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Tips and Tricks to Save Money at the Grocery Store

October 8, 2008

I am sure you are not alone, in fact I know you are not alone when it comes to wanting to provide you and your family with healthy good food – yet with the food prices continually increasing, we can easily learn how to be a bit more diligent in saving even more money than you previously thought.

So you want to learn some new tricks? You might get a few new tips and tricks here, and with others you may already have heard of, but are you really following through with them? Ask yourself, how many times do you go to the grocery store a week? Do you ever use coupons? Is that bargain bag if chips really necessary when you know you already have several at home?

Families with children can make it even more difficult in trying to bring down the weekly grocery budget, but I gasped when I see time and time again, so many people when checking out, use their credit cards to buy groceries. I even look into their grocery carts and wonder do they really need that many boxes of ‘let go my eggos?”. Heck, I am no Suzy Orman, but do you know those purchased with a credit card $100.00 bags of groceries in one week placed and ‘bought’ on a credit card with a 21% interest rate – get ready – would take you years to pay off if you are only paying the minimum each month?

If you have a meager balance of only $2500 with a 21% interest let’s say and ONLY pay the $100 minimum, it will take over 25 years to pay it off, while you also pay more than an additional $5,000 in interest alone. Yikes. It is time for everyone to sit down and see where they monies go and why they go. You will soon learn, even if you do this for two weeks, but I suggest one month, of really keeping track of all your receipts – and see where you are sending the bulk of your money.

I have also recently started using mint.com – which I highly recommend for those who tend to lose their receipts and are need an easier way of keeping track of their spending habits. Heck, it’s free, highly recommend and super safe to use.

So with that said, let me show you some tips I have been using myself to help my own family stay within budget. Does it take a little doing? Of course! Personally we have not suffered in lowering our standard and quality of food, not really – though we have changed a bit in what we eat and in fact have been eating healthier – go figure!

It all does start with having a different mind set. Knowing what you really can afford and making the right choices. Instead of simply buying without any thought as to what you may already have in your cupboards and refrigerator, it begins by being smarter about your food purchases.

