The one thing I hear on Xtreme the most is “I need to use coupons so I can save on my groceries”! OR “How can I spend less on my groceries?” So Here are a few of my favorite sites/tips that offer some great information on Saving at the Supermarket that can help you as you start on your money-saving journey. These days saving at the grocery store has never been easier as competition for your business has been fierce among many players, including Kroger, Safeway, Walmart, Target, Costco, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to name a few. The increased competition has only been good for consumers as price deflation, promotions and sales have never been better. This has made it extremely easy for working professionals, families, and non-couponers to save big money with only a minimal amount of time required. Become a master at saving just $20 per week and you’ll save $1,000 over the course of the year!
1. Be sure to plan ahead before going to the grocery market:
Check your local sales ads and favorite sales blogs before making your grocery lists out to see what’s on sale.
2. Gather/Clip your coupons:
Match up your coupons with the sales. There are plenty of sites that do the matching up for you:
The Grocery Game
Or print coupons online:
(Try and go to markets that double the manufacturer coupons to double the savings! )
3. Try the store brand instead of the name brand items.
Believe it or not, sometimes there really isn’t a difference other than the price. For instance, I actually prefer the Pathmark brand of loaf bread to Strothmann bread as it is so soft and fresh!
4. Check unit prices per size vs cost.
This can sometimes make a really big difference in determining whether the price is good for the value! More doesn’t always mean better savings. Stay informed and you’ll save more. Do you know the difference between an item price and a unit price? If not, you can get more details here.
5. Buy your meats in bulk family packs and separate into smaller packs for freezer storage.
6. If an item is on sale, for example, 3/$5, you don’t always have to buy the full 3 items unless stated “You Must Buy 3″.
Example: That pasta that is advertised at 3/$5 is really only $1.66 wyb buy just 1.
7. If an advertised item is out of stock, get a raincheck! Most stores will issue you a raincheck for the sale price so that you can the item for that price.
8. Make A List – By taking a couple of minutes to make a quick list, it forces you to do a quick look at your current inventory and it helps you stay on task at the grocery store. If you’re making a quick run, use a basket vs. a shopping cart so you don’t get tempted to load up on impulse buys. Lists also help you determine what your main staple items are each week. By knowing your staple items, you can start getting a better idea on your weekly costs and spot sale savings quicker.
9. Weekly Ad Inserts – As competition has increased, so has our options, with many stores selling groceries all clustered in the same area. According to data research group Symphony IRI, seventy-six percent of Americans are now shopping at up to five “channels” for food a week. Here in Seattle, we have a Target, Walmart, QFC Kroger, Albertsons, and Safeway all within a few blocks of each other. This allows us to quickly scan each weekly ad to see where we can find the best value for our typical basket of groceries we purchase. If one store is having a sale say on more expensive items like meat and fish, and another on our staples like milk and produce, we can easily make two quick stops for extra savings.
10. Store Loyalty Cards – Many grocery stores these days require you to sign up for a loyalty card to qualify for the sale prices. By going without, you’re likely missing out on hundreds in savings throughout the year. If you don’t like carrying extra cards around, most stores allow you to use your phone number when checking out. Also, there’s a number of smartphone apps these days that will store all of your cards in one app. One of the more popular ones is by Key Ring.
11. Store Email & Mailing Lists – One of the more popular trends of late are grocery store snail mailing you valuable coupons. Just this week we’ve received some great coupons from QFC Kroger, Safeway, and Albertsons. Most of the time, these are the save $5 or $10 when you purchase a stated amount of groceries. Make sure you signup for email alerts and your mailing address is up to date so you don’t miss out on savings. Even if you don’t clip a single manufacturers coupon, these in-store coupons are a quick and easy way to shave a little off your weekly bill.
12. Digital Coupons – According to NCH Marketing digital coupons only represented 1% of all coupon redemption last year and is poised to grow for many years to come. All the big grocery stores now have some form of digital coupons, including Kroger, Safeway, Publix, Meijer, and Albertsons to name a few. By taking just a couple of minutes to log into your account, you can quickly download coupons directly to your loyalty card. Often times, you’ll find higher value coupons and even free products! Many stores also have smartphone apps, but we will dive into that at a later date.
A few more tips to help guide you as well!
