There are grocery price books available for purchase on Amazon.com, but it is rather easy to make your own. A grocery price book allows you to quickly spot sale trends so that you can purchase all of your groceries when they are at their lowest.
Two years ago the grocery stores in my area began to take orders online. All I had to do was go down to the grocery store and pick-up my groceries for a $10 fee. Before I took advantage of this service, however, I had to determine if it was worth paying the fee. Here is why I felt that the service was well worth spending $10.
The amount of products that are now available in dollar stores across America has skyrocketed. This may be due to the high demand for low cost products, as those affected by the bad economy can no longer pay full price for their needs and wants. Fortunately, dollar stores carry food items that are much cheaper than grocery stores so it makes sense to go there first.
Produce for the Present
One of the most common mistakes shoppers make when buying produce is buying too much, or buying too far ahead of time. While some produce like garlic and onions can last a long time, fruits like bananas and kiwis spoil quickly. Organic produce is particularly vulnerable to rapid spoilage, as are many of the fruits and vegetables you'll find in the “manager's special” discount section. When we hit the produce aisle without a plan other than “we need to eat more fruits and veggies,” we're likely to end up buying a lot of expensive produce that will get old before we get around to eating it.
Dinner plans change, and the corn you bought on Monday to use in the soup you're making on Friday might go unused if you decide to eat out, leaving you with a dried and withered cob of wasted money to cook for Saturday's lunch. Meanwhile, three of the ten apples you purchased earlier in the week have graduated to “maybe I can still use it in a pie” status. Wasting food and money is a shame, but that's no reason to skimp on the fruits and veggies. Instead, buy only what you need for the next two to three days, and use it. Avoid keeping fruits and veggies hidden in the back of the refrigerator or tucked away into a cabinet. Instead, put veggies in a visible place in the refrigerator or cabinet where they won't get lost, and keep fruit in a bowl or basket on your table or kitchen counter. If you see your produce, you're much more likely to actually use it while it's still fresh.
Now that you know how to avoid wasting money on your produce bill, the only thing left to decide is how to spend your savings--how about a fruit bowl?
The savings per pound by buying the large packs can be quite substantial, sometimes even enough to get one pound for free. And in cases of meats that need to be cut, like large sections of pork, the meat department of your grocery store will often cut it to your specifications at no extra charge. This is how we buy pork chops, and we get them sliced the exact thickness we prefer.
When you get home with your bulk purchases, immediately divide them up into serving sizes. Plastic freezer containers and zipping food storage bags are ideal for this. If you have a kitchen scale, you can get very exact when dividing your food, or you can eyeball it like we do. Divide your meat into separate servings and freeze what you will not immediately use. This makes meal planning easier because you already have food on hand, and you can have more freedom to shop when things are on sale, further adding to your savings.
I have heard that frozen meat doesn’t taste as good as fresh, but even with my pregnant taste buds, I don’t really notice a difference. In any case, a slight difference in flavor is well worth the cost savings when you are shopping on a budget.
Many shoppers aren’t aware that Walmart actually partners with large companies, who offer Walmart customers free samples. There is no catch to receiving these free samples. All you need is a computer that has Internet access. If you don’t have one, you can always visit your local library for free Internet access.
First, head to Walmart.com and look at the menu down the left-hand side of your screen. You will see a hyperlink that reads “Free Samples.” This is under the “In Stores Now” heading. Click on it.
That’s a lot of savings, and often you are paying a fraction of the price for one item and you are getting double the product. This can be used with many items throughout the store, even bath and beauty items like shampoo and body wash. You no longer have to take the time to decide which coupon is going to save you more money, you can use both at the same time. Look through the newspapers, coupon savers, and online to find coupons for the products you love, and then wait for those products to go on sale.
Whether you shop weekly, twice a week or monthly, make a realistic list of what your family will need to get you through until the next shopping trip. If you find yourself running out long before the next trip, try keeping a log of what your family eats in a given period. You may be surprised at how much slips through the cracks, such as an extra package of crackers or box of cereal. Have your family work with you to write down everything you eat and before long, you will be able to accurately plan your shopping trips.
Start with your breakfast items, since they are the least expensive. Cereal often runs above $4 per box, but stores have weekly sales on cereal that can be as low as 2 for $4. Choosing the cereal that is on sale will allow you to basically buy 1 and get 1 free. Aunt Jemima waffles and pancakes also go on sale frequently for family members that prefer a hot breakfast.
Searching for sales on lunch items isn’t hard either. Deli meats do go on sale, but you will have to settle for the sale brand. For example, if you want to have grill cheeses for lunch one day, you can still get American cheese. You may have to choose the store brand, however, which is on sale for $4.99 a pound, instead of the Land O’ Lakes cheese that is currently selling for $6.99 per pound.