Look at the savings circulars the supermarkets send out — all of them — to see what's on sale where. Plan your menu around what they've got on sale. Note that many supermarkets have them available online and you can search by zip code.
Did you know they make shopping carts bigger and bigger because people feel like they need to fill them up? Before you go to the store, make a list based on the menu you created, and do your best to stick to it.
If you see a great sale on something, don't be afraid to make a change to your meal plan. But that's the key: It has to be a change, not an addition.
Did you know that buying a whole chicken is almost half the price of buying the store's precut, prepackaged chicken pieces?
If you have to buy something from the butcher, ask what free services they offer. How many times have you passed on an inexpensive dinner idea because you just don't have the kind of time it takes to prep the meat? Many butchers provide a lot of these services for free — trimming fat, tenderizing meat, breaking down a large roast so you can freeze part of it. It doesn't directly save you money, but it may make you more likely to invest in cheaper items.
If fresh items like bread, cheese, produce or milk are getting close to their expiration date, ask for a discount. Chances are it would be on sale tomorrow anyway.
The aisle caps are where grocery stores display their more expensive items. Even when they're on sale, there's probably a cheaper brand on the regular aisle.
Often the "store brand" is made by the same company as another name brand. In many cases, they're just as good as the name brand for half the price.
How is that a shopping tip? Easy. Dried beans are cheaper than the canned stuff and ridiculously easy to make in your slow cooker. The same may apply to things like chicken stock, peanut butter, bread, cookies, butter, whipped cream and more, depending on the brand you typically buy. Those spice blends are the worst offenders — especially if you already keep a pretty well-stocked spice rack.
Check online stores for deals on things you buy frequently, like paper goods or nonperishable food items. You may have to buy in bulk, but if you're going to use it anyway, you'll still save in the long run.
Red meat is expensive. Stick to what's on sale, and consider buying less-desirable cuts (like flank steak). It's all in the preparation, so learning some great recipes will ensure your tougher steak isn't a workout for your jaws. Or buy in bulk when it's on sale, and freeze part of it.
Prewashed and cut veggies, cooked meats, packaged guacamole... Not only are they probably not as good as you could make yourself, but you're paying someone else to do that work. If you like the convenience, set aside a couple of hours on the weekend to do the prep yourself so it's ready when you are.
Foods that are in season are plentiful, therefore cheaper. Also, you can often get really great deals (on better, local produce) at the farmers market.
It's fun to experiment with exotic flavors (especially since many international cuisines make excellent use of cheaper meat cuts we don't often think of in the U.S.), but buying things like garam masala in the supermarket is expensive. If you can find an international grocer that focuses on a particular region, not only will you probably get "the good stuff," but you'll have access to far more exotic ingredients and may even find great deals on stuff readily available in the U.S. My local Asian market sells fresh corn for less than my Kroger.
Buy a Brita or a Pur or similar filtration system, get some reusable bottles, and make your own. It's better for the environment and your pocketbook. Besides, half the time it's not any better than what Brita could do anyway.
They want you to buy stuff you don't need, and it's not always easy to say no, especially if there's the possibility of a meltdown.
Herb gardens are fun and easy. Seriously. And they don't cost an arm and a leg. You can also just pop the last couple of inches of green onions into a jar filled with water (change it every couple of days) and regrow them.
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