When people think about saving money at the grocery store, the first thing that comes to mind is clipping coupons. But coupons are not what gets you the biggest grocery savings each week- and they aren't a quick solution either. As someone who does clip coupons, I can tell you that I spend 30-45 minutes or so each week before my grocery trip to clip and file my current coupons, and to clean out the expired ones. Does it save me money? Of course it does- but nothing like what you see on those Extreme Couponing shows where someone buys 429 toothbrushes for 15 cents and counts that as $1200 in savings (besides- I get my toothbrushes for free at the dentist's office!). So if you can clip coupons- awesome. But think of those as “bonus savings”. Here's how you can really save money with 3 things you need to do each week to save money at the grocery store:
Tip #1: Plan Your Purchases Based on the Sales Flyer and Stock Up!
The most important thing you can do to save money each week at the store, is to plan your trip based on what's on sale. The majority of items that are sold in the grocery store are on a regular promotional cycle every six to eight weeks, and if you limit yourself to buying those items ONLY when they are on sale, you will save money on these items because you will never pay full price!
For example, my grocery store promotes the Perdue line of chicken every 6-8 weeks at 40% off. When it is on sale, I buy around 24 packages of chicken breasts, legs, and roasters to carry me through until the next time chicken is on sale again. I do this each week with everything from pasta, sauce, soups, snacks, soda, baking ingredients, condiments, oils, paper goods, the list goes on and on. Of course there are some items that I can't stock up on…. perishable produce, perishable dairy, etc. But where it makes sense- this is how I shop.
So don't laugh when you see me in the grocery store with 16 jars of sauce, 28 cans of soup, and 4 packages of taco shells and think that's what I plan to serve to my family this week! I am stocking up on what's on sale!
Tip #2: Menu Plan
Whether you have an actual menu planning board like I use, or you just jot down your ideas on a scrap of paper- take a few minutes to plan what you are going to serve for dinner for the upcoming week. And base your meals around what is on sale at the store (especially sale items that are perishable like fresh produce or prepared foods), and what you already own in your pantry and freezer.
Menu planning saves you money because it encourages you to use what you already own, and best of all- it gives you a game plan so you are less tempted to order out!
Tip #3: Buy Only What's On Your List!
This is where the best of plans can get derailed…. you are cruising down the aisle and you come upon a beautiful display of bakery cookies or assortment of cheeses- and you just pick up one or two and toss them into the cart because it all looks so good! But those items aren't necessarily on sale- and they certainly weren't on your list to buy…. you just became attracted to them and their eye-catching display. If you do this a few times over the course of your grocery run, you can add $20-$30 to your grocery bill every week that you really didn't plan to spend. But if you make a list of what you plan to buy, and stick to that list- you'll stay on budget too! (You can download my free printable grocery list here to keep yourself on track!)
Do you follow these three tips?