Frugal Living Tip: Groceries

The Grocery Store – this is definitely one place where lots of money can be saved. In order to save money on groceries, you need to plan your shopping trip, use coupons, and meal plan. Below is a step-by-step guide to follow to make the most of your grocery shopping and save money!

Create a budget for your grocery shopping.

Whether it’s one hundred dollars of three hundred dollars, it’s important to not go over that amount. Be sure to bring a calculator to the store to keep track of your expenses. A good rule of thumb is just put the price on the tag in the calculator and watch that total then you’ll end up saving more at the end once you use your coupons and special discounts. Be sure to add everything into the calculator so there are no surprises at the checkout counter!

Before you get going into saving money tips at the grocery store, think about how often you like to shop. Do you like to shop each week, daily, twice a month, once a month? Determine this before going forward. If you like to shop once a week, take the total amount for groceries that you have budgeted for the month and divide that by the number of weeks in that month. That is how much you can spend at the store each week.

If you have two hundred dollars a month for groceries, and four weeks in the month, you have fifty dollars a week for groceries. Another tip: if you have fifty dollars to spend and only use forty-five dollars, take the extra five dollars and put that into savings. Don’t save it to buy more groceries or think that you can go get a burger and fries. Be frugal and save it!

The next step is to make an inventory of all the groceries you currently have.

Go through your pantry, freezer and refrigerator and list what you have in stock. If you can do this on the computer, it’ll be helpful to update regularly. Create three columns: Item, Amount, and Purchase.

Put a list of all the products you have in the “Item” column and how many of each item you have in the “Amount” column. The “Purchase” column is where you can place a check mark when you run out of the entire item or you get very close to being out and you need to pick it up the next time you go shopping. Keep this list near the pantry or cabinet where you have all your groceries. Make the same type of list for your refrigerator and freezer as well.

Another step is to clip coupons.

I recommend having the Sunday paper delivered to your house each week. In the long run, you will be saving a lot more than the subscription price is worth. Take the time to clip coupons and create a good system for you for sorting them. Be sure to also check to see if a store doubles coupons. You save even more when stores do that for you.

You can also print coupons on your computer. Sites like Coupons.com and CouponSurfer.com are always updated with the latest coupons that are available. Just be sure to check your store’s policy and see if they accept printed coupons.

Join your grocery store’s frequent shoppers club.

Most are free and you get bonus coupons and deals by having the card when you checkout. With the way stores can keep track of what you purchase each time you visit them, they will begin to send you coupons based on your past purchases and when you checkout, they will print you off extra coupons for you to use on your next trip.

Create a grocery list before leaving the house.

Now that you have a list of deals, clipped coupons, a frequent shopper’s club card and a list of what you need from the store, it’s time to sit down and put it all together. Look over everything on your list, go ahead and get coupons ready and make sure you know exactly what you are going for while at the store. Going to the store without a list is detrimental to the entire process of living frugally.

Now that you are at the store, take your time. Never shop on an empty stomach – this will prevent some impulse purchases.

Read the sale ad and the tags on the shelf carefully- then compare prices to save the most money.

A good rule of thumb is to have a calculator or extra paper to determine what your best deal is. Have the ad from the paper as well to check out any special deals that are going on. Some stores have listed in their ads if you buy ten of these certain products, you will get three dollars off at checkout. The important thing with this is to look at the list carefully. If you need the products listed and they are cheaper than their counterparts, then it is worth it to get all those items.

Another thing to consider deals with the frequent shoppers club card. All over the store there will be signs stating that with your card, this item is “Buy 10 for $10.” So each item is one dollar each. For that particular item, this may be a good buy. But if you take a look at the generic item right beside it that is regularly priced at eighty-nine cents each, that is the better deal to go with. Don’t always be fooled by the signs.

Furthermore, “Buy 10 for $10″ could be misleading. You might not have to purchase 10 to get the sale price. With your card, you might be able to save a certain amount on each, regardless of how many you purchase. This is why you must read carefully to fully understand the sale.

Ever been told it’s better to by the family size of an item?

Don’t be fooled here either. When you see that you can purchase a family size box of granola box where you get thirty-six granola bars for five dollars, you might think that’s a good deal.

But then you see that you can get one box of granola bars with ten bars in each box for one dollar each. If you do the math, you can either get thirty-six granola bars for five dollars or get fifty granola bars for five dollars.

While this might be the case here, in other places, it’s more beneficial to purchase the family size. For example, frozen French fries. For one, these can be frozen so even if you are single, these will last awhile. If you look at the smaller bag of fries, you might get fifteen ounces for $1.99, but you can purchase the family size of forty-five ounces for $2.99 so for one dollar more, you get thirty more ounces.

When buying groceries, in most cases, buying generic is the exact same as buying the name brand product.

Try it and see if you don’t notice a difference or lack thereof. Generic is usually approximately thirty percent cheaper than name brand if not cheaper.

Again, you do have to look at in-store specials and coupons before determining exactly which product to buy. You will probably begin spending longer in the grocery store than before, but if it’s worth it to save twenty percent, thirty percent or more, then it’s worth the extra time.

One other thing to consider is getting a membership to a wholesale club.

At these stores you can buy in larger quantities and save money on the things you purchase the most. You’ll save more than what you pay for the membership. It’s helpful to have a place to be able to store the extra you have on hand and possibly another freezer or refrigerator. You tend to save twenty to thirty percent when you buy in bulk and it is beneficial when you have a large family or only wish to go shopping for certain items a few times a year.

Another part of the grocery scenario is meal planning.

One reason people spend extra money eating out is they fail to plan ahead. Meal planning is key to saving money on your groceries. It eliminates the last-minute trips to the store. It eliminates the dash to the fast food drive-through. When you plan your grocery shopping list, plan your meals too,

A good tip is to pick one day a week and spend it cooking meals for the week. It’s very easy to make several casseroles and freeze them and on any given day, all you need to do is pull the casserole out in the morning and it’ll be thawed out by the time you come home for dinner, ready to pop into the oven and cook while you wind down. Think about using recipes for the crock-pot that cook all day while you’re gone (or even while you’re at home) and it’s ready for dinnertime.

Saving money on groceries can be easy, if you prepare. So let’s recap what you need to do:

  1. Create a grocery budget
  2. Create an inventory of what you have on hand
  3. Clip coupons
  4. Join your store’s customer shopping program
  5. Carefully read the circular and the tags
  6. When you can, buy the family size or in bulk
  7. Buy generic
  8. Plan your meals

If you’d like more information on how to meal plan, I have a low-cost,  easy-to-read ebook that gives you a step-by-step formula for meal planning. Check out The Household Helper’s Guide to Meal Planning for Busy Moms.

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