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Save Money Grocery Shopping

Updated on September 14, 2009

Grocery Shopping Lists

As the recession deepens across the states, frugal living is becoming less of an oddity, and more of a necessity. Take for instance the subject of grocery shopping. Many people don't take the time to plan their grocery shopping because they haven’t had to worry about it until now. This Grocery Shopping Optimizer will help you set up a plan for yourself.

First, select one or two stores to shop at each week for your grocery, personal, and household needs. If you select more then this amount, you will probably end up hating shopping because you're constantly on the run, picking up circulars, and tired to the bone. Narrowing your stores down to a few helps reduce fatigue and focus on what those stores have to offer. This will also free up your time to do your “fun” shopping with few strings attached.

Plan to do the shopping either in one morning or over the course of one evening and morning, to best utilize your time.

Secondly, make sure that you look at their weekly flyer whether it be online or in the paper version. Check the flyers the day before your shopping day(s) and make a shopping list from their flyers.

Thirdly, when you make your shopping list, include categories such as: bread, meats, dairy, etc. Try to either keep the same order of categories each week, or align the categories in the order in which you shop around the store. Of course if you have two stores, they are set up differently from each other, but this will improve your efficiency in the store when you are trying to find items. For each store, use a different color pen, or if you are using the computer, select an easy to click on symbol or number to place before a specific store's item.

Fourthly, after you add items from the flyers, go through your cupboards and refrigerator to see what staple items you need and add them to your list.

Fifthly, plan out the week's menu so that you have a list of the meals for each day of the week. Look at your recipe books to see what items you need to add to your list.

Sixthly, go through your coupons and if you see any items that you need for the week, put an asterisk (*) symbol next to the item on the grocery list so that you will remember to check for that specific type or brand when you shop. Check to see if any of your coupons will expire before the next week, and if they will, decide if you need the item, or can throw the coupon away.

When you shop, carry your list around and mark off the items as you purchase them. Follow the list in the order in which you wrote them (which should take the least amount of steps), checking that your items follow the requirements of the coupons

Finally, put chocolate on your list, because you never know when you or your spouse may need it!

Grocery Shopping Coupons Rock!

Okay, they aren’t that much fun at parties. It’s not like you see a coupon stuck to someone’s shoe and start having a conversation with it. (But if it does talk back let me know, we need to talk). Yet, coupons aren’t that boring. I’ve been to the sites that sell them, exchange them, tell you where and how to download them, and I’ve come away unimpressed. For me it’s a waste of time and money. I don’t have 30 minutes each day to look at coupons, print them (wastes ink), and fill our forms or surveys to get them. Some of the coupon lists rarely change. I’m sure that it does work for some people. I find it more useful to go to Freebie forums and get free products that way. Despite these problems there is a great way to get coupons if you live near large grocery stores.

Local and national papers…In the local Saturday paper (.50c), they have a small “SmartSource” coupon packet. I clip out a few from that. On Sunday I pick up the Washington Post for $2.50. I enjoy reading and perusing so it’s actually a good bargain for me. But inside, they commonly have a SmartSource packet and one more. Sometimes two more. I find that when I clip coupons, sometimes I clip 3-4, sometimes 10-15.

I have a coupon organizer… from Wal-Mart ($2.00) that I’ve labeled with: Cereals, Frozen foods, Condiments, Snacks, Drinks, Household, Personal, Medicine, and Pets. I place the coupons in the corresponding slots.

I find that throughout the week, I find other coupons: in a store, a magazine, an extra copy of the Post from school, from my grocery store itself on the receipt, and from my wife’s Weight Watcher’s coupon exchange.

The grocery stores…Choose the grocery stores that have the best bargains. Pick two. The first should have lots of coupons, coupon doublers, and other customer gimmicks. The second should be your backup store where you get anything from your list that doesn’t have a coupon. Let me explain with an example:

I have a number of grocery stores in my area: 3 Wal-Mart’s, 3 Martins(Giant), 1 Target, 4 Food Lions, 2 Walgreens, and so forth. I have narrowed it down to two that I use exclusively, and in conjunction with my coupons, I get great bargains. 

I have chosen to go to Martins because I have a bonus card, only select their items on sale, they double coupons from .50c to $1.00, sometimes they have 4 coupon doublers that they give out ($1.00 doublers that get you $2.00 off.), receive gas rewards and many very good coupons when I check out. I have chosen Martins for Friday nights after I get home from work and eat supper. Their produce is very fresh, and the quality of their meats is very good too. But, their prices are higher than other stores. I go to their homepage and as I’m going through their online circular, I add things to my list by clicking on them. I copy this list into Microsoft Word and then look through my coupons to see if I can use any at Martins, or on sale items that I just perused.

If I can’t find an item at Martins, or it’s not on sale, I don’t mind. I’m going to Wal-Mart tomorrow!

Even though Wal-Mart doesn’t have bonus cards or double coupons, I find that their quality is still good, and I can get the rest of my groceries there. Sometimes I can use coupons on their products. These products tend to be of the household, medicine, or personal nature. I find that I save $5-$15 a week just in coupons. That’s a savings of $20-$60 a month. If I add the savings I get from buying on sale, gas rewards, etc., I commonly save more than 30% off my grocery bill. Altogether, I expect to save between $30-$50 a week off my grocery bill. I have two teenage boys! I need the money!

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