Is there a more frustrating time of day than when the kids are tired and fussy, and you’re desperately trying to get through the store, to pick up something for dinner since there’s nothing in the house to eat. If you’re like me, you run in for a few things since you can’t stand the thought of pizza again, and you end up with a full cart costing $122.
Yikes, food it’s expensive but obviously a necessity. I did a little bit of research as to the percentage of our paycheck that goes toward food and found a great budget worksheet on the Washington Post website for graduates. Their experts recommend we shoot for a goal of no more than 18% of our income going toward food.
I’m sure that number depends on your income and the size of your family, but food is still a major expense we all have to deal with.
So I asked the experts, our frugal FatWallet Facebook friends and Twitter followers for their advice.
Frugal FatWallet Friends Share their Favorite Budget Friendly Grocery Shopping Secrets
Penny Pinching Preparation Pointers
- Research the store flyers in your area for what’s on sale at which store
- Organize your coupons
- Plan your menu
- Make a list
- Eat before you shop
- Leave the kids and your honey at home
- Go to the store with a budget in mind
Savvy Money Saving Shopping Secrets
- Find out when your grocery stores begin and end their sales.
- Shop the day before stores restock.
- Shop on double or triple coupon days.
- Many stores have unadvertised sales if you’re there at the right time.
- Buy things that are about to expire (meat) and freeze it for a later date.
- Stick to the outside walls of the grocery store where there is fresh fruit and veggies, meat/seafood and milk products and don’t buy processed foods.
- Bulk foods can save money.
- Don’t forget to check the clearance sections of your store.
- Double check that your brand item with a coupon is cheaper than the store brand.
- Keep a running total of what you’re putting in your cart so you don’t blow your budget.
Cut Costs Wherever You Can
- Reusable bags can sometimes get you a discount.
- If something you use regularly is on sale, buy a lot of it and stock pile it for later. If it’s not on sale, wait until it is and then stock up.
- Use your freezer and pantry to store your finds.
- Get a rain-check if the store is out of the item you were going to buy.
- Don’t by anything that is not on your list.
Choosy Moms (and Dads) Choose Stores Wisely
While it often pays to shop around it is time-consuming. If you’ve got a busy schedule (who doesn’t?) you may do better focusing on your favorite store and getting to know their sales schedules, deals, coupon policies etc. Many of our readers shared their favorite stores: Trader Joe’s, WalMart, Woodman’s, etc.
Think outside the box for your grocery gathering. Drug stores like Osco and Walgreens have great bargains and coupon deals for various food items. Wholesale stores like Sam’s Club and CostCo are great places to buy in bulk. Restaurant supply stores may offer great deals in bulk quantities too.
Get creative where you shop. Try out some ethnic grocery stores and health food stores as well as your local farmer’s market.
While we don’t have it where we live now, I loved using PeaPod which allowed me to order my groceries online and have them delivered. Even with a delivery fee, I ended up spending less time and money because I would work off of the previous week’s shopping list, adding in the extras and I didn’t get caught in the moment to impulse buy.
Really Easy Recipe Recommendations to Save Time & Money
- Brainstorm alternatives to prepared foods. For example, it may be cheaper to buy cheese in a block and shred it yourself.
- Make ahead your own mixes like pancake mix, cocoa, and beer bread.
- Plan ahead and make some freezer meals for busy nights. Try making double and trade with a friend!
- Some frugal moms even plan, shop and cook for their families once a month to save time and money.
- Try fixing breakfast for dinner one or two nights a week to cut your expenses.
In the end…
It all boils down to preparation. The more prepared you are, the less likely you will be to overspend on your groceries.
If you liked this post, please remember to “like it” and share it with your friends! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below as well. What are your great grocery shopping tips?