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Grocery Goodness

Here’s some tips on cutting down on grocery bills. We all know the prices of important grocery items are going up, but there are some ways to actually lower your grocery spending during the rise of prices.

1. Only buy milk that is on sale. I don’t know that this will apply to those that don’t buy cow’s milk, but for everyone who does buy cow’s milk this is for you. There is almost always at least one store advertising milk for $1.99 around here. This week I found 2 stores. Milk can be ridiculously expensive when not on sale (over $3 at some stores; yikes!). If not for $1.99, try finding milk for less than $2.50 at least. Meijer is usually pretty consistent with $1.99 milk as well as Valli (for those of you that live in my area). Jewel and Dominick’s will have milk on sale but not usually as low in price as Meijer and Valli. Wal-Mart has it on sale as well from time to time.

2. Use coupons on sale items; you will get the biggest discount that way. If you have a coupon for an item (that doesn’t expire within the next week or two), save it for when the item is on sale.

3. http://www.couponmom.com is an EXCELLENT website to get free printable coupons. The site also offers tips on saving money with grocery coupons and other useful ideas. I got a $3 off coupon for Huggies last week. That’s the largest amount off I’ve been able to find. Now, I will hold onto that coupon until I see Huggies on sale at Meijer or Wal-Mart and save a bunch using it then!

4. Plan your week’s meals around the big ticket sale items. I have started planning my meats for each night’s dinner around the meats I find on sale at Valli. They tend to have a good discount on a number of meats each week. This week, I found 6 different meats to revolve 6 meals around, and I will pay less than regular price per pound for each meat. Meat can get pricey, so I stick with bulk amounts of ground round when possible, as it usually offers the lowest price per pound, as well as roasts on sale. The roasts will offer not only a dinner but also leftovers for lunches or to freeze and reuse at a later time. Buying ground round in bulk (3 pounds or more at a time) might seem like a waste if you’re only using a pound at a meal, BUT I can divide up the pounds and freeze whatever I won’t use that week. That will save me from having to buy it the following week for a meal when the price per pound might not be as low.

5. Be willing to shop at more than one store to get the most deals. Ok, don’t think you have to go to every store that has a deal each week….that would be a waste of gas. Try finding 2 stores in the same town/area that have the lowest prices on produce, meat or toiletry/baby items. Use the ads from your paper to circle the items on sale you want from each store (or go online to view the ads and then write out your shopping list for each store). This week I have chosen Valli for their produce and meat prices and am still deciding on another store for the toiletry and baby items we need. Rather than just buy everything at a Meijer or Super Target, I will save on Valli’s heavily discounted produce and meat selections. It’s not as convenient to have to shop at 2 stores for groceries, but I’m going to get my grocery bill for around $100 this week as opposed to the $150+ I’ve spent at Meijer in the past.

6. Unless you’re having a party or have a family of 6+ people, steer clear of the Costcos and Sam’s Clubs. Those stores are fantastic for businesses or large families or even if you’re hosting a party; however, be aware that shopping for regular items or for your regular list of groceries each week will get EXTREMELY expensive. This is because you can’t just buy 1 of something there….it’s in bulk. So, even if it seems like a great sale on a package of 6 green peppers, it will more than likely go to waste before you get a chance to use them (unless you’re making stuffed peppers, which would then make it ok….there’s always an exception to the rule!). If you must shop at these stores, try to shop mostly for your paper or toiletry products and not for all of them all at once. Try shopping for bulk bathroom items one paycheck and then your bulk baby items the next check. This will spread out the amount you’re paying up front for all these items, and it may even keep you from using up more money than you planned from each check, so you don’t have to skip paying a bill because you’ve run out of money from that check.

7. Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale. Yes, pancetta for $3.99/lb looks like an awesome deal, but if you haven’t ever had pancetta or don’t know a recipe to use it that week don’t buy it. Just because 24 rolls of Angel Soft is on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy it when you have 12 rolls from last week’s grocery trip. Toilet paper will be on sale again; don’t get crazy and buy it this week if you don’t need to.

8. Don’t stress about finding a sale/deal on every single item you need this week. Coupons are great, sales are great, saving money is great. BUT, if it’s not on sale and you need it, just get it. If you can’t find toothpaste on sale but have squeezed every last drop out of your tube at home, don’t hold off til next’s week toothpaste sale…..PLEASE! For the sake of those around you, please don’t wait! 🙂 Just kidding; but really, don’t wait. You are not going to save money on every single item. The key is to find the normally highest priced foods on sale and go from there. Produce and meats are the ones I look for. If you need something else that is normally high priced, look for that.

9. Always make a grocery list before going shopping. And make sure you take it out of your purse once you get in the store. I have made lists before and then forgotten to look at them. I ended up spending more than I wanted to and forgot several key items. Make the list, mark the sale items or items you have coupons for, and follow your list.

These are just tips/guidelines to save money on groceries. I am not saying that I follow every single one every single week. I slip up and buy ridiculous items from time to time, mostly if I go shopping when I’m hungry. Another good tip (should’ve been #10, I guess): DO NOT SHOP ON AN EMPTY STOMACH! You will most likely stray from your grocery list and buy a gallon of ice cream that you really didn’t need. Ok, maybe the ice cream part was directed toward myself, but eat something before you go shopping.

I hope you find these helpful. Feel free to add comments on any additional things you find helpful on your grocery outings. Happy shopping!

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