Ok, so I spent most of the day reading the last book in the Twilight Saga (Breaking Dawn). It’s very good. But as a result, I didn’t get to posting until later than usual today!
So for the second week in the grocery bill category, I wanted to talk about Saving Money at the Market. I hope it’s not too long.
Here are some tips I have come up with over the last few weeks. Maybe they are obvious or simple… maybe not. But here they are:
- Make a list. I discussed this last week, but it’s vital.
- Don’t make unplanned or “convenience” trips to the store for one or two items. You will end up wasting so much more time and money then if you plan ahead and only go once a week. Grocery stores strategically place essentials like bread and milk in the back of the store so that you will have to pass everything else in the store to get to them. They know that the more time you are there, the more needless items you will buy. So more the more items we pass, and the more time we spend in line, the less control we weak humans have over our impulse buys of hot french bread, candy bars, cold sodas, and whatever other goodies they leave stashed in our paths. One trip. Once a week. With a list.
- Shop on double ad day. Every town has a store that offers something like this. My favorite grocery store has “Double Ad Day” on Wednesday. It’s when the items that were on sale last week, and the items that are on sale this week are BOTH on sale. Twice as many specials throughout the store. Rick and I have compared receipts week to week, and if I miss double ad day, and go another day of the week, I always spend more money. Double ad day is also good for me, since I don’t do coupons. We don’t get the newspaper, and I always forget them anyway.
- Buy in bulk. I don’t mean buying 30 cans of green beans just because they are on sale this week. My house was built in 1925 (it’s small, with zero storage space). I don’t have room for 30 cans of this and 20 cans of that. And, I don’t really love food from a can anyway. What I do mean is this: buy a bigger container/whole food rather than paying a premium for packaged convenience. Things like:
-Buy a whole chicken or a whole pork tenderloin and cut it up into pieces yourself instead of buying it pre-cut.
-Buy items like rice, oats, flour, nuts, etc. from the bulk bins instead of in a box or bag.
-Buy the big ole container of plain yogurt and a bag of frozen berries to divide up for lunches instead of individual cups (not only is this cheaper, it’s better for the environment, and healthier, since plain yogurt does not contain any bad sweeteners, including HFCS).
- Be mindful of how your grocery store shops. I do most of my shopping at a store called Sunflower Farmers Market. They are a fairly new grocery chain with stores through the Southwest. They are considered a “produce based” store. That means they buy lots of fresh produce at one time allowing them to sell it for less. And the quality is better than that of some of the more mainstream grocery chains out there. We generally buy all organic produce, and most of the other items we buy are organic as well. And we stick to our budget. When you are shopping for a grocery store, sometimes it’s worth it drive a bit out of your way. I live across the street from a Safeway, but I ALWAYS spend less at Sunflower. It’s worth the drive. It’s also worth it to consider where (which department) the biggest savings is. We buy produce there because produce is an expensive item (especially organic), but it’s cheaper there then even the regular stuff at Kings or Safeway. They also have bulk dry goods, making it easy to save on that rice and oats and stuff.
Other things that have saved us big bucks at the grocery store:
- Mr. Bento: I got this handy-dandy lunch er… box? as a gift for Rick on Father’s Day last year. It saves us money in two ways. First, taking your lunch is cheaper than eating out, duh. And, second, Mr. Bento really holds leftovers, yogurt from the big tub, and hot and cold items in one container while retaining the desired temperatures well. This is great for Rick since he doesn’t have a microwave at work. What it doesn’t hold is a sandwich. This means, we don’t spend so much money on bread, peanut butter, jelly, or lunch meat (most of which aren’t that good for you anyway). And that Rick doesn’t get bored and tempted to eat out instead. (Restaurant receipts get deducted as a grocery expense in our house).
- Buying a whole hog. Or side of beef, or hunting a deer. In other words, putting up the dough up front for a couple hundred pounds of meat might hurt the month you do it, BUT your weekly grocery bill will thank you later. We just bought nearly 300 lbs of pork for $400. That’s $1.33 a pound. Can’t find pork that cheap anywhere. Call around to local farmers/ranchers. Look online. But get your meat in bulk.
- A Freezer. This is an indispensable tool for us. Where are we storing that whole pig? Not to mention the veggies from the summer garden. Get one. Ask a relative. Check craigslist.