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How to Cut Your Grocery Costs (Without Relying on Coupons.)

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Are you trying to find out how to save money grocery shopping?

Growing up the 3rd of 7 children in a single income home, being frugal was something I learned at my mother’s knee. But being frugal dosent mean you have to do without. Often it would just mean being smart with our money and always getting the most bang for our buck.

This was especially true when it came to food. My mother kept a tight food budget for our family, yet we always ate well. And get this, she rarely if ever used coupons! She said that though coupons aren’t bad and can come in handy when they are for items you normally purchase, that you shouldn’t rely on them for frugal shopping. Why? When you rely on coupons to save money you often end up buying foods you dont actually need or want and sometimes spending more because you are enduling in buying luxury snacks being advertised.

When I moved away from home to attand college with my older brother I used the lessons I learned from my mother to feed both my brother and I well on less than $100 a month. 

Years later when I got married (though prices had risen) my husband and I ate like kings on less than $150 a month. Now ten years later I spend less than $400 a month to feed my family of 5. Again like my mother I rarely use coupons and we always eat well. 

So how do we do it? Let me let you in on some of my tried and true secrets: 

1. Make a Shopping List and Stick to it. 

How many times have you gone shopping, then returned home to discover you forgot to get a few needed food items and ended up getting a bunch you didn't need. Having a shopping list that you commit to sticking to will help you with both of those common shopping problems.

First write down ket staple items that need to be replenished (like milk, bread, eggs etc) Then make up the rest of your shopping list based on the meals you have planned for the week.

2. Base Your Shopping List on Your Weekly Menu

Having a weekly menu will show you what ingredients you will need to get (and in what amounts) which will help you to avoid having to make extra last miutes trips to the store. (the fewer trips to the store you make a week the less you will spend a month.)

Basing your shopping list off your weekly menu you will waste less food. If two different meals the coming week each require 1/2 a bell pepper then you only need to buy 1 bell pepper...)

3. Don't Shop While Hungry!

This is a big one. When you shop while hungry its too easy to end up buying a lot of food you don't need just because it looks appealing. By simply eating something (even a little snack) before you head out shopping you can save a lot of money on spontaneous snacks.

4. Know Which Local Stores Have The Best prices.

I hear all the time, I get all my groceries at Costco or Walmart, etc... because they have the best prices. While this may be the case with some of your groceries it isn't necessarily true for all of them. In fact, you can actually save quite a bit of money by shopping at more than one store.

To find out which stores really have the best prices for your family's staple foods, make a list then check their prices by the main stores you prefer shopping at. You will be surprised at which stores actually have the best prices for which foods.

Once you know which stores have the best prices for your family's staple food products (and what those prices are) you can then compare with weekly ad sales to create your shopping plan. To help you do this I recently created some free Grocery Shopping Printables --> HERE <--

Yes it takes a bit more time to shop ant multiple stores but if you are serious about saving money you will find it well worth the extra time.

5. Utilize Your Weekly Sale Ads.

Every week your local stores send out their current ads with their sales. When you know the standard prices of your family's staple foods then you will be able to determine which deals are actually deals.

**note after a few weeks of doing this you should start seeing a pattern in sales. Many foods (especially meats go on a sale cycle of about 6 weeks. ) once you identify the sale cycle in your area it will be easier to anticipate sales for your favorite foods.

This will allow you to create the best Shopping list and plan to get your groceries at the best possible price.

6. Shop Loss Leaders.

A common strategy with grocery stores is to actually take a loss on the rice of a few food items each week to entice customers in hoping they will stay and just get all their groceries there out of convenience.

Make sure you take advantage of those loss leaders then move on to the other stores on your list for those best-priced items your family favors.

7. Take The Time At Home To Process Your Meats.

I have found that often the most expensive food ingredients are the meats. So when my go-to cuts of meat goes on sale I like to get more than I'll need that week and then when I get home I divide my meat purchase into freezer ziplocks (in meal portions) and then I use a sharpie to write on the front what is inside the ziplock as well as the month/year date.

I also do this for fruits when they are in season so I can use them in baking and smoothies throughout the year.

I have found that doing it this way 1 roast or package of chicken or pork chops can easily be divided into a couple of family meals (or several meals if you are single or a young couple.

8. Try Store Brand Foods. 

Most grocery stores have their own store brand food items for most popular foods. The quality of these store brand foods has improved soo much over the last few years that in many cases the store brand is just as good as not better than the popular name brand counterpart.

I would suggest each shopping trip adding a few store brand items to your cart to try at home. If you and your family like them, then from then on buy the store brand instead of the name brand item (unless the name brand is on sale for less.)

In addition to these frugal living shopping tips listed above I would advise investing in a chest freezer which you can stock with your meats, vegitables, fruits and other frozen goods as they go on sale.  Also consider investing at least a portion of your tax return each year to create a rotating food storage (of shelf foods that you eat) this will go a long way to supplimenting your weekly shopping allowing you to buy your favorite foods when they are onsale saving you a lot of money annualy. 

What is your greatest struggle when it comes to budgeting? Let me know in the coments and I’ll create some futures posts to address those concerns. 

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