Grocery Geek Presents: How to Save Money on Groceries

It’s a wild thing to think back to paying full price for groceries. Several years ago, I would make my list of what I wanted to cook and head to the store. I’d buy something on sale if it was there, but for the most part, I let our wants dictate what went in the cart. I still don’t have our grocery spending as low as I would like, but it definitely falls in the “thrifty” category.

In fact, when I first started shaving down our grocery budget, I consulted the USDA Report on Food Costs. This helped me have an idea of what was a legitimate amount to be spending. At least by government standards. According to the latest report, our family should/could be spending $231.40 per week on groceries. I know from experience that we can live on half that. And even less if we went back to our hard-core rice and beans diet.

And we wonder why the government has so much trouble with money. But, I digress….

That is my advice to someone just starting out. Find a benchmark budget and then work your way down. Each month, try to get by on a little less by using some savvy shopping techniques. Some that I use on a regular basis:

  1. Consult the grocery ads each week and identify the loss leaders that suit your family. Stock up on these.
  2. Scan the Sunday Coupon Preview to see if it’s worth your while to buy the paper on Sunday. Walmart sells the local newspaper for half the newsstand price, so I usually buy three copies.
  3. Browse the coupon offerings at Coupons.com and print the items that you know you’d use. If it’s normally a luxury item, clip the coupon anyway; just don’t use it until you see a sale for that item.
  4. Stock up on things when they are on sale rather than waiting until you need them. Then, they’ll be full price. Practice wise stockpiling.
  5. Make wise use of club warehouse stores. Our Costco membership is well worth it to us. Not only does it provide a fun, family outing and the best pizza in town, but they regularly have the best prices on dairy, breads, and some produce.
  6. Use free product coupons wisely.
  7. Cook from scratch as much as possible.
  8. Watch for markdowns at the store and match them with coupons where possible.

How do YOU save money at the grocery store?

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Comments

  1. I saw Money Savings Mom mention your freezer tips on her blog and your name “Jessica Fisher”…and I said to myself “Hey, she’s talking about me :)”…but quickly realized it was another one of us. My maiden name was Jessica Fisher – just wanted to say hi. I am also a trained teacher, but am desiring to be a stay at home mom once I have kids…working on that :) Hope you have a lovely day – here’s my food blog if you want to stop by and say hi sometime http://www.johnstonesvinblanc.blogspot.com/ .

  2. I have been couponing and stockpiling for almost a year now and it just makes me sick to think of how much money I used to spend on groceries.

    I also find it very helpful to subscribe to my favorite coupon/sale match-up blogs so that I get alerted to sales and coupons I might not notice or find on my own.

  3. We do three things that save us hundreds. We have seven mouths to feed and can do it for $360 every 3 weeks.

    1. We pretty much buy store brand items. If it says Hannaford or Nature’s Place on it, it goes in the cart. (We shop at Sweetbay). I tried this tactic at Publix several times, buying Publix brands and our bill was consistently $50 more each time. So, find a local grocery store that has good store brand prices.

    2. When meat is on sale, we buy it out. Then we go to the counter for a “credit”. They will issue you a credit for up to a certain amount good for one month from the issue date. This saves us tons of money on meat, which can be the most costly items.

    3. We shop the perimeter of the store mainly. There are several aisles that we skip all together. Prepackaged items = money. Instead, I go to Big Lots for our boxed snacks for snack time. Crackers, cookies, cereal – and most the time I get organic. This is all under 1/2 price at Big Lots.

    Because we do so well on our grocery bill, it enables us to go out to dinner once a week as a family, where we get to practice our good manners. ; )

    • @Brenda, ps. I don’t clip coupons because they are always for name brands which we don’t use. Plus, I only go to the grocery/Big Lots once every three weeks. This saves me time.

      • @Brenda, This was what I used to think too, and shopping the generic brands is a great idea. But in the past few months I’ve learned how to really make coupons work for me, and I’ve learned how often the name brand on sale, paired with a coupon is CHEAPER than the generic brand. For example, I was recently in the soup isle and Campbell’s was on sale. I had a coupon which made the cream soups only $0.28 a can. The generic brand was $0.79. As I was loading up my cart will several cans, a woman came by and put one can of the generic in her cart!

  4. I calculated our “Thrifty Plan” spending, and we should be spending $113.80 a week. I think we spend around $250 a month (and that’s with eating fast food way more than we should)!

    Coupons are a beautiful thing, as is shopping at Aldi. Monthly meal planning from my pantry/freezer also saves a LOT of money!

  5. Boy that chart just made me feel really good about my grocery spending! I have a family of 8 (2 in diapers) and am always looking for ways to cut down on our grocery spending. I write a monthly menu and do a “big” shopping day once a month for all of our perishable items. Weekly we do a quick shopping trip for produce and milk. By the way, I love your recipes!

  6. I’m wondering what items you buy usually at Costco. I have a hard time figuring out what the good buys are- since it seems the size of their packaging is always changing, and I can’t always match up with my grocery stores item for item. We do get some good use out of our membership, but I know probably veggies, fruit and some dairy would be cheaper there..

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I regularly get milk, cheese, lettuce, tortillas, and bananas. They are better priced than reg, non-sale items at the grocery store.

  7. Jenelle says:

    I do a lot of the same things you do Jessica. I go through all the weekly ads and shop the loss leaders. I can shop a lot of different stores every week because I am lucky to have them all close by so I’m not waisting money on gas. Next I also use coupons. Sites like the Krazy Coupon Lady has really helped me to make the most of my coupons over the last few months. Finally, I make as much as I can for scratch. I can make Mayo, bread, granola bars and yogurt for a lot less then I can get then in the store, not to mention they are healthier for you and taste better too!

    Oh! I also shop at Costco. I find they have the best prices on milk, tortillas & cheese. I also buy eggs and juice there often when I can’t find them on sale somewhere else.

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