Typically, we shoppers run out of laundry detergent or bread and rush to the nearest supermarket to grab that needed item. But planning ahead and stocking up on staples can save both money and future headaches.
Rather than heading to the grocery store without a battle plan, consider trying some of the following ideas.
Post a running grocery list
Keep a list handy in your kitchen to scribble down the items you run out of. When you notice that you’re low on butter, jot it down.
Check out the grocery store ads or flyers
you receive in the mailbox, but don’t waste time shopping at store No. 1 for milk and store No. 2 for chicken. Walmart allows shoppers to ad match, meaning that they’ll match the product’s price if it’s the same brand and size. See Walmart’s ad match policies here.
Most newspapers include weekly coupons, and it pays to clip the ones you will use. Don’t bother with coupons for items that you wouldn’t purchase, anyway. Also, check out coupons.com to sign up for their weekly coupons offerings. Coupons can deduct $10 or more from your weekly grocery bill. Grab the ones you need as you finalize your list before leaving home. Or, make it a habit to carry all of your coupons to the store each week. Here are some moretips on getting most from coupons.
Plan a menu
As you create your grocery list, jot down your menu plan for the week. Plan your meals after clipping coupons and perusing the ads to see what foods you can get deals on. You can then refer back to your menu during the week.
Make a rule to buy a few extra cans each week
It never hurts to stock up on canned fruits and vegetables, beans, pasta, rice and other non-perishables. Check the expiration dates, and only accumulate foods you will actually use. Also, check your ads for case lot sales when stores deeply discount canned goods.
Don’t buy more milk than you need
The cost of milk has risen, and you don’t want to pour money down the drain. Milk doesn’t stay fresh for very long.
Freeze your meat
This is an ideal way to prepare speedy meals later. If you use half a package of cubed ham in a recipe and won’t need the rest right away, pour it into a freezer bag and stash it in the freezer. Cook up extra ground beef and freeze the rest for next week. If you can find a good deal on rotisserie chicken (try Costco), buy one or two to shred. Freeze the shredded chicken in separate portions for future recipes. Depending on your family’s size, one chicken can create about four meals.
Rather than running to the store repeatedly for bread, freeze several loaves. In addition to breads and baked goods, these items freeze wonderfully: butter, beans, cooked rice, soup, spaghetti sauce, grated cheese and shelled nuts.
Stop trudging to the store to buy diapers
To save money on diapers and have them shipped to your door, sign up for the Amazon Mom club through Amazon.com. Any mom, dad or baby caregiver can sign up for a free three-month period which entitles you to 20 percent off diapers and wipes, and free two-day shipping. See details here.
Don’t forget the dollar store
The next time you stop by the dollar store, check out the grocery section. Some dollar stores carry spices, snacks, soap, shampoo and household cleaners that can save you money.
Dragging your kids along to the store can make the process longer and more expensive. Kids like to add their pickings to the cart. Try to shop when your spouse is home, or trade babysitting with a friend.
We all want to save a few dollars at the grocery store. Who relishes handing over their hard-earned cash for such uninspiring items as toilet paper or milk? Now that you know how to shop more efficiently, find out how to shop and cook more frugally here.