How do you save money at the Grocery Store

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by jenrose66, May 23, 2007.

  1. jenrose66

    jenrose66 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Messages:
    2,011
    Seriously :confused3

    I try to clip coupons, though I don't religiously, (I know..problem one). I just don't know why I spend so much money at the store. It's just me and DH and DS. DS eats baby food and formula so that gets expensive...but what I'm worried about is the actual food I'm buying. I'll spend a good $130 at the store and within a week we don't have anything to eat.

    I shop at the local Wegmans store. My mom says that's my problem. They switched to the consistent low prices, so nothing ever really goes on sale. Though the prices do seem consistently low. I mean we have a Tops near us and I'll look at the ad and they have something on sale for $2 and I know it's always $2 at Wegmans so why bother with Tops.

    We also have an Aldi's and Save-a-lot but I really hate those stores.

    I mean I guess I need to quit whining and change something. I just don't know what. I'm trying to start meal planning...but it's so tedious. I used to love to cook, but ever since I had the baby 10 months ago, it's like my cooking went down hill.

    So anyway, I'd like to know...what do you do to stay on budget at the grocery store?

    Thanks,
    Jen
     
  2. Avatar

    Google AdSense Advertisement


    to hide this advert.
  3. MrsPooh

    MrsPooh DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
    Messages:
    501
    My #1 key for saving is to plan menus and then make a list of what I need to make the meals plus whatever else we need. This is key for me because then I know I have what I'll need to make the meal so I don't run to the store and end up spending more, plus, if I can't decide what to make than we end up eating out and spending a ton more.

    I look at our local ads and what I've got on hand before planning the menu and plan my meals around sale items/what I've got. I finally made a list of meals my family likes so I just choose items from there. I try to plan two weeks worth at a time and just make a stop in the middle for extra milk, fruit and veggies. I do clip coupons and match them with sale items for bigger savings. I also buy extras if something we regularly use goes on sale so I don't have to pay full price later. For example, frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts are usually about $9 for 3lbs but go on sale for about $5/3#. When they are on sale I buy as many as I can afford since we eat lots of them.

    I know you said you don't care for Aldi's but you might give them another try. I used to not think to highly of them but now they are my first stop. Some things we don't care for from there but there are some items that we actually prefer in the Aldi brand rather than some name brands. The fresh fruits and veggies are usually good too. I don't buy everything there but save more than enough to make it worth the stop.

    I'm sure others have some good tips too. I can't wait to hear.
     
  4. chocovrdmicears

    chocovrdmicears DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Messages:
    6,933
    1.I clip coupons religously and use them weekly. Also be willing to try new brands. Some things I won't mess with like Kraft Mac & Cheese. But some of the inexpensive brands work just as well.

    2. I shop alone! Seriously. That way I can concentrate on sales vs. what coupons I have without any distractions AND it prevents items that were not on my list from ending up in the carriage!

    3. Make a menu plan and a shopping list. This has seriously helped us save the most. When I make my menu plan I always try to add a couple of 'new' recipes to keep myself (and family) interested. Plus it eliminates the 'what am i making for dinner' game mid-week.

    4. This one may be a HUGE help to you with a new baby. USE A CROCKPOT. You can make all kinds of inexpensive meals and all you do is throw the ingredient together in the morning & they are ready at dinner time. I use mine 4-5 times a week. I LOVE it.

    5. On my shopping day I usually take the time to prepare things to have in the fridge. Like I chop up a bunch of fruit and make a fruit salad for my husband and kids to take to work/lunch. I also cut up carrot & celery and keep them in a container. I often make a big bowl of pasta salad (no mayo) to keep on hand too. It takes a little planning and effort for 1 day but this keeps us from feeling like there is "nothing to eat."

