6 Painless Ways To Cut Your Grocery Bill

Grocery shopping takes a big bite out of most budgets. The average family of four spends nearly $6,000 a year at the supermarket. But you don’t have to. It’s easier to trim your grocery bill than to cut back on most other household expenses. Here’s how:

* Have a plan. Make a list before you leave home. Use the supermarket flyer from your mailbox or the store’s website to take advantage of weekly sales. But read it carefully. Don’t assume that every featured product is on sale. Manufacturers might have paid for placement.

* Get with the program. You usually have to sign up for a club card to get advertised sale prices. The programs are free, and some entitle you to extra members-only specials. A&P cardholders, for example, recently got 10 to 15 percent off their total bill of $100 or more, up to $30 savings on a $200 tab. At Price Chopper and Giant Food Stores, you can earn points toward discounted gas at the stores’ pumps and Shell gas stations.

* Pace your purchases. You rarely have to pay full price for the staples you buy again and again. Products go on sale at predictable intervals that are easy to figure out if you read your store’s flyer every week. For example, if you prefer Tropicana orange juice, you’ll notice it’s on sale every few weeks. So buy it during those times and save.

* Buy store brands. Most supermarkets offer their own private-label brands, which cost around 25 percent less than comparable big-name brands. We found that savings can be more than 50 percent. And private brands are no longer limited to canned fruit, frozen veggies, and paper towels. Stores are now putting their own names on cold cuts, baked goods, and fancy sauces. In our latest tests, most store-brand products scored as well as or better than their national counterparts.

* Clip and click coupons. Clip coupons for products you buy often. Savings will add up quickly if you redeem manufacturer and store coupons at the same time, a practice known as “stacking.” You can find coupons in weekly newspaper inserts, at the store, and increasingly on retailer websites. Go to sites like Coupons.com and CoolSavings.com to search for discounts. You’ll have to register to download and print coupons, which will generate loads of spam. So you might want to set up a separate e-mail account just for coupons. For more tips from coupon pros, check our report in the March issue of CR Money Adviser.

* Shop smarter. Stores use a variety of tactics to coax you into spending more. For example, shelves are often stocked with the priciest items at eye level. So check high and low for better deals. Be aware that products on aisle ends aren’t always on sale. Sometimes these “end caps” display new items at full price or stuff that’s about to expire. Check unit prices–the price per ounce, per quart, or per 100 sheets–to make sure you buy the most economical size. Larger packages aren’t always cheaper.

And don’t be lured into buying more than you want by “three for a dollar”sales. In most cases, you don’t have to buy the suggested quantity to get the discount.

Comments

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  1. Alvis says:

    We get up in arms about Facebook privacy violations, but it’s all good when you save a few bucks by letting a supermarket sell a list of everything you buy to advertisers?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      You can always use a fake phone number and most grocery store employees I’ve encountered don’t even care if you don’t put down an address.

      • minjche says:

        For all of the card programs I’ve been a part of (except Weggmans), turning in your contact info is optional.

        I can understand how they can still link together purchases to a single card, but for me it’s all anonymous.

        If you’re worried you can ask to scan the store card (although this dings the performance evaluation of the cashier) or just ask for a new card every time (which is somewhat wasteful).

        • mbz32190 says:

          Wegmans doesn’t really require all your personal info. either. Just tell them you don’t have an ID on you (they ask to link it to the card for check cashing), and fill out bs for the rest.

      • mobiuschic42 says:

        Yeah, most of the time, they give you a form to either mail in or bring back the next time, but the card still works even if you don’t return the form.

        • Murph1908 says:

          Yes. This is very true.

          I just wanted to point out an exception that I ran into. PetSmart won’t let you take the form home. They make you fill it out right there.

          I didn’t bother.

        • roguemarvel says:

          I have that at a few stores.

          However at the restaurant I work out we have a loyalty card that has redeemable rewards and while you can swipe it to add points you can’t redeem the points till you register it. I’m pretty tell customers to register fake info if they don’t want to give there info, just remember what you gave (it only requires a name). I’ve only had one customer who was a regular who refused because he did not want to give his info out.

      • frank64 says:

        I think around me they ask for an ID.

