Welcome to 31 Days:The No Spend Month. If you are just joining me for the first time, you may want to start on Day 1.
I know this is the third day I’ve spent on saving money in our grocery budget but after talking to many moms, I believe it is one of the easiest ways we can make a dent in our family budgets.
While I worked to bring our grocery budget down over the last couple of years, I really honed my knowledge of food product pricing. I know when an apple has a great price and when to pass.
It’s valuable knowledge if you are willing to put in a little time over your next couple grocery trips. Here’s a printable Price List to get you started. On it, make a list of the most common foods you buy, the size of each and the price. Calculate the cost per ounce or pound and keep this on hand.
When you grocery shop, you can reference it to see how products compare. When you find a cheaper brand or size, a sale or coupon, you can update your Price List to reflect the lowest cost option. Once you’ve kept track of this for a few months, you’ll start to memorize the best prices.
Organic vs. Non-Organic
I buy organic meat, milk, eggs, flour, sugar and produce listed on the Dirty Dozen. I also choose the organic version for foods that are derived from these products such as chicken broth or diced tomatoes.
I choose organic bread when available (see Discount Stores), otherwise we have 100% whole wheat (no HFCS). Because I shop at Trader Joe’s, many other products I purchase are organic, although I don’t insist on it.
To save money, I buy conventional fruits and veggies for anything listed on the Clean Fifteen. Milk is the only dairy product that I buy organic as I haven’t found an organic dairy product that we like and at a price I am willing to pay.
Coupons and Sales
It is true that many of the coupons available are for processed and junky food but you can regularly find coupons for wholesome foods. The only reason I shop at stores other than TJ’s is to save money using coupons as both Whole Foods and Safeway allow you to use up to 2 coupons per product: a store coupon + a manufacturer coupon.
I follow several blogs and manufacturers that post coupons for foods that we buy, here are just a few:
- Gluten Freely Frugal – coupons for gluten-free foods
- Mambo Sprouts – coupons for natural and organic foods
- Whole Foods – coupons good for use eat Whole Foods only
- Organic Deals – coupons and deals for natural and organic products
- Earthbound Farms – regularly posts coupons for their organic produce
- Pacific Foods – coupons for their organic broths and soups
One other way that I save money at grocery stores is to take advantage of sales by stocking up. For example, the cheese I regularly buy is on sale Buy 1, Get 1 Free so I would buy 4-6 packs, enough for my family for several months until that great sale price comes up again. I follow this same principle on household and personal care items as well, such as toilet paper or tampons.
Buying in Season
The primary reason I buy produce in season is because it typically costs less. We don’t eat apples in the summer because organic apples in July are $2-$3 per pound. We start eating them again around October when they are less than $1 per pound.
The same follows with grapes and oranges and many other fruits and vegetables. Again, a Price List is helpful here.
I occasionally buy groceries online when they are a better price than I can buy locally. Both Amazon and Vitacost.com offer competitive prices and free shipping. You can get a free $10 Vitacost credit here to try it out.
Tomorrow I’ll share 5 more tips on saving in the grocery budget and then we’ll move on to other topics!
What about you? Any grocery shopping tips you have to share? What are your favorite places to find coupons?