Thursday, May 6, 2010

How to save money on groceries

No matter how much of our own food we grow, there still seems to be a long list of things we need to buy at the grocery store.

We don’t strive to eat as cheaply as possible (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, our goal is to dine on the best quality food possible within the budget we can afford. I pride myself on being a savvy food shopper.

Here are some tips on how to reduce your grocery bill:

1. Check your store’s flyer (print or on-line) and make a list of what’s on sale that you can use.

2. Also scan competitor store flyers. Some stores price match upon request if you bring in the competition’s flyer. Others price match many of the competitor’s prices by also reducing those prices that week.

3. Know a good price when you see one by keeping a notebook list of items you commonly buy (known as a "price book"). After a few weeks of listing prices from your grocery receipt, you will have a good feel for how prices fluctuate.

4. Change your focus from what you will eat this week to what you can buy for a good price this week. Then stock up on those items to last you several weeks (unless it’s a perishable). If you keep a price book, you will have a better idea of how often a sale on certain items cycle through. Buy enough to get you through to the next sale.

5. Different size packages can often make price comparisons difficult. Look for the price per unit tags. They are usually on the bottom half of the shelf price tag, and are in very, very tiny print. This information shows the price per milliliter or kilogram for each item.

6. Play the store’s game. Can you go shopping during the one day a month they offer ten per cent off? Can you buy $250 worth of things at once in order to receive a $25 store gift card? Do you get price reduction coupons for using the store’s pharmacy or gas bar?

7. Keep store and manufacturer coupons organized. I highlight the expiry dates, and keep them in category and date order in a small dollar store accordion file.

8. Make sure you have the loyalty card for the stores where you shop most often. This can earn discounts on individual products, or a larger discount on your total bill when you reach a certain level of points. I saved over $500 last year using loyalty card points.

What are your grocery shopping secrets?

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