How To: Save Money at the Grocery Store

Food, How-To

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Yesterday I spent the afternoon with Teri Gault, founder of TheGroceryGame.com, which is a shopping system of collecting coupons and matching them to grocery store sales.

Since it’s the dead of winter in most areas of the country and my farmer’s market seems lightyears away, I’ve been making the most of my grocery stores and it made sense to listen to Teri’s advice.

As we all know, one trip to the grocery store can be an expensive venture — you go in for milk and you leave $80 later with fifteen things you don’t need.

Not only was it fun to shop with someone who enjoys the grocery store as much as I do, Teri provided me (and you!) with some great tips that will help you be a better — and more budget conscious– shopper.

Using Teri’s system we brought our grocery bill from $176 to less than $81.

While you don’t necessarily wind up purchasing your favorite brands of every item, you will get to try new things and discover different options that you might never have tried.

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Throw away your shopping list

This may be counter intuitive, but this is why – It’s not about making  a list of what you’ve run out of. It’s about what you should be investing in, when it’s a great deal.

Buy the limit

When you see an item that is “10 for 10 dollars” you certainly don’t need to buy 10 to get the deal (in most stores). But if you see a “limit 4’ for example, it is a good indicator of the very best deals, which are often called “loss leaders.” I know you don’t need 4 jars of peanut butter right now, but you will eventually, so stock up.

Hit the web before you hit the store

Browse your local store websites, where you can access sales and unadvertised sales to help you match the best coupons with the best sales. If you’re not a coupon clipper, this is how you can take advantage of the best sales at various stores in your area.

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Find hidden organic coupons

Read the words on coupons, don’t just go by the picture. If you’re like me and you like to purchase organic products when possible, this is a super-helpful tip.

A coupon might say in the fine print “good on any,” but pictures a non-organic product. If the manufacturer has organics in their line, you can probably use this coupon to save on organics.

Lose weight on veggies/fruit

Most supermarkets spray vegetables with water to keep them fresh.  When they’re priced by the pound, make sure they are dry. And if not, shake off excess water – water adds weight and increases the price.

How do you avoid racking up grocery bills bigger than your paycheck?

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Getting To Know…In Good Taste | Running With Mascara
    May 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    […] wrote a post about this a few weeks ago after I went on a grocery-shopping spree with Teri Gault, CEO of The Grocery Game, where we saved $95 using her system of matching coupons […]

  • Reply
    Stan Brown
    January 27, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    SavingsAngel is another great service to check out.

  • Reply
    vtkitchen
    January 23, 2011 at 1:30 am

    wow, i never thought too much about the fact that the water on produce adds to the price. is it significant?

  • Reply
    E.P.
    January 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Great tips! Thanks for writing this, Maris! I’m definitely going to utilize some of these on my next shopping trip.

  • Reply
    Kate
    January 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I’m like Jen, I just don’t have the space to stock pile. So I’m much better sucking with a list, and buying meat on sale. Of course, I can do a majority of my shopping at the farmers market year round, so I do have that advantage.

  • Reply
    Eliz@The Sweet Life
    January 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I’m a new reader–but have you seen the TLC about crazy couponers? It’s impressive–but slightly scary!

  • Reply
    Shannon
    January 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

    i HATE when veggies are wet!!! my mom is the star of stocking up when on sale, i’ve tried to cut back (mostly b/c of space)… i’m all about coupons, but i haven’t tried searching sites beforehand. i’ll have to look closer at the coupons now!

  • Reply
    Mel @ cbg
    January 21, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Very helpful tips! I don’t know anything about grocery shopping for a family, but for single folks, I find it very helpful to shun the shopping cart. Using the basket keeps me limited to only what I can carry (which is necessary considering I walk to the store). Or perhaps, limiting yourself to only what will fit in the grocery bags/backpacks you brought with you so that way you’re not tempted to pack the excess groceries in paper/plastic bags.
    At least that’s what works for me 🙂

  • Reply
    Blond Duck
    January 21, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Popped in to say hi! I’m so glad I saw this tip before I went to the store today!

  • Reply
    Joanne
    January 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Ooo these are great! I am a big fan of scavenging the web to see what sales are going on at the grocery stores in my neighborhood. And I definitely stock up on things like pasta, etc. when they’re on sale!

  • Reply
    Jen @ SecondCitySoiree
    January 20, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Peapod has been a great way to save money! You buy exactly what you need and aren’t tempted by other items. Plus it’s a time saver, and time = money! I can appreciate systems like the Grocery Game, but it isn’t practical for me. I don’t have space for the “10 for $10” deals, nor can I deal with all city traffic while going from store to store to store in order to save a few dollars. Glad it works for others, though!

  • Reply
    Erica
    January 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    What a fun trip to the store! I always look at my local grocery stores ads & coupons before I make my list. I also go to my favorite products websites to see if they have any coupons available.

  • Reply
    Chicago Cuisine Critique
    January 20, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Great tips!

  • Reply
    Tasha
    January 20, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    What great tips. I feel like lately even though I shop smart, my grocery bills have been more than I’d like. Maybe this will help!

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