        I hate these cards. You are supposed to have one for every place you shop. They are kind of fake savings too. The deals are nothing better than what they used to have for sale prices anyway. Now they will just swipe a card for you if you don’t have one.

        I shop at Market Basket, they do not have the loyalty cards and their prices are cheaper, even compared to the sale price with card of the other places.

        • JonStewartMill says:

          I shop at Meijer and Trader Joe’s, neither of which have a ‘store card’ and both of which have better prices than Kroger and Giant Eagle, the other supermarket chains in my area. Yes, even with the store card discount.

          • MrEvil says:

            I’ve only been to Meijer once in Angola Indiana. I think they’re just like wal-mart only the stores are cleaner, nicer, and the employees are less surly.

        • bluejena says:

          Hey, Merrimack Valley REPRESENT! They do have a check-cashing card, but the last time I saw one of those was when I’d do groceries with a blank check from my mom as a teenager.

          • Pax says:

            Yeah, DeMoulas/Market Basket is a good chain, IMO. Reasonable prices, no “sell your name to anyone who pays” loyalty program, and the store-brand products are usually decent quality stuff.

    • pop top says:

      How do you not see the difference between freely giving your information to a company and a company leaking your private information after promising that it wasn’t?

    • James says:

      I don’t know any of my friends or family who have actually filled out the form accurately. Most people just make up a bunch of BS.

      I don’t even have the card – I just key in my fake phone number I use for various forms that I don’t want my real one on.

    • TerpBE says:

      I once signed up for a grocery store under the name “Dick Poopipantz”, specifically because the cashiers were required to say, “Have a nice day, Mr./Mrs. {last name}”.

      Unfortunately they eliminated that policy shortly thereafter.

    • Bohemian says:

      My dog has quite the consumer profile going on.

    • crazedhare says:

      Oh agreed agreed. I find a lot of places will just swipe a store card and give the sales to you that way – those places definitely get my return business. Places that refuse, not so much.

    • layton59 says:

      Don’t get on a list to be sold. My first choice for grocery shopping is at ALDIS. They don’t do coupons or store tracking rewards cards. They just have the lowest prices on great Aldis store brand items. Saves me a the hassle of doing all the work the main story suggests.

      Although I am still upset that they shrunk the Corntown Extra Butter popcorn size. Less popcorn almost caused a fire in my microwave. Burnt popcorn smells foul.

  2. minjche says:

    For many store-brand products, it’s manufactured by the same company who makes the name-brand.

    • D0rk says:

      Yep, when I used to stock for a grocery store, our store-branded products often came in cases that had the original brand name manufacturer printed on it. Or, things like juice bottles were literally identical to the name-brand.

      • minjche says:

        I’m interning with a company that makes the name brand and several store brands so I see it first hand on this end.

        I also interned (and will be working for after I graduate! :-D) with a company that makes machines for manufacturers, and through that I learned of a bunch of store brand and name brand combos (like how a certain name brand chicken is the same chicken as Walmart’s Great Value brand).

        (Withholding company names for obvious CYA reasons)

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Yup this is the case for a lot of the products, some I notice a difference but the biggest savings were when we were told by the butcher of a store that their store brand turkey’s are the same thing as the one in the fancy packaging, the only difference is the packaging and the MUCH lower price, we eat well on thanksgiving now.

    • Bohemian says:

      Some are. Some might be made at the same plant but with inferior ingredients. Our store’s branded dairy products are pretty low quality compared to some of the name brand options. Milk, sour cream, yogurt and half and half are always noticeably not as good.

      • minjche says:

        In my experience (on the manufacturer’s end), the manufacturer makes the store-brand product one “generation” behind the name-brand. For example if one year a brand-name laundry detergent adds a new scent, the following year the store-brand will get the same scent.

        As a consumer, I’ve only noticed inferior store brands at Food Lion. The Publix and Weggmans store brands are actually better in my opinion, but I may be swayed by the cheaper price.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          i did buy store brand cream of chicken soup once. compared to campbell’s it was greyer and there were obvious pieces of chicken bones in it.
          for the most part, i find no difference in store brands. but for that particular item, i’m brand loyal from now on

        • NinjaPanda says:

          My wife and I swear by Publix in general. The stores are always brighter and cleaner compared to everything else. We used to say we would still shop at Publix even if everything was a few cents more expensive because it is so much nicer. It’s a shame we’re in Pennsylvannia now and all the stores are crap comparatively.