Tips and Tricks

  • Stop paying groceries with your credit card immediately. That means right now! As the given example showed above, why pay for groceries years from now that you bought and ate years earlier? That simply does not make sense. Personally I have not had credit cards for over five years and have been paying for my groceries with my debit card or cash ever since. If I do not have the money, I know my cupboards should be filled with enough food and with a little creativity, I can easily cook up a healthy and hearty meal for my family.
  • Take a good look in your cupboards and refrigerator, take stock of what ingredients you have and which ingredients need to be staples in your cupboard. These staples you will want to purchase when they are on sale and to take advantage of bulking up on them.In my own cupboards, I consider some of the following items as staples: canned tomatoes (I use an array of varieties; crushed, whole plum, paste), frozen veggies, milk, eggs, yeast (for making bread for pennies), pasta, flour, butter, olive oil, chicken & beef broth pastes (“Better than Bouillon” is what I love and use and I find it is cheaper at Walmart-type stores than at the grocery store), whole chicken, sausages, ground beef, fresh carrots and celery among a few other items such as fresh fruit.
  • After taking stock of your cupboards and refrigerator, think of interesting ways you can use what you already have before going off and buying more. I have one couple who take turns twice a week, choosing items in their cupboards that have been there a while, and they create a meal with the items that have been in their cupboards the longest. Not only does this couples enjoy this time together while being creative making dinner, they are using up the older ingredients in the cupboard.
  • Use those coupons! If you already get the Sunday paper, fantastic. If not, even the $1.00 Sunday paper have enough coupons to easily pay for itself with just one coupon. And be smart, if you can’t afford the Sunday paper, sometimes, at the end of the day, the store owner will allow you to have the paper without the front page – heck it’s worth the try.
  • Take advantage of using your store’s instant savings. This is especially true as the holiday season approaches. You will find some stores even provide you with a free turkey or ham if you spend $200 over the course of two months. I made enough one year for two turkeys – both of which were over 20 pounds – and I even ended up giving them away to a local church who needed them for their own holiday meals for the hungry, as I was having dinner at a friends house that year.
  • Taking this idea even further, many times, right after the holidays foods go on sale. Last year in fact, I was able to purchase two fresh turkeys each over 17 pounds right after Thanksgiving for – get this, $2.00 or less for each turkey. Not only were they fresh turkeys, I immediately threw them into the freezer; one of which I roasted up for Christmas allowing me some extra monies for presents.
  • Many stores offer weekly specials, just make sure you do not have to buy 10 of that item to get it for $10.00 say, in fact many stores will simply charge you $1.00 for each item on sale – who needs 10 boxes of brownies…
  • Pay yourself first, even if you are on unemployment, put 10% of that check into your savings account.
  • These next one’s seem obvious, but really stop buying coffee out. Making your own really does save mega bucks. Are you still drinking soda? Well, I often make my own natural sodas with adding fruit juice, fresh and jarred to seltzer for a homemade soda feel.
  • Find ways to stretch your food. Instead of buying chicken breasts, I will purchase a chicken and cut it up myself. I can easily get two meals out of the breasts alone, while using the thighs for another meal and the legs, wings and other parts for soup. The savings here are huge people. The same goes with buying ground beef. There really is not a major difference from 75% lean to 90% lean ground beef except for their prices. And if you are super concerned with fat, after you make your chili for example or meat sauce, you can let it cool, put it into the fridge, then easily remove the fat that floats to the top and voila, defatted chili and meat sauce where no one will miss the missing extra fat.
  • Eat more beans!, Yes, beans are super affordable (think cheap) and provide loads of protein our bodies crave. Hummus, bean salads, rice and beans are just a few ideas to get you started.
  • Kiwis – are super cheap and provide super large amounts of vitamins.
  • I often check out ‘slightly bruised’ fruit and veggie section at my store. Now there are better times that others to check in this section. But I find usually at around 11:00am new products are added as the store employees add fresh produce to the shelves.
  • Also check out the ‘bruised’ canned section and products that are no longer made. I find nothing wrong with buying a dented can of canned corn or pumpkin both for 25 cents that I can use in chowders, as long as I can open up the can, it does not matter to me that the can has been dented.
  • Then there is usually a ‘baked yesterday’ shelf – when I wish to treat my family to croissants, I will buy them here and immediately throw them in the freezer taking out a couple when I need them – and I tell you, thrown into the oven to heat up, they are super crispy and decadent as they ought to be.
  • Lastly, and you need to be diligent on this one, take a look at your meat isle, I often find meat with a coupon for a dollar off here or there, if this meat is to be cooked that day, excellent, if not, you can safely throw it into the freezer and use it on another day.

Here are a few good sites you might like to peruse at your convenience in learning more about saving money. I have many other tips, but I started with a few that really make a difference quickly.

http://www.uniondebthelp.org/credit-questions.cfm – great tips on bringing down your debt.

http://couponmom.com/ – The Coupon Mom as seen on Oprah.

Let me know how you save money at the grocery store, I am sure you could help other families too! As for me, tonight I made roast rib eye roast hash from the left overs I had last week which I threw into the freezer. The rib eye I was able to spot that it was half off and super fresh which is why I served it up for my party. And throwing it into the freezer promptly, allowed me to take advantage of keeping it fresh for another day of amazing leftovers once I turned it into hash. It was super good, I tell yas~!

~Chef Maven

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2008 2:25 am

    Wow, you have a lot of good tips! I am so horrible at the store, I buy whatever fancies me which is a terrible habit! Ugh.

  2. November 1, 2008 12:32 pm

    this is a good chat

  3. don't eat from "bruised" cans permalink
    December 18, 2008 2:04 pm

    While extremely rare, a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum is the worst danger in canned goods. NEVER USE food from containers that show possible “botulism” warnings: leaking, bulging, or badly dented cans; cracked jars or jars with loose or bulging lids; canned food with a foul odor; or any container that spurts liquid when opening. DON’T TASTE SUCH FOOD! Even a minuscule amount of botulinum toxin can be deadly.

    source: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Help/FAQs_Hotline_Preparation/index.asp#10

  4. chefmaven permalink
    March 26, 2009 11:29 am

    Obviously, if the can has leaks, rust, and looks open, of course do not buy….but gently bruised cans are quite fine….

Trackbacks

  1. 30+ Tips to Save Money on Your Food Bill - Diets, Healthy Eating, and Lifestyle Advice - Dietriffic.com
  2. Healthy Eating Advice from a Professional 30+ Ways to Recession-Proof Your Family Food Budget | Smarter supermarket shopping

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