- Personal Finance»
- Frugal Living
Unusual Places to find Deals on Groceries
The way the economy is, spending money on anything hurts. After the necessary bills are paid and gas is budgeted for, there is little left for food. How, then, do you decide what to buy when grocery shopping? Sometimes you can find deals in unusual places.
Make a meal plan
Before you go grocery shopping at all, make a meal plan. This allows you to simplify your ingredient list, making it easier to buy in bulk. It doesn't mean you have to eat the same things every day, just that you might have spaghetti three times in one month to use up the whole box. Or tuna casserole with shells one week, then pasta salad the next. If you usually buy hamburger patties premade, why not make your own from ground beef, using the rest of a bulk package for meatballs or sloppy joes?
The same thing can be done with vegetables and fruits. You can also plan make-ahead dishes that freeze well, then portion them out for meals. If you buy meat, buy in bulk when it's on sale, then freeze it to use later.
Shop dollar stores
Dollar stores are known for their bargins, but on food? Actually, yes. Many dollar stores have off-brand cereal, frozen food, pasta sauce, canned goods, and other groceries such as toilet paper and tissue. Be sure to check the expiration dates on all packages, as well as the packages themselves for holes or dents.
Local farmer's markets are often the cheapest place to get fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce comes directly from the farms, so you cut out much of the transportation costs. There is more variety, and the food is fresher than at a store. You can often buy only the amount you need, reducing waste as well as cost.
If you have a garden space, grow some of your own food. Tomatoes, squash, and many other vegetables and fruits are easy to plant, take care of, and harvest. Gardens don't have to take up much space, either. A strawberry pot can grow your kitchen produce quite nicely.
If you are within driving distance of farms, see what is advertised. Often, farmers with surplus crops offer "u-pick" deals. Drive around and look for signs, or look in the local nickel ads for what's in season. Then, load up the buckets or bags, and pick your own produce.
Buying in bulk only saves if you actually use it. Ask around to neighbors, relatives, and friends, and see if you can all arrange to split a bulk package. Costco has bulk pop, muffins, cereal, milk, meat, batteries, school supplies, toilet paper, and more.
Buying in bulk also saves at the supermarket. Many stores have a bulk food section for nuts, granola, flour, pancake mix, and other dry ingredients. If you have a store that offers "10 for $10" deals, ask neighbors and friends if they need anything when you go shopping. That way, everyone saves on gas and groceries.
In addition to buying as a group with neighbors, you can save gas in other ways. Bike or walk to the store, or use public transportation. When shopping, buy what you need for the whole week or month, instead of just for the day. Drive to the farthest store on your list, then work your way back closer to home, saving trips back and forth. Compare prices from store ads online.