Times get tough and when they do we look to make the most of where we spend our money. After years of living paycheck to paycheck I’ve learned a few tricks for grocery shopping on a budget. Stretching your food throughout a few weeks can save you loads of money.
Adulting is hard enough, learning to shop correctly to maximize your savings while providing nutritious dinners for your family should be easy. It took me a couple of years, some research, even sitting through one of those extreme couponing seminars to figure it out.
Let’s just say couponing didn’t work for me because I often bought store brand products. You don’t get a lot of coupons for store brands. Coupons are great but I preferred shopping the sales instead.
In extreme couponing you use coupons during sales to really maximize your savings. Except, who has time to track coupons, expiration dates, meal plan, and watch the sales. So I cut out the coupons and learned the sales.
While any one single thing that I suggest will save you money at the grocery store it’s the combination of all of these things that really brings in the savings. To do these you will need to pay attention to the pricing cycle of the products in your region.
If you haven’t figured it out yet some of those traditional methods in saving money grocery shopping may not work as well in your area. I’ve moved across state lines a few times in the past couple of years. What worked in Chicago, didn’t work in Ohio, and what worked in Ohio doesn’t work in central Pennsylvania.
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However, I have found that the tips I am sharing with you work no matter where you are. It takes time to work through it and it takes time to build up your memory of when sales happen for certain items. Once this is all figured out through watching the sales you will see a huge savings start to take place.
Grocery Shopping On A Budget
Figure Out Best Pricing On Staples
Your staples are things that you purchase almost every shopping trip. This includes your perishables like fresh goods and dairy as well as your boxed and canned goods.
You want to figure out which local grocery store carries these at the best price. This grocery store will most likely turn into your main grocery store. You will watch this grocery store sale pages like a hawk. You will also pay attention to regularly bought items and their pricing throughout the month.
Products will likely go on sale one week every 30 to 90 days. So figure out what the pricing cycle is on your most bought products.
By watching the pricing of your favorite items you can stock up on often used items when they are at the cheapest price. These items are your boxed and canned goods that never go bad.
For example, pasta. About once every 4 weeks my grocery store will put their brand pasta on sale for $0.88 per box with no limits. When this happens I stock up for the next four weeks. The highest pricing for this pasta can be $1.10. I buy about 10 boxes of pasta when they are on sale and save $2.20.
You can save $20-$40 every month on just your boxed, frozen, and canned goods alone.
The real savings come in when you start stocking up on your meats. Watch those meat prices, for the first few weeks and only buy what you need until you find out when the best pricing is. When you find the best pricing you’ll purchase as much as you may need through the month and stock your freezer.
For instance, a couple of weeks ago I found chicken legs and thighs on sale for $0.99 a pound. This past week those same legs and thighs are $2.49 a pound. While legs and thighs are not the healthiest choice these same types of sales prices happen with every type of meat.
Check The Weekly Sales For Amazing Deals
Make sure you have your local grocery stores weekly circular bookmarked. Often times stores will offer deals like buy 5 packages of a product and get a free rotisserie chicken.
A rotisserie chicken can be dinner and leftovers for a few days. Here’s the trick. Make sure that you will use and enjoy the 5 packages of a product you purchase with it.
These types of deals can save you a load of money. You want to make sure that you plan your meals around sales like these too.
Buy Store Brand
Whenever you can you should buy store brand products instead of name brand. Chances are high that even with coupons you will still get a better deal on the store brand products.
Most of the time you can’t tell a difference in taste between store brand and name brand. Plus the store brand products go on sale more frequently than the name brand. This means you need to stock less, which is perfect when you lack cabinet space or a pantry.
Plan Out Your Meals
Planning out your meals will go a long way in saving you some money. Instead of picking meals, creating a list, and shopping by that list, try creating a meal plan based around what you have in your house and what is on sale.
When you shop the sales to save money grocery shopping you build up a stock of food. With that stock of food you can start planning your meals based around what you already have in your kitchen.
If you have most of the ingredients for Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup but need the celery, you can buy the celery on that shopping trip.
Finally, make sure you look ahead at your budget. If an emergency pops up and you suddenly need to drop a couple hundred on your car, you can plan your meals around what you have in stock. Furthermore, if you’ve been doing this long enough you may end up just having that extra couple hundred for your emergency.
Pick the Right Meals
When you are living on a budget and looking to stretch your food picking the right type of meals will end up giving you more meals. Think soups, chilis, and casseroles. Rice is cheap and a fantastic way to spread a meal.
If a whole turkey or chicken is on sale and cheap in price buy and cook the whole thing. You can shred and freeze a bunch of different casserole options. A whole chicken could give you a weeks worth of different meals that your family will love.
Once you create your stockpile of ingredients and have a handle on the rotation of sales on your favorite products you can start saving loads of money on your groceries. It may take a month or two to build up enough stockpile, once you do you will end up saving loads of money on grocery shopping every month.
Make sure you stick to your list and don’t stray from it. You want to make sure you stay on track with your budget. Always check for sales and loadable coupons to savings cards.
Utilize any savings you can but remember, a coupon on a brand name item does not mean it’s the best deal. Check those store brand prices because you could save more money even if you were using a coupon.
Additionally, you may find some grocery stores will double coupons or match prices. Make sure you check the rules of your local grocery store so you can maximize your savings.
I do this and I rarely clip a single coupon. Shopping store brand, planning my meals, and keeping track of the sales prices allows me to save hundreds of dollars feeding a family of four. The key really is keeping track of all the prices and knowing how much to stock up till you can take advantage of the next sale.
Do you have any handy tricks in saving money grocery shopping? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and make sure you pin this to your frugal living boards.
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