          And as a side-note, nothing beats Publix sweet tea. Nothing

  3. chiieddy says:

    1. The grocery store I use (Hannaford) does not have customer cards and does not track customer data. Discounts are available without a card.

    2. Clipping coupons is fairly useless for me since I don’t buy much in the way of processed food items. There’s never coupons for meat and vegetables.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I mostly clip coupons for cleaning products, and then I stock up on detergent and sponges and stuff. Also foil wrap and parchment paper, since I use it a lot for various things. The coupons for food are mostly for pasta, canned vegetables, and cereal.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Do you buy detergent? How about toilet paper? Pet food? Soap? Toothpaste? Or is that all just ‘processed crap’ with no place in your life?

      And yes, there are plenty of coupons available for fruits and vegetables. If you were a regular coupon-cutter, you’d probably have known that.

      • wrjohnston91283 says:

        Sugar, flour, baking soda, rice also often have coupons.

        It’s not just Twinkies and Hi-C (I’ve actually never seen a coupon for either)

    • bluejena says:

      Little known fact: Hannaford does have a loyalty card. It’s only for Upromise customers, though.

  4. danmac says:

    Shop after you eat a meal; it will prevent you from making impulsive snack food purchases. The reverse corollary of this rule is to never shop for groceries while high.

    • George4478 says:

      >>The reverse corollary of this rule is to never shop for groceries while high.

      Unless they’re having a really good sale on Cheetos.

    • magnetic says:

      I’ve found that when I shop while thirsty, I tend to buy a lot of fruits and vegetables.

  5. thompson says:

    I wept when I saw that average grocery bill. That’s less than the wife and I pay for just the two of us.

    Then again, we shop at Berkeley Bowl, and buy local produce and organic meat.

    • danmac says:

      Berkeley Bowl rocks, but the parking is a superduperuberbitch. And Berkeley can be really expensive if you frequent Whole Foods, Berkeley Bowl, and Andronico’s and ignore Safeway and Albertson’s.

      • thompson says:

        Ah, but Berkeley Bowl West (where I shop) has delicious amounts of parking and is much bigger. The larger space helps the hippie smell dissipate to acceptable levels ;)

        I think my favorite part of shopping at BBW though is watching the parents/friends/tourists who are brought there—they start walking through the produce and just look overwhelmed (“I never knew there were X different types of Y”)

        • danmac says:

          Damn…now I’m envious…we moved to central Washington, a semi-rural area where anaheim peppers are about as exotic as produce gets (and all Chinese/Indian food sucks). I don’t miss the insanity of the East Bay, but I definitely miss the food scene.

          • thompson says:

            Yep — BBW just opened about a year ago. It’s a custom-built giant space, parking garage + two surface lots. Incredible. Stop by if you’re ever in the area, it’s just west of the original location (at San Pablo and Ashby).

    • dolemite says:

      Well no wonder! I think my wife and I spend about $120 every two weeks on groceries (with 2 dogs and 3 cats).

      Of course we don’t buy the super organic expensive stuff, but we don’t buy cow tongues either.

      I could only imagine if we actually bothered with coupons.

      • thompson says:

        Having moved over to more organic meats, I can name that as the biggest reason why our grocery bill for two people is more than that average for four. Protein is expensive. Though I have to say, I used to be iffy on things like chicken breasts, I never understood the appeal. Then I started buying organic, free range chicken breasts. They actually have flavor! And none of that questionable fat globbed all over them. But they also cost like 5x as much as the frozen stuff at Walmart :(

      • jesirose says:

        Cow tongue is actually not cheap. I used to get it shipped from a few states over along with other … weird … meat products.

        • chiieddy says:

          Cow tongue was a staple in my diet when I was little. It’s hard to find and I miss it. As offal it does need to be cooked on a slow braise though. All fat and horrible for you but so good with some brown mustard.

      • cash_da_pibble says:

        Cow tongue is delicious in tacos.

