Are you on a budget like I am? Do you shake your head as you leave the grocery store wondering how you spent so much money? Well, you are not alone! As a mother of four, I learned many tips about frugal grocery shopping when we suddenly went from a two income family to a one income family several years ago. Recently, it dawned on me to share these four ways to save on groceries that you can implement today!
PLAN TO SAVE ON GROCERIES
I know, I know. You’re ready to ditch this article thinking I’m being a simpleton and insulting your intelligence. Stay with me here. It was a tough lesson for me to PLAN. There were a million reasons why this was difficult for me. First of all, I had to sit down and INTENTIONALLY make a list. For goodness sake, I had FOUR kids running around and all kinds of activities going on. And, honestly, when I heard this tip, I thought: will this really make a difference? The answer is YES! Here’s what I do to PLAN my grocery shopping.
I typically shop once a week, so I make a written menu of what we’ll have each evening for dinner first. I don’t know about you, but for me, half of cooking is deciding WHAT to cook! With that done, I start my grocery list by assessing my needs for those meals. Once I have a menu and all of the ingredients in the house, I feel like a huge burden is lifted each night as I just look at my list and prepare what I’ve already planned for.
Other factors that go into my list-making include what I need to have on hand for breakfast, snack and lunch. This will vary depending on whether or not school is in session or it’s summertime. And, the last factor that determines my list is what’s on sale that we use a lot of at our house.
KNOW THE SALE CYCLES TO SAVE ON GROCERIES
Friends, this is BIG! Once I learned this trick I started saving money like crazy! Not only that, but I found that my grocery list each week had changed significantly. In fact, some weeks I didn’t need much at all!
Sale cycles are very predictable, and you can learn them quickly if you routinely shop at the same place(s). Basically, staple items go on sale every six to eight weeks. When you know that, you can plan on stocking up during that time. Some of the items that I stock up on regularly are: spaghetti and sauce, peanut butter, condiments, snacks, juice boxes, coffee (we cannot run out of coffee), cereal, canned goods, crackers, etc. Non-food items that I regularly stock up on include: toilet paper, dish detergent, laundry detergent, diapers, pet food, household cleaners, personal products (toothpaste, hair care, deodorant, feminine hygiene products), etc. I look to stock up at my local Publix when they have items that I use a lot in their weekly BOGO FREE (BUY ONE GET ONE FREE) offers.
In other words, when something I use a lot of is on sale, I buy enough to last until the next time it will be on sale. Make sense?
USING COUPONS TO SAVE ON GROCERIES
Coupons. People think they have to spend tons of time and be an extreme couponer to save money. You don’t! If you have $5 – $10 in coupons, that is awesome! If you do that weekly, you will have saved $20 – $40 bucks in a month! Do that for a year and you will have saved $1,020 – $2,040!! That gets me excited! The thing is, you’ll likely start small with coupons and then as you become more comfortable with them, you’ll locate them more easily and feel empowered to use them.
Where do I find coupons? Sunday newspaper, special inserts that get thrown out in my yard once a week, online and I even have a phone app that I can print from. I print them as needed unless I see a GREAT coupon and know it’ll be on sale soon. COUPON + SALE = FRUGAL FIND! Also, keep in mind that many stores (including my Publix) doubles the value of a coupon up to $.50! So a $.50 coupon is worth $1.00. A $.25 coupon is worth $.50.
For example: recently my local Publix had Kentucky Legend boneless ham steaks on sale BOGO FREE and they were priced at $3.29 each. With the sale, it made them $1.65 each. I found coupons online that I printed off for $1.50 each. I purchased them for $.15 each final cost. I also had my husband print two coupons from his computer and I printed two more from my phone (you are limited to two coupon prints per computer for online coupons of any sort). I purchased six packs for $.90. They freeze well so I stocked up! These go on sale about every six weeks, but I don’t always have a great coupon like this one. I might buy a package or two at the BOGO FREE price, but I’ll stock up with a deal like this. (NOTE: At Publix, you can purchase one item for half price if you don’t need two of the BOGO FREE items.)
SOURCES FOR COUPONS TO HELP YOU SAVE ON GROCERIES
I believe in not trying to reinvent the wheel. Friends say: why don’t you blog more about coupons and match ups, where the deals are, etc.? I manage three blogs, and there are already some AWESOME blogs out there about couponing. I suggest you follow them and use their knowledge.
For example: Southern Savers does a fabulous job of being user friendly with regard to coupons. I check there every week when she posts the new Publix ad (click on GROCERY STORES and find your store, it doesn’t have to be Publix) and she will not only have the ad listed, but she will have coupon match ups as well! This saves you tons of time and shows you deals in advance. She also has links to drugstore ads and match ups as well as national chains (WalMart, Target, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, etc.).
Two more that I really like are Hip 2 Save and Totally Target! Both of these have deals at lots of different places and you’ll appreciate seeing some excellent finds for gifts and stock up prices for household goods. Coupons.com is an excellent place to locate coupons and they have a phone app additionally.
I hope this has made sense to you (or should I say cents?). As I quickly found out, a little planning and research can really help save on groceries! Start slow. You aren’t expected to build a stockpile overnight. For example: when peanut butter is on sale BOGO FREE and you have coupons (this happens frequently), you can buy two for less than what you would have paid for one. If you have enough coupons, buy four and then it’ll be quite a while before peanut butter shows up on your shopping list again.
Watch product expiration dates. If I have products that are approaching expiration and I know I can’t use them all, I donate them. Food banks are happy to get them…and so are hungry mouths.
Do you use any of these tips to save on your groceries? Leave us a comment and share what you do!