There are lots of ways to save at the groceries stores. However, I have two ways that I stick by quite well which seems to surprise a lot of people for whatever reasons when I tell them. I don’t think they’re anything revolutionary, but maybe people just don’t think the way I do on the matter. It may not work well for some people for various reasons, like cash flow or demanding eaters, impromptu parties, or whatever. However, you don’t have to swear by it. Just apply it regularly, to save money. The more you do it, the more you save.
1. Don’t buy any pre-packaged processed food at regular price.
What’s pre-packaged processed food? Essentially, it’s stuff that doesn’t go bad within a couple of weeks. That’s most of the grocery store these days, and most of most people’s diets, somewhat sadly. These would be the cereals, pasta and sauces, anything canned, rice, spices, frozen foods, some stored cold foods like bacon, microwave dinners, granola bars, salad dressings, soft drinks, snacks, candies, baking needs, etc.
That’s a LOT of food in this category, if you think about it and look among what you buy for groceries to decide what can be covered.
The key to this tip is to wait for something to go on sale and then stock up when it does.
Look at the flyers each week, or if you’re like me and don’t like to do that, patrol all the areas of stuff you regularly buy each grocery shopping trip and see what’s available. Or just look at the flyer most stores have on display near the entrance before you start your trip. I go with my list each week, but I know what I buy regularly otherwise so if any of that is on the flyer, I’d probably get it.
With all of these foods, there are likely more than one brand available. Unless you’re that particular an eater, you could probably learn to like at least two. Sooner or later, your brand/s will go on sale. Stock up when it does. When it’s not and you need or want it badly enough, just buy enough for the week’s supply until next week.
With a lot of this stuff, you can stock up for a long time, and sales often range from 50 cents to a dollar an item. Think if you bought 10 of it every time you saw it happen. That’s an instant $5 to $10 saved right away!
If you learn to like more than one brand of something, you also won’t get sick of stuff when you stock up. Just rotate what you have in store after a few of these stock up efforts. I have 3 cereals on the go, for example, which I rotate so it’s not like I’m stuck with the same cereal for long stretches. And if you didn’t have any similar brand in stock at home, just buy a different brand at regular price some week to give yourself a break from your stock and get back on it a week or two later. Then remember to stock up on the other brand whenever it goes on sale. I saved over $50 on my current stock of cereals at home, of which there are always 3 types opened, that will last me for about 3 months. That’s not bad!
Cash flow, and maybe room if you don’t take groceries in a car, maybe your limitations to stocking up. If it’s carrying room, make another trip if the savings are worth it to you. However, I recommend following this rule as much as possible no matter your limitations.
2. Make discounted food almost at Best Before date your next meal.
I often see in bread and produce sections food that is on sale because the Best Before date is within a couple of days. In such cases, I check the quality and buy it if I don’t have a problem eating what I see. Best Before dates are usually on the safe side that you might have a few days after that, even, but not always so I always check visually. Then I make sure I eat it as soon as I can, usually the next few meals I make. Today I bought field greens salad, for example. Its Best Before date is within a couple of days. It looks great still. So I’m having pasta salad tonight and quinoa salad with shrimps for lunch tomorrow.
This is a bit of a juggling act, but if you can pull it off, it’s great. I usually save $2 to $5 every trip for this and it adds spontaneity to my weekend meals, which is when I often go for groceries.
French bread or bakery food are also big on my list for buying via this rule. With greens that look like it might be slightly bad before I am finished, I use it in a few soup recipes where I bring the soup to a boil in making it. Boiling water should kill off anything bad in those veggies, though don’t take it as “advice” from me. I’m just saying that’s what I do. I am pretty adamant never to waste any food I buy!
If you can’t eat it all in time, I wouldn’t worry for several reasons. First, if you ate the percent you paid for it, like 70% for 30% savings, you’re not wasting any money. If you didn’t buy it, it might have all been discarded.
3. Don’t walk down the junk food aisle (or give yourself limited passes).
Junk food are all heavily processed and isn’t often cheap because of all this processing. The small stuff may seem cheap at a buck here or there, but if you look at the cost per gram or some weight unit, it’s probably quite expensive compared to other foods. The truly cheap stuff usually has really bad but cheap to produce chemicals you don’t want to it.
This rule is has far greater for your health than your wallet, but the theory is if I don’t see junk, I don’t buy junk. My home has no junk, and ultimately, neither has my trunk! And if it weren’t rude, I’d take a photo to prove it to you! Hahaha.
Many people I know spend an awful lot of money in the junk food aisle. Take a tally for yourself some time! By not going there, they’d not only save themselves money, but also save themselves from bad health… which costs more money to fix!
If it’s too hard to keep yourself from walking down the junk food aisle, either only ever go there when you have a party or want to bring such food to a party, and/or give yourself X number of passes a year to do so for yourself. You can bring your “pass” every trip, but if you use it, you have to throw it away. Then when your supply runs out, well, too bad! 😉
Got any groceries savings tips to share?
I’m sure there are lots out there. Do share and let us all know if you’ve got some dandy ones! Thanks!