How to save on groceries
Have you taken a good look at your grocery store receipt lately? Prices are going up. Food costs will continue to take a bigger bite out of your paycheck, unless you decide once and for all - you aren’t going to pay full price anymore.
Invest a little time on the front end and you are sure to save big at the cash register. All you need are a few cool apps, an open mind and a good strategy.
- Never shop hungry
- Follow a detailed list
- Buy generic / store brands
- Pass up pre-cut and pre-cooked items
- Avoid buying paper products, cleaning supplies and household goods
If you only follow those few rules, you are certain to save money. If your stomach is full you won’t be lured by freshly baked bread. A roasted chicken is twice the cost of a rare bird. Plus, most people can’t even tell the difference with generics. Oh yeah, and leave the kids at home to avoid buying treats and toys. Want to save even more? Grab your smartphone!
Loyalty Card - Your biggest savings will come from store deals, but only if you have a plastic preferred card. They also kick out register coupons and some even offer gas rewards program. To lighten your wallet, use the Key Ring Rewards Cards & Coupon app to store all your loyalty card numbers in your phone.
Get Cash Back - Use your credit card to get cash back, or consider the newest trend in coupon apps. Endorse in the U.S. and Checkout 51 in Canada are smartphone apps that give you 10% - 100% cash back on selected items. Just browse their offers, scan your receipt and earn cash back.
Give Back - Coupons For Change provides manufacturer coupons, and for every three that are redeemed the company donates money for a family living in poverty. It’s all set up through the Feeding America food bank network.
Internet Printable Coupons - You don’t need to buy the Sunday paper, just go online to print out great savings. Bookmark top coupon publishers like Redplum, SmartSource, and Coupon Network, as well as manufacturer’s coupon pages like these for Proctor & Gamble and Kellogg’s. You can even download e-coupons to your phone. Just make sure you use a reputable site, as there many bogus sites that ask you to pay for coupons.
Maximize - Hang onto your coupons until the item goes on sale. Stores rarely reduce prices the same week a coupon gets released, so note the expiration date and watch for sales as it draws closer. Avoid using coupons for things you don’t need and won’t use, you’re only wasting money.
Multiply - Stack up a manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon and a sale for triple savings. Target’s new Cartwheel program helps you do all three at once using your smartphone. A few grocery stores still double manufacturer’s coupons, but it is becoming less common with more restrictions.
Shop the Cycles - Grocery sales are cyclical, based on national events. Think: chocolate at Valentine’s Day and National Dairy Month in June. Even manufacturers follow a cycle. Print out this handy guide from Adventures of a Couponista to see a month-by-month list of when you can expect to see big sales.
Be Flexible - Buy produce, meat and dairy only when it is on sale. Produce tends to be seasonal, so consider trying new things when your favorites aren’t discounted. Dairy and meat will constantly rotate, so there is no need to buy chicken full price if you can wait a week to get the sale.
Read Tags - Compare unit prices on items to see the true cost. Per ounce, a smaller package may be cheaper than a larger one, and many stores will also list the sale price per unit. Sales tags often contain the end date for the price reduction, so use the time to find a coupon to maximize your savings.
Shelf Stable - When canned, jarred or dried foods like pasta go on sale - stock up. As long as you have storage space, you will save a lot of money buying at a discount. Plus, with basic staples on-hand, so you are less likely to make extra trips to the store.
Clearance Items - Every store has them, the shelves and carts packed with discontinued and damaged items for a fraction of the price. Seek out the day-old bakery cart, marked down meat and reduced dairy products for bigger savings. As long as the expiration date is good, it should be safe to consumer immediately or freeze.
Mistakes - Watch carefully for mistakes at the checkout. Some stores will even give you the item free if it comes up wrong at the register, so take a look at your store’s policy.
Bloggers - Bloggers dedicated to couponing, like Adventures of a Couponista, will match up coupons and store sales to help you maximize savings. Plus, they offer daily deals, coupons and advice.
Share - Forum groups like We Are Savvy Savers connect regular people with a shared interest in saving money. A Pinterest-like web page called Reclip It even lets you search for coupons, post them on your page and share them with friends.
Education - Take a class to learn all the tricks and shortcuts. Teachers are generally locals who speak at churches, libraries and recreation centers to help people in their community get shopping lists organized.
Where you shop
Store Style - Stores usually target a specific demographic, whether it be urban professional or ethic families. They offer more products that appeal to their demo, and discount those items as well. Plus, many stores will honor competitor’s coupons, which can help you double up on savings.
Compare Sales - Grocery stores seem to start and end sale dates on the same day each week. That makes it easy to compare weekly ads. For maximum savings, be willing to shop at more than one store and use The Coupons App on your smartphone to determine if the store has your items in stock.
Warehouse Stores - Bigger isn’t always better, so be careful at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s. It’s not always cheaper than your local grocery store, especially if you have to pay to be a member.