26 April 2011

Ten on Tuesday - Grocer Edition

This week, Carole wanted to know our top ways of saving at the grocer.  I can write this list in my sleep and it's all thanks to a system that my mama handed down to me.  Here goes:
  1. Write a menu for the shopping period.  I write my menus out for the two week pay period.  It helps me figure out my list of needs and makes that "What do you want for supper" question obsolete.
  2. Take inventory based off of menu.  This way I am not buying things that I don't need.  How many times have you come home only to discover that you already had two packages of sugar in the pantry?  I know I've done it every time I decided to 'wing it' at the store.
  3. Write out a detailed list.  I go so far as to break mine down by categories - grains, meats, dairy, veg.  This way, I can make sure that I actually do have everything on my list.
  4. Buy in bulk if possible.  I love Sam's Club, especially for meats and dry goods.  I got an entire month's worth of meat (beef, pork and chicken) for less than $100.  We have to repackage them and put them in the freezer but it's well worth it when you look at all we save.
  5. Add 2% to budgeted amount.  No matter how organized you are, there is always something that will be forgotten - or something that will catch your eye.  If you give yourself a bit of a cushion, then you won't have much of a shock at the final tally.
  6. Leave "helpers" at home.  I know that if I leave the kids at home, I save $50.  If I leave Pokey at home, I save about $150.  If it is possible, just shop alone - plus, it goes faster that way.
  7. Don't deny yourself just because you are on a budget.  Not to say that you should forgo things that you need to buy something you want but be sure to allow for some little luxuries.  Even if it's just a magazine, it's a little something to make you feel like you've splurged.
  8. Store brands are just as good.  I know that our favorite grocer's store brands are just as good as the name brand.  There are a few items that we've learned just taste better as name brand but generally speaking, we buy store brand.  Once it is out of the packaging, no one can tell anyway.
  9. Eat before you go.  I know it sounds silly but it's true.  Shopping while your hungry is just cruel and the punishment occurs to your wallet.  I always make sure that I go either right after breakfast or after supper.  I am full and alert and have no desire to mentally 'graze' through the store.
  10. Use their discount card.  There are stores in our area have their own savings card.  If they swipe it, you get added discounts.  This used to be really popular but it's starting to go away.  If the stores still use them, take advantage of it.
There is the gist of how I save at the grocer every month.  Our monthly food budget isn't pinched tight but we aren't robbing Peter to pay Paul either.  It's taken us a few years to get a system that works and for now, this works for us.  I am sure that once the kids are all on their own, we'll get a bit more loosey goosey with the budget but for now, these little tricks keep us fully stocked and happy.

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