Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Money Saving Tips at the Grocery Store
I hate grocery day. The very idea of spending that much money for a week's worth of food makes me depressed. But I have learned some ways to save money at the grocery store. I'm not an extreme couponer by any stretch of the imagination, but I have learned ways to make my budget go further.
1) Read price labels and compare sizes. Yes, I know: "Everyone says that." Everyone says it because aside from spending 40 hours a week gathering, sorting, cutting and organizing coupons, it's the best way I know how to save money at the grocery store. Look at the price labels. Almost every major grocery store chain now gives the price per unit on the shelf label now. Look to see which size is cheapest per unit. Even if it's only a penny's difference per unit, those pennies add up.
2) Consider store brand. There are store brand products that are just as good or better than the national name brand, and the store brand is often significantly cheaper. However, know when store brand isn't going to work out for you. For example, the store brand for the grocery store I frequent most, has excellent cheese, puddings, and salsa. But their store brand canned beans are horrible and generally have a significantly less amount of beans per liquid.
3) Use coupons if you have them for the products you would normally purchase. Using a coupon for a product you wouldn't otherwise buy isn't saving you money. It's wasting you money because you've made a superfluous purchase.
4) Cut back on processed and convenience foods. Buy "block" cheese instead of pre-shredded. Avoid dinner kits like Hamburger Helper. Make your own marinara sauce instead of buying jarred.
5) Cut back on snack foods and soda. And if you must buy them, opt for store brands.
6) Look for "manager's specials" and other mark-down items and learn when the store marks down products in the bakery and meat department daily. Some stores offer deli meats, cheese, and breads at half price by 4:00 or 5:00p.m. Those items can be frozen for several weeks before using. Just be sure to check use by dates if you aren't planning on freezing something.
7) Never, ever turn down free food. Unless you know for certain you truly won't eat something, don't turn down an offer of free food. The last two summers my bosses have given me CSA boxes they couldn't cancel while on vacation. In one were so many apples I thought we'd all turn in to apples. But we ate every last one. In another were swiss chard (which we'd never had) and summer squash (which we aren't always crazy about). I went in search of recipes for both, and while my husband decided he didn't like swiss chard, we did both discover recipes with summer squash we enjoyed.