    • cvt2010 says:

      Don’t feel too bad. Remember that economies of scale apply; families can buy in larger quantities without worrying about spoilage. You can get around a lot of this by freezing things like meat, but there’s not much you can do about most dairy products. It drives me nuts that a half gallon of milk is usually almost the same price as a full gallon, especially since fresh milk tastes much better and it’s hard to use up a gallon with just two people before it goes bad.

      Plus higher quality food is worth it.

    • AnthonyC says:

      My SO and I pay about that much per year, maybe a little less, for groceries + household goods bought at grocery stores. But we cook a lot, rarely eat fast food or at restaurants, and tend to go for higher-quality stuff. And about half of what we buy is organic, but note that generally organic stuff isn’t as expensive as most people seem to think, not if you’re careful.

      Also, think about where you live. Groceries cost a lot more in NYC than the same groceries in a small town in the midwest, or even an inexpensive city like Pittsburgh

    • 339point4 says:

      My family of four pays almost double the average stated in the post. At about $200 a week, we spend 5 digits a year on groceries and food items alone. I assume this is because we live in an area of the country with a ridiculously high CoL. Either that, or the ‘average’ family is buying a lot of cheap, processed food compared to our fresh, more expensive stuff.

  6. tedyc03 says:

    Something I learned is that the per-unit price is more important than the sticker price. For example, when comparing Giant brand fruit snacks to a national brand, I discovered that while the Giant fruit snacks were cheaper, they were NOT cheaper by unit (weight).

    The moral of the story: always get as much information about prices as you can!

  7. Brie says:

    1. Go alone. Taking my spouse and/or kids tends to add another decimal place to the final tally.

    2. If you have a smartphone, use iGrocery or even a simple spreadsheet to add things up as you go through the store.

    If nothing else, when I grocery shop alone it gives me more time and space to read labels and really think about what I’m buying.

    • mobiuschic42 says:

      For me, #1 is the exact opposite. While my bf hates shopping, if he’s with me and sees me putting some cookies in the cart, he’ll often say, “don’t we already have [other kind of cookies] at home?” or “do we really need these”
      Also, I’ll often buy more things since I’m not sure exactly what he’d want (we’ve only been together a year, so I don’t quite have his preferences memorized, yet).
      In short, different people need different situations to shop better.

      • mobiuschic42 says:

        Also, he helps me do math when I’m to my 100th price comparison and ready to say, “whatever; I’ll just get this one because it has a picture of a happy washing machine.”
        (which, by the way, is how I actually bought laundry detergent when I was living in Japan and couldn’t read Japanese…too bad I was allergic to Happy Washing Machine detergent :( ).

        • dorianh49 says:

          someone should make an iPod app where you can scan in international grocery items and it will translate into English (or even Engrish) for you.

    • nybiker says:

      I always go alone (well, I am a single guy, so it makes easier to do). But you are correct in that I am not rushed along by someone else nor am I distracted.

    • Bohemian says:

      The rest of the family is banned from going grocery shopping with me. We end up with double the bill and all sorts of stuff we should not be eating.

  8. The cake is a lie! says:

    coupons coupons coupons. My wife shops for our family of five on a budget of $100 per week. Sometimes she is able to do it for less than $70. It’s all about getting the ads in the Sunday paper and shopping when there is a sale. Find a coupon site online that will help get you organized as well. And limit your shopping trips to once a week. Don’t go to the store everytime you need something. That is a good way to jack up your grocery budget with impulse buying. once a week, on a budget, with coupons. That’s the way we keep our grocery budget under $5000 per year.

    • thompson says:

      Have you been successful in finding coupons for non-processed food? My wife and I tried it and gave up—all the coupons were for boxed/packaged/processed goods and nothing fresh or even minimally processed.

      But I’d be willing to start looking again if my first impression was wrong. Any tips for a coupon novice?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        You probably eat more boxed items than you think. Do you eat packaged dry pastas? Use chicken broth for soup? I make my own granola, but I have to buy the ingredients, and since I can’t go to a field and sow my own oats, I’m buying steel-cut oats from the store and I’ve gotten some great deals on my favorite brands. I also buy raisins and almonds for my granola, and have used coupons. Do you make bread? There are coupons for flour, yeast, sugar, etc.

