Saving at the Grocery Store (Part 2)

You’ve probably heard the old saying, don’t shop when you’re hungry. It’s absolutely true. Grocery stores are designed to sell you things you didn’t intend to buy. There’s actual psychology behind store design and it’s solely for the purpose of selling you (or your kids) things you don’t want.  Seems obvious right? But we all fall in the trap. How often do you walk into the grocery store and there’s a table of freshly baked cakes or cookies just begging you to pick them up.. if you’re not hungry, you have a better chance of looking the other way. Stomach growling, you easily spent an extra $20 on things you didn’t really want, took home and now feel guilty for eating.

What can you do?

Shop with a list

if you read the last post you’ll see that part of my shopping plan includes getting extra gas savings. It’s ok if that doesn’t apply to you. Every store has sales. Hopefully things you buy are included in those sales. NOT ALL SALES ARE CREATED EQUAL. Some sales tease you in and hope you don’t really notice the details.

Examples:

  1. My husband was shopping with me a few weeks ago. I don’t take him often… he’s always hungry LOL.  We’re in meat aisle and they have bread on display (suggestive selling.. you’re buying hot dogs or hamburger’s so they conveniently put rolls there.). He says “Hey, rolls are on sale 4/$5, we should get some.  He wants to buy 4 packs, because they’re on sale. We do not need rolls right now (we freeze them). Are they really on sale? The tag that has the sales price also shows you the regular price.. which in this case is $1.29.  The “sale” is actually $.04 cents off a pack. Will they sell a lot of extra rolls? probably. Is this really a good deal where you should buy 4? No.. If you need rolls, buy just what you need and move on, otherwise, skip it. Rolls go “on sale” frequently.
  2. Buy 1 Get 1 Free Meat Sales. These CAN be a good deal if the price is right.. do the math. I know you don’t want to do the math, nobody wants to do the math. My teenager daughter complains all the time I make her do math with me.  Chicken breast, boneless skinless for $5.99/lb, buy one get one. This means that each pound is almost $3. good price? Boneless skinless chicken FREQUENTLY goes on sale for less than $2/lb.
  3. Buying in bulk is NOT always a better deal. I remember as a kid, stores started selling “bulk” items. You could buy more and save per pound. We were trained to believe that buying more is cheaper. That’s NOT always the case these days. Razor blades are one of those cases. I’ve seen many times where the 8 pack of blades costs MORE than 2 4 packs. Same number of blades. Less packaging for an 8 pack, doesn’t make sense, but they may be counting on you grabbing the bigger packing and assuming you’re saving money.

Stores are there to sell product and make money, NOT to save you money. It’s your responsibility to know when to buy and when to pass.

When I first started couponing, I started a “price book” using google docs spreadsheet, because I could access it from anywhere I had internet access.  I created a tab for each letter of the alphabet just so it was easier to find things, and i had also added a tab with the weekly discounts that CVS sent to me so I could see if there was a pattern to when I got the better 30% off discounts.  My son was in college and I had a tab with his brand preferences. His roommate had some product allergies and since they tended to share products, I made sure everything was roommate safe.

By knowing what you’ve paid in the past, you’ll know whether the current sale is average or a really good deal. I haven’t used my pricebook in years now, but in the beginning it was very helpful in remembering what I paid for things.

pricebook-details

pricebook

If the sale is really good (like when Cambell’s Tomato soup is on sale for .50/can before coupons), I buy enough to last several months (til the next really good sale). We love grilled cheese and tomato soup meals.  I have shelving units in my basement for storing extra canned and boxed goods. We’re not quite a lasting through the Zombie Apocalypse but, we’re not going hungry if we have to ride out some no income weeks (my husband’s job sometimes has long winter layoffs).

Plan Your Meals

I know, it’s hard, it’s time consuming, you can’t be spontaneous.  If you want to save money, all those extra trips for missing ingredients or… we’re out of… let’s eat out.. will kill your budget. So, open the sales flyer and see what’s on sale.  Do you already have some ingredients in the house that go with some of those sales items?  Is pasta sauce on sale? Do you already have pasta in the cupboard (if not, pasta is always reasonably inexpensive), do you have ground beef/meatballs? Can you go vegetarian a night? Meat purchases outside sales cycles are some of the biggest budget busters.  My favorite sales are for chicken and pork.  I buy a pork loin (they’re HUGE) when they’re on sale for $1.99/pound or less. Do you know what pork chops are? basically just slices of loin, but sold boneless for over $4/lb. I bring home a huge loin, my husband cuts it up into a couple chunks for Crockpot Pulled Pork, pork chops, and stir-fry strips and then vacuum seals them into family meal sizes. Stir-frys are an excellent way to use up a lot of odds and ends in the house.

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