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Before I lived on my own, it never occurred to me to look for a coupon or even see what was on sale when I planned my meals for the week. Now, it’s extremely rare that my grocery list isn’t made up of items that are on sale, and I often save even more with coupons.
My boyfriend and I LOVE food, and one of my favorite things to do is cook. I’m always finding new recipes I want to try, but often times they require SO many ingredients! We already have a hard time sticking to our grocery budget, especially when the grocery store is so inviting. Groceries take about 15% of our paycheck!
It’s so easy to go in for “just a few things” and walk out with over $40 of food we didn’t even need! Since we all have to eat, but we don’t enjoy emptying our wallets, I’ve come up with a few tricks to avoid over-spending that I myself have tried! These might not work for everyone, but if nothing else they can shave a few dollars off your grocery bill.
Check for Sales
Harris Teeter always has great sales on produce, and I spend almost nothing on gas since the closest one to me is right down the street. Before even planning my meals, I check online for their weekly specials. I write down any sale or special that could potentially be incorporated into my meal plan. For the most part, if it’s not on sale then I don’t buy it. After monitoring sales for over 6 months now, I have a better sense of their sales cycles.
Plan your meals
I have been planning meals for years now, and it really impacts your budget. Making a menu ahead of time ensures that you’ll have everything you need to make your meals without spontaneous runs to the grocery store. This is much friendlier to your wallet than eating out.
Make a list and stick to it
We’re all guilty of picking up a candy bar right before you check out, or picking up a bag of chips because they were on sale. If you follow your list, you will only buy what you need. Making your list is not enough, you have to stick to it. If you have a hard time resisting temptation, try online grocery shopping.
For months I have used Harris Teeter’s online shopping program. For just $5 a pickup I saved myself time by not browsing the grocery store aimlessly, and it was easier to stick to my list without temptation.
Look for Coupons
You can find a coupon for almost anything. There are so many sites available to get coupons from nowadays that you don’t even need to get a newspaper. I like to use Coupons.com. For the first three months of living with my boyfriend we didn’t use ANY coupons. The savings per coupon are small, but trust me they add up!
Make your grocery list before you clip your coupons to avoid buying items just because you have a coupon.
Don’t be afraid to buy the store brand
This isn’t necessarily true with all store brands, as I’ve had some bad experiences. However, in most cases the store brand tastes exactly the same.
When I went to the store for crescent rolls they were out of the Pillsbury brand, so I just picked up Harris Teeter’s crescent rolls. If I had not unpackaged them myself, I would not have known the difference!
Buy produce that is in Season
There are not a lot of coupons for produce, and it can be expensive. To save on produce, stick to fruit and vegetables that are in season. You can save anywhere from 30-50% just by buying what’s in season.
Click here to see what’s in season
Give Amazon Pantry a try.
You can order a lot of pantry essentials through this program to help you reduce shopping trips, which means you’ll be less tempted to buy stuff you don’t need! It’s a great service available through Amazon Prime, which you can try for 30 days for free!
I can’t promise you that you’ll walk out of the grocery store with an extra $200 dollars in your pocket after following these tips. That said, if you are keeping track of your grocery budget and you follow these tips, you will see significant savings. Like I said, I follow these tips every time I shop for groceries.
Since I’ve made the switch I’ve gotten more food for my buck, and I’ve been able to stay under my grocery budget for every weekly grocery run!
What do you do to save money at the grocery store?