        My local grocery stores sometimes run a ‘breakfast combo’ promotion. The catalina machine pops out a coupon that offers you free bananas if you buy a box of cereal and milk. Since we buy both anyway (and I always have coupons for cereal) it’s a good combination.

        • thompson says:

          Hmm — good points. I think I wasn’t thinking “out of the box” (no pun intended) enough. Maybe i’ll grab the paper this Sunday ;)

        • AnthonyC says:

          That’s very true, but it *is* possible to get even those items unboxed. You just have to go to a store that sells bulk items. Then you can bring your own container (and get it weighed empty so you don’t get charged extra for the container) and fill it yourself. It’s often cheaper than buying boxed stuff.

          I’d like to say I always do this, but I’d be lying. Only about a fifth of what I buy is packaging-free, but it *is* feasible to do much better.

      • RandomHookup says:

        Start with mambosprouts.com. They also have coupon books in many of the stores (Whole Foods does a combined food tips/coupon book with them).

        Another way is to simply look at the manufacturer’s site — they often have coupon offers and/or loyalty clubs.

        You’ll never find traditional coupons on non-branded items (most fresh fruits and veggies), unless the store itself is doing something.

        Also remember that coupons work for more than food — health & beauty, cleaning supplies, paper products and the like. Many of these are heavily promoted and offer high coupon ROI.

  9. dreamfish says:

    7. Stop eating. Stay alive by absorbing moisture from the air.

  10. qualityleashdog says:

    “…you can earn points toward discounted gas at the stores’ pumps and Shell gas stations.” Oh, so that must mean it’s a real savings, since you earned it. Such promises are no different than the endcap products or the paid placements in the store adverts. Really, one would point out that sometimes a sale is not a sale, but be naive enough to believe in these rewards programs? Yeah, we have Kroger and the same deal with their card, their pumps and Shell’s. Ten Cents off a gallon often still leaves that particular gas costing the same or more than wherever you prefer or find it convenient to fuel up.
    I don’t go out of my way to use the rewards, but only when I was going to use their pump anyhow.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      The Shell station I go to is right down the street from the grocery store, and it’s the same price as the other stations in the immediate area so that 10 cents a gallon does make a difference.

      • qualityleashdog says:

        Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Just like the featured products in the ads or the items on the endcaps. Point is, you must pay attention, you’re not really saving just because they call it a discount, you have to compare the prices for yourself.

        • nbs2 says:

          That really isn’t any different than holding on to coupons until a sale shows up. As an example, Grape Nuts goes on sale roughly once a quarter. If I have a coupon for GN that will be valid during the sale period, my money and the coupon’s value both go a lot further than they could otherwise. In the same way, most folks won’t exercise the discount until the affiliate’s price is equal or lower.

          However, we have found that Giant Eagle has found another way to spur loyalty – they offer the inverse as well. We get 1% off our groceries for every 10 gallons. We hold off on buying non-Costco sized staples until they are on sale and do so in bulk when we cash in the savings. Our other weekly trips can usually be contained to under $30 (well, under $50 when you factor in $20 at the farmers market).

    • mac-phisto says:

      some of these gas rewards programs are pretty awesome. a friend of mine in NC showed how she was able to stack rewards (the more you spend on groceries, the more your pump discount increases) – she paid $1.06/gallon for gas.

      around me, the only store offering those rewards is stop&shop. their closest gas station is two towns away & even with the discount, it’s more expensive than the place down the street from my house. so, yea. no deals there. :(

    • kmw2 says:

      Saves me money just fine. Of course, I only fill my tank every month and a half or so, but the grocery store I do a lot of my shopping at runs a 1 point/1 dollar program, and 10 points = 10 cents off a gallon of premium gas. I routinely get premium grade gas for $2.15 a gallon or so.

    • katia802 says:

      I don’t have a car. The grocery store that does the gas discounts in my area is right on the bus line. I use the card and save up the gas discounts, then give them to my Mom to use when she gives me a ride somewhere. Is a nice thing for her, and I get use out of the points without going out of my way to spend there.

  11. GrayMatter says:

    Coupons? We don’ need no stinken’ coupons!!!

    Actually, we have found that a couple of the discount food stores that use only their house brands are usually cheaper than the big boys, even when they have sales. (Sometimes the sale items are slightly lower, but not much.) And, we don’t have to fool around with coupons.

