Thursday, June 12, 2014

winning the grocery store game part 2

Feeding a family on a budget is not an easy task. In part 1 avoiding the impulse buy we covered the added expense that can happen when you get caught up in impulse shopping. Part 2 is all about shopping the sales and planning menus around sale items.

What's for dinner? The answer usually lies in what's on sale this week.

Combine the sale items with a well stocked pantry and you have the ability to feed a family well on a small amount of money.

It is hard for me to create a meal using ingredients bought at full price. The bargain hunter inside of me comes out screaming and kicking.  A big portion of feeding my family on a budget is not paying full price. These are some of the tricks I use to keep the family happily fed.     

1. Know the sale cycles and buy multiple items to last until the next sale. It is typically 2 months between good stock up sales for most items. For example, my local store gets pasta on sale with those deals that go something like this... Buy 6 save $3 with your card.  It can lead to substantial savings. This last sale the pasta ended up being 49 cents a piece. I bought 24 of them. It cost me $11.76. The everyday price for this particular pasta was $1.39, I saved 90 cents a package which made a total of $21.60 saved. With pasta on hand I can make casseroles, pasta dishes, soups, salads etc.  I also use pasta from the pantry to make our Homemade mac and cheese for a quick lunch.

If you notice, the pasta is rarely on sale at the same time as the pasta sauce. They do this on purpose. Most of the time you will pick up the pasta on sale and then buy the sauce at full price to go with it. You can outsmart them. Buy the pasta when it is on sale, and few weeks later when the sauce is on sale stock up on it. I have learned to pick up each of the individual pieces for a meal when they are on sale. Very rarely (if ever) do I pick up all the things for a complete meal in one shopping trip. This little trick alone saves me tons of money.

It takes some time to build up a pantry, but the results are worth it. You can begin by setting aside a small portion of the grocery budget every week to add to your "Stockpile fund" When the deals come along you will have some money set aside to take advantage of them.

2. Get to know your grocery ads.  Grocery stores often plaster a good deal on the front page of the ad trying to get you into the store, once they lure you in, they snag you with an impulse buy which we have already covered in part 1. So, now you know how to avoid being caught by their snares, be sure to check out those front page deals and use them to your advantage.

Let me tell you a little secret.... I have come to find out that the best deals are not always so easy to see. I have been surprised as I have looked at the ads and found gems hidden in small print in the middle pages of the grocery ads. Be sure to check out the entire ad not just those deals that are being "sold" to you on the front page in large print.  I used to just glance over the ads and often would miss those hidden gems. It is worth my time to check out the entire ad. Once I have seen the ad and gone over it, I make a list highlighting the deals. Once I have compiled a list of the good deals, I put a star by those things that I may want to stock up on if the budget allows.

3. Combining sales with coupons can lead to great savings. This is the only way to coupon. This is the way the great couponers have made their mark. Couponing can turn everyday sales into super sales.  I always check the ads, then I check to see if coupons are available for the items on my list. With coupons that you can print at home, and companies that allow you to load coupons right to your shoppers card, there is no reason to not take advantage of coupon savings. There are also coupon apps that you can use on your smart phones. You do not need to be a total coupon freak, but having a few couponing skills can really pay off for you.

A full cup is a great online resource for knowing if there is a coupon available for products that you want to buy.  You can use their advanced coupon search to see if there is a coupon available.  I also use grocery smarts as a couponing source. Many of my local stores are listed and they make it easy to find the coupons that go with the ads. Knowing what is on sale and what coupons are available to match can really save you money. The time spent is well worth it.

So, spend a little time, get out and learn some new skills. Make the advertised sales work to your advantage. With a little time and effort you will be putting money back in your pockets. 

What are your best tips for stockpiling and finding sale items?
Leave a comment below so we can all learn.   


  1. More great tips! I have been couponing for 5 years and I have such a stockpile of pasta and spaghetti sauce that I know that I don't have to get it until it is under $0.25 each! It is the hard time when you run out and you are looking at the shelves at the grocery store saying that you just can't pay $1 for that box of pasta that you know will be on sale soon enough and you could get way more for that price!! I have been working really hard to use up all of the stuff in the pantry and freezer for the last few months and my amount out of pocket very low which I have accomplished (only $133.95 for the last three months). Of course that means that we are going to get to the end of things and I have to go back around to replacing them but I will be searching for sales to do so :) I hope that others take your advice and learn that even if they don't want to coupon, they can still save a ton with getting things on sale.

  2. Great ideas! I'm much the same way, buying things that are on sale and then later on using them in a meal. We grow our own meat so we only have to buy the ingredients for the side dishes. Thank you for sharing this at the HomeAcre Hop; I hope you'll join us again this Thursday.
    Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead

  3. Great tips! Thanks for linking up.
    God bless,

  4. Thanks for sharing these great tips with SYC. Now that it's just hubby and I don't have to watch things quite as much, but when I had 5 kids at home I really watched the sales, bought things at good prices, and clipped coupons. You really can save. It takes a bit of work and time, but worth it!

  5. Great tips - I do watch the sales - my daughters keep me up to date - they live closer to the stores! I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,