by Leanne Ely
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When you want to save substantial money at the grocery store, it's important to have a plan. I've said that about a million times before. This plan is your blueprint for success, outlining how you're going to feed your family for the week. Not having a plan means you'll spend more time shopping, you're more likely to spend more money and you are prone to forget something you really need.
That said, there is still a need for flexibility. This is food we're talking about here, not exact measurements or formulas that can't be a millimeter off or you have a total collapse or ruination. Food (at least the kind of food I'm talking about) can be forgiving and flexible, allowing you to make financial decisions that will greatly benefit your bottom line at the grocery store.
I'm a huge proponent in going to the grocery store early. Additionally, I think it is wise to both clip coupons for things you use and watch the store's specials. You can clean up if you are prepared with a plan (menu), grocery list, and coupons, and you go early.
Early is when the markdowns happen and there are more of them to pick up. It is early in the morning when you can buy all kinds of perishables inexpensively. In my super frugal days when my grocery budget was only $100 a month to feed a family of four (yes, this was 100 years ago), I'd leave the house at 6:30 (leaving the kids at home with dad) and buy marked down veggies, fruit, milk, meat, cheese and yogurt. I found a store that I knew would have the markdowns and I took advantage of it and bought what I needed or could freeze. If there was stuff that needed marking down but wasn't yet, I'd ask that particular department's manager to mark it down for me. Nine times out of ten, they would and almost always, it was a hefty mark down. This is why you go early!
Coupons are always great if it is something you would buy or something you would like to try. Coupons aren't a great idea if it's junk food, sugary cereal or other unhealthy things. I don't care how cheap it is or even if it's free. The cost of eating poor quality food will take its toll on your health and protecting your health isn't expensive, fixing the problems caused by poor eating is. I used to go to super discount stores to buy my toiletries, but now I use coupons and wait for the sales and/or triple coupon days. I've actually walked away from my grocery store paying me money to take home toothpaste! That's what I call a deal!
The last thing on your grocery list needs to be flexibility. Let's say a recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts. Well, just last week I could have bought what the recipe called for, but the grocery store I was in had marked down the boneless skinless chicken thighs, big time. Guess what I bought? Yep and not just the one package. I bought all six packages and froze them. That's my point of flexibility. You can always change things up at the last minute when a frugal opportunity presents itself.
Grocery shopping doesn't have to be a chore and can be fun! See how much money you can save this week when you take your plan, your list, your coupons and your flexibility with you to the store! Remember that it's not just grocery shopping. It's an adventure!
Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.
In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.
On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular, FlyLady.net, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. SavingDinner.com. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.
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