My tips for saving on groceries

With all the unexpected and expected rise in costs recently, I have been getting creative about how to pinch pennies without compromising my horse spending.  In the past few weeks, I have cut down a weekly grocery bill of about $150 to between $60-100.  There are a few big things that contribute to that.

Coupons
I suggest you immediately subscribe to http://www.groceryalerts.ca/ I have found them to be very useful, they send out EVERY online coupon you can use in Canada.  Many of the sites they will link you to, will actually print out and mail the coupons to you FOR FREE.  Some you must print yourself.  But don’t waste your time or energy, only print or request coupons for products you know you are going to use.  Don’t buy something with a coupon because you have the coupon, take the coupon because you buy the item!  Coupon temptation is strong.

Free samples
Again, go to http://www.groceryalerts.ca/ because they also send you lists of free samples.  YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE what I get in the mail these days.  Sometimes I address them to Lee because its like Christmas for him, and he loves it was all free.  Yesterday, I got 3 samples of different laundry soaps (theres our laundry done this week!) the week before I got a free Men’s razor for Lee (not the cheapie one either, a fancy 5 blade replaceable head one) and 30 days free of wrinkle cream… not that I need it yet, but why not share! And on a regular basis, I get a box the size of a shoebox filled with free things like dusting cloths, granola bars, haircare, more laundry detergent etc.  Find the box at http://www.pgbrandsampler.ca/.  The most generous sample givers are cleaning and hygiene products.

Shop around without shopping around
It used to be that you would have to visit every store in town to get the best deals (a trick I learned from my father) but no need to waste gas or time anymore! Price match is perhaps where I have my deepest vault of tips.  Where do I start? 

  1. Take the time to really read the flyer’s.  Half an hour out of your day could be 40% off your grocery bill.  I actually worked it out by nit picking my receipt after the fact.  I saved 40% by price matching.  That’s $60 off my regular bill.  Does your work pay you $120 an hour?  Your time is worth it.
  2. Go to the fanciest store that does price matching.  I go to superstore.  For one, its closest to my house, but that’s not where the most value is.  I find their produce is the best offered in our town, although it is more expensive.  So what do I do?  PRICE MATCH!  Beautiful large head of lettuce = $1.99, nope, get that for $0.88 thank you very much food basics.  Not only is the size doubled of those at food basics, but if its fresher, it will last longer and you wont be throwing your money to the rabbit with wilty lettuce.  This is my most brilliant cheat. You can still do this with weighed produce also, while you don’t benefit from the size difference, you still have better quality produce that lasts much longer (and often tastes better!).
  3. Don’t stock up.  Stocking up is almost completely unnecessary these days.  So many of the items you use on a regular basis will be on sale somewhere almost every week.  You will really start to notice this now that you spend that half hour going through the flyer’s.  Also, I know from my experience, you may stock up on something with all sorts of good intentions to eat it, then it hides in the back of the freezer until it gets freezerburned and you find it a year later.
  4. Make a list, then pick your price matching from the list.  What do you need?  Get only what you need, don’t worry about the sales.  Just take your list find the lowest price in the flyer’s, and go!  This keeps you out of trouble when you are in the store because you have a plan, you don’t get as easily distracted by deceiving sale signs or junky food you don’t need.  Also, your plan will keep you making healthy choices and get out of the store faster!  I even break my list up by flyer’s so when I am putting it on the belt, its much faster and more organized. 
  5. If you really want to go above and beyond, keep a spreadsheet of what you pricematch.  That way, when you are going through flyer’s again next week, you can decide what IS a good deal and what ISNT

Read labels
This week we bought mouthwash.  Lee reached for the Listerine at $6.99 and I reached for the knockoff at $2.49.  We read the ingredients and %ages (medicinal ingredients) and of course, they were the exact same.  Lee was in utter shock of this!  Another example this week was vitamins. One had 500mg of active ingredient and said to take 2x day 100 capsules, the other at the same price was 1000mg once a day and 80 capsules.  Do the math!

Rainy Days
Take advantage of rain checks if they offer it.  If its a REALLY good deal, take more advantage of it.  Usually there is a limit to how many they give you.  We came up with this idea just in the last month when Lee got a rain check for 6 x1L chocolate milk at $0.88 each. Those 6L only lasted a few days with Lee (I had a whole 2 cups of milk!)  I told him he should have gone in every day to get a rain check.  Then every week we take a different one, we could fill our fridge with chocolate milk!  If you are really lucky, the customer service agent may not even check to see they have run out, its like a free coupon you can use any time!

Being diligent is so worth it!  Good luck shopping 🙂

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