Saving Money at the Grocery Store

One of my favorites - Wal Mart Neighborhood Market
One of my favorites - Wal Mart Neighborhood Market

Saving money on food and other grocery items is a challenge and fun for me. I love to see how I can maximize my grocery budget. But it’s not just a game! I really need to save money too.

My strategy works best in a large metropolitan area where there is more than one store to pick from. I’ve noticed over the years that it is easy to become attached to shopping at one store. It becomes your favorite. It’s comfortable and familiar. That’s when you are paying more than you need to. I’ve also noticed that different stores seem to specialize in certain types of products. For instance one store that I shop in always seems to a have better prices on cheese and related products. They not only have better prices, but more variety and better weekly sales. Another store has beautiful produce. Not always the best prices overall, but their weekly sale beats all the competition. That’s when I pick out my favorites at best prices for my weekly shopping. Another store I go to regularly is very close to the house and has the best overall prices on cosmetics, toiletries and “last minute” sales. I usually go there when I need just a few things. Their “last minute” sales on produce and items about to expire are rock bottom! I almost always come away with most of what I need and some terrific bargain. However, they don’t have the best selection as it is a small store which makes it easy to get in and out of quickly.

I know it sounds like I spend a lot of time driving all over town looking for the best buys, but I seldom go way out of my way. I usually do my weekly shopping at about two stores and I change off each week. Most people end up shopping at one store and then run back to the store at some point during the week to get items they forgot or ran out of. That’s when you can run to a “different” store to pick up their bargains. I have 5 major grocery stores within about 6 miles. One is just ½ mile away and another within a mile. Several are located on my way home from work. I know not everyone has such good luck. I suggest that you get familiar with about 3 stores. Shop at those stores regularly for several months until you get to know their prices and their specialties. Study their weekly ads in the newspaper or online. Then start rotating. When you go to one to do your regular shopping bring a list of what you need to replenish your kitchen pantry. Check their prices on the items you need but also check out the sale items in their ad that you might be able to use or stock up on. Items such as canned soup. I like to keep soup on hand, but I don’t like to pay over about $1.00 a can. This is for Campbells Select, Progresso, or Wolfgang Puck’s. When I see an ad for the right price, that’s when I zoom in and stock up on 10 or even 20 cans, depending on the price and how much I need.

There are certain types of meat I like to keep stored in my freezer. These are hamburger patties, one-pound chubs of hamburger, pork chops wrapped by two, steaks in two portions etc. You can tell I normally cook for two! I usually find these meats in a weekly sale ad marked down to about half of their regular price. I also find some last minute markdowns at one store on some things I don’t keep on hand, but like to buy occasionally. Like short ribs, whole chickens, or a large roast beef or turkey roast. When I find a great buy on a something large, it’s time to invite family for dinner!

That’s my secret. You might ask, don’t you use coupons? I do, but I don’t spend a lot of time clipping. I only cut out a few for things which I am most likely to use. I find that if you have coupons, it is tempting to use them even when that item is not the best buy. Also, when you have too many, it is too time consuming to hunt for them when you need one. Quite often I can do much better on buying what is on sale. Sometimes I will find a sale item with a coupon to match, but it is rare.

In time you will know which store has best overall prices for the types of things you buy regularly like produce, dairy, meat, toiletries, cleaning supplies, pet products etc. Study their sale ads. You will learn which types of products they regularly markdown with the best prices for your preference. Change off the main store you shop at each week or according to your needs. Happy saving!

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