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Grocery shopping for a thrifty person begins before the grocery store and ends well beyond it. In fact the actually “in the store purchasing part” is the quickest part.
Step by Step Grocery Shopping With A Thrifty Person
1.Grab a piece of paper and write down the words lunch and dinner and the numbers 1 to 7 under each one: I go into how I write my simple menu in more detail in this post, but essentially that is all it is 7 meal ideas for lunch and 7 for dinner.
2. Look in the cupboards and see what you have left and try to think of what meals you could make with it: For instance if you have tuna, mac and cheese, and half bag of frozen peas, you have the makings of a tuna casserole. Write tuna casserole down as a meal idea for dinner. Repeat this process until you run out of meals you can make with what you have on hand. Then start listing what you need to buy to fill out the menu. Perhaps you have spaghetti noodles and hamburger but need the sauce so that you can have a spaghetti dinner.
3. Now that you have the starting of a list and a menu go through the cupboards again: This time mark down what staples you are running low on like milk, butter, eggs and flour. You might be able to do this during step 2 but my brain can’t seem to think about meals and staples at the same time so I do it separately.
4. Find out what is on sale and add it to your list: With the list of what you need on hand it is time to see what is on sale. I visit websites of the stores I frequent and note if any items I need are on sale, I also note items that are on sale that we don’t need now but use all the time. This allows me to pick the items up at rock bottom prices.
5. Fill up store cards with coupons: I do a lot of my shopping at Meijer and use their Mperks program to save more money than just shopping sales. I load my card before I leave for grocery shopping. The card is digital and accessed by punching in my number at the check out.
6. Check the coupon data base at Money Saving Mom for printable coupons: With my list of needs and sale items I plan to stock up on in hand I then cruise on over to the Money Saving Mom coupon data base and punch in my items to see if I can find any printable coupons for them.
7. Check to see if ibotta has any offers I can do: I just started recently using ibotta, and am still getting the hang of it but ibotta is already turning out to be a great way to earn cash back or gift cards for purchasing items already on my grocery list anyways. Just this week I saved .50 cents on milk. (sign up through my link to the ibotta website and then download the app. and you will earn a $2 credit to kick start your cash back fun! The credit will appear after you redeem you first rebate. Please note you must redeem an offer within 10 days to receive your $2 credit )
(another great app I have found since writing this post is Checkout 51 which offers rebates of groceries including whole foods like veggies and milk)
8. Check to see if I have any coupons for what I am buying in my coupon collection. I have a very small coupon collection made up of coupons I find in stores, emails, magazines, and other sources. I gather the ones I will be using that day with the ones these with what I printed off that day from the coupon data base (point 4) and put the all in the front of my coupon organizer.
9. Break list into 3 to 4 stores: I keep a price book and by doing this I know where it is cheapest to get items on my list. Shopping at 3 to 4 stores in my area works well because they are all on the same road and all within minutes of each other. Your town may not be set up like mine and you may prefer hitting a different store each week that has the best sales.
10. Scan the store for clearance items and unadvertised sales as you shop: This is the tip I use to shop for most of the meat my family eats. I look for mark down stickers and stock up and freeze it in meal friendly portions and then plan our future meals with what I bought this week.
11. Watch the screen as my items ring up: I estimate I save us at least a few dollars a month by watching the screen for errors as it scans and checking my receipt over quickly before I leave the store. A few dollars might no seem like much to some but when added up over time it makes a significant difference.
12. Cut up fresh foods intended for snacks and place in area they will be seen an eaten: Once I get home and get the food away, I take the time to cut up cheese blocks into bite size pieces, so it doesn’t get pushed into the back of the fridge to mold. I cut up fruits like cantalope, watermelon, and pineapple into bite size pieces so that the kids can help themselves to it before it perishes. By preparing our perishables right away for eating, I save money by reducing our food waste.
13. File away catalinas: Miejer prints out catilina coupons with most orders and I like to go through them and file those I will use and toss those I won’t once I am home.
Once every other month or so
14. Stock up on lower price items in other towns: Every other month or so I find myself in a larger center for some type of errand, while I am there I take the time to visit other sources of groceries not available to me in my small town. One place I visit is a bread discount store that saves my family close to $100 a year just in bread.
15. Hold an eat from the pantry week: Depending on what we have going on I might put off grocery shopping just one day but only plan 7 days worth of meals meaning I have to get creative the 8th day. If however, I have something happening once a week that has me going right by the grocery stores anyways, like I do currently, then I will try to have a basic food only week ever two months or so. Where all I buy is milk, and vegetables. This clears out our stock making sure nothing goes bad.
14. Make an online order: There are a few items I find cheaper on line than in store, so I stock up on these every few months. For instance I find that my endurance products for my marathon training is cheaper at Lucky Vitamin.
Once a year
11. Carry around price book for a month: at the beginning of each year I like to dig out my price book and spend some time noting if prices have changed since the last time I updated it and if those places that had the lowest prices on certain stables are still the ones with the lowest prices. I might find that peanut butter is now cheaper at an out of town store, or that butter is cheaper at the second store I shop at instead of the first. These things don’t change often so updating my book just once a year seems to work.
12. Look out for discounted gift cards and daily deals: There are a few items I buy at Trader Joes and Whole Foods So I routinely go to the Cardpool website to check for discounted gift cards once a week. These can save me as much as 10% off my purchase. I also find that daily deal sites like Groupon or Plum District will run various promotions for both online and real brick and mortar stores that I shop at from time to time.
On A Super Tight Budget
If you are on a super tight budget you could benefit from spending just a few minutes each day doing daily point earning activities at point reward sites like Swagbucks. I have had several readers report to me that they are earning $100 a month from Swagbucks alone! . Many point reward companies allow you to convert your points to Paypal cards so you can use the money where ever you find the best deals on groceries.