OK, so I felt like this was a timely post in light of the government shutdown and the possibility of families not receiving food assistance in the coming months. If you aren't aware of all the changes, you can read about it here. I want to keep this post focused on how families can save money whether they receive government assistance or not. It is essential to squeeze every penny at the grocery store because eating is a necessity and is usually one of our most significant monthly expenses. Let's begin...
Plan Your Meals
Grocery shopping starts before you even walk into the store. Thinking ahead of time about what you plan to cook for the week is extremely important. I usually have my meals laid out for the week, OR I will opt to cook whatever is available in the house. Either way, I have a plan! Disaster strikes when you go to the store without a list and start picking up random items. Then, you get home and realize nothing goes together, so you have to go to the store again! LOL! I've been there, and that's why I can speak from experience. Have a plan and stick to it!
Shop the Sales
I am always looking for what is on sale at the store. It has even gotten to the point of my kids not even asking for anything unless it's on sale. I have trained them well! One word of warning with sales: Sometimes what is seemingly cheaper is actually more expensive! Yes, you read that right. If you are unsure if you are getting a deal, pull out the calculator. See if the cost per unit (oz, lb, etc.) is indeed cheaper than the other items that are available. Forgot your loyalty card at home? Most stores have them saved by telephone number. If not, tell them you forgot it and see if they have one you can use. Always ask!
Oh, how I love coupons! Those things save me a bunch at the store. I don't always have time to cut out the ones that come in Sunday's paper, but the store I go to (Harris Teeter) does electronic coupons. So, I stick to my shopping list, pick up the best deal, and while I am in line for them to check me out, I start adding the e-coupons to my card. Harris Teeter has a mobile app, so it is effortless to add the coupons immediately. Check with your store to see if they offer them. Sometimes these extra "perks" are not blatantly advertised.
Take Advantage of Other Perks
At Harris Teeter, they recently partnered with BP gas stations to offer discounts based on how much you spend grocery shopping. Lowes Foods also has an agreement with Speedway. Take advantage of these offers! If you follow my social media, a little while ago I was able to get about $0.30 off per gallon of gas just from doing my grocery shopping as a normally would! Also, they have a free sub program, and with every store brand item I purchase, the store donates some of the proceeds to my son's school! Ask the customer service desk or peek around on the website for deals you may not be aware of!
After You Get Home
There are quite a few phone apps out there that give you cash back on your purchases. I like to use Ibotta, SavingStar, and Checkout51. With these apps, you just scan your receipt when you get home or link your loyalty cards. Between the three, I have received back more than $300 over the years!
Do you have any other grocery store tips and tricks? Please share them below.