Saving on Groceries




Everybody, obviously, needs to eat. The most cost-effective way of doing so is by cooking meals at home. But shopping for those meals can still get expensive. Being a smart consumer and following a few important tips, however, can cut costs considerably.

There is no one store that will always have the lowest prices, regardless of how often they tout that very concept. This includes the bulk warehouses. When compared to regular prices found in grocery stores, the savings may seem considerable. However, when compared to sale prices made even lower with coupons, the savings can be paltry or nonexistent. The price may even be more. Check out the tips below to save.


Sales Flyers


Flyers come out once a week, most often in the Sunday newspaper, though some stores start their sales on Friday, so their flyers can be found in the Thursday newspaper. By scouring the flyers each week, you can get a feel for how much items should cost. Keep in mind, this is not saying how much the items do cost if you were to browse the store shelves. Rather, how much consumers should pay based on regular sale prices.

By looking in the flyers each week, you will get an idea of how often things go on sale, what a good sale price is as opposed to a mediocre sale price, and who tends to have better prices on particular items.

Flyers for drug stores or department stores advertise food items as well, and frequently at a comparable or lower price than the grocery stores. Keeping track of these sales can save you money, too.

Compare prices at different stores and see which store has the items you need at the lowest price. This may vary week to week, and some weeks you may find your list divided between more than one store. It's OK to visit more than one store if time allows, and this can often save you money.


Coupons


In addition to the sales flyers, the Sunday paper usually offers packets of coupons. Coupons can also be found online at several reputable sites (check out Coupons.com for the best selection), and some stores will offer coupons through their own websites, or printed in store on a kiosk or with your sales receipt, as well.

The key to using coupons effectively lies in pairing them with the weekly sales. Finding a good sale price in a flyer is great, but having a coupon for that same item is even better.

Keep in mind that most grocery stores will double manufacturer coupons up to 99 cents. Some stores will even run promotions where they will double coupons up to one dollar, or triple coupons up to 99 cents. Keep your eyes open to find the best deal.

Another tip? Many stores will allow one manufacturer coupon and one store coupon for the same item. This means that if the store is running a coupon promotion for a carton of orange juice, for example, and you have a manufacturer coupon for that same carton of O.J., you can use both. Just look on the top of the coupon to see if it says “store coupon” or “manufacturer coupon.”

Items will not always be cheaper with coupons. Keep your eyes open to see if it's really a good deal, or if you're just getting drawn in because you have a coupon. Store brands will sometimes still be cheaper, or a sale price on a different brand can bring the price lower than you could get the brand you have a coupon for. Approaching the situation rationally can guide you to the best deal.


Make a List


Determine what you need before you go shopping. Keep a list pad handy during the week and add items as you need them. When it comes to go shopping, sit down with the flyers and your coupons, and compile shopping lists for each store to determine who has the best prices on the most items. If a store has a great price on just one item, it may not be worth the price of gas. But having several deals could make it worth the effort.

Shop with your lists in hand, and only buy the items on your list. This prevents impulse shopping, which can greatly increase your spending.


More Great Tips


Stock up on items you use frequently. This prevents last-minute shopping for something you’ve run out of, and often paying more for that crunch-time trip.

Don’t pay full price for anything, unless you know the full price at that store is cheaper than the sale price at any other store. Some stores will have great regular prices on items. For example, items such as milk and eggs are often cheaper at convenience stores or drug stores, and they rarely go on sale.

Don’t forget the dollar stores. Many dollar stores offer food items, and while the price may not always be a good deal, on occasion the savings are considerable. Manufacturers will sometimes have overstock items, and they sell these items to discount retailers, including dollar stores. Sometimes you can even use coupons at the dollar store, especially if it's a large chain like Dollar Tree. Check with your local store to find out.

Shop around. Getting a feel for the stores in your area and what they offer can save you money on just about everything.