    All that being said, when my kids were really little(infants) we ate out and did take-out a LOT. I just didn't have the energy to do what I do now! Now that they are both in school I am MUCH more organized so don't be too hard on yourself! :)
     
  5. IluvKingLouis

    IluvKingLouis DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Messages:
    1,649
    I read the weekly ads online and plan around that. I second the crockpot recommendation. An average cut of meat will turn out tender and flavorful with very little effort. When there aren't any good meat sales, I fall back on a handful of good vegetarian meals (spinach lasagna, pasta and pesto, quiche, etc).

    I try to stay away from convenience food, and when I do buy them they are usually the Walmart house brands (stuffing, flavored rices, etc).

    I like Walmart for staples, but I don't care for their meat or produce. I've also scaled back on our protein/meat portions so that we consume 3-4 oz at most. Which is perfectly adequate, as we don't need a half pound of meat on our plate every night. :rotfl2:

    Good luck! And as the previous poster said, don't be hard on yourself with a baby in your household. It's tough to find the time and energy with a little one in the house!
     
  6. Frantasmic

    Frantasmic *crickets* 2.0

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
    Messages:
    3,188
    Since just you and your husband eat, are you actually cooking each night? If so, I bet you throw out more than you think because you don't like leftovers.

    You can probably split recipes in half or make something and put it in two small 8 x 8 pans and freeze one.

    Don't shop when you are hungry.

    Make a menu and list and stick to it.

    Does your $130 include only food or is the grocery store also where you buy other non-food items (tp, paper towels, etc.)? If you are also buying non-food items, your $130 a week isn't that bad.

    How do you handle work lunches? Does the $130 also include sandwich meat and other lunch items or do leftovers get eaten for lunch? Again, if the weekly budget also pays for lunch, then you aren't doing bad at all for two people.

    $130 for 2 people for 3 meals a day for 7 days a week is 42 meals. 130 divided by 42 is about 3 bucks per meal, that's not bad especially if your
    grocery purchases also include non-food items.

    So, your budget may be fine and your perception may be skewed a bit. Or you may be throwing out more food than you think you are or your freezer is stuffed with leftovers that you don't eat.
     
  7. formernyer

    formernyer DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,709
    I'm one of those crazy people who can "buy" $600 in groceries and only pay $5 for it. Coupons play a HUGE role, but they are not the be all and end all.

    Assuming you are not going to clip coupons (which you definitely should), here are some ways to save:

    (1) I completely disagree with all the posters who make menus as a way of saving. Not only is it time consuming and hard to believe that people know in advance what they will feel like eating in a week, but it's also not a good way to save money. Shop the ads and buy what's on sale. If you make a menu ahead of time and the items on the menu aren't on sale, then you aren't saving!!!

    (2) Buy only marked down meat and bread. They are normally as perfect as the fresher packages. Every once in a while you might find a package that looks a bit old...just don't buy those ones, lol. Most of them are perfectly good though...and 40% off. An even better bet is to stick to the markdowns on meat that was already on sale. For example, if boneless chicken breast goes on sale for $1.99, then it's going to be around $1.20 per pound once it's marked down...that's a HUGE savings off of the $3.99 per pound regular price!

    (3) View the ads ahead of time and figure out what items you use are on GOOD sales (this doesn't mean $.10 off). If an item is 50% off or Buy One Get One Free, then stock up on it. Don't just buy what you need for this week. Buy things you know you'll use in bulk. You might end up spending a little more up front, but within a few months you'll have a nice stockpile of food and your bills will be cut to almost nothing.

    (4) If you need and item and it isn't on sale, then buy generic. It's a huge savings and the generic foods are packaged by the same name brand companies you love...you just don't necessarily know WHICH name brand you'll be getting because it's hidden by a generic label.

    (5) Best saver of all is the coupons though - you'll get name brand foods a LOT cheaper than generic if you start using them. Learn to "save" your coupons for times when you can combine them with a sale. Find out which stores in your area have the best doubling policies and stick to those stores.

    (6) BE FLEXIBLE! Be willing to buy what's on sale, rather than sticking to a rigid plan. And if you're the type person who buys premium cut meats, organic veggies, etc. either start eating "normal" foods or surrender to the fact that you're going to pay through the nose for things which may or may not have any real benefit.

