A smart shopping strategy to keep grocery costs low

My Story: "Shop Here First" Grocery Savings

by Lynell Rogers

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I am a newlywed, and my husband is in college full-time, so I am the primary breadwinner for now. Things are pretty tight, and my husband has quite the appetite. I try to make my major grocery purchase every other week. Unless I'm buying a lot of meat (to freeze for later), my bill is usually between $25-$30 (not including the weekly stops for milk and whatever else I might have run out of!).

I rely heavily on the weekly and monthly sales at the supermarket I go to. I diligently watch for those sale advertisements in the mail! My grocery list (very important) is made up only after I see the latest ad. I plan our meals around the best deals. Experience is the only way to know if a sale is really a deal...

This week I had some extra time on grocery day, so I took my husband with me, and we went to the canned-food warehouse (a discount grocery store), a thrift bakery, and THEN the regular grocery store. The key for me seems to be to go to the discount places FIRST (with my list) and try to find the same items for less than the grocery store's "sale price". I got some great deals, but some items were higher priced than they would have been at the regular store (so watch for that!). I did pick up a few extras (staples, rice, etc.) that were not on my list, but were such terrific deals that I felt justified. I always ask myself, "Do I NEED this?" I decided that I could make about a million meals with 10 lbs. of rice, so I went for it.

The bread store (right next to the canned-food store) has a 5 for 2.00 sale and if you spend over 5.00 they give you a free loaf. My husband decided that we needed doughnuts (ack!) but they were buy-one-get-1-free and were discounted anyhow...so I gave in (and now I've eaten half the box myself). We ended up getting about $17.00 worth of bread, bagels, rolls (and doughnuts!) for about $5.00! If we put it all in the freezer, it will stay good until we run out again!

Buy groceries, earn cash back at Checkout 51

We finally ended up at the regular grocery store, where we spent about $24.00. Maybe that doesn't seem so fantastic, since thats not too different than what we normally spend, but when I went over my reciepts and looked at our PACKED pantry and freezer, I figured out that we would have had to spend about $30.00 more to get the same amount of food if we hadn't gone to the discount stores and purchased sale items at the grocery store.

If you have a story that could benefit Dollar Stretcher readers please send it to gary@stretcher.com with "My Story" as the subject.

Take the Next Step

  • Once you trim the grocery budget, don't waste that extra money! Consider opening a savings account to start an emergency fund or save for some other financial goal.
  • Continue to look for new ways to trim food costs. Visit our food & groceries section each week to get tips for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
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