Different people have different techniques when it comes to grocery shopping. I have heard many people claim that they save so much money by couponing. I will admit that I have tried it a few times. I went out and bought the newspapers, viewed the coupons and realized that my kids and I didn't really eat the foods in the coupons, or if we bought the store brand of the item it was still cheaper. Maybe some of you have had better experiences, but that is just my personal experience. (And if any of you manage to save significant amounts by couponing for things that your family actually eats consistently please feel free to share your strategies as I guess I just don't get it ;) .)
So here are some of my favorite ways we tend to stretch our grocery dollars:
1)Make a list. Really make a list of what you are shopping for. Unless there is something that is a really good sale that you didn't know about ahead of time, stick to the list. Without a list, you are shopping blindly. How many more things do you end up buying when you see them in the store?
2)NEVER go shopping when you are hungry. I know what you're thinking, "Sassy I have heard that before. People just must not have any self control. I am different. If that is what you are going to start referring to as a tip then I am gone." STOP. Think about it honestly. How much more do you buy when you are hungry? I will be the first to admit that I want all the snack and junk foods while at the grocery store if I didn't eat before going shopping. Suddenly things that aren't on my list start looking mighty edible to my eyes, and I start to think that I should buy some of those things. If I did that, I would be spending more money.
3)Look at the ads before you go shopping. Is there something you can make that is on sale this week? I tend to watch the sales and stop at the different stores while I am out and about. Unless there is a REALLY good sale, I don't make a special trip just to save a few cents. If it is a really good sale, then I will make a special trip for it, but I try to combine my shopping while I am out. While looking at your ads, be open to different stores. In our area there are many stores trying to compete for our business. I am noticing a lot more "Mexican Mart" flyers. At first I thought that I would never shop at any of those stores. Then I started noticing how great their prices were on sale items. For example I noticed in their flyer this past week that they had canned corn for only 39 cents a can! In my area, I haven't seen that price for corn in a long time. Since I know my family likes corn, I bought 4 cases. Also, I saw that they had pasta in 2 pound bags for only 89 cents. Since I know my kids love goolash with macaroni noodles I bought 12 bags to stock up so I wouldn't have to pay full price some other time. From my personal experience with the "Mexican Marts" though, I only buy the sale items there, because the other items in their store are so much more than the usual prices that we pay. That is just my experience from comparing prices.
4)As I started to explain in number 3, STOCK UP on items when they are on sale. It sure beats having to pay full price for things later on. But please do NOT stock up on items that your family doesn't actually like or eat. Unused food gets thrown out, which means wasted money. So when something that your family loves to eat goes on sale, buy plenty to last you til you find a really good deal later on. You can save so much money by shopping this way.
5) Don't be afraid of store brands. They are your friends. Store brands save you so much, as they are typically so much cheaper than the name brand. But don't be fooled- compare the prices and make sure. MOST store brands are cheaper but not always from my experience. I was at WalMart and was about to grab the store brand of marshmallows last year when I noticed that the name brand was cheaper. I was a little shocked. Just make sure which one is cheaper.
6) Compare prices by ounce instead of by package. You might be surprised to find that it doesn't always save more money to buy the larger package. Other times it saves you so much money! Just do your math.