Save Even More on Groceries

by Diana Bergman

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Most of us, at one point or another, need to make adjustments to our budget. It's been my experience that reducing the amount spent on food is a simple, yet effective way to make a striking improvement to your budget.

Whether you are a tightwad trainee or a seasoned money saver, take a look at my personal favorite tips so that you too can save more money.

Know Your Prices

An important tip is to know your prices to maximize your food dollar savings. I have noticed as much as a 40% difference between two of my favorite stores. Stumbling upon this discovery infuriated me enough to only purchase the store's loss leaders, which are remarkable bargains to entice you to do the rest of your shopping there. The store recovers the loss by overcharging on other food. Therefore, there are no real bargains to be had.

Keep track by keeping all the prices of the foods you purchase written down in a price book so you avoid making costly mistakes because you didn't know how much you should spend for food.

Shop Alone

You are the most interested in saving money so there is no point in bringing anyone along to distract you. Furthermore, shopping is somewhat stressful. Have you noticed how often couples argue over what to buy? Let's not forget frazzled looking moms trying to concentrate on shopping while their children are pleading for treats. By shopping alone, you can focus on the task at hand, which is saving money.

Don't Be Store Loyal

I shop at two stores. I shop at one for the loss leaders because the specials are so fantastic and the fact that the library is just around the corner from the store.

Most of my shopping is at a big warehouse store because I can take advantage of the overall lower costs. Most of the time, the prices are lower, but occasionally, I will notice items that are more expensive than average. However, if you know your prices, you won't overspend.

Have a Snack before Shopping

Shopping can be quite draining and being hungry will tempt you into buying impulse items. You won't be alert, so you will be more likely to buy impulse items as well as a chocolate bar at the checkout to calm the rumblings in your stomach.

Bring Only the Cash You Have Budgeted

Decide on how much you want to spend weekly. Once you have determined how much, bring the exact amount with you, so that the option to overspend is taken away.

Shop Carefully

Remember that the store is trying everything possible to convince you to part with your money. The inviting music lulls you into a sense of tranquility and then there is the mouth-watering aroma of freshly baked treats. Stay alert or you will spend more than you intended.

Shop when the Store Opens

If you shop early, you can get through your shopping much faster because the store is half-empty in the early morning hours. Also, you will discover plenty of day old bakery goods, as well as marked down meats. You must come early though because the meats get snapped up quickly.

Stop a Minute

Most of us grab impulse items while wandering through the store. Now's your chance to rectify any shopping errors by removing the impulse items.

Ignore the Check-Out Display

This is the store's last attempt to take your money. Consider checking magazines out of the library instead of buying them at the check-out. Also, if you ate your snack before shopping, you will be able to resist the tempting array of chocolate bars.

Buy Fruit and Vegetables in Season

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are always priced lower. During the summer, when there is an excess, it's ideal to can or freeze the surplus to get you through the winter.

For a great bargain that packs a nutritional punch, consider the underrated potato. Did you know that potatoes are an excellent source of potassium and a good source of vitamin c, as well as a source of fiber and folacin? Potatoes are easy to prepare and easy on the budget. Eat potatoes more often.

Stock Up on Meat or Poultry when It's On Sale

I like to stock up on turkey when it's on sale because turkey is so versatile and inexpensive. Because turkey saves me a lot of time, I don't just cook it for the holidays. During the summer months, I cook turkey when it's rainy out. After the turkey is cooked, I freeze portions in the freezer for quick meals later on. I substitute turkey in recipes that call for other meats or chicken with a lot of success. And it's so inexpensive!

Avoid Processed Meats

Most of us are in the habit of buying luncheon meat to make quick sandwiches. This is not really a nutritional bargain, considering processed meat is filled with fat, salt and preservatives and it's very expensive. For a healthier, less expensive sandwich, some alternative sandwich ideas are meatloaf, turkey, roast beef, chicken salad, egg salad or tuna salad.

Eat Less Meat

Learn how to cook dried beans. I had no idea that beans could be so easy until I tried cooking pinto beans in the slow cooker. Now, I make burritos, chili and baked beans. I freeze them for future use at very little expense.

Avoid Cold Cereal

Avoid buying cold cereal. It's expensive, and some cold cereal contains hidden fat and excessive sugar, which none of us want. Instead, cook hot cereal. It's very easy to make in the microwave, or try making granola. And you can always make muffins and freeze for later.

Don't Waste Food

Know what needs to be eaten up before it spoils. Buy less of any food that generally isn't used up in time, so you don't waste any money in the future.

Don't Eat Out at Fast Food Places

Some fast food companies are very clever with their marketing tactics. They convince many of us that it's just as cheap to eat out as it is to eat in and the food is much tastier.

Take a good look at the burger you purchased. You will find that the patties are very small, they are topped with tired looking vegetables, and they are loaded with an excessive amount of condiments. Some burgers are mostly bun.

Your own homemade burgers are much more satisfying and you can control the fat content. Pile on a lot of fresh vegetables for a considerably cheaper and healthier burger.

Sometimes you truly get what you pay for and this is certainly the case at your fast food restaurant.

Stay Away from Ramen Noodle Soup Packages

Ramen noodles are a popular choice for people trying to save money, but did you know the noodles are deep fried in hydrogenated oil, which is the bad fat that we are all trying to avoid? Read the ingredients. These noodles are loaded in fat and salt.

Take advantage of my favorite tips next time you grocery shop and I'm sure you will save even more on groceries. Happy shopping!

Take the Next Step

  • Start your grocery price book this weekend. It will help you know when a "sale" is really a sale.
  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

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