Guest Post: Saving $$$ at the Grocery Store

by Lisa on June 9th, 2009

Here is Part 2 of the wonderful Bargain Hunter Laurie’s tips on saving money. Today she’s going to walk us through saving money at the grocery store.

Saving money at the grocery store

1. Use coupons: Well…duh. That’s what my whole blog is pretty much dedicated to so there’s no way I can fit this all into one little paragraph. Here are some highlights.

*Know the policies of the stores you shop at. -Is there a limit on the number of like coupons you can use in one transaction? -Do they accept internet coupons? -Do they double manufacturer’s coupons? If so, up to what amount?

*Know where to find coupons. The newspaper, magazines, the internet, inside the packages of products you buy or receive as samples, on the product itself (peelies & hangtags), coupon clipping services, ebay. I have tons of people I know give me their newspaper inserts and I’ve been known to dumpster dive (not in a trash dumpster, that would be icky….in a strictly paper recycling dumpster – if you’re going to do this, you should get permission from the dumpster owner.)

*Is there a better coupon you could be using? If your grocery store doubles manufacturer’s coupons like mine does (up to .99), then a coupon for .75 off of a product is actually better than $1 off, since it will actually ring through at $1.50. I find that the coupons my grandmother mails me from Florida are usually better than the ones I find in my area.

2. Get some reusable bags: As if “going green” wasn’t a good enough reason to use these, they could save you a little bit of cash. My grocery store gives a .05 credit for each reusable bag used in place of plastic. I got most of my bags for free during different store promotions. Now if I could just remember to bring them with me!

3. Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach: You will be tempted to buy all kinds of stuff you don’t really need.

4. Make a grocery list and stick to it: Very important. It helps you remember what you went there for in the first place. :) It will also keep you from grabbing all of those extra chips/cookies/brownies/bon bons/insert guilty pleasure here. If you’re anything like me, you’ll just be mad you bought said guilty pleasure anyway. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it.

5. And another tip to keep that in check… Make a weekly menu plan: I have yet to do this, but a few of the gals on my blogroll do it. First, you figure out what meals you want to make. You can do this by scouring your cabinets/freezer/fridge to see what you already have on hand or for items that need to be used up before the expiration date. The second step is to figure out what each meal calls for. Next, you figure out what you already have and what you need. Add your needs to your grocery list…which you will not deviate from :)

6. Substitute Ingredients: Before running out to the store for a last minute meal item, check out this ingredient substitution chart (http://kittytigerskitchen.blogspot.com/2009/04/free-printable-kitchen-ingredient.html) to see if there’s something else you can use that you already have on hand.

7. Make a price book: A grocery price book is an ongoing list of the items you most commonly purchase and how much you paid for them. Thank you Get Rich Slowly…couldn’t have said it better myself. A price book allows you to figure out your rock bottom price for items you use often so you know whether or not you’re getting a good deal. You will also be able to track sale trends and figure out how many of an item you should stock up on until the next sale comes around.

8. Shop alone: My mother doesn’t like shopping with my father because they end up spending soooo much extra money on stuff that isn’t on the list. He also likes to walk down every aisle and it takes her triple the time to complete her shopping. When I was young she didn’t like to bring me either. I would just nag until she bought me Doritos and ice cream. Now that I share my coupon stash with her, I’m a welcome addition to her weekly shopping trip. I have also cut down on the nagging.

9. Check your receipts before you leave the store: I learned this one the hard way the other day. I didn’t realize something was no longer on sale until I had already gotten home.

Do you have any grocery store tips not listed here?

3 Responses

  1. Terry says:

    I really want to make a price book. I've been trying to search for an online source of good buys for groceries. I need rules of thumbs like "buy all the TP you can when it's less than x". I'm suprised there aren't little interest groups who've started such a web site out there already. Anybody know of one?

    I guess I can make a price book from my old receipts, but I haven't been a frugal shopper long. But things have changed and I'm willing to invest the time in coupons, deals, etc.

  2. Alison says:

    I love all of these suggestions. I will have to check out the substitute ingredients list. That's new to me so thanks for sharing! I have found it to be helpful to buy things like meat and cheese in bulk and freeze it in smaller portions.

  3. GroceryHop says:

    We have created a free website that helps users track grocery unit prices paid by item and also shows which items have increased in unit price and units purchased. Among the features of the website are:

    1). A grocery list that shows the lowest unit price paid to facilitate comparison between the current store unit price and previous unit prices paid. Very helpful at the store!

    2). Analysis on spending trends to provide a list of grocery items where unit prices have increased and total units purchased have increased, among other areas. Helpful at home for figuring out where to cut costs and why the bill is increasing.

    3). Item detail and trend analysis for additional detail.

    The site is:

    http://www.groceryhop.com

    On the site, you can see the actual price book that we use each day. Please let us know what you think!