Time to tighten the budget. How to save money on groceries. I know how to do it. But truthfully, sometimes I find it to be WORK. Just as much work as a fulltime job. Taking the time to plan out EVERYTHING is a pain. I’m not one who likes to sit down and take two hours out of my week to pre-plan before shopping. Checking store ads, price comparing, cutting and organizing coupons; ugh! I did all that back in the 90’s. Refunding and couponing was a large part of our household back then. Both are more than acceptable ways to save money. I just do not have the time and commitment for it today.
Instead, I need to go back to setting consistent habits. The habits that save money with the least amount of effort. Not relying on purchasing processed foods or meals outside the home.
The game plan, that I know works is laid out for you below.
How to Save Money on Groceries at the Store
1.) Running List:
Put a list on the fridge and keep it there. As you are running low on products, have the family add it to the list. This will eventually eliminate the need for special trips over the course of the week.
2.) Store Prices Vary:
Each household has a variety of go to products that they use on a monthly basis. From laundry detergent to sour cream, we all have our favorites. Start a comprehensive list of those products. Your challenge – grab a pocket notebook and write down the products. Visit a variety of stores. Write the non-sale price next to the product. Tally up the product totals. It might surprise you to know which store is your go to store for those products. When limited on time, we tend to visit one store. Which store should that be for you? Knowing this one fact, can cut $30-$40 off your monthly budget.
3.) What Day To Shop For Meat:
What is the best day to purchase meat? Wait, what? Best day? Yes. Most certainly. Monday and Tuesday’s are the day I shop for the household meat. There are two regular grocery stores that discount meat. One does it on Monday. The second on Tuesday.
Why? The stores stock up, cut and package all meat products for the weekend on Wednesday and Thursday the previous week. By Monday and Tuesday the meat is discounted. Heavily. We can save up to 70% on meat.
How do you find out when your store does this? Ask them. Each store has a well devised plan to rotate their stock. The stores I have asked have a system. I use it to my advantage.
The meat purchases will guide me as to what I might be making over the next two weeks. Often, I find entire roasts for $3.00 and pre-made, meat case Fajita kits with the meat, veggies and seasons for under $2.50. If you get used to the idea of returning to repackage the meat into freezer bags, you most certainly can get two weeks of meat for $50.00 or under. Not just ground beef. We have steak, roast, brats, chicken, pork chops and additional, high quality meat to feed a family of four. Even GRASS FED beef. Pinterest is your friend when looking how to use the meat you purchase.
4.) Have A Plan:
After you have your meat selected. Use store ads to see what is on sale. If you have plenty of ground beef from your meat shopping, and you see that tomato sauce, elbow noodles and chili seasoning are on sale from the ads – you ARE having chili this week.
Write out your list. Check your cupboards for products you might have on hand all ready. Get familiar with the store layout. Organize your list by store sections. Group the produce together, dairy etc. You will not have to double back when shopping from your list. Saving you time and avoiding impulse buying or buying doubles of products you have in the house already.
5.) Get Used To Driving in Circles With a Cooler in Your Trunk:
Standing joke – When one of my children were young they were asked in class what their parents did for a living. My child piped up happily, “My mom drives around in circles with a cooler in her trunk.” Ah, yes! Joking aside – It saves me time. Make all your stops on the same day. If you need to go to the post office, grocery store 1, grocery store 2, get gas and pick up a prescription; plan out the trip in a circle. Gas, post office, prescription, store one, store two, home.
I always have a cooler in the back of my car for many reasons. One, I might stop at a few grocery stores. I like to purchase fruit, veggies, staples, milk, canned soups and cheese from Aldis. (They are much cheaper than all my stores on those products.) Then stop at another local grocery store for a few things. The stores have a name for this type of shopper. They call people like me cherry pickers. Cherry pickers purchase only the best deals at each store. We are consumers that know what each stores best price is and use it to our advantage. The notebook method (#2) helps to understand where you need to go for a product.
The second reason for having the cooler is when I am out for the day photographing. I pack drinks and lunch in it. Much cheaper to purchase the items through sales then to purchase them on the road.
6.) Price Matching:
Price matching local ads. Places like Walmart will price match ANY advertised price. Make your list and take the list to Walmart. Tell the cashier you will be price matching your items before you start the transaction. Then, when they ring up each item, tell the cashier the price you saw the item for and at what store and watch them adjust the prices. Tell them each price and where the product is on sale elsewhere. AND, yes the person behind you will roll their eyes, stomp and sound as if they are dying behind you. You will not be a fan favorite to the people behind you, but they are free to change lane at anytime.
7.) Grow Your Own: Any time you can grow your own food it is usually cheaper, healthier and an excellent pastime. Try a kitchen window garden for herbs, patio gardens to full gardens. Every little bit helps and can save money on your groceries.
Last year, I found something interesting out. Due to time constraints, I never made it to the farmers market until the last hour. Vendors dislike packing everything back up. Especially, if they will not be back until next week. That means product loss. Items they will have to spend the time freezing or canning themselves. They just do not have the time. Which means they lose money and time on what they do not sell by the end of the night. They will gladly sell you “leftovers” for a quarter and 50 cents on the dollar. Perfect for me.
Secondly, there were a few stands that do raise organic crops but can not advertise that way because they are not certified. For the small guy, they just can’t afford to get certified. Ask about their growing practices. If you are educated on growing practices, you can “weed out” those that have organic practices, and those that do not.
There are plenty of additional ways to save money on groceries. I just listed the ones that worked for me. The listing takes the least amount of time and rewards our wallet quickly. We once had plenty of credit card debt due to medical bills but using the system above and a few additional were able to pay off every bit. I’m never going back to having debt.
We now have money in the bank and are saving for retirement. Right now, we are trying to make a trip to Ireland possible for our anniversary in August. I will not put it on credit. (Update – we didn’t make our goal for Ireland. We ended up helping our children out and had a few vehicle mishaps. Ireland will come. It just wasn’t in the cards for this year.)
In life, you just keep plugging away….and keep trying to meet your goals.