Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 A Year of Savings: Groceries & Household Items

It seems like everyone has made a resolution to save alittle money this year. I am by no means a financial expert, but I am however, cheap or frugal if you like. So I thought that I would start a blog series on some of the things that I do, to save alittle dough. Each month will be a new topic. Today’s topic is groceries, and the hunt for the best deal. I’ve found that once you have become organized, it gets easier every week to tame the beast that is grocery shopping (and not get ripped off!)


Getting Organized

Develop a list of staples that you family uses all the time and you are always picking up at the store. For example, at our house those include bologna, oatmeal, tortillas, and pop tarts, to name a few.

Create a spreadsheet to use as your list. This is nice for me, because I can then email the spreadsheet to my phone and I know I will not forget my list. At the top of this spreadsheet you should include the items on your staples list.

Develop a coupon system. I have an organizer and as I’m making out my list, I add the coupons I’m using on that trip to the front pocket.

Before you go to the Store

Now that you are organized, it is time to prepare your list and get your coupons ready.

Check your pantry and freezer. Determine what of your staple items you have to replenish. Add these items to your list. Also, make a mental list (or a physical one) of what you have, to help with meal planning.

Put together your meal plan. Plan at least one week out. Sometimes I plan two if we are going to be out of town. I always start with items in my freezer, determine how are you are going to serve them and if you need any additional items to prepare them. Add these items to your list.

Check the ads. If you are like me, there is never enough in the freezer to cover a weeks worth of dinners that you want to make. This is where I turn to the ads for help. Plan you empty days with items on sale. Also, add items that are a particular good deal for meals over the next couple of weeks (that is if you have the freezer/pantry space). Add these items to your list.

*Side Note: You don’t have to go to every store in town. Balance out the savings over the cost of gas and hassle.

*Side Note: Don’t forget your recycled bags; many stores will give you a discount per bag.

At the Store

Don’t forget your recycled bags in the car. (Do not laugh – you know how many times this has happened to me?)

Check the clearance items. Every morning stores mark down meats and pastry that are about to expire. Check these areas first to get the best selection. Also, many seasonal items will be marked down. M&M’s taste the same to me weather they are red & green & pink. Be sure to check the expiration dates & to freeze any items that are alittle close.

Roll past the items on your staples list. You should check these items every time at every store. You never know when an unadvertised sale is going to pop up. These are also items that you should be brand flexible on. That has the potential to save you big money on these products.

Check the unit cost of your items. Sometimes a sale is not really a sale, say the bigger size of an item is on sale, check the unit cost of all the sizes, in the long run you may save more by buying two of the smaller, or vice versa.

Check the expiration date on all the products; this might be why you are getting such a great deal.

Watch the checkout. In the day of computers, there is a high probability that something will not scan correctly. Kindly point this out to your checker. Sometimes you may get that item for free! At the very least you have saved your self another trip back to have the error corrected. Also, make sure they scan all of your coupons.

Back at Home

Organize your checkout coupons.

Check your receipt. Double check it for inaccuracies. Also, if there is a survey at the end, take it. This can lead to free items, and additional coupons, or even free gift cards!

Side Notes

Don’t waste time clipping out coupons for products that you will not use or do not need.

Check out the web sites of the stores that you shop frequently, sometimes they will offer additional in-store coupons on items. Also, check out the websites for the items on your staples list, give them your email address you will be surprised at the amount of coupons and free samples you will get. It is also a good idea to search for them on Facebook or Twitter.

When shopping keep in mind how much space you have for storing items.

Here are some coupon sites that are worth checking out.

Smart Source

Coupons.com

Also, I really like Coupon Mom, she helps me organize the sale items and if I should have a coupon or not.

Have any tips or your own that others might benefit from? Drop me a line or comment below!

Later ~Cyn

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