Want to keep your food costs low even during these times of rising costs? Stick to these rules: 1) Set a budget and 2) Never pay full price.
I know you hate the word “budget.” So do I. And we need to get over it. All it means is that we decide ahead of time how much we will spend on food for the week (or month) and stick to it. And when that amount runs out, we stop buying.
The second rule means you must stop buying anything that is not on sale and I mean really on sale, not just labeled “Special” which means it might not be on sale at all. If you are careful to do this, you will easily bring your food costs down to what they were a decade ago. And you’ll eat well, too.
The first rule is easy. Do it now. Determine how much you will spend to feed yourself and your family per week. Now take the portion of that you are allotting to groceries (as opposed to fast food, restaurants, school lunches and so on) and place that amount of cash in an envelope marked “Groceries.” When it’s gone, it’s gone until the next fill up.
The second rule is going to take some work. You have a choice for how to find what’s on sale in your supermarket(s) before you get there so you can make a list. And don’t worry. If you shop at a typical U.S. supermarket there will be great sales in every category you can think of—healthy choices in the produce, dairy and meat aisles.
You can collect the weekly printed ad for your store(s) of choice and use that as your guide. Or visit any number of websites that will have this kind of information organized and categorized for you; sites like SavingsAngel (membership fee required) and GrocerySmarts (free). Don’t assume these sites are flawless. They often miss the all-important unadvertised sales and don’t always get all of the chain-wide sales either. Consider them a general guide to what’s on sale.
That’s it. Just two rules. And before you have time to object to the idea of “cheap and healthy” occurring in the same sentence let me give you a sampling of what’s on sale in my supermarket right now as I write: Foster Farms Split Chicken Breasts, $.88 a pound (50 percent off regular price of $1.69); fresh blueberries $1.50 for 6 ounces (70 percent off the regular price of $4.99); Haas avocados $.77 each (62 percent off regular price of $1.99 each) and that’s just a tiny start. I’ll be you can guess what’s going in my freezer this week. At that price for chicken, I plan to stock up.
It is with a lot of sadness that I must let you know that after 16 years, my beloved TheGroceryGame.com has closed its doors. Quite possibly the most reliable resource for matching coupons with grocery sales in all of the major supermarkets—including unadvertised sales—TGG has been my personal grocery shopping companion for all of these years. I wish founder and owner, Teri Gault, the very best. It’s hard to keep good people down, so I’m anxious to know what her future holds.
In the meantime, I look forward to your feedback on resources and sites you are using to supercharge your grocery savings—and reviews for those of you who decide to test SavingsAngel. I’m quite curious to see how that site compares with TGG.