Guest Post: 5 Easy Ways To Save Money On Groceries!

A good friend of mine from growing up has an amazing blog, {Frugally Marisha},  where she shares amazing deals and great tips and tricks to saving money. She even has a great article under her "getting started" tab called Couponing 101. This is good read for anybody looking to learn how to save money. 

I am terrible with coupons, and no matter how hard I try, I still can't really understand the concept.
Today, I've asked Marisha to share with everybody some easier ways to save money on groceries without having to go overboard with the couponing. 

Hi Curtsay Desgin readers, this is Marisha from Frugally Marisha.  I'm so excited that Lindsay asked me to guest post on her blog today.  I'm going to be sharing 5 easy ways you can save money today at the grocery store.  I hope you enjoy this article and feel free to drop by my blog sometime and say hello!  I love saving money and helping others save money too!

1. Use Your Grocery Store's Weekly Flier

This is generally a fool proof way to save money each week at the grocery store with little effort.  I say generally fool proof, because there a few stores that advertise items as being on sale in the weekly ad, when in fact it's just their normal price.  Kroger is one store that jumps out to me as doing this.  Generally though, most stores fliers are a true reflection of sale prices for that week.  Look at the deals, and shop only the items that are on sale that week.  Now some things like milk, meat and produce will occasionally go on sale, but don't wait for a sale if you really need something.   For example, I will only buy one package of chicken if I really need it that week, while checking over all the different store ads, or Sam's Club to see who has the best price and then make a special trip to stock up when it comes around at a great price.  Sales in the South generally run 2-3 week cycles so everything will come back on sale at some point, there is no need to stock up for a year when a sale hits. 

Now, since this post is on EASY ways to save, I will say, pick one store when you're just starting out and stick with it.  Wither it be the closest store to you, your favorite, or the one you think is generally the cheapest, pick one and learn it inside out.  I personally picked Kroger while living in Raleigh, since it was the cheapest store and had a decent coupon policy.  Then I went "extreme", no not like the TLC show, but once I got Kroger down, I learned Harris Teeter, Food Lion and a few others.  I ended up shopping Kroger, Harris Teeter, and Food Lion weekly.  Then since moving to Charlotte, and realizing that feeding just my husband and I, only requires one trip to the store a week, I picked Harris Teeter.  No, they aren't the cheapest store, but with coupons they become one of the best stores around.  

If you are feeling brave and not overwhelmed, look at a few stores weekly ads either from the paper or online and see which store has the best deals this week.  If you're in need of meat and Lowe's has the cheapest prices then maybe this week you should head there.  If you're in need of produce and Harris Teeter has the best prices start there.  It's up to you on how much you want to stress about saving money.  Either store will save you money if you shop the weekly ad and use their savings card.   

 2. Sign Up For the Store's Saving Card

Now this seems like a no brainer to myself, but I find at least once a month while in line at the check out the person in front of me will ask to borrow my savings card.  They're FREE, and they save you money, sign up!  (:  Harris Teeter has the VIC card, Food Lion has the MVP card, Lowe's Food has the Fresh Rewards and so on and so on.  Not only will it save you money, but there are certain deals you can only get with that card. 

Also make sure you know how your stores' savings programs work.

  • Do they have "buy one, get one free" deals?  Can you buy just one item and get the half off price?
  • Do they double coupons?  How much?  How often?
  • Do they offer a store discount cards that gives you automatic discounts?
  • Do they have special store coupons? Either in store, or online?
Once you know your stores' rules, you will be better able to combine sales and coupons to score great deals or free items.  But you have to know the rules, and be educated to be a ethical coupon shopper.  

3. Plan Your Meals and Shopping List Around the Sale Items

As a preface to this point, for those of you who don't plan meals ahead of time, I highly suggest meal planning because it's the first step in saving money.  If you have a plan for even 2 or 3 days out, you'll be less likely to stop for fast food, or go out to eat because you'll be confident that you have a good, healthy, cost efficient meal at home waiting for you.  

Every Sunday when you get the paper, sit down and go through the ads.  Either scan a few different stores if you're feeling brave, or just grab the one store's ad you're focusing on.  Then go through the ad, circling or making a list of items on sale that you'll be  needing to buy this week.  Plan your weekly menu based on the sale foods and you'll instantly be saving money.  

For example, I was at Harris Teeter the other week and I knew I had some steak in my freezer that I was trying to use up.  I was looking through the ad and saw that broccoli was on sale $1.79 for a bunch, plus instant mashed potatoes were on sale.  Presto, instant meal at a fraction of the cost.  {And yes, I do know how to make mashed potatoes and I know they are better home made, but after 6 failed attempts over the winter months, I'm leaving it to Bob Evans!}

4. Keep Your Pantry Stocked With Ingredients for Last-Minute Meals

Always make sure you have on hand some basics, such as pasta, sauce, rice, beans, canned veggies, canned fruit, frozen pizza and such that can either help compliment a meal or have as a "Plan B".  Make sure to stock up on these items when they hit their lowest price.  Sale prices come every 2-3 weeks, so no need to buy 6 months worth, just enough to get you through til the next sale.  If you shop at the same store weekly, you'll recognize when those staple items go on sale and when it's time to stock up.  The customer service desk is also very helpful with finding out when the next cycle will be.

Ideally, you shouldn't ever have to run out and pay full price for anything.  You'll always have a back up plan at a fraction of the price if the first meal turns out bad, catches on fire, or you have unexpected guests.

5. Plan Your Meals Around the Use of Leftovers

This is the hardest one for myself to follow, but when you do your weekly/monthly meal planning, plan to use the left overs.  Come up with a different way to use the chicken or meat and have a "new" meal the next night.  Wasted left overs are probably the most frustrating thing to myself.  If you can't come up with a way to use your left overs, call a friend and ask for a suggestion.  They may have an awesome easy recipe you would have never thought of. 

Other tips:
  • Buy the Sunday newspaper, 70% of the coupons I use come from the paper.  I buy 1 per person in my house, so only 2 right now.  
  • Use online coupons if you don't want to buy the Sunday paper, or use them in conjunction with one another.   
  • Check out your stores website.  Many stores have their best deals online and printable coupons on their website. 
  • Also, many stores offer electronic coupons that go directly on your store discount card, like Kroger, and Harris Teeter.  
  • Shop the upper and lower shelf's as most of the higher priced items are at eye level, or knee level for kiddos.   
  • Look for clearance or close out sections for cheap items that may be expiring soon, or are being discontinued.  
  • Be flexible about brands, check an items price per unit, you may be surprised, the name brand might be the cheaper to buy if it's on sale that week.  But be open to the store brand if it's the cheaper item.
 What ways do you save money at the grocery store?

~Thanks Marisha!

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