The only way to know if you are getting a good deal is to know the regular price. This is also a good way to do some comparison shopping between different stores. Record the regular price, sale price, store location, and date of purchase. You should notice that sales usually run in cycles, and then you can plan to stock up accordingly.
There are many blogs out there written by moms who have made a game out of grocery savings. The great thing is that they post this information for all of us to see. Conduct a simple Google search on “coupon savings blogs,” and you will find a long list of moms who blog about the specific ways they stretch their grocery budgets.
Typically, every store has a weekly sale. Shopping at multiple locations and stocking up on their best deals takes some extra time, but it’s a great way to save money.
Purchase whole foods and simple ingredients whenever possible. There are nutritional benefits to this strategy, too. Also look at the unit price when considering buying the large container of applesauce versus the individual snack packs. Unless there is a sale, it’s usually cheaper to buy the larger container and pack your own individual portions.
If you have a grocery budget and you do not want to go over it, use a calculator as you shop. You can make informed choices and put back pricey items if necessary.
The best sale prices are reserved for shoppers with a membership card. Take 10 minutes, and sign up for the free card. The other bonus is that you may be able to accrue savings for perks and grocery rebates.
If you have to buy a gift card for a birthday present or a thank you gesture, buy it at the grocery store. These days, many grocery stores house gift cards racks with a wide variety of restaurant and clothing store cards. You’ll be saving time and earning points towards grocery store rebates.
Buying in bulk can save you money, even after you pay the membership fee. Just remember that not everything at a wholesale club is a deal. This is where you price book can help. Some wholesale clubs also offer you a rebate on a percentage of your purchases for the year.
For example, use Tupperware instead of plastic baggies. Use cloth napkins instead of paper. Use the free plastic grocery bags in place of large trash bags that you have to buy. You’ll have to take out the trash more often, but who wants old trash waiting in their trash bins anyway? Reusing items is better for the environment, too.
Baking soda and vinegar will clean practically everything. You’ll save money and avoid exposing your family to harsh chemicals and fumes. Some cleaning products, like laundry and dishwasher detergent, can be used in amounts that are smaller than the manufacturer’s recommendation. Unless you notice a difference, there’s no reason to overload on products.
Going to the store without a list or a plan usually results in mismatched items. You either double up on items you already have, or you forget an ingredient that you need to make a balanced meal. Consider including some vegetarian meals throughout the week. These are usually cheaper than their “meaty” counterparts.
The name brand options are the most expensive, and they often lack proper nutrition. Kids tend to eat multiple bowls, and still feel hungry. So substitute sugar with whole grain breads, eggs, oatmeal, or yogurt. These items will ultimately be cheaper and more nutritional.
Many times the generic brand comes with a great price. But with certain items, paying for better quality can actually save you money in the long run. Toilet paper is an example where the thicker, double rolls are often more cost-effective than the thin, generic choices. Also, if you are into clipping coupons, these are usually for name brand items.
Do not expect to revamp your grocery shopping habits overnight. Small, deliberate changes made over time can lead to greater savings. As you review your shopping list, think about cheaper alternatives. And don’t advertise your switches to finicky kids, who probably won’t notice that you bought the cheaper peanut butter – unless you point it out.
Jennifer Applin is a freelance writer and will soon be the mother of six young children born within a 5-year span. Her writing focuses on strategies for busy parents to juggle it all.