    (7) For the baby - join those baby clubs under lots of names/addresses. I had so many coupons coming in back when my kids were babies that I almost never needed to actually pay for formula. The key is to KEEP joining them, because the first two month is when you get the "good" coupons ($12, $10, $8). As for baby food, shop with sales and coupons, or (your best/cheapest option), just put whatever you and your DH eat into the blender. It's soooooooo easy and much healthier for the baby than anything they get from a bottle. Even if you think it's too spicy, it's normally ok for them and exposes them to a bigger variety of tastes early on. When you blend up too much, freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays and once they are frozen transfer them to ziploc bags. Then on those nights when you're either not cooking for the adults or you're eating something too spicy, you can just pop a few cubes in the microwave for the baby. This will cut a lot of cost out of your grocery bill, because it's basically just feeding the baby your own leftovers!
     
  8. formernyer

    formernyer DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,709
    $3.10 per meal is exceptionally high IMO, even if it includes non-food items. First, it's unlikely that there are even 42 meals there since most people either skip breakfast, eat lunch out, eat dinner out, or some combination of those things during the course of a month. And let's keep in mind that breakfast is VERY cheap! Personally, I think $3 per person is about the most it should ever cost per person for a single meal, and that's on days when you're serving a nice cut of meat. Most meals cost substantially less.
     
  9. Nicolepa

    Nicolepa DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Messages:
    2,077

    I have to agree. I just calculated what I spent the last 2 months. I averaged $500 for April & May. April was very expensive because we had company who have lots of special requests (and they aren't cheap). Even so that is $17/day for my family of 4. So I spent probably $700 in April, but I only spent $300 in May. That includes everything, paper items, cleaning etc.

    Last month I also did a month of meals. I did over 30 meals (for 4) for $120. That is $4/day (or $1 per person). We had flank steak, manicotti, spaghetti, chicken curry, cherry pork chops, etc. In other words, we are eating very well. You do have to add in veggies/sides. But that is probably another $20 for the month, tops.


    As far as saving. I cook for a month (or two) at a time. I base my menu on things that I was able to stock up on during the month. Or when I see chicken really cheap I will buy a ton and throw it in some marinades and freeze. Ground beef, brown up for tacos etc, make spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes etc. I don't necessarily pick when I'm going to have the meal, it's just nice to have in the freezer so I don't have to cook every night.

    I rarely have to shop for things I need (except milk & bread). I buy things as they are on sale (and use a coupon) and stock up. When I need something I go to the garage and shop rather than the store. I rarely pay for shampoo, toothbrushes and such. I watch Walgreens and Rite Aid for their free after rebate (or free after rebate and coupon).
     
  10. teamagic

    teamagic Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Messages:
    428
    Coupons, Coupons, and Coupons!! I started this year clipping coupons and trying to comine them with the grocery store sale. Also, buy extra papers when there is alot of good coupons that you will use. I have already purchased 3 or 4 newspapers just for the coupons. :rotfl2: When the items that you use alot go on sale, buy more than the week and stock up. As another poster stated, have a large stockpile! At first you will spend more per month, but in the long run you are saving money. Once you get a stockpile, you can be more selective on if an item is a good deal or a great deal. Also, don't forget about Target. There web site has their own Target coupons which you can print out and combine them with the sale for great savings. I was at Target today and purchase sour cream for .90 versus 1.60 on sale at the local grocery store. Also, as another poster said, I hardly pay full price for shampoo, asprin, cold meds,toilet paper, diapers. I watch for Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid for the free after rebate. I have Dh signed up with a card and take advantage of the free items. Dh was not very interested when I first started because he did not think I would have any real savings. Now, he is totally with the program.
     
  11. MrsPooh

    MrsPooh DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
    Messages:
    501

    I'm also one of those crazy coupon people who uses coupons to buy the cart full of groceries for almost nothing. Truly I've never gotten $600 worth for $5 (you do much better than I do) because I never use all my free item coupons at once and stores here don't double which makes it harder. My personal best was $320 worth for $26!

