In light of yesterday’s post on the economy and rising food prices, I thought I would share ways I save money at the grocery store.

shopping carts

  1. Don’t shop hungry.
    Some of the oldest food shopping advice, and some of the best.
  2. Plan ahead.
    The more you know about the meals you are going to make in the days ahead, the less extra stuff you are likely to buy, and the less spoilage you should have in your fridge.
  3. Go through the ads.
    It’s easy to miss a special if you aren’t particularly looking for an item. If you use the ads in combination with planning ahead, your meals can be based on what’s fairly cheap right then.
  4. Go to more than one grocery store when reasonable.
    I have a Henry’s and a Vons sharing a parking lot, and Stater Bros. across the street from them. It makes it very easy to shop them all, even though Vons most often has the highest prices. But driving too far can ruin your savings.
  5. Take advantage of coupons for things you would buy anyhow.
    Coupons can save you a nice bit of money on the things you need.
  6. Don’t buy things you don’t need just because you have a coupon.
    Buy what you need, not just what is at a good price.
  7. Know who, if anyone, doubles coupons.
    This is harder to find than it used to be, but if a store near to you does it, take advantage if the price is then the best.
  8. Know the regular prices and what a good sale price is.
    Any time you can get something for it’s best sale price, you’re doing pretty well, and the more you can avoid the regular price on most foods, the better. I also have just general guidelines such as “most fruits and vegetables should be under $1/pound, under $0.75/pound is better”. A lot of people keep notebooks so they always know if the price is good. I’ve seen stores drop a price $0.01 and call it a sale.
  9. Plan at least an occasional vegetarian meal.
    Meatless meals generally cost a lot less. One of my favorites is called Sand and Shells, and the kids just wolf it down. Most of the ingredients are *ahem* dirt cheap in my area.
  10. Take advantage of your freezer space.
    I love keeping meat in my freezer that was bought at cheap prices so I don’t have to buy so much when the prices aren’t so good.
  11. Check out farmer’s markets.
    Sometimes the prices are great, sometimes not so great. But know what you have in your area.
  12. Garden.
    Not easy for everyone, but if you have the space and are willing to give it a try, you can produce your own food for reasonable prices. Note it may take a while for you to regain your investment. But if you compost your other food scraps you will have a great natural fertilizer, saving one expense as well as concern about chemicals. It may also help your kids to see where their food comes from, and some even eat their vegetables more eagerly.
  13. Make your own mixes.
    Spice packets and other mixes can cost significantly more than what the individual ingredients cost. Mixing up your own is pretty easy, especially since many from scratch recipes are readily available online.

And a bonus tip, just because I thought of it…

Don’t buy in more bulk than you’ll actually use. It’s not a good deal if you paid more and used less than is made up for in savings.