Not only is my wife a phenomenal cook, she’s also a phenomenal grocery bargain shopper. After a lot of nagging, pushing, prodding, and begging, I finally convinced her to write a small article about how to keep your grocery bill consistently low. Her take on bargain grocery shopping:
Julie: Well, the first thing with bargain shopping is to know what groceries your family eats and enjoys. If your apples always go bad, there is no reason to buy a lot of apples just because they are on sale. You end up losing money even if they were a really good deal. So, once you have a list of things you know your family enjoys you can keep a look-out for those items in the grocery stores weekly circular.
The next step is really knowing what constitutes a “good deal.” If you have a list of those things you know you and your family enjoy and would really eat, then those are the first things you should take note of in the weekly circular. It will only take a few weeks for you to get a really good idea of what good prices in your area for the various different items you buy regularly.
Another way to save money when grocery shopping is to plan meals around those items that are on sale. Make a list of those things on sale, then go through your recipes and cookbooks to find recipes using those items. You can and should of course, stock up on those things you know you use frequently (just maybe not that week) and are on sale that week. At the same time, you should keep in mind that things will go on sale again and not to be too excessive in your stocking up.
Once you know what things you would like to buy and know what price is a good deal, you can make a comprehensive list of all those things on sale and their prices. To make things a lot easier, I generally take this list and price match everything at Wal-Mart. I know many of you may think Wal-Mart already has the absolute lowest prices on EVERYTHING, but one week of this and you will think otherwise. Wal-Mart is the cheapest on many items on my list, but I have save hundred of dollars on items where they are not the cheapest at all. Generally I have found they are the cheapest on pasta, a lot of canned goods, generic sauces, frozen fruit, cereals, and a lot of convenience items. However, a sale at another store on these same things can occasionally beat their prices. On the same token, there are still groceries at Wal-Mart that are almost always cheaper somewhere else, so you just have to be aware and learn. You can also choose to go to the stores individually that have the sale items you would like. Sometimes that might be more convenient if you live nearby several grocery stores or would prefer not to make one really long trip to Wal-Mart.
That’s pretty much bargain grocery shopping in a nutshell. Learn what you buy, figure out a “good deal” on those items, plan around the sale items, and don’t think Wal-Mart is the cheapest for everything.