The food budget is usually the 3rd largest budget item (housing and transportation are the other two). If you want to save 30-40% off your food budget, consider using the Combination Techniques offered here. There are many ways to save money on your food budget above and beyond clipping paper coupons. In fact, I rarely use paper coupons anymore because it is much faster to upload eCoupons to loyalty cards that are automatically deducted at checkout. However, when I can get items for free by matching coupons with sales, I will clip only those paper coupons. There are nine other steps that you can use to save money.
When you have everything set up, it only takes 15-20 minutes before you do your grocery shopping. I do my primary grocery shopping once a month and make “pit stops” at farmers markets, fish mongers, butchers, etc., as needed.
The more steps you include BEFORE you purchase anything, the more money you can save. You do not have to use all 10 steps; however, the more steps you include BEFORE you purchase anything, the more money you can save.
I will provide the checklist that I created as I started researching different methods to use to decrease the amount of money I spent on my food budget. Throughout the 10-Step Supermarket Combination Technique process, I will provide many examples of rewards programs, ways to stack savings, and a host of other tips and tricks. My point in providing so much information is to get your grey cells working so that you know what text to use with search engines as you find different companies, methods, ways to stack savings, etc. When you find what works best for you, you will need to customize the checklist that I provide to fit the information that you will use. Then, just adjust your checklist as you find other methods or companies that work even better.
The first suggestion, which is not part of the Combination Technique, is to minimize food waste. Find ways to stop throwing food away.
Below Are All of the Steps
- THE Most Valuable Save $$ Tool
- Create a Useful Menu
- Buy Local
- Know Where to Go
- Loss Leaders and Sales Cycles
- Create a Grocery List from Your Menu
- Use Gas Advantage Programs
- Let Manufacturers Help Increase Your Savings
- Other Ways to Increase Savings
- Pay the Best Way
If you can save 30-40% of the amount that you normally spend on food, do you think it is worth 15-20 minutes before buy your groceries? It takes time to get set up; however, you only need to get things set up one time. The steps below are just one combination of tips and tricks that you can use to spend less on food. You do not have to use all 10 steps; however, every step you include BEFORE you spend any money on food, the more money you will save.
There is no way around this. The only way you can know if an item is really a good price is if you know what the price is on a regular basis. Store managers spend a large part of their budgets learning what makes their customers tick. With that information, they have the ability to encourage shoppers to spend more money.
If you choose to learn no other tip offered throughout this website, this one tip, by itself, will help you to save money. Learn how to know the actual prices per unit so you can tell real sales from implied sales.
A menu saves money because you can plan ahead, work seasonal fruits & veggies into your daily meals, and work in ways to use leftovers. Changing the menu seasonally provides lots of variety, which keeps things interesting all year long. Include a variety of healthy recipes and as you find recipes that you and your family like better, replace some of the existing recipes. After all, a menu is only a series of guidelines and not rules.
3. Buy Local
Buying food locally is another tip to save money on your food budget because it eliminates all of the middlemen. Another of those win/win situations that I like so much is when you eliminate transportation from different states and countries, you also help the environment. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and Buying Clubs (Co-Ops) are also options to save money on your food budget.
Variety is the spice of life. Although including ethical and regional foods to your menu is not about saving money. I could not help but add this information to this section. Every area throughout the world has different varieties of foods. I even build memories into my menu by including recipes that I have gotten from people during many of my travels.
Although you can get all the items by going to a supermarket, consider some other suggestions for various types of foods, which can all be cheaper than at supermarkets. Consider farmers markets, fishmongers, dollar stores, butchers, bakeries, and supermarkets. If making all those stops in one day is too much, plan on stopping at some of them on the way home from work on several nights (keeping in mind supermarket sales cycles, which are one week in duration). Check the prices at the dedicated smaller vendors before you go to the supermarket.
A study published by Marketing Science Institute stated that many shoppers who stop off at a grocery store “just to pick up 1-2 items” usually purchase 54% more than they had planned. Supermarket managers bank on that concept. In fact, they gamble by using “Loss Leaders” (several food items they put on a 3-4-day sale and the items are actually less than what they pay for the items). Why? Because they know that once a potential customer enters their store, that person will almost always buy more products. Those additional items will pay for the Loss Leaders.
You now know the regular prices, you created a menu, you know that buying local save money, you know what stores you will go to, and you know what items will be on sale. The next step is to make a grocery list.
Many gasoline stations have gas advantage programs designed to encourage you to use their stations. Although programs are most likely free to join, many of the programs are regional throughout the United States. Therefore, before you provide any information, click on their links to find participating gas stations. Each program works a little differently; however, the end result is usually getting cents of gasoline. Therefore, if any of the programs are in the region where you live, it is another way to save money or get free items.
Another way to increase your savings is to focus only on the items on your shopping list. One way that many people end up spending more money is when they get sidetracked by those RED and YELLOW sales tags. Have you ever been in a supermarket when something caught your attention and you thought something like: “gee, that sounds good” or “I have not had that in ages” and then bought that/those item(s)?
Although I am not really big on clipping coupons, I do use them when I can quickly and easily combine store sales with manufacturer coupons. Even then, although I like free items, I only want to spend a minimal amount of time to get those free items. As with other tasks, there are multiple steps you need to take to get things set up. After that, it becomes automatic. As much as possible, I like to set things up on “autopilot”. This is one step that you can do that with.
History is repeating itself again. As has happened many times throughout history, one merchant takes a chance with a new idea while other merchants sit on the sidelines and watch to find out if the idea will work before they get on board. Clearly customers jumped on board with this concept because more retailers are offering this service. This tip might not be for everyone; however, it’s worth looking into this option.
Another way to increase your savings is by ordering at least some of your groceries online and then picking them up at the store. You realize additional savings by logging into a cash back or rewards program that networks with the supermarkets and grocery stores that you use.
10. Pay the Best Way
This tip only works if you use a credit card that pays rewards points for food purchases and you pay your credit card bill in full each month. Do you know if any of your credit cards pay double rewards points for everyday purchases such as food and gasoline?
Some credit card companies will pay double rewards points for everyday purchases such as groceries and gasoline. Pay the best way by using a credit card that rewards you for purchasing groceries; hopefully double rewards points. At the very least, use a credit card that pays single points or cash back on groceries.
A checklist simply helps to ensure that you maximize your savings as much as possible by briefly recapping all of the steps. You do not need to use all the steps. Only the steps that you can use.
If you found the information throughout this 10-Step Supermarket Combination Technique helpful, check back to my website periodically. I am in the process of including all the Combination Techniques that I use for Entertainment & Dining Out, Online Purchasing, Travel & Vacations, and Gasoline & Utility Bills into separate books. When they are complete, I will make them available in the eBooks section.