When it comes to saving money, it is easy to find a deal and use a coupon to save even more. But what about the items that don’t offer coupons? You know the products I am referring to — meats, dairy, produce, and bread. Believe it or not, you really can save on groceries, even if you don’t have a coupon.
Before you even head to the store, make sure you have both your grocery budget and shopping list done. Without these, you’ll always spend more than you want. Once you have those ready to go, it means it is time to head to the store. But, not until you know these simple ways to save money on food for your family!
GROCERY STORE SAVINGS TIPS
Shop the Store Brands
Did you know that store brands are big brands with a store label on them? The store brands are often priced at a lower price than those with a label on them. Just avoiding the brand labels can help you to save.
Look high and low
Many times, the most expensive product is at eye level. Take a minute to look above or below to find other brands for the same item. You may find that a different brand at a lower price. Not doing this is a simple way to kill your grocery budget.
Shop the right day of the week
If your store has shorter sales during each sales cycle, make sure you shop during those dates. For example, if the weekly ad runs from Wednesday to Tuesday each week and there is a short sale happening on Friday and Saturday, shop only once. Shop on either Friday or Saturday. Doing so will ensure you get all of the best deals during a single shopping trip.
Pay Attention To Dates
Read the dates on your packages. If you know you will not consume items past the Best If Use By date, then it could result in wasted food and wasted money.
- “Sell-By” — This is the date by which the store can display the item for sale. If you find an item past this date, it does not mean it is bad, but you might get a discount. In most cases, you should purchase the product prior to this date to allow time for consumption before quality begins to decline.
- “Best if Used By” — This date is reflected to let you know the date recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
- “Use-By” — This date is the last date that the manufacturer recommends you use the product. Again, this is not a safety issue, but a quality issue.
Stock up when on sale
It just makes sense that when you find a great deal on products that you purchase additional items and save them in your freezer. A price book helps you track the sales cycles so you always know when products will be on sale at your local store – so you know when to stock up and how long you need to wait between those sales.
Never shop without a list and a plan
Create and follow your shopping list so that you only pick up the items you really need. It is a simple way to ensure you have everything you need for every meal you plan to prepare and will save time and money by not making more trips to the store.
In addition, plan your meals before you shop. That way, you don’t have the temptation to not only rush to the store, but you won’t have to make additional grocery store trips (which can easily cost you more than you want).
Know your budget
Before you even walk into the store, know how much money you have to spend. Doing so will keep your spending on track. You can use grocery apps to keep track of everything you buy, and also use cash. Using cash ensures you never overspend — because you can’t!
SAVING MONEY ON MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS
Know Your Dairy Prices
Many times, stores like Aldi sell milk at a much lower price than your regular store or even larger chains. I see milk priced at $1.99 – $2.49 a gallon compared to $3.49 – $3.89 in the grocery store. For that savings, it can be worth stopping by your store.
SAVING MONEY ON MEAT AND POULTRY
Shop early in the morning
Many times, the meat items which are nearing the sell-by dates are discounted early each morning. Even if you don’t plan on eating it right away, just take it home and freeze it.
Buy in bulk
Many times, you can get your meat at a reduced price per pound if you buy a larger quantity at once. You don’t want it to go to waste, so purchase freezer bags and break it out into smaller sized portions and freeze it. Make sure you note what it is and the date frozen on it, so you make sure to use it up before it becomes freezer burned.
Buy larger sizes
If you buy a whole chicken and then cut it up yourself, you can often pay less. When I an item is cut up for you, you do pay more for that convenience. Finding these items can save you money.
Check out your local meat market
Sometimes, you can find a lower price at these stores. It never hurts to look into using them.
Avoid the Deli
I’ve purchased both packaged and deli meats and honestly, I cannot tell too much difference. Not only that, packaged items often have coupons whereas deli meats usually do not.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON PRODUCE
When you’re buying a product that is a set price for a package, like $1 for a 2 lb bag of carrots, take an extra minute and weight 3 or 4 bags. The suppliers can have a +/- of a specific weight on the package and still be within the guidelines to sell the product. So if you weigh it, you’ll be able to get more product for your money.
Some items have a flat price for a container. Check these and find those with more quantity inside (you can weight them as well). Sometimes, you will get more bang for your buck.
Always buy in season
When you try to buy an item out of season, you will pay more for it. Therefore, plan your dining and meals around the foods in season. If you need something outside of the regular growing season, opt for frozen which is much less expensive.
Forget the store completely
Why not grow your own? You can make a raised garden bed or perhaps even find a community garden where you can work with others to reap a great crop. You can save money plus feel better about growing it yourself.
If you can’t grow it yourself, check out your local farmer’s market. You not only get it fresh from the farm to your table, but you get to help support a local business owner.
Check out canned or frozen
If you are using your item as part of a larger entree, this can be a way to cut down on cost (and time). Just double check the packaging content.
SAVING MONEY ON BREAD
Bread outlet stores
Many brands of bread have outlet or day old stores. The bread that is left on the truck at the end of the day that stores didn’t need, or that they pulled because it was within a day or two of the sell-by date go to these stores and are marked down for quick sale.
You can typically find bread anywhere from 50%-75% off the retail store price. Many times, you can find items like specialty whole wheat bread for only $1 when they retail for around $4 at the stores.
Make your own
Bread is pretty easy to make. You can find great easy recipes on Pinterest. Even without using coupons and stocking up on ingredients you can cut your cost by at least 50% on a loaf of bread.
Homemade bread can also be frozen, so you can bake 4-6 loaves in one day and freeze all but one and thaw them as needed. A bread machine is an investment, but it makes the process of making bread take you about 5-10 mins.
Make your croutons
Bread can dry out before you use it. You can save that bread and make croutons – saving yourself money. There are many recipes out there — here is one idea.
Buy rice in bulk
Rice is one of those staples that you can find in most bulk food stores. You can find it at natural food stores, specialty Asian food store, or even in Amish communities. Rice is a reasonably priced grain that you can buy in bulk to get the best price, and it stores well for a long time.
SAVE ON FOODS FROM A – Z
The best way to save money is not to waste it. Some foods have a limited shelf life after you buy them and others can last longer if you freeze them — but the key is to store them properly. Below you will find an alphabetical list of some of the most popular foods and simple tips to make them last longer!