When I saw today's question over at Multiples and More I just knew I had to take part today. The question? How to grocery shop on a budget.
If you aren't regular reader here at Three Times the Giggles you probably aren't familiar with my weekly Saturday Savings posts. If not, just check out my post from yesterday for a little sampling in what I can do with my grocery budget ($310 a month including all food, cleaning supplies, paper supplies and health and beauty products)! Here is a brief run down of my hottest grocery saving tips:
- Be wary of club warehouses (Sam's Club, Costco, etc) Quite often you can get the items they sell there for less money just by carefully shopping the sales and using coupons at the local grocery stores. We only buy a few select items at Sam's Club once a month - Apple Juice (which the price has gone up on actually and it is now the same price as rock bottom sale prices at one of the nearby grocery stores), french toast sticks and either Goldfish or Animal Crackers. Watch the prices of the items you do buy - we used to always buy a 5 pound block of cheese once a month but their prices went up and up and up and it's no longer smart to buy cheese there.
- Watch the fliers and buy only the rock bottom priced stuff Sure, you can just buy stuff that's on sale and do ok for yourself, but to really maximize that budget you need to buy when the price is rock bottom. Whether you keep track of the prices yourself (I have a spreadsheet where I track Organic stuff) or you subscribe to a web service (like The Grocery Game) you'll want to know when that box of Rice Krispies is at the lowest sale price you'll see for a while and when to pair it with the coupon you've been hanging on to. That's how you get big boxes of cereal for .90 each instead of the $3 or $4 they would charge you at full price. Free sites like Coupon Mom do publish the sale prices and coupon match ups for products. It's a good tool but be aware that they simply publish everything that's on sale that has a coupon, so you'll need to watch the numbers for yourself to see if it's a rock bottom price and the time to buy.
- Stock Up! When you see an awesome price on something and there's no limit to how many you can buy, stock up! This weekend a store was selling Bird's Eye Frozen Veggies for only .66 a bag with no limit, so I snagged 10! Sure, I don't need 10 right now but now hopefully those 10 will last until the next great sale. If I had a deep freezer I'd of likely bought twice that.
- Subscribe to the paper Here in Kansas City it'll cost you $2 to buy the Sunday paper in the store. If you subscribe on a deal though you can get it delivered right to your house (along with the Friday and Saturday papers too) for only $1. When they try to raise your price after the introductory rate runs out (usually a 6 months period), tell them you want the lower rate still and they'll usually extend it.
- Stack, Stack, Stack If you have a store nearby that produces their own coupons then take advantage. If a coupon says "store coupon" then you can "stack it" with a manufacturer's coupon. Example: I was in Target this weekend with a Target coupon good for $1 off Windex and a manufacturer's coupon good for .55 off Windex. I used both coupons on one bottle of Windex and got it for .95!
- Generic is not always cheapest So often I hear people say "just buy generic, it's cheaper" but the reality is you can usually buy the name brand for cheaper if you're shopping with coupons and rock bottom pricing! It's rare to see generic items in my Saturday Savings posts and that's because they often are not cheaper.
- CVS Extra Care Bucks If you have a CVS nearby and you aren't taking advantage of their Extra Care Bucks you're missing out! By earning ECB's and then rolling them into your next purchase (where you hopefully are earning more ECB's) you can get stuff super cheap. My most exciting one was when I purchased $65 worth of stuff and paid just $8 out of pocket and earned another $10 in ECBs.