Friday, February 18, 2011

Pennies Make Dollars: How to Save Some Moolah at the Grocery Store

Pennies make dollars. This phrase is indisputable. Pennies might seem insignificant, and not worth the bother, but in the end they add up to dollars and dollars are significant, especially when they’re saved.

I like to eat and cook. There’s no doubt about that, but that doesn’t mean I like to pay large grocery bills. In fact, I can think of a number of other things I’d rather spend my money on than groceries: my upcoming wedding, travel, home improvements, to name a few. The more I save on my groceries the more money I can can put towards those other things. With this in mind I try my best to get my groceries and stock my pantry for the best price possible. This doesn’t mean sacrificing quality meals, rather, it means taking some time to plan them out.

Here are my tips to save you some moolah:

Do Some Meal Planning
  • Sit down sometime during the week and plan out what you want to eat for meals (dinners and lunches) for the following week. Make a list of the things you’ll need to pick up.
  • I usually plan for 5 meals, with two nights for either takeout of leftovers. You don’t need to assign days,  but I find having a list of things on the fridge of options that you know you have all of the ingredients to make really makes it easy to avoid the “What’s for Dinner?” struggle after a long day at work.  I also like to plan to make one larger dish, like a pasta, or soup, to take for lunches during the week. I usually make this on Sunday.
Cook From Scratch: Shop the Fresh Section of the Store
  • Try and buy most of your groceries from the produce and meat counter, usually the outside aisles of the grocery store.
  • Fresh meats and veggies, although they may seem more expensive, are a less expensive way to stock your kitchen then buying pre-packaged, pre-made items.
  • Not only will this save you some money, it will also help you eat more healthfully as well. Even if packaged products say they’re the healthy choice, they still contain way more salt than anything you would ever make yourself, not to mention the other unpronounceable ingredients they also likely include.
Shop the Flyers
  • When you’re doing your meal planning for the week ahead check out the flyers and plan your meals around what’s on sale and what you have in the pantry.
  • Don't get flyers delivered to your home?  Check out the store's website. They ususally post the weeks flyer there.
Shop with a List
  • Keep a running grocery list on your fridge. Add to it when you notice you’re out of things.
  • Shop only for the things on your list. Sticking to it will save you money you might spend on impulse buys.
Use Coupons
  • Coupons = free money! Use them! If a company wants to give you some money, just for buying something you need anyway, who are you to say no? Keep your eyes peeled and clip, tear or order them when you can.
  • Some sites I like to visit are: , , , and . Sometimes you need to create an account and order the coupons, but its worth the effort in the savings you get.
  • Next time you’re at your grocery store check out the area by the entrance. Some grocery stores have an in-store coupon rack. Have a peek each time you’re there, they change frequently.
  • If you’re looking for something in particular, you can check out the manufacturers website. They sometimes have coupons you can print.
Stock Up on Staples When Things are on Sale
  • When the things you use all of the time are on sale, buy some. Staples always go on sale, so why ever pay full price.
  • Some items to keep an eye out for:  tooth paste, toilet paper, tissues, soap, dish soap, pantry items (soup, crushed tomatoes, pasta, flour, sugar, etc.)
Compare Store Brands to Name Brands
  • Compare the store brands to name brands they’re often the same quality, in some cases the exact same product for a good deal less money.
  • Case in point, we used to feed our cats the premium name brand kibble, until I compared the ingredient list with that of the store brand. The ingredient list and nutritional information are identical, but the store brand is $10 less a bag. A name alone isn’t enough to convince me to pay $10 more a bag. 
Buy in Season When You Can
  • When produce is in season there is a lot more of it available which makes the price decrease. It also tastes better. Try and use produce in season, not only will it taste better, it will save you some pennies too.
  • I like to buy large quantities of berries when they’re in season and freeze them so that I can use them over the winter.
Buy in Bulk, Don’t Buy Serving Sized Packages
  • Stay away from serving sized packages, you’ll pay more for a smaller amount of the product than you would if you bought a larger package and served it out yourself.
  • For example: Buy the large container of quick oats for your morning oatmeal, you’ll find that you get between 3 and 4 times the number of individual servings you would if you bought the individual packages and at a fraction of the cost.
  • Check the price per unit; this is usually in small print on the price sticker on the racks in stores. The larger box is sometimes cheaper per unit. Paying a little bit more for a larger package is sometimes works out to better value for your money.
Happy Saving!