Save Money At The Grocery Store

Posted: July 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Hi everyone! I have a special post for you this afternoon. Last week, when I posted about my healthy grocery staples a lot of you showed interest in shopping healthy on a budget. I’m still learning the ropes myself, so I was all over my friend Cindy’s idea for her to write up a post and share her tips and tricks with you all. She has fabulous ideas and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. And while Cindy takes over for me here, you can check me out on Cynthia’s blog sharing why faith matters in my health. Now, take it away Cindy!

If you have ever watched Extreme Couponing, you probably notice the lack of produce and the overabundance of processed foods in their cart. You then probably resign yourself to spending more money at the grocery store. I want to teach you that you CAN save 50% or more at the store and still eat healthy! Your cupboards don’t have to look like this…

extreme-couponing-junkfood

When my second baby was born in August, my husband and I decided he would quit his job to stay home with the kiddos. We quickly realized we would have to do a major overhaul on our budget. We were spending an average of $800 a month (!) at the grocery and drugstores. Our “budget” only allowed for $400. Besides food, I must fit cleaning supplies, paper products and personal care items (shampoo, soap, contact solution, etc.) for my family of four into that $400. Here are my tips for eating healthy on a budget, without sacrificing your time, your health and your favorite brands!

To most effectively utilize this method, you will need to shop every week to take advantage of the weekly specials. Grab your weekly store circular (most ads run from Wednesday to Tuesday or Thursday to Wednesday) and create your list from the sale items.

Sales Cycles: The easiest place to start (and also where you will save the bulk of your money) is by learning the sales cycles, and it doesn’t involve coupons. Most brands will go on sale at your favorite store every 2-3 months (even the natural and organic stuff!). In order to fully take advantage of these sales, you need to buy enough to get your family through these sales cycles. Stock up, but remember, if it is on sale now, it will probably go on sale again. I still have some VitaTops in my freezer from last October…it’s all a learning process!

image

Since I eat healthy all most of the time, I don’t spend a ton of time and money in the center aisles, but that’s where oatmeal lies (which only goes on sale 3 times a year)
as well as peanut butter (which goes on sale all the time). You may find that you are spending a bit more money initially as you stock up, but once you have created a stockpile, you will never have to buy these items at full price again! Side note…my stockpile looks NOTHING like those on TV…is it really necessary to store barbeque sauce under your daughter’s bed? We simply have a small pantry in the garage where we keep cereal, crackers, canned foods, and popcorn.

Produce: Plan your weekly menu around the produce on sale. Spinach is on sale? Think salads, steamed spinach, and condiments on your sandwiches. Tomatoes? Homemade pasta sauce (then think spaghetti, chicken parmesan, and homemade pizza). You get the idea. Buy the sale fruit. Often, when it is on sale is when it is at its freshest and tastes best anyways! Only buy what you will use that week…remember, you will be headed back to the store next week! Don’t neglect the frozen and canned (without added salt) fruits and veggies too. Most are frozen or canned immediately upon harvesting, when nutrients are at their peak.

frozen veggies

Meat Department: Buy the sale meat, and freeze what you won’t immediately eat. (As a side note - the more full your freezer, the more efficiently it runs. Bonus! Stock up, knowing that most things go on sale about every 6 weeks. Even organic meats go on sale (but a bit less frequently).

Rain Checks: These gems are all too often under-utilized in my opinion! Here’s the scenario…Larabars finally go on sale, but by the time you make it to the store, they are out. Before you give up, head to the customer service desk and ask for a rain check! Ask for as many bars as you need to get through the sales cycle, or as many as they will let you. When they restock the shelves the following week, you simply present the rain check to the cashier when you are checking out to receive the sale price. Voila, problem solved!

raincheck

Using these tips can save you up to 50% at your next grocery store trip…and you haven’t even picked up a pair of scissors to clip!

 

 

  • Do you use any of these tips? Any of them new to you? I know I am SO doing the rain check thing in the future!!!

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40 Comments to “Save Money At The Grocery Store”
  1. I have never heard of a raincheck – great tip! I also like the idea of basing meal plans around produce on sale – SMART!

  2. Hahahahaa wait, extreme couponing is crazy shit. I get so stressed out watching that show! Saving money takes a lot of practice, and this post is like a cheat sheet. LAHHVE it!

  3. These are some very helpful tips. You don’t happen to know any helpful websites cataloging sales cycles by store, do you? (As you can see, this is why I am not yet a grocery savings pro! I feel like there is such a high hurdle to become in-the-know about it, it’s not worth starting–which I know isn’t true!)

  4. Great idea! I never even thought about planning my meals around the available produce on sale at that time– that definitely is a saver

  5. Great tips — I for sure want to check out the sales cycles — that is something I’ve never heard of!

  6. Love the raincheck idea, usually the sale items I want are gone when I go to buy them. The main method I use for saving is to shop by unit price but obviously there’s so much more I could be doing.

  7. Errign says:

    I am tired and not reading well this afternoon- I thought this was YOUR post and I was so confused since I know Peter works…silly me!

