BOSTON (CBS) – Groceries are not a discretionary item in your budget but you do have some flexibility as to how and where you spend your grocery money.
You can get groceries on the cheap. Going cheap doesn’t mean you have to lower your standards. It means changing how you purchase those goods and services to keep the things that are important to you.
What do you buy every week? Make a list. I am a brand snob, but if I can buy the brand my family likes for the price of the generic I go for the brand name product.
So I look to buy them cheaper. Walmart and Target are good places to start. I look for sales as well and stock up when I can.
“Don’t shop when you are hungry or when the kids are hungry” is advice we have all heard. I can tell you its good advice! When I stop at the grocery store on my way home from work before dinner there is always some impulse items in the cart. And I often walk into the house with an empty Cheetos bag.
Shop with a list and plan your menus for the week around the sale items if possible. Buy extra sale items if you have the storage space. Watch those prices on the grocery store flyers. They are not always on sale if they are being offered in the flyer.
Use coupons, it’s an old fashion idea but it works. Manufacturers want you to try their products. Coupons come in the Sunday papers or you can get them online. Some stores offer coupons as well. Only buy the product if you are going to use it or want to try a new product.
I like the Coupon Mom’s method, but there are many other websites to help you save using coupons.
Buy in bulk if you have the storage space. Paper towels, toilet paper, soap, nonperishable items. Try the discount stores and watch for the sales in your local grocery store or drug store.
Buy produce in season. This assures you of fresh produce and local produce and a lower price. Blueberries from New Jersey and corn from Georgia seemed to qualify for local this week. If the produce comes pre-packaged with six cucumbers and you are shopping for one ask the clerk for a smaller quantity.
Avoid single size servings. They are very convenient but expensive. You can buy a big bag of chips and put individual portions in sandwich bags for a picnic. Do the same with other snacks and cookies.
Specials and sales are often cyclical. Some items go on sale every 6 or 8 weeks. Watch the flyers and plan accordingly. I have a small notebook that I leave in my car with the prices of the items I buy regularly so if I see a sale I can tell if it is really a sale! Ask for a rain check if the item on sale is not available.
Shopping or joining one of the huge warehouse clubs may not always get you the best deal if you buy more than you can use and you end up throwing out food.