Frugal Living

How To Save Money On Your Groceries Right Now

Grocery shopping is so different right now, but one thing that hasn’t changed is my need to stay within my grocery budget! Although I no longer carry a coupon binder, I’m still able to save money on my groceries and stay very close to the weekly budget I’ve given myself.

Right now we’re in post-quarantine mode, so these tips aren’t for everyone. You’ll see what I mean as we go on into the post. If your goal is saving money and eating well, this post is definitely for you!

#1 Shop In The Store

I have become a huge fan of my local grocery store’s online ordering and pickup – it saves so much time. But now that the shelves aren’t always stocked, I’ve found that it’s better to walk the aisles myself and pick out the best deal from what is available. 

It’s also a frustrating waste of time to place a huge online order only to find that most of your items were out of stock or substituted for something else. This of course is not the fault of my personal shopper, it’s just the reality of our current circumstances.

I always shop with a list, but things only make it into my cart if they are a reasonable price. I’m looking for items that are discounted 40% or more, so that means I compare brands, price per ounce and package size. I try to be flexible (which is something that’s never easy for me, ha) and get creative when things are sold out or not on sale. One week I needed refried beans, but the canned goods aisle was wiped clean. I headed over to the “International” aisle and found plenty of refried beans over there!

#2 Look For Markdowns

When I’m shopping my local grocery stores like Lowes Foods and Ingles, I’m always on the hunt for stickers that say “Produce Manager’s Special” or “Reduced for Quick Sale.” Last week I picked up several items marked down almost 70%, and their “sell by” date was still at least 3 days away.

I love that you’ll see these stickers on things that may not be on sale that often – steaks, fresh bakery items, produce and dairy.

#3 Have A Flexible Menu

I’ve been preaching this for years, but the most expensive way to shop is to make your menu first and then shop with a list of things you must have. This forces you to pay whatever the grocery store is charging that week – and right now could cause you a lot of frustration if the things you need are not available.

Currently I shop with a list of staple items I know we need, and if there are items I’d like to purchase for a certain recipe I’ll make a note that it’s optional. I purchase whatever meat is on sale and try to buy enough meat for at least 3 meals (I have a good supply in my freezer as well). I buy sides or ingredients for sides that would complement most meals: potatoes, fruit, veggies that are good raw or roasted, rice, basic salad components, etc. After I come home with my grocery haul, I assess what I have and make a menu from those items.

#4 Supplement Your Shopping With Other Stores 

If those staple items that I know we need are either sold out or not on sale, I look for them in other stores. Places like Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Target might have a better deal than the grocery store. Here are the things I’ve found to typically have everyday low prices at those stores:

Dollar Tree

  • Condiments: Salad Dressing, Mustard, Ketchup, BBQ Sauce
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Pasta
  • Chips

Dollar General

  • Condiments: Salad Dressing, Mustard, Ketchup, BBQ Sauce
  • Bread
  • Cookies
  • Baking Staples: Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Chocolate Chips

Target

  • Coffee Creamer
  • Cereal, Granola Bars
  • Chips

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May your grocery store shelves be well stocked and your budget remain intact! 🙂

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