Monday, August 2, 2010

Grocery Store Savings - Part 1 (When and How to Shop)

So many people want to save money on their grocery bills but have no idea where to start.  There are plenty of great sites and e-books out there, but the information can get complicated and time-consuming.  My main complaint is that a lot of the savings is on junk food.  Who really needs that?  After posting on Facebook about my AWESOME shopping trip last week, I have had many of you asking how I do it.  I know most of you are strapped for time already, so my goal is to help those of you who are harried save time while eating well.  So let's get started!

The first step in getting the best deals is simple: be observant.  You have to know a good deal when you see one, meaning you have to know the lowest price you can get on any one item.  For instance, I know that the cheapest I ever see tuna steaks is $5.99 a pound.  That is the time to buy, when it is at its lowest.  Start paying attention to prices and making notes, either mentally or on paper.  Prices are variable depending on your location, so you can't always trust some of the websites out there to be accurate for your locale.

Sales on non-perishable goods generally run on a 3-month cycle, fluctuating from highest to lowest price within that time-frame.  Stock up on items when they are at rock-bottom so that you have enough to get you through till the next cycle.

Other items, like meats and dairy, are more seasonal.  Tuna and salmon are cheapest in the height of harvest, during the summer.  I just saw tuna steaks last week at that $5.99 a pound price.  Salmon will continue to run on sale through early fall.  You will find sales on baking supplies from late summer through early fall in preparation for the holidays, but they generally go away right before the season starts.  I just purchased Domino's sugar last week for a little over $1 a bag.  Again, the key is stock up when the price is at its lowest so you have it on hand when you need it.  Then you aren't controlled by prices.

Another place you want to be familiar with is the clearance rack at your local store.  My Kroger has a place to stock both clearance breads and meats.  I have bought at least half of my meat from the clearance rack.  If you can use it immediately or have freezer space to store it, you can save a ton!  I routinely find natural meats on the clearance racks simply because they don't move as fast.  Bread can be frozen as well.  You simply place it in a freezer bag and get out as much air as possible.  I am also a BIG advocate of shopping discount bread stores.  Check out my Bread Stores are Best post for locations.

Produce is a little more tricky.  You will only find it on sale if it is in season, but that is when it is the most flavorful.  When you keep your meals seasonal, you can get all the fresh produce you need at a reasonable price.  If you need a vegetable that is off-season, consider frozen.  They are picked and frozen immediately, preserving the most freshness.  Frozen foods will rotate through 3-month sale cycles as well.  You can also stock up on fruits and vegetables at harvest-time and freeze or can them.  It's not practical for everyone, but if you have the time and space it really saves a lot of money while ensuring you get the freshest product.

Lastly, the best way to save is to match those sale prices with coupons.  If you can get it on sale and then add a coupon, you are making the most of your hard-earned money.  My big score last week was on Kraft Naturals cheese.  There were coupons in the store for $1 off of 2 bags or blocks.  They were on sale for $1.88 each after purchasing 10.  Then Kraft was offering a check-out reward (also called "catalinas") for $5 off your next purchase for each 5 items you buy.  I stocked up on 30 at  $0.33 each.  Now that's what I call a deal!

Tomorrow I am going to show you how I quickly keep track of coupons.  If you can spare yourself 15-20 minutes each Sunday, you can have a coupon arsenal at the ready whenever you need it.  Now go out there and save some money!

1 comment:

  1. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You for posting this great information! I'm not into buying junk food either, so this comes right on time! I can't wait to start saving even more money at the grocery store!!!