Monday, July 27, 2009

Cutting Your Grocery Bill - The Series - Episode 7

Here's another tip from my Post article:

When a food item you use often is at the lowest price you've seen, stock up! If chicken breasts drop to $1.49 a pound or your favorite macaroni and cheese mix is offered for $.25, buy as much as you can afford. Review the grocery ads every week and look for rock-bottom prices.

Every week, grocery stores have what is commonly called "loss leaders." These are the items that the store is offering to you at their cost or below. The idea is to bring you into the store to get these amazing deals, and while you're there, you will purchase the rest of your grocery needs. However, as the savvy shopper that you are (or are becoming), you won't fall into this trap, will you?

As you look at the ads, note these items that are at rock-bottom prices. I've seen boneless, skinless chicken breasts for as little as $1.17 a pound, 4-pound bags of sugar for .99, pork loins (sliced to your specifications free) for $1.28 a pound, and many other similar deals. If something is at the lowest price you've seen (or seen in some time), you should stock up on as much as you can afford and can use between now and the time it goes on sale again. You might not need 20 lbs. of chicken breasts right now, but maybe that will supply you with chicken breasts for the next 2-3 months!

What I generally do is keep a list of the items that I need to keep my kitchen stocked, as well as any ingredients I need for the week's menu plan. I assess how much I need to spend on those items, and then I take what is left of my budget and decide how much of the bargains I can buy. Recently, chicken breasts were $1.48 a pound. I found that I had $13 available in my budget to spend on the chicken, so I bought 5 packages that added up to $12.98. I won't use all 5 packages this week, but that will give me chicken for several meals. This week, I've spent a little money (though not much) on Kool-Aid. It is on sale at my local HyVee store for .05 a packet, and I have managed to acquire 4 of the coupons for "Save $2.00 on sugar with the purchase of 10 Kool-Aid packets." So by spending a total of $2.00 on Kool-Aid packets, I've managed to get 40 packets of Kool-Aid AND 16 lbs. of sugar. All that for $2?? That's a deal! I've also bought several containers of Dannon yogurt. It's on sale 10/$1.90 at HyVee, and I have $1/10 coupons - so .90 for 10 yogurt. Deal!

The basic idea is to have a constant supply of food on hand, and have it all have been very inexpensive. If you have coupons that match up with the rock-bottom prices, you will do even better with your budget! And then when things get a little tight, you can probably cut the amount you spend on food for a time without feeling the pinch - you will have a nicely supplied kitchen and a generous stockpile. This month, I've cut my spending to $50 a week, and I've been doing fine, and still taking advantage of the best deals.

I do tend to go to a couple of different grocery stores to pick up the loss leaders, but I know that isn't something many people want to do, or have time to do. If this is the case, you can take your grocery ads to Wal-Mart SuperCenter OR SuperTarget for an ad-match. Unless it's a brand specific to your grocer, you can get all the deals in one location. I don't have a SuperTarget close enough to me (it's less gas for me to go to 3-4 stores than drive 30 minutes to it!), and I hate shopping at Wal-Mart, so I prefer to visit the stores. I especially like HyVee because they are so friendly there! My Price Chopper is extremely unfriendly, especially when you try to use coupons, but I do go there for loss leaders. I enjoy knowing that they didn't really make a profit from my visit. :-D Yep, I'm a little warped!

It's not easy to change how you shop in order to stockpile like this, but even a few dollars a week can save you lots in the long run. I won't be buying sugar for some time with the deals I've gotten this week, and I'm very well supplied with chicken breasts and lovely pork chops. By buying items at their lowest prices, we eat VERY well on less in a month than a lot of people spend in a week! You can, too

Have you gotten any great deals lately that made you stock up?? Tell us about them....

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