    The downside, if there is one, is that the choices are more limited. Only two types of mustard, regular and spicy. Limited flavors of yogurt. And, they do have various specialty foods, but they are there only for a limited time; however if they sell well, you will see them repeated.

    In our case, Aldi is nearest. And for exotic things at a reasonable price (for exotic things that is), we use their sister company, Trader Joe’s.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      By ‘fooling around’ with coupons, I often end up getting that name-brand item for free. Can’t get much cheaper than that!

      • "I Like Potatoes" says:

        Especially if you have a store near you that doubles coupons. Harris Teeter is THE store in our area for coupon clippers. On Super Double days or Triple days (which are less frequent), you can easily end up getting many items for free.

    • Apeweek says:

      I second Aldis. When I began shopping there – even though their selection isn’t wide enough that I can do all my shopping there – my monthly grocery budget immediately dropped by 10%.

      The best part is that the Aldi store brands are of better than average quality. They have become my favorite brands for several products.

    • zzyzzx says:

      I also shop at Aldi. Also, the using coupons and buying store brand are mutually exclusive.

  12. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Started planning meals 2 months ago.

    It makes a big difference.

    • pspj says:

      Couldnt agree more – planning meals, and buying what is needed to make them dramatically cuts down on buying items you dont necessarily need, and wind up throwing away. Also part of the process is to plan for larger meals, to ensure leftovers for the next days lunch, thereby cutting down on outside food purchases.

  13. energynotsaved says:

    Eat what you have in the cabinets, freezer and refrigerator. I was stunned by how long I could live on the stuff that I already had purchased.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      that’s what i am doing this month, just to make sure i don’t have things sitting too long and because it’s coming up on time to defrost my chest freezer. way less hassle to deal with when it’s not packed full.
      i did buy milk last weekend though.

  14. Macgyver says:

    I hate the people that complain about coupons are only for processed food.
    Processed foods are not bad for you.
    What do you think you’re doing when you cook? You’re processing the food yourself.

    • thompson says:

      Because cooking from basic ingredients allows me to control exactly what goes into my finished “processed” food. I know exactly how much salt was added, I know that only sugar and not HFCS (sorry… corn sugar) isn’t in there, I know that there are no preservatives, etc.

      It also TASTES better to start from basic ingredients—my cooking doesn’t need to be shelf stable.

    • evnmorlo says:

      Usually when doing your own processing at home you don’t only mix cups of salt sugar oil white flour and chemicals. Pre-processed stuff is also priced very high despite such modest ingredients and is thus still expensive even with a coupon.

      • AnthonyC says:

        Often, yes, but not always.

        There are lots of important vitamins and minerals we need to worry about, it’s true, but for a quick-and-dirty price estimate, look at calories-per-dollar. Bags of cheap rice max out at about 5000. Baguette from the bakery section, maybe 1000. Most frozen meals, about 200-300. But soda and chips also count as processed, and a big bottle of coke on sale can be as cheap as bread, and chips are cheaper. Same goes for boxes of cake and muffin mix.

    • AnthonyC says:

      Processed food isn’t *necessarily* bad for you, but the odds are against you. It’s easy for industrially processed foods to hide bad-for-you ingredients.

      Yes, I eat my share of processed food; some of it is quite good. I also love to cook. Usually what I cook myself is both better and healthier. There are exceptions.

  15. aloria says:

    Take inventory of what you have in the kitchen before shopping.

    I tend to overestimate, especially when stuff is on sale, and I’ll end up with a ton of staples like pasta or beans that usually just end up lingering in the pantry. Now I take inventory of everything already have and base my grocery lists on that (buy tomatoes for the pasta, tortillas so I can make burritos from the beans, etc.) You’re not saving any money if you buy 10 boxes of cereal but never get any milk so you can eat it.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i not only keep a grocery list running all the time on my fridge [in dry erase marker] and take a picture of it to the store with me, i’ve started keeping current photos of my pantry on my camera. at the store if i don’t see something on the photo of my grocery list, i scroll to the pantry photos and check to see if i am out of it.
      terrible memory plus terrible handwriting led me to this solution but it works great for me

  16. banndndc says:

    1. if available shop at larger “ethnic” stores (especially for spices, meat and rice)
    2. buy whole chickens and butcher yourself
    3. buy whole pork tenderloins and loins and divide them yourself
    4. buy staple dry goods in bulk
    5. think about what you’re going to do with leftovers ahead of time
    6. find your local fruit and veg wholesaler
    7. grow your own herbs

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      #1 will not only save money, but is actually an enjoyable activity!

