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Ways to shrink your grocery bill

It’s a financially tough time for many, if not all, of us. If you don’t get your local Sunday paper, it’s worth spending the $1.50 or so per week, just for the coupons. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great if you can be informed and actually read some of the paper, too, but the coupons and store circulars featuring weekly sales, can lead to big savings.

Before going grocery shopping, look over your supermarket’s circular. Ours is delivered to our mailbox each Thursday. (Circulars for other stores, including pharmacies, Kmart, Target, AC Moore, etc, are in the Sunday paper.) This week, I added some ‘Buy one, get one free’ (or BOGO) items to my shopping list and, in addition, clipped a coupon for the items. I got two boxes of frozen soft pretzels for less than the cost of one! Granted, these aren’t a necessary part of my kids diet but they love hot soft pretzels, and the only way I’ll buy them at this point is at a very reduced cost.

Also, you can pair store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons. I’ve been putting off buying an expensive moisturizer I need. This week, though, I’ll pair my ‘$3 off’ manufacturer’s coupon with an in-store coupon from Rite-Aid and save a nice little chunk of money.

If there are certain cosmetics you buy from the drug store such as mascara and lip gloss, or toiletries, such as a certain shampoo or conditioner, keep an eye out for BOGO sales and stock up. You can regularly find manufacturer’s coupons for these things and get those BOGO bargains for less than the cost of one!

Another way to save money on your grocery bill is to substitute store brands for name brands. You may not always be satisfied but it’s worth trying. I have found that for me, some things, like oatmeal, are easily substituted; I don’t ‘taste’ a difference. But when it comes to mayo, only Hellmann’s will do.

I have also switched to store branded medicines, both prescription and over the counter. Just look at the labels and the active ingredients are exactly the same!

I’m wishing I had an extra fridge or freezer to stock up on things like meats and frozen foods when they’re on sale. I plan two meals ‘in my head’ when buying ‘BOGO’ meats. If ground beef or turkey is the sale du jour, I plan to make spaghetti with meat sauce (or meatballs) one night, and tacos another night. If I’m not sure if I’ll use both packages in the near future, I freeze one.

I have yet to venture into the world of buying in bulk from places like BJ’s and Costco, but with three growing boys, I’m sure I’ll be looking into what kinds of savings I can find there (plus, larger quantities equal fewer trips to the store!). This kind of shopping may really require an extra freezer in the basement.

I’ll continue to keep an eye out for ways to be thrifty in these tough times, and always!

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