Pulling open the door to the fridge, you realize you’ve run out of a lot of your staples. With a large family or big eaters, the food you bring home from the grocery store or from your online order may not even last long enough to consider a shelf life.
As a result, your relationship with grocery shopping may be less than friendly.
But you don’t have to worry or foster your hatred for spending full paychecks on your monthly grocery store trips.
Coupons and sales can rescue you.
Grocery shopping and filling up your fridge can be a fun activity if you plan and prepare your meals and your shopping trip. Following sales and collecting coupons can give you that extra boost to save big on those essentials.
Here, we share easy tips to be a frugal grocery shopper using coupons and sales.
Step 1 – Stock up on coupons
Sometimes, unfolding the newspaper has more of a purpose than just reading the top stories. Finding coupons, whether in newspapers, magazines, mail or online, can also help you to save big on your weekly grocery bill. Whether you choose to take out your scissors and physically cut out paper coupons or “clip” them via an online service, tracking and utilizing coupons and rebates to their full potential can help you save big on those items you need.
What’s even better is that sometimes, you can use a coupon or rebate on an item that’s already on sale. That’s savings times two.
Step 2 – Plan your meals and stick to it
Before you step foot into a grocery store or start your order online, have a plan in place. This “plan” could come about in a lot of different ways. Some choose to select the exact meals, sides and drinks they plan on consuming that week. Others prepare more of a general main dish calendar for the week.
However you choose to go out planning your meals, keep your grocery store’s sales in mind. Plan your dishes based off what items are on sale for that week. Is chicken half price? Opt for grilled chicken rather than hamburgers. Are green beans on sale? Pick those out rather than peas. Be mindful of the ingredients you’ll need and follow what’s already on sale and you’ll start saving right away.
When you plan, also be prepared to visit the grocery store a maximum once per week, if you can. When you limit yourself to just one trip, you won’t be tempted later on to add those extra things to your cart on a second or third visit just because they look good.
Step 3 – Buy your ingredients when things are on sale
As you’re planning, be sure to notice those ingredients that you use frequently and are on sale. Even if you may not plan on eating all of what you purchase in one or two weeks, it pays to stock up on those foods you do go through quickly. If you plan on going through at least five boxes of cereal in the next few weeks, it’s better to get them when they’re on sale rather than when you run out and each box is $2 more expensive.
Buying in bulk when foods are on sale also can help save you money. Purchasing your staples in bulk often have a lower price per unit as it cuts down on packaging and transportation.
If you choose to stock up on those necessities you consume at a rapid rate, be mindful of how you store such items. Some non-perishable items, such as cereal, flour, crackers or juice, can be simply stored in the pantry or cupboard. Other foods, like cheese, produce, meats and breads, should be more carefully monitored while stored in the fridge. Often, freezing your stock of on-sale foods is a wise way to go. Don’t miss out on your savings by succumbing to food waste.
Step 4 – Buy generic if there are no sales
Sure that name brand cereal you grew up on makes you feel better because you know exactly what it’ll taste like, but could you really tell the difference from a generic brand? For some things, the answer is certainly yes. For others, choosing to purchase the store’s generic brand over a recognized name brand can save you a lot without losing out on quality. And, you may also have to ask yourself if the small difference even worth the extra cost.
Step 5 – Buy ingredients, not pre-packaged
When you journey to the grocery store, it may be tempting to choose pre-cut cheese from the deli section. You think that slicing it yourself would be way too much of a hassle.
Or would it be, really?
Buying whole ingredients, rather than already prepared, pre-packaged and individually wrapped items can save you big not only on cost but also on the amount of trash you generate, which is good for both you and the environment.
There are some foods you even may be able to make at home yourself. Find easy recipes for foods you may purchase frequently, such as yogurt and bread. Oftentimes, purchasing the bare ingredients and taking the time to make it yourself saves you a lot of money and allows you to know exactly what’s in your food. And who knows, you may even discover a new hobby.
If you’re looking at a recipe and realize it calls for some strange recipe that you rarely use and is very expensive, find out if there are substitutions you can make in the recipe. Especially with spices, there is often some other combination you can create with similar blends to create that same flavor.
Choosing to stock up on whole ingredients can also boost your health, as you’re not as tempted by the all-too-convenient pre-packaged snacks. When being a frugal shopper, you don’t have to sacrifice your healthy eating habits just to save money. With tips in using coupons and being mindful of sales, you can both keep yourself and your wallet healthy and full.
While venturing to the grocery store may seem like a chore, there are easy and simple ways to save money utilizing resources like coupons and sales. Start planning and stocking up your fridge and pantry today!