Jan 14, 2010 2:10 PM by News First 5
All this month we're teaming up with Carrie Isaac of SpringsBargains.com to bring you tips to stretch your dollars. This week Carrie's tips focus on saving money on your grocery bill.
Top 5 Ways To Save on Groceries
1. Make a price list.
Carrie says you may think you're getting a good deal on canned vegetables, but you're not really sure.
You can easily know whether or not something is a good deal for you buy taking a special trip to the store you normally shop at and make a list of every item you normally buy. Write down the every day price you pay for those items, and keep that information with you when you look at the grocery ads.
When you know that your normal grocery store charges $2 for an item that's on sale for $1, you can be pretty confident that it's a good deal and buy a little extra. If you see that item that's normally priced $2 on sale for $1 at a different store, it might be worth a special trip to stock up if you can save 50%. The key is to know what you normally pay so you can know how much you're saving!
2. Change the way you make your shopping list.
Making a shopping list is a great way to keep yourself from overpriced impulse purchases, but changing the way you make your list will take your small savings and turn them in to BIG savings! Most people make their shopping list based on what they want to eat - but often that means they'll fix burgers when ground beef is $3.50/lb, grill chicken breasts when they're $3.99/lb, and eat frozen pizza when it's $6 per pizza.
By looking at the grocery sales fliers first and then making your list, you'll be able to plan to eat what's on sale. When you see that ground beef is on sale for $1.99/lb or less, that's a good time to fix burgers, meatloaf, meatballs, etc. If chicken breasts are on sale for $1.66/lb, plan on making chicken fajitas, chicken Alfredo, etc. You don't have to completely change what you eat, just plan smarter.
3. Shop at two stores per week.
Yes, the more often you step foot into a store, the more money you will spend. However, most people make more than one trip to the store per week, whether they realize it or not. Plan to make one grocery shopping trip at your favorite store, and then one quick trip to pick up the sale items at another store.
It's rare that one store has the lowest prices on every single item on your list, so scan all the grocery ads each week to see what's a hot deal at the other stores. Then, pick one store that has some great prices on items you regularly use and make a quick stop to pick up those items and stock your pantry.
4. Explore ethnic markets.
If you cook a lot of Mexican or Asian food, you are spending way too much if you're buying those ingredients at your traditional grocery stores! Popular ingredients for Tex Mex dishes, like jalapenos and other peppers, avocados, limes, tortillas, and more are often much cheaper at a store like Rancho Liborio. Like Asian food? Choose from a wider selection of brand and varieties by shopping at Asian Pacific Market, where prices are much cheaper and they're sure to have that obscure ingredient your recipe calls for!
One caution - though these stores have good deals on ethnic items, they are typically higher on things like paper goods and household supplies - it's usually better to buy these types of items at a different store.
5. See how long you can go without a trip to the store.
Most people have a pantry or cabinet or freezer with enough food to last for a few weeks - yet we all still stare at the shelves and think "there's nothing to eat"! Challenge yourself to not go to the grocery store for a week, or two weeks, or however long you think you can go, and use up those items in your pantry.
Chances are there's quite a bit of food that you've forgotten about, and probably some that needs to be eaten before it rots, anyway! You may still have to stop by the store for milk and produce, but don't allow yourself to buy anything else.
You can make it a fun challenge by taking some of the money you would have normally spent and doing something to reward your family with it!
These are some simple ways to begin cutting your grocery budget. Start small and keep track of your savings so you can know what methods are truly saving your family money.
For more tips from Carrie head to SpringsBargains.com