The food budget is usually the 3rd largest budget item (housing and transportation are the other two). If you want to EASILY save 20-35% 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 10-15 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. And – yes – in many cases, food items are cheaper at individual shops! Many people are unaware of that; however, history is beginning to repeat itself and the Power of the Consumer is once again forcing this to happen (see more details for that in the History section of Save Money).
The more steps you include BEFORE you purchase anything, the more you can tame the chaos and 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. Below are the 10 steps. If you click on each link, you will find detailed information regarding how you can incorporate that / those step(s) BEFORE you make a food item purchase.
- THE Most Important Save $$ Tool
- Create a Useful Menu
- Buy Local
- Know Where to Go
- Loss Leaders and Sales Cycles
- Make a Grocery List
- Fuel Rewards Network
- Determine Free Items
- Another Way to Earn Points
- Pay the Best Way
If you can save 20-25% of the amount that you normally spend on food, do you think it is worth 10-15 minutes before buy your groceries? It takes time to get set up; however, when you find your own groove, you will be able to reduce the time you spend grocery shopping to every other week” & “and only getting perishable items in the interim, as needed.
The steps below are just one combination of tips and tricks that you can use. Every step you add saves even more money.
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. Merchant managers (this goes for all businesses and is not only relative to food) spend a large part of their budgets learning what makes their customers tick so that they can use that info to encourage shoppers to spend more of their hard earned money.
A menu saves money because you can plan ahead and work seasonal fruits and veggies into your daily meals. 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
Learn where farmers markets are located around your home. If you do not know where farmers markets are in your area, check out this reference from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Farmers Markets.
Although you can get all the items by going to a supermarket, consider the following suggestions for the various types of foods, which are all cheaper than a supermarket. You can build stopping at the various categories into your shopping trips: farmers markets, fishmongers, roadside stands, 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 and using the technique in the 1st step of the 10 Step Supermarket Combination Technique will make you a savvy shopper.
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) because they know that once they get a potential customer into their establishment, that person will almost always buy more food items and they make up the difference with the additional items. The next tip that you will find very useful is how to use “Loss Leaders” to your own benefit. This one takes willpower.
Goal: to reduce the number of times you go to a supermarket for three reasons:
Reduces the number of times that you will be submersed in a plethora of psychographics, subterfuge, and come-ons
Saves on vehicle wear & tear and gasoline
Organize your list by PRODUCE, DAIRY, FREEZER, MEAT, and MISC. (the 5 major categories in which most supermarkets are organized with miscellaneous being the shelves). You can further define your grocery list so it fits your needs.
This is a FREE loyalty program that rewards you for purchasing things that you get regularly such as shopping online, dining out, supermarket purchases, using eCoupons, referring family, friends, and co-workers to this great program. The more you use the Fuel Rewards program, the more money that is deducted from the cost of a gallon of gasoline as you fill put gas in your car!
All you need to do is to link the credit cards that you use to this program so that when you pay at the register, your rewards are automatically calculated. Then, when you put gasoline in your car, you simply swipe your Fuel Rewards Network card BEFORE you put gasoline in your car and the rewards you have accumulated will be deducted from each gallon of gasoline.
Please consider using the links provided here so that I get referral credits (rather than typing the URL into a web browser search field). This will not affect your savings in any way; however, I will receive referral credits that I can use to realize my own goal/dream, which is to supplement my retirement social security check so that I can continue to be “Traveling Nana”.
Focus only on the items on your shopping list. This is one area where people lose sight and get bogged down with thoughts such as: “gee, that sounds good” or “I have not had that in ages, sounds like it would be fun”, etc.
Right now, the ball is in the court of customers who want to save money by ordering some of their groceries online and picking them up at the store. This tip might not be for everyone; however, it is worth looking into this option.
Another way to earn extra points or cash back that most people do not consider is to purchase some of the items on your grocery list online. Have the items shipped to the supermarket or drugstore where you will be going to avoid paying shipping fees.
10. Pay the Best Way
Disclaimer: This tip ONLY works to your benefit when you pay your credit card in full EVERY MONTH. If you cannot pay the credit card in full every month, then use your debit card or checking account and consider making this option a goal for future so you will be able to eventually use this tip to your advantage.
Use a credit card that accumulates double points for day-to-day products and services (such as groceries). At the very least, use a credit card that pays single points or cash back on groceries.
TAKE ACTION #1: Read through each of the steps above to learn the many ways that you can save money. Revise the steps that you like the best to fit your needs
TAKE ACTION #2: Create checklists so you are sure to include the all of the steps