- Shop Smarter: Coupons are not the goal! (Shocked yet???) They are, however, the icing on the cake. Follow your regions sales cycle (here in the south it is a 6-8 wk cycle). Learn when various items are at their rock bottom price and buy enough to last your family until the next cycle comes around. If you also have coupons to apply to that rock bottom price, then you get even more savings. This is just learning to Shop Smarter. (Using a Price List to track prices is always a good thing!)
- Build a Stockpile: No, not that mountain of mustard or Sundrop soda you may have seen on the couponing show. But enough of the items you use to last you thru the sales cycle. Items purchased at their rock bottom price so that you never have to pay full price again. You must move away from “need” based shopping and head towards “sale” shopping. When you NEED something, you pay full price. When you look ahead and buy what is on sale, then you already have most of what you need and you got it at a lower price. To read a previously written series of posts about Stockpiling, head over here.
- Plan a Menu: Are you looking for a great way to save money on your groceries? A Menu Planning Service can come to the rescue. These ingenious services help you plan, save on grocery costs and manage your dinner meals simply and easily. Menu Planning services provide moms with a simple to follow dinner menu for each week. Not only do you get awesome dinner meal ideas including main dishes, side dishes, and desserts that are satisfying, simple to prepare and healthy, but you also get a personalized grocery list to simply shop for the ingredients for the upcoming week. You can save loads of money, because when you know which meals you will be preparing and which ingredients you will need you won’t wastefully purchase ingredients and items that are not required. Many people spend hundreds of dollars each year buying food ingredients that they don’t need. In many cases foods are wasted, because they sit around not being used in any meals you prepare. Once you find a meal idea for these ingredients, they are usually too old, spoiled or stale. By utilizing a menu planning service you will also save on fast food and casual dining restaurant bills. Many families become frustrated when there is no food in their refrigerator. Instead of preparing a healthy and low-cost meal at home, they opt for the ease of visiting fast food and casual dining restaurants that can easily cost $20, $50, $100 or more. If you are looking for a reason to keep you at home rather than at high priced restaurants, a meal planning service is an affordable and practical solution.Another way you can reap the rewards from menu planning is with all the time you will save. Now that everything is planned out for you, you won’t have to spend time each day running back and forth to the grocery store to buy needed food items, you can have your whole week’s meals planned out and have a comfortable and relaxing time at home with your family.If you are looking for an awesome way to save on your grocery bills, check out a menu planning service.Dine Without Whine is a great menu planning service for active families. Go to Dine Without Whine to discover even more rewards to menu planning.I know that some of you hate the very idea of it, but it will save you money. Planning your meals around what you already have, as well as what is on sale this week will keep you from spending full price on things that you suddenly NEED. Make sure you plan your menu around what is in season, as well. Some produce we get all year round, but we pay higher prices for it when it has to be shipped in from other regions or countries.
- Stop Buying Convenience Foods: You know those individual packages of snacks, treats, candy, Lunchables, coffee, burritos, individual entrees, etc….
*Buying a larger package and dividing it into baggies or small containers will save you SO much money! Yes, sometimes those items are on sale and have awesome stacked coupons. BUT that is not the norm.
*You can also Freezer cook. Whether that means making lots of meals that last a long time, or simply preparing a dish or two each week, that you divide into 2 baking dishes. Bake one for today and freeze the other for later.
*A side note, packing lunches (parents or kids) instead of eating out or at school will save your household money!!
- Don’t Chase Every Deal: This one seems simple, but if you set yourself a cash budget and stick to it, then chasing every single deal cannot happen. When the money runs out, you are done! Chasing every single deal wastes your time, your gas and ultimately your money! Don’t do it!
If you’re really committed to saving money, you don’t have to be an extreme couponer to enjoy these savings. If you’re just getting started, take a look at your most recent grocery bill, and make a goal of saving just $5-10 per week on the same items you purchased. Over the course of the year, that’s $250-$500 in savings alone. After implementing many of the strategies above, not only will you become a smarter shopper, but you’ll likely be able to turn what you’ve learned about your habits into at least $20 of savings per week. If you save $20 per week, that’s $1,000 by years end! How fun is it to have an extra $1,000?
Once you master saving at the grocery store, you can now start evaluating the rest of your spending habits and be on your way to a debt free life.
Stick to it and you can learn to reduce your Grocery spending amount!!