RESOURCES: How to save on your grocery bill

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, used with permission, photo by Stan

Show of hands – who loves grocery shopping? Even perfectly healthy people hate it, so yeah, us chronic illness warriors are generally not fans of slogging through stores every couple of days. Now, if you’ve been following this blog, you know there are many ways to limit those trips (let’s hear it for Prime Pantry and Subscribe n Save!), or at least, to have a smaller amount to buy.

1. Make a List

Always have a plan before you shop. Take a look at the weekly ads for your local stores and make a shopping list based on the specials. This will help you avoid impulse shopping and get you in and out of the store faster. And don’t forget to stick to the list.

2. Focus on Sale Items

Your list should always consist of at least a few sale items each week. Build your weekly meal plan around what is on sale. Many groceries go on sale on a rotating basis (every 6-12 weeks), so look for the sales, and stock up if you find an amazing deal.

3. Get a Rain Check

If the store is out of the advertised special, ask for a rain check. This will allow you to purchase the sale item, at the sale price, when it’s available again.

4. Research First, Then Plan Meals

After reviewing the weekly specials, add sale items to your grocery list then brainstorm or research some meals you can prepare with these items. By shopping first and planning your meals around what is on sale, you will save money on impulse purchases and avoid buying expensive ingredients that you may only need for one recipe.

Then, again, if you follow my blog you know about the wonder of make ahead/freezer meals. If not, check out this blog post and this one. I also have an entire Pinterest board devoted to make ahead/freezer meals:

5. Don’t Shop Hungry

Hunger can cause you to have less self-control, leaving you vulnerable to impulse buys. Do yourself, and your wallet, a favor. Have a snack before you shop.

6. Sale = Stock Up

Stocking up on a sale item is always a good idea, especially canned, frozen or packaged foods. Stocking up on canned or frozen vegetables, rice and pasta means you always have sides in your pantry. Stock up on meats as well because you can freeze them to use for a later date. If you continually stock up on sale items, you can usually find a last minute dinner idea in your freezer or pantry without having to shop.

Find out what day your supermarket marks down their meat, since that will probably be one of your biggest expenses. Mine does on Thursday, so I try to go on Thursdays when I’m getting low on meat. Right now my freezer is stuffed with meat since there were so many great deals at Wegmans the last time I visited. Guess who’s making freezer meals tomorrow?

7. Purchase Store Brands

In most cases, store brands are of equal quality and quantity to name brand products, but a lot less expensive. In fact, often times, store brands are manufactured by the brands they are competing with. Store brand products are comparable or higher quality than the brand name, with different packaging. You can save big by choosing the generic choice.

8. Plan on Leftovers

Buy a larger amount of food and cook it all at once, planning to have leftovers that can be used for a future meal this week. For instance, a roasted chicken makes a great family dinner, but the leftover can be used for chicken salad or added to soup for lunch the next day. If you can cook once but have at least two meals, this will save you both time and money.

9. Look for Manager Specials

 Often times the manager will put items on sale that are close to their expiration date. If you are planning to use or freeze these items right away, these are great deals to take advantage of. Become familiar with the places in the store where manager’s specials can be found, and check them every time you shop.

10. Don’t Forget Your Rewards Card

 Most grocery stores offer a rewards card. If yours is one of them, make sure you have a card. Not only will you be able to get all sale prices, but you’ll most likely receive special coupons based on your purchases, as well as other bonuses like discounts for gas.



And a bonus…coupons and couponing apps! I’ll do a whole blog post about my favorites soon, but for now, here’s a list of the ones I use most often:
Kellogg’s Family Rewards
P&G Everyday
Checkout 51