    I like to check out the circulars for sale stuff and stock up. I also will go to stores that have discount produce carts/sections and stock up there. The stuff is sometimes dinged up or really ripe, but a lot of it can just be frozen. For example, I got 2 huge bunches of asparagus (I ate one, and froze one) for 1.49 and 3 huge eggplant for 1.49

  8. Sam says:

    how did i not know about the rain check?!?! totally doing that from now on. thanks for sharing :)

  9. Danica says:

    thanks for these very practical/doable tips!

  10. Christy says:

    Loved your post on It All Changes. You have such a gift for sharing your faith. God is so good! And He truly changes our hearts if we look to Him. Loving your blog. So glad I found it!

  11. Fab Kate says:

    I love rain checks, and use them often. One thing I’ll do is go at the beginning of the sale, then stock up. Then go back before they restock and get rain checks (for multiples) Rain checks usually last much much longer than the sale does, so I can often get stuff the FOLLOWING shopping trip for the lower price with the rain check.

    Sales and coupons are an important part of how I shop. But I don’t like a lot of processed food and starchy or salty prepared foods. But I do, on occasion, get coupons for some of the better quality stuff… and when I do find something like that, I pick up as many of those coupons as I can.

  12. I’ve never used a raincheck! I’ll keep that in mind :)

  13. lindsay says:

    oh my gosh, I just watched extreme couponin for the first time the other day. WOW! Crazy!
    ANd love these tips, the sale meat is a good one.

  14. Shady says:

    As a vegan who eats copious amounts of fruit and veggies and minimal processed food (outside of the odd can of tomatos), these tips don’t really apply.

    What I’ve found works for me and my lifestyle are buying in bulk so I’m able to purchase nuts, seeds, baking supplies and basically all of my pantry items for great prices. I also make a lot of things from scratch that I imagine most people buy; nut butters, almond milk, veggie burgers, salsa. Oh and finally, I cook my beans from dry. Cheaper, better for the environment and seeing as I can’t find BPA free cans around, better for me.

  15. love rain checks! haha use it all the time! I love getting the food flyers in the mail :) great tips and post!

  16. Lauren says:

    Love these tips!!! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Lee says:

    I didn’t know about the rain check. I wonder if that works at Whole Foods. I’ve tried to get on sale stuff there and they were out.

    We stock up on Morningstar Farms products when the go on sale (which is often).

  18. I have totally noticed that about Extreme Couponing (that they never buy a single fruit or vegetable!).

    I think it really helps us to shop every week because if we try to stock up too much, I just lose track of things. But still, we are spending 100-150 a week on two people! I don’t know how to do less, but I do have a few ideas.

  19. great tips, Tina!! i love finding deals at the stores, i will always check out whats on sale beforehand and also stock up on frozen goods so i know I always have some sort of fruit and veggie in my freezer if all else fails! have you ever seen the show extreme couponing!? its craaazyyy!!

  20. Naomi says:

    annnd I just re-read and saw you that you mentioned extreme couponing lol…well that show is still crazy haha :)

  21. ok i just re-read and saw that you mentioned extreme couponing…that show is still crazyyy oh my gosh! and never any produce!!

  22. Thanks for the tips! I am lucky to have a few grocery stores all very close to me, so I can choose which one to go to based on my current needs. That helps a lot.

  23. Karen says:

    Great information! I have been seeing so much about couponing lately but most of it just seems to require so much time than I have to devote to it. I want to save money but … Love this idea. Very easy to implement.

  24. you know, i don’t know why, but i honestly never realized that rain checks worked at a grocery store. good to know!

    thanks for the info, cindy!

  25. I always shop seasonally which makes a big difference and I do a meal plan!

  26. Amy Lauren says:

    I coupon a lot and these are awesome ideas.

    Also, become “friends” with the companies on facebook. A couple weeks ago Peanut Butter & Company had a printable coupon for $1 off. A lot of companies are really using facebook for coupons and discounts.

    I also buy all my toiletries at CVS with ExtraCare Bucks. Really, that’s where I do a lot of my couponing because like you guys, I like fresh foods that don’t have coupons.

    So I just try to save with sales on those but save TONS on toiletries and household items by shopping at CVS and using ExtraCare Bucks.

  27. Courtney F says:

    This is EXACTLY what I do each week! It has become another hobby for me, that benefits me AND my family!

  28. oOOOo great tips!! I particularly like the one about shopping every week! I love grocery shopping too much~ :P Wait sorry, can you explain the rain check deal again to me? I really want to try that. Thank you! :)

    • cindy says:

      Hi! If they are out of an item on sale, you can go to the customer service desk at most stores and simply tell then you would like a rain check for the item. They usually expire in about a month. When you go back to the store the following week (or once the item is back on the shelves), buy as many as your rain check allows, and present your rain check like a coupon to the cashier. If you also have a coupon, you can use it too!

  29. I LOVE budgeting my grocery bill and finding deals/sales/coupons to help out.

    Aside from deals like the ones you’ve listed there are also places like Aldi with great prices on produce, often fifty percent less than the regular grocery store and you can even find wholesale grocers or freight reclamation places for other deals.

  30. Rainchecks are my favorite way of saving… utilize em all the time!

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