta noodles, canned fruit (canned in only juice, no syrup), boxed mac n' cheese (for those chicken casserole in a pot nights), meat (check for manager's specials, etc. meat freezes, so just because the use by date is tomorrow does not mean that you can't buy it and freeze it today), and any kind of toiletries, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. (I literally have 7 bottles of body wash in my pantry right now. That should last us awhile. Oh, and I got them all for free ;)
- Menu plan, menu plan, menu plan! I cannot stress this one enough. If you read nothing else, read this. How many times have you gone to the store, left, come home, and tried to find something to fix for supper and had nothing to create a complete meal? Be honest. How annoying! First of all, menu planning fixes that all together. Second of all, you can base your menu plan around your stockpile (that's the next bullet) and what is on sale at your grocery store that week, and it makes for a really easy shopping experience. So check out your stockpile, look through the sale ad, base your meals around those things, make a shopping list that includes the items you need (think things like breakfasts and lunches too, though you may not have to be very exact with those), and when you go shopping, buy ONLY the things on your list! This saves you from extra buying and has saved us from wasting a lot of food!
- Stockpiling. Remember when I said to stock up on the things that are on sale each week that you know that you'd use? By doing so (I even budget a small amount of my grocery budget to do exactly this) you form a 'stockpile' of product at your house. For example, I mentioned that I like to stock up on tomato sauce, beans, and rotel. When I'm creating my menu plan, and I check my stockpile, I can see that I have all of the ingredients I need for chili except hamburger, because I've stocked up on them at rock bottom prices. Then, I can write chili on my menu plan for that week, and all I have to buy (if none is stockpiled in the freezer) is a roll of hamburger! (And any condiments like cheese shreds or crackers, if they aren't already in the house.) There have been times I've been able to put over half our grocery budget in savings because I was able to fix meals almost completely from our stockpile. Those are good weeks :)
- Limit grocery shopping. When I started the whole couponing / saving money idea, I set out to only grocery shop once every two weeks. It was an am mature mistake. I now shop once a week. The reason why? 1.) Because there were certain things we had to buy each week for them to be good. Think produce, bread, milk, etc. I found I was going back to pick up an item here, and a couple days later an item there, just because I was trying to avoid the grocery store all together. It was costing me more time and more gas to try to keep in the house the perishable things that we use or run out of. 2.) You are missing stockpile opportunities. One thing about Kroger is that their specials usually run for two weeks. (usually is the key word here). BUT, there are things every week on their sale ads that don't run for two weeks. Stocking up has to be something that's looked at weekly, or else your 6 week cycle can become twice as long! 3.) It's much easier for me to menu plan for one week at a time than it is two. I can incorporate a lot more fresh food (veggies and produce) than if I waited two weeks.
- Watch for great deals on toiletries, diapers, etc, at unexpected places. If you are ever near a drugstore such as Walgreens or CVS, you can score amazing deals, and even freebies, by watching sales at these places. It can lead to free or cheap bottles of shampoo, razors, body wash, otc medicines, even diapers and wipes. Another place to look for diapers and wipes? Amazon.com. You can't beat the deals I've been getting through Amazon with my Amazon Mom prime account! Love it!