    • bishophicks says:

      #2 is a huge money saver. I buy 2 chickens at BJ’s for .89/pound or about $9. I once weighed my results (x oz. of wings, y oz. of thighs, z ounces of boneless breasts, etc.) and compared them to what it would cost to buy already butchered and I was saving almost $10. But I wasn’t finished, because I took the carcasses and some tired vegetables and made stock – about 1/2 a gallon. Better than what you can get in a can, which costs over $1.25 per pint.

      So 2 chickens plus some vegetables cost about $10, and from that I “made” over $25 worth of chicken parts and soup stock.

      With a sharp knife and very little practice, you can take a chicken apart in less than 5 minutes.

  17. JulesNoctambule says:

    For all you people who bitch and moan that COUPONS ARE ONLY FOR PROCESSED CRAP NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME OMG!!!!!, I have to ask if any of you use things like toothpaste, soap, dishwashing liquid, detergent, deodorant and the like. Because hey, guess what? Coupons can save you money there, too! And — hold on, now! — often, coupons make that dreaded name-brand product even cheaper than the store brand! Of course, I’m sure you all make your own toothpaste at home already.

    • kalaratri says:

      I have also snagged coupons for meats, juices, organic eggs, organic milk, organic cheeses, etc. Not often, but they are out there.

  18. YamiNoSenshi says:

    After graduating college and striking out on my own and buying my own groceries for a while, I went to visit my mom. While I was there I said, “Remember when I was a kid and I always insisted on name-brand food? Yeah, I’m sorry.” The only things we don’t buy store brand now are orange juice, mayonnaise, and toilet paper.

  19. thompson says:

    I also just ran the numbers.

    $6000/yr
    divided by a family of four
    divided by 365 days in a year
    ====
    $4.10 per person per day
    divided by three meals per day
    ====
    $1.37 per person per meal per day

    I know I’m an atypical consumer, in that I have access to a local grocery store that sells local organic produce and meat and such, but that just seems like a ridiculously small amount of money to be spending on meals.

    I really don’t know how people do that without just eating ramen or frozen pizza.

    • Beeker26 says:

      It’s really not that hard to do if you put your mind to it. Some meals are cheaper than others. A bowl of cereal or an egg for breakfast is less than $1.37, so it allows you to spend more money on lunch or dinner. The trick is to never buy something that’s not on sale in some way and stock up.

      Of course it’s very unlikely you’re going to hit that target if you’re buying expensive products at expensive stores. But if that’s the case you’re probably not concerned about the cost of your food anyway.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      We buy organic and stuff, too, but I think you’re overestimating the cost of food with a budget like that. There are some variables. The kids eat three meals but the adults probably don’t. Also, I can make a pot of vegetable soup (with homemade chicken broth) for at most, $10, enough to last a week of lunches and dinners, so that’s $1.42 per serving.

  20. Mcshonky says:

    Don’t eat.
    Problem solved.

  21. Murph1908 says:

    My savings club persona:

    Henry Krinkle
    1060 West Addison
    Chicago, IL 60613

    Phone number is my current phone provider’s voicemail call-in number.

  22. Beeker26 says:

    One thing not mentioned are stores that double coupons automatically. We have a Shop Rite here that doubles all coupons up to 99 cents, and it can really add up, making the final price better than shopping someplace else where the regular price of that item is slightly cheaper (for example, Walmart).

    And don’t forget about price-matching. Many stores will honor competitor’s sale prices even on produce and meats. One of the things I’ve noticed over the past few years is that when a market puts meats on sale (such as beef, pork, chicken breasts, etc) the quality is VERY poor and they force you into buying the “family pack”. But this can be avoided by going to another store that will price-match, as you’re getting the sale price on regular quality products instead of the low quality junk. And you save both time and gas by not having to drive all over town to multiple stores.

