I am currently unemployed, and starting a career as a freelance writer. You may already know that about me if you have read some of my other content. So I need to get the best “bang for my buck,” out of my grocery budget. I need to stretch my grocery dollars to get the most out of them, because right now I’ve only got a few.
The first thing that I have to recommend is to watch the Clark Howard Show on HLN network. He also hosts a radio show, but I catch him on TV. Some of his topics do not apply to me right now, but they might in the future. He has great tips on shopping, and how to get the most out of your money. I can always learn one or two items of information from him each weekend. I apply the things that I learn and I save money.
Plan your trips to the grocery store around their sales by watching the sale fliers. Grocery stores are aware that the competition is fierce, so they all want to attract your business with their rock bottom prices and they often compete for your business on certain items. If you come in for an advertised item and they are out of it, they will usually give you a rain check for the item at the same price when it is back in stock.
There is always meat of some kind on sale at the grocery store. I look for that bright red sticker that my grocery store uses to indicate that they have marked down an item. Most of the time these deals are pretty good, but make sure to check the expiration date and the original price, and compare them with other items at regular price to see how much of a sale it really is. I buy meat in bulk, and break it down into meal size portions before freezing it. The butcher at my grocery store is always happy to cut a pork roast into chops for me free of charge.
If you eat a lot of salad, the place to cut back is obvious. Stop buying the convenience bags of prepared salad veggies. Instead of buying a bag of prepared lettuce that might contain half a head of romaine lettuce, pay half the price and get a package of several head of romaine lettuce. Stop buying the sliced and shredded carrots, and buy the ones that Wilbur used to feed to Mr. Ed. It only takes a few minutes to peel and slice raw carrots. The convenience foods are more expensive for a reason. If you are trying to save or stretch money, convenience is one of the first things that you are going to have to give up. Fresh salad veggies usually last longer than prepackaged convenience foods anyway.
I buy only store brands with one or two exceptions. Most of the time you cannot tell the difference in the product itself, only in the price. To go one step further, I buy a lot of dry goods and toiletries at the dollar store. They also have their own store brand and pride goes before a fall, so I stock up on a lot of stuff there, too, because I’m just not that proud of the type of toilet paper I use.
Never go to the grocery store without a list, but be flexible. For example, when an item is on sale for a ridiculously low price, and you know you will be able to use a lot of it, then go ahead and buy a lot of it. You may have to forego one or two items on your list to do this, but it will be worth it in the long run. Take advantage of all of the buy-one-get-one sales. Don’t forget to clip those coupons. I know, it’s a pain in the neck, but those coupons add up, especially if your grocery store doubles or triples them.
I have learned to be able to have the same quantity and quality of groceries in the house as when I had an actual job. I have just had to be a little thrifty. Take advantage of store sales and store brands. Buy items in bulk and when on closeout sales. Stop buying the convenience foods for a while. You will find that you can have a well stocked pantry without an empty debit card.