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Saving Even More at the Grocery Store – Advanced Tips

This article is a follow up to a previous article I recently posted about saving money at the grocery store. Here are some more advanced tips.

Consider Loyalty Cards – If you’re willing to allow the store to spy on your shopping habits, the benefits range from free food items to lower food prices on select items to money off gasoline.

Try Bulk Buying – This really goes back to knowing yourself and your resources. For some people, buying in bulk is a great strategy and for others, not so much. Questions to ask yourself may be: Do I have room to store the items? Will I use everything I buy? Can I avoid all the other deals in the store?  Just because your neighbor swears by Costco or Sam’s Club doesn’t mean it will work for you. It makes sense to buy staples in bulk, like dried beans, rice, etc. These are things that can be stored for a long period of time. On the other hand, buying the industrial package of shrimp just because it’s a great sale may not make as much sense.

Buy Larger Sizes – in general, the larger size is the best deal. Check the unit price. For instance, the microwaveable single portions of vegetables aren’t really that much easier than putting a portion from a larger, less expensive bag of veggies into a dish and cooking it.  For lunch I was buying single serving packs of yogurt. I was shocked at how big the per ounce price difference was between single servings and the larger containers. Now I buy larger containers of yogurt and put some into a reusable container every day.

Look Low On the Shelf – In general, the items on the lowest shelves will be the least expensive. Many items that are of interest to children will be located within reach, so be careful about extra items showing up in your basket.

Skip the Expensive Cereal – Some store brands and generics really are as good as the original. On the same note, some are not. You’ll want to decide how much Crunchy Nut / Fruit / Honey / Flakes are worth to you. Try my favorite --- oatmeal with ground flax, raisins and cinnamon. Or an egg on toast.

Eat Before Shopping – If you’re hungry, it will be difficult to keep your shopping confined to your list and your budget. I understand that rotisserie chicken near the produce section smells delicious, but think before you put it into your cart: Is this something I really need or am I just hungry? Nine times out of ten, you’ll put it back and move along.

Plant a Garden – This one is not for me. I grow fabulous weeds, but not much else. However, I have a neighbor who gardens my backyard and I get part of the produce. Win-win! If you are graced with a green thumb, growing your own veggies and fruits could be much less expensive than buying.

Skip the Meat – This is a tough sell at my house, where meat seems to be required at every meal. (My apologies to the vegetarians and vegans among us.) Meat is expensive, in general, and skipping meat at least one day per week can make a significant difference in expenses. Keep an open mind and you'll find that vegetarian meals can be delicious.

Save Money On Meat Purchases – Shop grocery store sales for meat. When my favorite cuts on are sale, I tend to buy double or triple what I usually would and freeze what I don’t use immediately. Other tips include buying directly from the farm, or buying cheaper cuts and cooking them longer.

Shop Elsewhere for Household Items – Check around for prices on items like paper products, toiletries, cleaning supplies and the like. You may be surprised to find out which store has the best prices.

Clean Cheaper and Healthier – White vinegar and baking soda are amazing cleaners and very cheap! They can be used to clean toilets, showers, sinks and laundry.  A barely damp cloth is a great duster. Avoid anything disposable because it’s expensive and, honestly, unnecessary. Instead, try using old towels or cut up t-shirts for cleaning.