    • Kate says:

      Unfortunately they don’t do coupon doubling in California. I don’t know why.

      • gman863 says:

        Not sure, sometimes states have laws designed to help out the “mom and pop” stores.

        As an example, Alabama has a law banning “cents off per gallon” on gasoline for using a store loyalty card or store brand (read: Wal-Mart) credit card. I think the only discount allowed is for cash instead of credit.

        When I lived in Mobile, this only resulted in higher prices for everyone. Sam’s Club (members only) was often the only place .10-.15 lower than market price; the pumps always had a line of cars waiting to fill up.

  23. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    I freaked out about store brands when the mushrooms said, “Product of China”. But so does Jolly Green Giant. Now I check all canned goods I end up buying for the label, and get weirded out when the origin of it isn’t disclosed.

    Stupid poisoning from China. Now I’m paranoid.

  24. leastcmplicated says:

    i save an avg of $50 on my grocery bill. For those in the southeast, user southernsavers.com.

    1) get 2 sunday papers or those new $3 papers that have double coupons in it, take out RedPlum, P&G and SS – write the date on them and put it aside. do that every week

    2) go to southernsavers.com

    trick is not to just clip coupons and use them but to use the coupons only when the item is on sale. Can be afraid to stock up either.

  25. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    We’ve been keeping a price book for the past three years. It is just a notebook with the brands/items we regularly buy with the prices we paid. We can tell when an item is going on sale and know when to stock up, and when to wait a week or so. For example, one brand of yogurt is on sale every six weeks–half the usual price. I’m sure there’s a Spreadsheet out there that does the same tracking. We find using a price book and coupons very useful for cutting our grocery bill.

  26. Talisker says:

    I cut my grocery bill by eating out more often.

    Perhaps I’m missing the point.

  27. kateforgach says:

    You’ve got to be joking. You’re posting this as NEWS?

  28. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I always stock up at Albertsons’ regular buy-one-get-one-free chicken & steak sales. Bam! $30 instant savings.

  29. Donathius says:

    How about checking out the prices at the different stores in your area? Maybe also be willing to go to different stores to get what you want for a good price.

    We recently switched our shopping from Wal-Mart (put the pitchforks away please) and started going to a WinCo that opened about 2 miles from our house. Buying the same groceries we’re saving $30-$40 per week just by switching stores. The best buy there right now? They’ve got huge pumpkins for 8 cents a pound. We picked up a 35 pound pumpkin last night for $2.40. I know that doesn’t add up but the checkstand scale only goes up to 30 pounds so they just rang it up for the maximum weight.

  30. consumedchick says:

    Nothing very nee here

  31. MercuryPDX says:

    Check with management or the courtesy desk before using coupons you’ve downloaded and printed yourself. Not every store will accept computer generated coupons, and it’s a bit embarrassing to discover that at the checkout line. :/

  32. gman863 says:

    The article totally missed a final point that saves me a few hundred bucks per year, even as a single person:

    STOCK UP ON THE ITEMS YOU’RE SURE YOU’LL USE WHEN YOU FIND A GREAT DEAL

    Example 1: A 12-roll jumbo pack of Scott bath tissue has a “street price” of $10.99. CVS runs it once a month or so for $6.97. Add in a few $1 off coupons from the Sunday paper and the final price is almost 50% off.

    CVS also runs “Extra Bucks” deals (such as buy $25 in sale-priced P&G Products and get a $10 Extra Bucks coupon off your next purchase). The 4-month supply of Bounty towels at $26 was less than standard grocery pricing; the $10 Extra Bucks equaled a 6 month free supply of vitamins during a 2-for-1 promo the following week. Although CVS regular pricing is usually inflated, cherry picking sale and Extra Buck promo items from the Sunday paper is worth it.

    H-E-B has a few hundred in-store coupons each week (most unadvertised). If you have time to wander the aisles a few extra minutes, it’s usually worth it. With these coupons (hung by the items) deals I’ve found recently included name brand toothpaste and deoderant for 49 cents each and a deal on a $2.50 package of Triscut crakers with a free $3.49 value package of Hormel pepperoni. You can buy as many of each deal as you want.

    • crazydavythe1st says:

      My HEB posts all the in-store coupon deals in the customer service area. That would save you from having to wander the store.