    Perhaps you missed the point of my "menu planning" comment. I would spend a fortune if I didn't menu plan because without the menu I would not use food most effectively and also tend to eat out rather than cooking. Without planning I end up running to the store almost daily because I'm missing the "one" ingredient I need or fix more expensive meals just because that is what I'm hungry for that day. It only takes me maybe half an hour before shopping but then I don't have to spend time daily planning what we're going to have for dinner.

    My meal list plan starts with an inventory of what is on hand from my stockpiles and what is on sale. The menu is built around that and my shopping list is just the odds/ends I will need but don't have on hand.

    You are right - I have no idea what I will "want" to eat a week or more in advance but the truth is, every day each member of my family will want something different but we all eat what I make since that is all that is on the table. I make sure to plan something for each person so no one is unhappy all the time.

    Considering the amount of time that I invest in clipping coupons, matching them with sales and going to different stores to use them best, the menu planning time is not much at all.

    I tried the crockpot route but dh doesn't like his "flavors" mixed and hated every meal I made in it. He doesn't like casseroles much either. In addition, he really wants meat with his meals so the meatless dishes don't work well here. We are a family of 5 (two adults, one teen, one nearly teen and one little one). Breakfasts are cheap and lunches are not bad, especially since most they are often leftovers. I often try to see how much I spend to make a dinner meal just because I like to keep track and I want to compare what we would have spent to go out. We eat well and always have meat, two or more veggies, dinner rolls or nice bread, often fruit and a salad plus a dessert. We are big eaters and eat large portions. I find my cost for all, including adding in some for condiments and drinks, ranges from $5 - $15. Usually we are near the low end but some special meals just cost more and that amount includes the leftovers which go for future lunches.
     
  12. minniemair

    minniemair Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2006
    Messages:
    267
    This is a great topic. Keep the tips comin! I do agree with the poster about buing the marked down meat. I know it sound kind of gross, but our Acme marks it down every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. If you get there by 8 am you are getting meat just put out the day before at a pretty good savings. Just ask at the butcher counter when they mark it down at your store. My biggest help is our upright freezer. I break down the big packs of meat into useable portions and label them. Keep a running list so you remember what you have. Or take a chance and thaw a mystery meat meal! I do use my crockpot alot in the cooler months but haven't figured out many summer recipes. Any ideas?
     
  13. grlpwrd

    grlpwrd <font color="orange">I'm here for the mouse more t

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2000
    Messages:
    5,866
    I agree with planning a menu. $3 a meal per person beats out going out to eat for $10+ per person. I actually have a repertoire for each day or thereabout. Weekends I have more time to cook so I choose new recipes, Mondays are taco nights, Tuesdays I serve a crockpot meal, Wednesday is stirfry, Thursday is spaghetti or vegetarian night, and so on. I do mix them up or change the menu often to prevent boredom.

    I also have soup night or breakfast for dinner night to mix it up a bit. Soup can be easily made with leftover veggies and breakfast food like eggs, pancakes, and waffles are inexpensive if homemade.

    OAMC, or once a month cooking, is also a huge money saver. My favorite website: http://snider.mardox.com/OAMC.htm Even mini sessions would be economical. I usually do OAMC during fall and winter when I am super busy with my classes, but I have more time since I take only a few classes now.

    Vegetarian meals tend to be cheaper so I try to use recipes that use less meat. Beans and legumes are healthier for you anyway.

    Here are some websites to help you along:

    www.savingdinner.com menu mailers by subscription, but there are some free sample recipes there

    www.mycoupons.com check out the forums for couponing help

    recipe websites like www.hillbillyhousewife.com where you can even make your own yogurt, http://www.bbonline.com/recipe/ for 'bed and breakfast' type recipes, http://www.copykatchat.com/ , www.tasteofhome.com , and www.recipegoldmine.com

    :hippie:
     
  14. e2mom

    e2mom Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9
    I have a coupon question. I have read many posts about people buy hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for $20 - $30. I remember when I was a kid my mom did this. My question is, where are you getting all of these coupons? I look in the Sunday paper every weekend and the coupons are rarely for anything we actually use. And the expiration dates on most of them are relatively soon. How do you all do it? I REALLY want to learn. I'm so tired of spending a small fortune on groceries. HELP!!!
     
