Wednesday, April 15, 2009
One of the best ways I've found to save money on groceries is to know the stores where you shop, and shop consistently with stores you are familiar with. One of our local grocery stores (it's a smallish, locally-based chain), has great discounts on vegetables, meats and fresh baked goods, I generally check these specials first in order to plan the rest of my meals. I'll buy the bulk packages of meats when they are reduced in price (often I can get the $10 to $15 "family packs" for half price or better), then when I get home, re-package them into serving size packages and put into the freezer. I do a lot of my grocery shopping on Tuesdays, because I know this is one of the days that the store marks down a lot of red meats, and I end up saving quite a bit on those.
I love HEB, but there's no longer one in our town. I'm not a coupon clipper, although my parents always were. I plan to work on making it a habit. When we had a local HEB, there was a board posted up front with many, many in-store coupons and I always checked that board before beginning my shopping and used it to plan my visit accordingly.
However, when clipping coupons from home, remember that it doesn't save money to buy additional items just because they are on sale. Keep those coupons only for items that you currently use or items that you were genuinely interested in trying, but never did because of the price. Discard coupons for items that you never use, even if you think it's a great deal on the product, unless it's a healthy product that you know you should add to your diet.
When you get to the store with your coupons, always check to make certain that there's not a similar item that's less expensive. Generic brands can be just as good (sometimes better, in my opinion), and can save money, too! Also, I've noticed that some stores will mark down a similar product in another brand, sometimes below the coupon-discounted price, to keep from having to redeem the coupons themselves for reimbursement, if they've seen a lot of the coupons being used.
Check sales circulars, but don't assume that the sales prices are the best deals you will find in the stores. Once, a store I frequent was running an advertised special of 3 for 10 on 12-packs of 12-ounce sodas. At the same time that that special was in their circular, they were running an in-store special of 3 for $5 on 6-packs of 16.9 ounce sodas, same brand. Limit of 3 on the 12-packs, limit of 6 on the 6-packs. So many people saw my cart with the plastic bottles and reminded me that I could "save money" with the special they were having on the 12-packs. I took the time to let them know that the 6-packs were 3 for $5, making them exactly the same price per container, and the containers were larger, therefore, I was getting a better deal than the advertised special, if they would like to take advantage.
Buy in bulk when it makes sense, but don't buy extra of items that will spoil just because they are at a good price. Make certain that if you have items to be used by a certain date, you at least get them into dishes. Know what you have on hand and when it will expire, and plan your meals around that to get the most out of your grocery budget without wasting money on wasted foods.