November 4, 2011

If you are looking for ways to save money each month, the grocery store is a great place to start.  Unlike car or mortgage payments which tend to be fixed amounts, the amount of money you spend at the grocery store is something you can control.  It is important we find ways to save money at the grocery store because the price of food continues to rise.  Just this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that peanut butter is going up 24 – 30%.  We need to do all we can to save money at the grocery store.

Use Coupons

Coupons are most effective when they are doubled or tripled and used on items that are on sale.  Sites such as The Grocery Game do a lot of the hard work for you by telling you the best time to use your coupons for maximum savings.  Make sure you check with your grocery store for their coupon policy.  Many have restrictions in place such as how many coupons you can use per transaction, as well as their overage policy.

Use a Price Book

A price book is a great tool for knowing the best prices for the items you buy.  To make your price book, you can use a spiral notebook, a three-ringed notebook, or even an Excel spreadsheet.  The goal of your price book is to record the prices of the items you normally buy in the different stores where you shop. To set up your book, each item gets its own page.  On that page, list the different prices of the item at various stores.   By using your price book, you’ll easily be able to determine if a sale price is a good price, and where you can buy the item for the best price.

Plan Your Meals

One of the best ways to save money at the grocery store is to plan your meals before you go shopping.  To simplify planning your meals, make a master list of your family’s favorite meals.  Once you have a master meal list, look through your coupons, weekly flyers, and your price book. Choose meals that can be made using ingredients you can buy at the lowest prices possible.

Cook From Scratch

Pre-packaged food may be easy to prepare on a busy night, but you pay a price for convenience.  Instead of buying frozen pizza, consider making homemade pizza for about half the price.  You can even bake a batch of pizza crusts in one afternoon and freeze them to use another time.  Not only will you save money by cooking from scratch, but you will eat a lot healthier as well since you will be using fresh ingredients without artificial colors, chemicals, or preservatives.

Shop Grom a List

Because you’ve planned your meals in advance based on your coupons and what’s on sale, it is very easy to put together a grocery list of only the items you need.  There may be times when the store has unadvertised specials that can tempt you into buying items not on your list.  When this happens, look through your price book and decide whether it is a good idea to stock up on the sale items.  Grocery spending gets out of hand very quickly when we make impulse purchases, or allow our kids to add things to the cart.  Kids are great little consumers, and when they go to the grocery store they immediately recognize all the expensive items they’ve seen advertised on television.  As the keeper of the list, you can teach them how to save money at the store.

Saving money at the grocery store takes time and a bit of practice, but is well worth the effort.  With the continuing rise in the cost of food, our grocery budgets will need to grow as well.  But we can counteract some of the effect of rising food costs by putting into place a plan for saving at the grocery store.