What are some tricks to save on groceries?

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Answered by: Tracy, An Expert in the Get Grocery Savings Category
According the most recent USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion Food Plan, a thrifty family spends about $719 on food prepared at home. This is substantially less than what they consider to be a liberal food plan, $1290. So how does a family become thrifty and save on groceries?


Every week your local newspapers have manufacturer coupon inserts. Clip every one you think you might use. Even if the product is something you've never used, you might find a BOGO in a store, which could make the product far less expensive.

Printable grocery coupons are all over the internet, both from manufacturers as well as store specific.

Buy local coupon books. Many fundraisers will offer these kinds of savings. You buy the book and a portion of the proceeds go to the organization. Often you will find $5 off $30 from a local grocery.

Organize your coupons in such a way that makes it easy for you. Some people organize by aisle; this is great if you only grocery shop at one store. Chances are, you don't go to one place. It's most efficient to collect like items. For example, group the dairy coupons together.

Take your coupons with you everywhere you go! Stopping at the store to pick up one item almost never happens, you'll buy more than you thought. You could be missing out on grocery savings.

Sales Circulars

Both local chains as well as national chains always have a weekly sale ad. Look to see who has what on sale.

Match coupons you've clipped with sale items.

"Stack" your grocery savings. Almost all grocers will accept a store coupon as well as a one from the manufacturer. If a store offers a $1 off coupon and you have a manufacturer coupon for $1, you can save $2.

Look for BOGO items-Buy One Get One free. You can use a coupon for each item purchased. This allows you to maximize the BOGO and save on groceries even more.

Shopping at the Store

Avoid prepackaged foods unless they fall into that "BOGO with 2 coupons" category. Most convenience foods are less healthy and cost far more than the same recipe you can prepare with whole foods.

The myth of avoiding the middle aisles is just that, a myth. Unless you only eat produce, meat and dairy, you're going down those center aisles. There are deals to be had here!

Walk EVERY aisle of the store. Manufacturers change packaging quite frequently. As they do so, grocery chains will "closeout" these items. They'll reduce the price for quick sales, but these aren't in your ads.

Ask the store where their "clearance" section is for dry goods and health and beauty. You will find close dated items and discontinued items with deep discounts.

Shop early if you can. Meat, dairy, produce, and bakery departments mark yesterday's fresh items down. These aren't bad items, they just aren't as fresh as what they are putting out today.

Check the dates on EVERYTHING you purchase, even dry goods. Buy the longest "best by" date you can. Look toward the back of the shelf, most stores rotate their stock, pulling closer dated items to the front.

Warehouse Stores

Places like BJ's Wholesale offer bulk items at lower prices. BE CAUTIOUS! These are not always the best pricing, know what a single item costs at the grocery store BEFORE you go to Sam's Club or Costco.

Use your coupons here too. Ask if the warehouse store allows stacking and if they will accept competitor in-store coupons.

Find out what their policy is for using multiple coupons for bulk items. For example shaving cream is packaged together but contain several individual UPC codes. Some stores will allow you to use 1 coupon for each individual UPC code.

Meal Planning

The absolute go-to for saving money on groceries is planning meals. If you do NOTHING else, plan your meals. Knowing what you're fixing alleviates the need to "pick something up" or go out to eat, and allows you to buy the things you actually need, not what you think you need.

Try to plan your meals around the sale items.

Overstock your pantry and freezer. There are certain ingredients you use all the time, like hamburger. If you find it one sale, but only need 2 pounds this week, buy 4 pounds and freeze the other two for future use.

Cook once, eat twice meals are fantastic. Doing this allows you to "thin" your ingredients into 2 meals and avoids the groans of "We're eating that again?" Get creative — roasted chicken with carrots and potatoes on Tuesday; Chicken noodle soup on Wednesday.

Following these tips for saving at the grocery store can potentially save you up to 40% on your monthly grocery bill.

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