I have had many people email me lately with questions regarding grocery prices and how to keep a stocked pantry without spending a fortune. I have some thoughts on the matter and figured it might be best to make a post out of it. What do you say? Are you interested in saving money on groceries? Me too. I often get discouraged with the rising prices of groceries coupled with the stress of raising a growing family. When I started having kids, my Mom told me teenagers were going to be expensive. Turns out she was right. 🙂
My philosophy for saving money on groceries is simply this…
Buy it cheap, and stack it deep.
Which means, watch for things to go on sale, and then stock up on those items.
Not only will you save money in the long run by doing this, but you will be able to build up a food storage. Why store extra food? Well, in case of an emergency. Remember when New York totally closed down last fall, and who can forget the terrible conditions Hurricane Katrina caused! Keeping a stocked food storage brings a lot of peace of mind. I highly suggest it. Now, let’s talk about coupons. I will admit, I don’t often use them. I’m sure coupon clipping works for many people, including some of you reading these words this very minute. My hat is off to you. When I grow up, I want to be like you. But for now, shopping the deals and stocking up on those items is what I am about and what has worked best for my family.
Alright, are you ready for the 5 tips? Let’s get to it…
1. Shop Case Lot Sales In my area (Salt Lake City, Utah), most of the large grocery store chains have Case Lot Sales twice a year. In the fall (hint, hint to those of you living in the Western United States…many case lot sales are going on currently. Smiths, Harmons, Reams and Fresh Market with more stores planning on hosting them in the next couple of weeks) and in the late winter/early spring. I stock up on all of my canned goods, baking supplies and dried pastas during this sale. I try to buy a 6-8 month supply.
You might be thinking “Holy cowgirl, that sounds so expensive! I thought this was a post about SAVING money on groceries!” Don’t worry, when I pay for my case goods, I feel like it’s expensive too. However, it saves me so much money in the long run and really cuts down on my weekly grocery budget. Some canned goods are almost half the price when you buy them by the case. Just this past Friday I bought cans of corn for 44 cents a piece. That’s a great savings! We often use part of our tax return at these case lot sales, as well as set aside a bit of money each month to use.
This Taco Soup turns out to be only 82 cents a serving (before you add cheese, sour cream and chips) when made with the canned goods I bought at a case lot sale. I like the sound of that. Leaves some money lying around to buy important things like shoes and undies for five growing kids. 🙂
2. Price Match at Walmart Did you know that Walmart will match all other grocery stores advertised prices? They do. I often want to take advantage of the weekly deals at several different grocery stores, but don’t want to drive my physical person to 3 or 4 stores in a weeks time. So, I price match at Walmart. I especially love to price match produce. Now, you might be wondering how you can tell when something is a good deal, or not. This is actually half the battle, right? You don’t want to buy 3 jars of Best Foods mayonnaise when they are $4 a piece. Wait until they are $2.50 to do that. Might I suggest a great online tool that can help you know when an item is a good deal, or not.
Deals To Meals is an online service that compares grocery store prices and let’s you know if an item is worth stocking up on. They also have a great search bar I have used frequently when I am in a rush, and don’t have time to look through all of the grocery store ads myself. You can just type in the item you need and it will tell you which stores have it on sale. You can also make a shopping list through this program that is printable. I see people price matching with these printable lists at my local Walmart…all the time. Deals To Meals is a fabulous service, that I recommend highly. It will keep you on the right track, especially if you are new to shopping deals. Cost is just $4.95 per month, and you can try it out for 2 weeks for free. Click here to do just that.
3. Buy a Big Freezer If you stock up on sale items, you are going to need somewhere to store them, right? I have had a lot of success with buying used freezers. Just a couple of months ago I bought one on KSL (an online “for sale by owner” site here in Utah) for $150. It was only a couple of years old and in great condition. Here is a list of some of the things I keep on hand in the freezer:
- Shredded Cheese
- Frozen Homemade Soup
- Cookie Dough (yum!)
4. Learn to Bake from Scratch If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I am not opposed to a great packaged mix now and then. Cake Mixes? Totally love ’em. Pudding Mixes? Yes, Ma’am. I love the ease that both of these provide. That said, baking homemade breads, rolls, pancakes, waffles, muffins, cookies and many other baked goods from scratch is so very economical and is actually a lot easier than you might think. 🙂 Don’t get yourself worked up into a froth when you read the word YEAST, okay? You can totally make yeast breads happen. It just takes a little bit of practice. You might not believe me if I told you, but homemade bread (and other baked goods) are super cheap. I dusted of my calculator and did a little math for you all.
These wonderful Fluffy Dinner Rolls can be made in less than an hour, most of that time being spent with the rolls rising in the oven and then baking.
This Whole Wheat Bread is one of my main staples. The recipe makes 5 loaves so there are plenty to freeze for later. It’s great toasted, makes fabulous sandwiches and is yummy with homemade soup. During the winter and fall months I try and make it once a week. I try! I don’t always get to it, depending on the level of chaos we have going on around here, which is a crying shame. Can you believe it only costs 40 cents per loaf! Good quality Whole Wheat bread can cost up to $5 a loaf at the grocery store! What a great savings, right?
I know that many, many of you make these Quick and Easy Breadsticks on a regular basis with great success. (Good for you!) If you haven’t ever made any kind of yeast bread, might I suggest starting with these breadsticks? They are the very user friendly, and don’t take very long to make. We love them with all kinds of Italian Food and dipped in White Chicken Chili.
I have made mention in the past that this Fabulous French Bread is my favorite recipe. 25 cents a loaf! Can you believe that!!!! No wonder I love it. It freezes like a dream. I try to make a double or triple batch every couple of weeks. It’s heavenly with Homemade Soup.
5. Organize a Menu Plan If you make a menu plan for at least one weeks time, shop for the ingredients you need for those meals…and then try not to go to the store for the rest of the week…I would bet my bottom dollar you will save money. I know when I go to the store every couple of days, extra items that I don’t really need just find a way of hopping right into my cart. (Hello, $1 Box Of Bottlecaps, how I love you and how I truly don’t need you, like ever.)
You can take a peak at my Monthly Menu Plans here, if you need a little help getting started.
I hope this post was helpful to some of you! Don’t feel overwhelmed. It takes a while to get the hang of shopping for groceries like this. Maybe just choose one of these five tips to focus on. Buy a couple of case goods this week, sign up at Deals to Meals, or give the Quick and Easy Breadsticks a try. You will be heading in the right direction. 🙂
Once when I was standing in the check out line with 15 bottles of shampoo/conditioner the lady standing behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said “Are you having a hair crisis, or what?” I just chuckled and said, “No, just planning to wash my hair frequently from now until the day I die, so I figured I would buy a bunch when they are cheap.” She just nodded and said, “That actually sounds like a pretty good plan.”
I think so too.
Buy it cheap and stack it deep…ladies and gentlemen. That is my advice to you on this pretty September Day.