How To Save Money On Groceries.

We all need Groceries because we have to eat

1.   First, Track Your Expenses   You can’t save money if you don’t know how much you’re spending to begin with.  Keep a list of everything you buy.  Once you’ve got an idea of what you spend each month or each week, then you can make a budget and begin to set goals.

2.   Grow Your Own    Obviously this is the way to achieve the most savings.  Make a garden this year.  Next year make a bigger garden.  If you own a freezer and know how to can and preserve you can do more financial damage to your local grocer than with any other method.  Not only that, but you can’t buy healthier food, and you’ll never your meals even more when you produce them yourself.

3.   Cook   Without question, you can cook your own food more cheaply than you can hire someone to cook it for you.  This is not to say that you shouldn’t ever go to another restaurant or order another pizza, when you want to celebrate or just take a break, but if you’re out to save money, you need to be the one who prepares your meals.

4.  Keep a Running Grocery List   When you run out of anything, add it to the list.  The more well-stocked your larder is, the better you’ll eat, and the less you’ll spend.  Always take your list of the things you need when you shop, and only buy what's on the list.  If it’s not on the list, then you obviously don’t need it.
5.   Use Discount Grocery Stores   Preferably the type that buys surplus lots from bigger chains.  We save a small fortune every year by shopping at a local discount grocery,   Not only do we save a lot of cash, but our diet is much more varied than it used to be because the discount stores wind up with lots of unusual items that may not sell so well in middle America.  For example, we always have lots of fancy foreign cheeses, Brie, Camembert, Gouda, you name it.  These apparently don’t appeal to the typical Ozarkian, or maybe the typical American, palate, but we love them, and we get them for less than the price of Velveeta.  

6.   Buy in Bulk   As with most everything else, the more you buy, the cheaper it you get it.  Olia recently brought home a 40-pound carton of green bananas from the discount grocery for which she paid $6.50 total.  That’s 16.25 cents per pound versus 60 to 90 cents per pound in regular stores.  Of course you don’t save much if your fruit rots in the fridge, but I prefer my bananas slightly green, Olia likes them slightly brown, and when we’d both had what we liked, she made many loaves of tasty banana bread. 

7.   Cook for a Week, or Month   If you’ll cook up large batches of your favorite foods and put them away in the fridge, freezer or pantry in single-meal portions, you’ll not only save money because of buying in bulk, but you'll also earn yourself quite a bit of free time.  Try making a stock-pot full of soup or stew and freezing what you don't eat. You'll have a quick, tasty meal that the biggest clutz in the family can prepare for himself.   

8.   Recycle Old Meals   A/K/A leftovers.  Don't just keep them, make a meal from them.  Monday’s Casserole and Tuesday's Roast can become Wednesday’s stew with a little stock and some seasonings.  Likewise a large piece of meat can be stretched a lot further, as well as be more tasty and healthy if you use it in several different dishes with many bite-sized morsels.  We rarely eat large pieces of meat alone, but often have meat mixed in a bowl of rice or buckwheat, or on a large salad.

9.   Don’t Throw Away Food   Save your bacon grease, make stock from your chicken carcass, save hambones to add to bean soups.  If you don’t have time to do these things after dinner, put them in a bag in the freezer.  Save everything you can think of a use for, and don’t forget the livestock/pets and the compost pile.

10.  Avoid Impulse Purchases  These are the bane of all would-be frugal shoppers, so just don’t do it.  If you truly need an item, then it should  appear on your list next week. 

11. Time Your Trip Wisely
First of all, you never want to shop for groceries on an empty stomach. Try to shop around 10 o’clock in the morning to avoid not only a rumbling stomach, but also the afternoon crowds. Additionally, ask your grocery’s deli and bakery if they discount meat and bread on a certain day of the week. One grocery store I frequent sells all its week-old baked goods for one cent on Wednesdays!

12. Only Buy What You Need
This may be the most important strategy to save money on groceries, as well as the most difficult to implement. You need self-control to resist the temptation to buy items that are not on your list.
On average, impulse buys increase your bill by 20% to 30%. Avoid browsing the aisles and lingering in the store. Instead, find exactly what you need, make your purchases, and leave the store as soon as possible to avoid being tempted. If this is an area in which you struggle, start off slowly by avoiding one impulse buy this week and trim additional ones from your purchases each subsequent week.
13. Consider Buying Generic Items
When it comes to store brand vs. name brand, I tend to buy generics when there is an item I need, but I do not possess a coupon for the brand name version. In many cases, there are very few differences between most brand name items and generic items, and to be honest, I have found some generic products that I prefer to the brand name, such as cookies, peanut butter, and evencola. Remember, some stores do not offer many generic alternatives to name brands. You may want to stick to stores that stock many store-brand products.
However, you really have to know when it’s worth choosing generic over name brand. Some products from the generic lines go head to head with name brands in terms of quality, while other products are sub par at best. If you buy poor quality products, you may end up tossing them out and wasting the money altogether.Here’s a rundown of what to buy, and what to avoid, when it comes to generic brand products:
What to Buy from Generic Brands:
  • Food Staples. Your basics like flour, sugar, cooking oil, and butter will always taste, and work, the same regardless of what the label says.
  • Canned Produce. Any basic canned fruit or vegetable will taste the same in a generic brand can. However, you may want to stick to the name brands when buying the fancy mixed fruit cocktails – the generic brands never give you enough cherries.
  • Frozen Produce. Name brand frozen produce typically costs twice as much as the generic version, and the store brand often gives you more per bag.
What to Buy from Name Brands:
  • Meat. I’ll skip my slimy chicken story and just tell you this: If you’re a stickler for the quality of your meat, you won’t be happy with the generic brand. This goes for everything from t-bone steaks to frozen chicken strips.
  • Paper Products. Generic brand paper towels and toilet paper do not hold up as well as the name brands. You end up using twice as much for the same effect, which does not save you any money in the long run.

14. Check the Unit Prices
To ensure that you are getting the best available price on an item, check the unit price, which can be found on the item’s price tag. You need to not only compare different brands, but also different sizes. While buying a bigger package often costs less per unit, that is not always the case.
If you have a calculator – perhaps on your smart phone – use it to do quick calculations when you need to factor in sales and coupons. Just because you have a coupon doesn’t mean the cost per unit is less than another brand or generic.
15. Look High and Low for Savings
Grocery stores use many marketing tactics to coerce consumers into selecting the most expensive items. For example, stores often stock the most expensive items and brands at eye level, and place the cheaper items and brands on the higher and lower shelves. As you are going through the store, remember to check all the shelves for potential savings.
16. Skip Prepared and Pre-cut Items
It can be a great time-saver at home to use prepackaged and prepared foods. Many grocery stores also offer pre-cut or pre-sliced items, such as chopped green peppers or cheese trays. While these types of items are certainly convenient, they are expensive compared to non-prepared items.
Whenever possible, make your food from the most basic ingredients, or even from scratch. I have a friend who makes most of her meals from scratch – she spends only $40 a week on groceries for a family of five without the use of coupons!

Looking for ways to save money on groceries? Start by knowing when grocery stores are tricking you into spending more money than you intended, and adjust your shopping strategy accordingly.
Save Money on Groceries: Avoid Spending Traps at the Store

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