  15. mickeyfan2

    mickeyfan2 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 21, 2004
    Messages:
    16,090
    The one person said she gets them from others recycle bins.

    Most coupons are on processed foods and I try to limit them. Also what can one do with 100 boxes of brownies? One person said she sold them on ebay. Who buys them?:confused3
     
  16. DawnM

    DawnM Dawn

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Messages:
    13,556
    Grocery Game is awesome. It will match your local Sun. paper to your local store's sales and show you how to get things very cheap.

    See if AngelFoodMinistries.com is in your area. Click on "host sites" to see locations.

    Shop the circulars. We have one store here that every week has a long list of BOGOF items and if you shopped there and only bought that stuff your grocery bill would be pretty cheap.

    Don't hate Aldi's! Seriously, shop there anyway. I used to hate it too, but have found that they have some things that we really like and if I go there every month or so and stock up, it saves.

    Love your leftovers! We can eat a pot of Spagheti for several days! It actually tastes better the 2nd or 3rd day as the flavours seem to marinate into the noodles more.

    Make meat more of a condiment. Small amounts of meat will add flavour but not the fat, calories or cost of large amounts of meat.

    Dawn
     
  17. formernyer

    formernyer DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,709
    I'm the one who posted this. When I was a serious coupon addict (which I'm not right now, but I'm probably going to get back into it again soon), I would collect about 100 papers worth of coupons each week via the newspaper recycle bins.

    The key is to clip EVERY coupon, and not just the ones for products you use. Just because you don't use a product, doesn't mean you shouldn't "buy" them if they are free! In addition, sometimes "buying" those items that you don't use can actually SAVE you money on your overall grocery bill. For example, if you "buy" a $1.00 item and save $1.20 on it in coupons, then you've MADE $.20 on that item...that $.20 will effectively be applied to the remainder of your grocery bill, plus you get the item you "bought" for free. Let's say you had 25 coupons for that item...well now you've just gotten 25 free items (even if you can't use them) and you've also reduced the remainder of your grocery bill by $5.00. If you can't use the free items, either have a yard sale, sell them on eBay, give them to friends/neighbors, or donate them to a charity. SOMEBODY out there wants them!

    I'll never forget the time that I purchased about 50 packages of Depends, because they were free. I went onto a checkout lane with a teenage male cashier and a teenage male bagger. I could tell they wanted to laugh at my order, so I made a joke about it myself :rotfl: BTW, I put all those Depends out at my yard sale for $1.50 per package and they were all gone within an hour!

    As for what people will/won't buy on eBay, they will buy ANYTHING! If the free items from my stockpile are lightweight personal items, I sell them in lots on eBay. I sell razors, deodorant, lotions, etc. this way. I've even sold certain food items on eBay this way. Most of the food items or heavier items like household cleaners I sell at a yard sale. I sell them for about 50% of their store value and they sell out VERY, VERY fast.

    If you don't like the idea of collecting coupons from recycle bins, you can buy them online or you can trade online.
     
  18. KKB

    KKB DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    2,233
    DH, me, DS12, DD9, DS6 (human garbage disposal) $500-600/mo. for FOOD.

    Religiously us the ads to guide my shopping. I have a store I like very well. Local warehouse store cuts their sale prices by .01:confused: But it doesn't have all the items I want & meat and produce aren't as good.

    Buy store brands for most items. Cereal is one are I will NOT buy store brands...I strive to find cereal for $1.99-2.49/box.

    STOCK up when items we use regularly are on sale.

    I buy practically nothing from deli or bakery.

    Meat is mostly lean hamburger, chicken breasts & salmon or talapia. Produce is guided by what is on sale. Though bananas, apples (in season), bagged salad & mini carrots are weekly staples.

