Money Saving Monday
Saving Money on Groceries

We all know that the cost of food can be a large portion of monthly expenses, but knowing how to cut those costs is another matter entirely. If you're like me, the thought of clipping coupons, organizing them, and keeping a running ledger of all grocery costs can seem a bit --daunting-- at first.

Luckily, coupons are just one way to help you cut your food costs. Here are some simple, easy steps to help you save money on groceries.

Before You Shop:

  • {Make a Budget} -Many people have an initial dislike to the idea of a budget, but they are not meant to make you unhappy. Remember, -YOU- set the limit of your budget. It can be however high or low you feel is right for your financial situation. It's just a good idea to have a limit in mind when shopping so you can keep you and your bank account happy.  
  •  {Clip Coupons} - Clipping coupons used to be a long and tedious process that was seen as something only poor people do, but today that's absolutely not the case. Everyone should take advantage of coupons, and today they are easier to get than ever. You can still find manufacturer and local store coupons in your Sunday papers, and now you can go online to print them or even load them onto your grocery card. Here is a great online resource to get you started. 
There are so many free coupon websites out there that you should <NEVER> feel like you have to pay to have access to them. If you'd like {tips!} on how to organize your coupons, head over to A Thrifty Mom's website and see her method 
or check out Money Saving Mom's website for a different take

  • {Menu Plan}- If you have a family, this is a life-saving tool (or so I've been told) so I am getting into the habit now with just the two of us. I have found that as busy college students, planning what we are going to eat during the week removes a great deal of stress and allows me to go grocery chopping one time and take all the meat I need out of the freezer to thaw. If you don't know where to get started with menu planning, check out Laura's tips at
  • {Check Your Stock / Make a List} - Before you shop, you should always consult with your menu plan and check your fridge/freezer/pantry for the needed ingredients. You don't want to buy something you already have hidden somewhere. After you have checked your stores, you need to make a list. The hardest part, I find, is remembering to bring the list with you to the store!

 While You Shop:

  • {Don't Shop Hungry}- This is probably the most basic tip on this list, and yet it is so important. If you shop while you are hungry, you are just asking for those impulse buys of everything that looks good.
  • {Check Unit Pricing}- If there is one trick I have adopted over the past two years, it is checking unit pricing. On every food price tag (usually in the bottom left corner) there is a smaller print dollar or cents amount that is the price per unit. This unit can be per pound, per ounce, per liter etc. If you see two similar items on the shelf and you are trying to decide between the two, do not just pick up the one with the lower price. The overall cost might be less, but the price per unit could be higher. By comparing these unit prices you are able to see just how much "stuff" you're really getting for your money.
  • {Buy in Bulk} - Along the same lines as unit pricing, is the idea of buying in bulk. Usually, the more of a product you buy, the bigger your discount is (the lower the unit pricing). This is the whole reason stores like Sam's Club and Costco were invented, but you don't have to pay for a membership to buy some things in bulk. Even at your local grocery store you can buy things like meat in large quantities and freeze portions of it for later use. It was cost more initially, but will save you money over the coming weeks when you don't have to buy meat.
  • {Check Your Produce} - When you are in a hurry at the supermarket, it can be tempting to grab the first tomato or cucumber you see and move on, but there are many benefits to a few extra minutes in the produce aisles. If you buy the first peach or plum you pick up, you run the risk of it being bruised or overly ripe. This means that unless you plan on eating or using it quickly, you will have wasted your money. Take those few minutes to pick out quality fruits and vegetables. If there aren't any available, skip it if you aren't using it right away. 

After You Shop:

  • {Store Food Properly} - One of the easiest steps that is often overlooked in maximizing your groceries, is proper storage. Make sure that foods are stored in airtight containers, bread is away from hot, humid places that encourage mold growth, and that produce is stored properly and at the right temperature. 
  • {Freeze Extras}- After buying in bulk, you will need to separate out your meats or other items to be stored in the freezer. You need to freeze the extras in a timely fashion or they will spoil and be a waste. Make sure you freeze food in a protective fashion (with freezer paper or heavy duty tin foil) inside heavy freezer bags. These few extra steps save you time and money in the long run. Look for an upcoming tutorial on freezing extra meat! 
  • {Learn From the Past}- Life is all about learning and grocery shopping is no different. Meals are one of life's greatest pleasures and should not be tainted by frustrating shopping experiences. If something doesn't seem to be working for you, change it! Just because your mother or grandmother did their shopping and cooking one way doesn't mean you can't change it. You can change your routine over and over and over, in fact you SHOULD change it over time to better suit your needs. Experiment and go with what works for you!

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