This guest post was originally published on BeltwayBargainMom.com. We hope it helps you out, and that if it does, you subscribe to Laura Harders' blog posts for more money-saving tips each week!
I know most of you reading my blog are regular coupon-users, but I wanted to share some simple tips on ways you can save at the grocery store besides couponing. This post may also be helpful for those of you who are new to couponing and want to find ways to save money now as you gradually learn the ropes of “extreme couponing.” For those of you seasoned savers and savvy shoppers: I’m sure you’ve heard these tips from other frugal folks before, and there is nothing below that is a shocking, new discovery in the land of grocery store savings, by any means. But hopefully this will help some of you put on your thinking caps on how you can save even more money at the grocery store in addition to regular coupon use.
Ten tips to save more money on your grocery shopping trips:
- Make a list and stick to it! To avoid impulse buys, create a meal plan and grocery list at home based on deals featured in the weekly circular or on frugal blogs/coupon forums. Take your list with you to the store and stick to it (an exception I make to this is purchasing “quickly reduced” items… see #9).
- Buy less prepared foods. For example, buying a small bagged salad will usually cost you much more than buying a head of lettuce, some tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, etc. You may not have quite the same convenience factor, but you will save money.
- Be willing to go generic, try new brands and put aside your brand loyalty/bias. Yes, I know it may be hard to “leave your loyalty at the door” initially, but think of it as a way to be adventurous and try new things with your main goal being: saving money. I will stock up on name brand items when there is a really good sale and/or coupon that brings that item price down to my “price point.” However, when my stock pile runs out and I want to purchase that item to use for a meal during the week, I’ll buy that item at ALDI (discount grocery store) or buy generic at another store. For example, a jar of Peanut Butter at my local ALDI is $1.29. This week Safeway has a deal on Skippy Peanut Butter for $2 each. If there were any Skippy coupons available (which I don’t believe there are…there was one from the 1/31/10 Red Plum but it expired on 2/28/10) I would buy these if the coupon made it less than my regular ALDI price.
- Learn the different store policies. Find out the return policies, reusable bag policies, coupon policies, rain check policies, price-matching policies, etc. for your favorite or most frequently visited stores. Many, but not all, grocery stores in the DC metro area double manufacturer coupons up to $0.99. Some stores accept a manufacturer coupon combined with a store coupon on the same item (this is called “stacking coupons” because normally you can only use one coupon per item you are purchasing). Some stores offer a small credit (like $0.05) toward your total grocery purchase if you bring your own re-usable tote. Most stores will accept returned items with an original receipt within a certain time frame (say 30-90 days).
- Sign up for your grocery store’s membership card and e-mail list. These are free to sign up for, and you need them to get the special sales price at many stores. For example, at Bloom this is the “Breeze Card”, at Bottom Dollar this is the “Membership Card”, at Giant this is the “Bonus Card”, at Harris Teeter this is the “VIC Card”, at Safeway this is the “Club Card” and at Wegmans this is the “Shoppers Club Card.” Also, sign up for email updates or special offers from the store.
Check back next Thursday for the rest of Laura's Tips!
Laura Harders lives in Prince William County and is a native Northern Virginian who loves to share ways to save. She runs the blog BeltwayBargainMom.com and teaches local Savings Nation coupon workshops. You can find Laura sharing tips & being social on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.