    Coupons only for items we use regularly. Have replaced most those items w/ store brand for MUCH less.

    I feel we eat quite healthy.
    Breakfast--cereal & juice. (eggs, turkey bacon & homemade waffles or pancakes on weekends sometimes)
    Lunch--cheesy quesadilla, sandwiches, chix nuggets, fish sticks, Totinos pizza (though we are hooked on DiGiornio or Freschetta now!)
    Dinner--one of above meats, salad, veggie, fruit, sometimes pasta/rice/rolls
    Snacks--micro popcorn, pretzels, tortilla chips, cheese, fruit, lite ice cream

    I work full time, go to store once a week, with NO kids, if possible. (both of those are BIG money savers!)
     
  19. mickeyfan2

    mickeyfan2 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 21, 2004
    Messages:
    16,090
    I guess if it works for you.

    We never do yard sales, live in the country and are not big into ebay either. B

    This does seem like too much work to me. If I did it I would donate all the free stuff to charity.

    I guess my time is work more than all the work to get the extra coupons, clip them all, keep them organized, go to the store just to use them, cart them home and store them. I must be lazy.

    How many hours did you spend doing this to basically eliminate your food bill?
     
  20. formernyer

    formernyer DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,709

    I will never knock a person for buying store brands because they really ARE the name brands...you just don't know which name brand you're getting. For people who won't take the time to clip coupons, this is definitely a good way to shop.

    HOWEVER, if you become skilled with coupons, you'll almost always find that it's MUCH cheaper to purchase name brands!

    There are some items which it's hard to find good coupon deal for...things like flour, sugar, etc. For these items, definitely stick to store brands. You'll save money and never know the difference.

    To comment specifically on your cereal issue...

    I never, ever pay more than $1.00 for a box of cereal and I never buy store brands (not because I don't like them...just because it's cheaper to get the name brands). There are two ways that I get cereal cheaple:

    (1) Collect $1.00 off coupons (you can frequently find them stuck to the outside of cereal boxes on the shelves...just peel them off). Save the coupons for the next B1G1F sale. The B1G1F sale will bring the price per box down to around $1.50 to $2.00 each. Apply a $1.00 coupon to each box and your ending price is $.50 to $1.00 per box. If you're lucky enough to live in an area where you can double $1.00 coupons (I don't :( ), then you'll make money on every box you "purchase."

    (2) When I'm not in the middle of one of my coupon obsessions, I get my cereal at Big Lots. They almost always have some decent selections for $1.00 per box. Last week the $1.00 choices were Kellogg's Cinnamon Swirls, Kellogg's Peanut Butter Swirls, and Captain Crunch Chocolate Peanut Butter. Sometimes they even mark them down further if they are within a couple of months of the expiration date. About a month ago I got Organic Rice Krispies for $.65 a box. These are all big boxes...not the tiny ones!
     
  21. teamagic

    teamagic Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Messages:
    428
    I never understood the concept of clipping every coupon and buying things that you know that you are not going to use until this year. When I started becoming very serious about cutting our total budget, I tried this concept. At first I would buy items at CVS that were free or a money maker for me so that I could use the save $4.00 off a $20.00 purchase. In a very short time, I was able to purchase $20.00 of merchandise for under $2.00 every week.

    As for what to do with the items that you don't use. I am involved with a non-profit foundation and we have a fashion show every April. I was able to take my unwanted items and put together a basket of toileties - shampoo, conditioner, razors, toothpaste, asprin, vitamins, etc..... When I was done the basket had a retail value of over $500.00, which I purchased for free. The basket was used as a special raffle and made over $350.00 for the foundation. My sil, who was at the fashion show said that any time I have a stockpile of items to let her know and she would be willing to buy them from me for around 1/2. As the other poster stated there is always something that you can do with the stockpile of items that you have - friends, family, or charities. Many churches or private schools also do a basket raffle and would love to have a basket of toileties!
     

Share This Page