Grocery shopping is not my favourite task to do. Matter of fact, I downright despise it. I find it so mind-numbing and repetitive from loading your grocery cart with your groceries, to putting it on the belt, to packing it up and putting it back into your cart, to packing it into your car … well, you get where I’m going here. Unfortunately, it is a job that has to get done. So, how do you save money on groceries when the price of food keeps going up? There are a few ways.
Shop the Big Warehouse-Type Stores
I’m a big fan of Costco. I know a lot of people don’t like Costco, but for a family, you really can save a lot of money. My husband and I are the butt of jokes in both of our families. Whenever we have a family dinner, relatives always ask, “Where did you buy the humongous roast, Costco?”, “Where did you get the 1,000 pound peanut butter jar, Costco?” Sometimes, the prices seem extreme when you first look at them. Sixty dollars for a piece of beef seems exorbitant, but break that cost down. I take that large piece and slice it into my own steaks, smaller stir-fry pieces, roasts and freeze them. I usually get about 8 to 10 meals from that one piece, making my meals $6.00 to $8.00 per meal. Each meal feeds my House of Six. Hubby and I actually calculated how much we would spend per day per person buying our food at Costco and it came to about $10.00 per day per person. So, for $60.00 a day I can feed my whole family breakfast, lunch and dinner. I do this with all cuts of meats like pork chops, pork loin, sausages and chicken. Most of these packages will give me at least three meals each.
Other products from Costco such as laundry detergent, dish detergent, dish soap, fabric softener, and bleach can be broken down as well. Use half of what the instructions on the bottle call for, especially for laundry detergent. I’ve done this for years now and find that my clothes have less of a soapy, sticky feeling and come out clean. So, 9.24 litres of Purex, for example, will last you twice as long. I do this for my dryer sheets, too. I cut them in half and use one half in the dryer instead of a whole sheet, giving the clothes less of that sticky feeling but with no static.
However, beware Costco shoppers, sometimes a sale item is not really a sale item. We’ve compared prices of sale items to their Kirkland brand and found that their sale item actually costs more than their own store brand. One such sale was their 250 gram, three-brick package of Philadelphia cream cheese. We compared it to the Philadelphia 500 gram, two-tub package and the two-tub package was still cheaper per kilogram than buying the three bricks of cream cheese. Same goes for their laundry detergent. Not all sales are a good price. If Gain laundry detergent is on sale, check out the cost per weight of other brands. Sometimes, buying Purex or Kirkland’s own laundry detergent will still be cheaper. Costco is one grocery store that will give you the cost per kilogram or litre right on their shelf next to the item. This helps to figure out what you are really paying.
I’m not a coupon user. I know some people really love clipping and using coupons and if you really are getting a savings from them, go for it. Be careful though. Sometimes even with the coupon the price is not lower since the coupon is usually for a brand-named item that costs more than lower-priced brands of the same food item. Here in Canada, we have a “deep discount” store called No Frills. It offers you exactly that – no frills – but saves you money. They will offer limited numbers of brands of an item, sometimes only one brand called “limited line”, you bring your own bags or you pay for theirs, the store is not fancy, very simple. They offer “no name” items which affords you a savings of between 10 and 40 percent difference from a name brand. Before shopping at Costco, I used to shop at No Frills all the time for my weekly groceries and saved money, especially on canned and boxed items and non-perishable items. Sometimes, I still go there to buy a case of beans or food items I can’t find at Costco such as collards or eggplant.
Always Use a Grocery List
This may sound ridiculous but I find when I actually make a grocery list, I stick to it. I’ll keep a little lined notepad in the kitchen and write down items that I find I’m running out of or have run out of down in my notepad as I go along during the week. Usually when I’m making dinner, I’ll realize I’m out of this or that and make a note of it. Before I shop, I go through my refrigerator and pantry and check to see what I might need. Once I’m at the grocery store, I stick to my list. The only time I stray from my list is if something is on sale that I know I will use, but make sure it’s actually a sale price. Sticking to a list helps me to buy well, meaning I stay away most of the time from food that isn’t good for us, like chips, soda and baked goods. Staying away from these items especially will cut your grocery bill down. Making a grocery list also gives me an idea of what dinners I will be making for the week.
Wait for Certain Sales
I can only speak on this from shopping at Costco. When I find I’m running out of an item, for example, laundry detergent, I’ll plan ahead so that I can wait for a sale. I’ll have that item on my list each week until I see it go on sale, then I’ll buy at least 3 jugs of laundry soap, again making sure that it’s actually a “sale” as I’ve mentioned above. I just did this with a stain remover that I like to use on my laundry. I had it to buy on my list for about 4 weeks, then yesterday while I was shopping, I saw that it was on sale. I ended up paying $2.40 per bottle less than it’s usual price. You’ll notice that certain items in your favorite grocery store will go on sale every so often. Plan ahead for when you run out of that item and look for it each week until you see it on sale. If you have the room, stockpile some of the items you do use when they go on sale. You won’t have to buy them for a while and you have saved on the price of that item.
Shop Once a Week
Shopping once a week, to me, will save you a fair bit of money. Since I despise grocery shopping, this is an easy one for me. When you go out many times a week to pick up groceries, chances are you are running to a nearby grocery store which probably has higher prices than the discount grocery store that you may have to drive to. Also, you are unlikely to make a grocery list which means you are picking up whatever items you think you might need, you are not planning any of your meals, and chances are you are then picking up prepared meals. All of these things will cost you more money, not to mention that you are driving several times a week to the grocery store and wasting more money in gas. A family member of mine does this several times a week. Personally, it would drive me nuts. One day she asked how much I spent per week on groceries. With six people in the house, I usually average about $400.00 per week. This includes things like paper products, laundry products, garbage bags and other necessary household items. When we actually took the time to figure out what her groceries cost with running to the store several times a week and ordering in at least once a week, her grocery bill ended up being more than mine with less people in her household. This doesn’t even include the time you are spending out of your day to do this.
Instead of always buying fresh vegetables, I buy frozen. They are just as nutritious for you, cost less and I waste less food. I take out of the bag what I think we will eat and the rest goes back to the freezer for next time. I find they taste just as good. I also buy a lot of frozen fruit – the kids and I make a lot of smoothies. You can also take some fruit out to thaw and use for baking and desserts or just to eat on its own. Frozen blueberries are great for this. I also find that frozen fish is cheaper than fresh. Again, you can remove from the package the amount you’ll need for a meal and leave the rest in the freezer to keep.
Some of the links below have some added suggestions on saving money while grocery shopping:
- 12 Ways to Save Big on Groceries and Shop on a Budget
- 29 Ways to Save Hundreds on Groceries
- 19 Unbeatable Deals You Can Only Find at Costco
There are many ways to save on your groceries. Some ways take a little planning but most of them are easy ways to keep money in your pocket. If you hate grocery shopping like I do, then trying out the above suggestions will keep you away from the grocery stores just a little longer.