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The truth of the matter is most of us will spend far more than we expect to this month. Despite the best laid plans it never fails. I always plan on sticking to a tight grocery budget and then get side tracked by all the ‘shiny’ delectable looking items in the store that look so darn yummy and appealing. I think about how nice they’ll look on my table and next thing you know I’m trying to replicate a scene right out of Martha Stewart’s Living and I’ve gone way beyond what my ideal Holiday grocery bill should be!
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Knowing how to save on groceries can save you a ton of money, particularly during the Holiday season. There are a few obvious savings you can make, but the real way how to save on groceries is to combine as many small savings as you can, rather than rely on one large saving strategy that will have limited scope. Here are a few ideas of the various grocery savings you can make in the run up to Christmas and the Holiday season to keep your budget in check!
Buy in Bulk
This is generally a good idea if you have the storage capacity. However, you have to be careful because some people save by buying in bulk, and find that they cannot consume all the perishables. Or that they have purchased so much at once that their long-term saving is in reality a short-term extra expense when they least can afford it. With that being said, if you have the space buying in bulk is the best thing to do for non-perishable items to save you in cost and convenience.
Coupons are always the big stand-by when people want to save money on groceries. However, only use coupons on products you would normally buy, otherwise you are not saving anything. Coupons are of particular use when your store offers ‘double-coupon’ days, but the same applies. Don’t purchase something just because of the coupon if you would not normally buy it.
Be familiar with your favorite stores coupon rules such as if they accept a competitor’s coupons and when.
Use Budget Stores
You may not like budget stores because the products are unbranded or are ‘foreign’. This is a strange attitude for somebody wanting to know how to save on groceries, but think about it, when you go to a local carnival, fair or food truck or anywhere for that matter you’re taking a chance. And spending a ton for that matter! The foods in budget stores goes through much higher standards of regulation.
If you really want to save money on groceries at the Holiday season you can be very selective where you purchase certain items and there are numerous choice. Just remember, items like potatoes are the same wherever you buy them – your local high-end deli or Sam’s Club, so buy your essentials at the cheapest budget stores.
If you only eat organic there are certain organic brands that offer loyalty clubs and rewards programs such as:
Look for BOGOFs (buy one get one free) but only if it is what you would normally buy. This is true of any special offers. You won’t save money on groceries if you buy two of something you do not normally use or eat. How to save on groceries is to search for offers on items you are looking for right now. If you can freeze some BOGOF offers, then that is a valid savings, but not if it will remain in your freezer till this time next year!
Shopping alone is one good way of saving on groceries. Don’t take the kids and definitely don’t take your partner because he or she will more than likely fill the cart with all sorts of appealing, unnecessary goodies that they want right at the moment but will no doubt be bad for the waistline and for your wallet!
The step which is most essential on how to slash your Holiday grocery bill in half is to plan and go over your list before heading out for shopping. These grocery stores are designed in such a way to psychologically tempt you into spending a lot more than you really need to.
The more time you spend there the more money you’ll spend. Therefore, crucial planning is necessary so that you know what exactly you’re going out to buy and how costly all your grocery items are. You literally want to make a bee line through the store towards all the items on your list and not get distracted.
This is one of the reasons why I like online shopping through Instacart sometimes. I don’t get swayed by the displays in the store and can focus more easily on the items I need as well as take my time perusing for sales in the comfort of my home. I also find that I spend less money when I shop through Instacart and I get the convenience of having them deliver all my groceries which I LOVE. I don’t mind paying a small service fee because it’s one less thing I have to do and like I said, I wind up spending less because I’m not in the actual store. Plus, there’s no lines to wait in, carting groceries out of your car and into your house. It’s so convenient!
When I don’t plan out beforehand, I tend to drift aimlessly through the shops and buy things on impulse all sorts of items that are not really needed. And it’s not always possible not to drag your kids or family members along for the trip.
Buy Store Brands
There is nothing wrong with most store cheap brands. This is particularly true where quality is immaterial, such as with spices, table salt and other ‘generics’. Even eggs – unless you insist on free range. Organic foods might be fine, but you won’t save money on groceries at the Holiday season unless you make some sacrifices – and who needs organic dish washing powder anyway!
Never Shop Hungry
It’s not an urban myth, and you know it! Shopping hungry is not how to save on groceries. It is well known that when you are hungry you buy more and buy better – meaning you will buy a filet rather than a rump roast! Half-way through the filet you wish you had ground beef! The same is true of many luxury foods, or even quantity.
Cook in Bulk
Stews, soups, curries, pasta sauces and everything else that freezes well can be cooked in bulk and packed into the freezer. There’s no need to stuff the rest of that fabulous chili down your throat just because it go bad. Decide to make double and freeze the other half – you will then have more incentive to leave enough to freeze than to eat too much – overeating is not the way to save on groceries.
Stick to Your List
Don’t be tempted to sway from your list. You wrote it up for a reason, then you need everything on it. Everything else you desire to have is a luxury that you don’t need that is just designed to tempt you to spend more. Even if it sounds like a bargain it’s not unless you truly need it!
Unless you truly forgot to add it to your list and you will be consuming it as one of your staple food items then purchase it. But not if it’s some exotic spice or delicacy for some new recipe you read in the latest ‘Oprah’ magazine. Trust me, no one will even realize it’s missing!
Cook – Don’t Heat
Around the holidays we’re tempted to eat fast food or ready made food because we’re tired of shopping and cooking and focused on the ‘main’ holiday meal and all that goes into it so we want a short cut and a break from all the other meals. But cooking more of your meals from scratch will actually save you more money.
Just plan a few easy one pot meals in advance. Purchase real vegetables and real meat (preferably chicken or turkey), or make vegetarian stews and learn how to convert these into delicious meals that will feed a crowd. Supplement with inexpensive breads, easy side dishes and have others help out!
Too many people buy ready-made or frozen meals, get expensive take out that just adds to your budget. Pizza is expensive! That’s not how to save on groceries! You will be surprised at how much you enjoy creating your own meals and how many one pot variations of meals you can make rather than resurrecting a store bought meal in a microwave oven or spending another $100 or more on delivery for a family.
Another thing you can do which is my favorite is to have family and friends chip in with an old fashioned ‘pot luck’ Holiday meal. This is a fabulous way not only to take the pressure off you and your family but to save expenses and sample up an enormous amount of wonderful different dishes from everyone!
Be Prepared to Substitute
While you’re thinking of preparing a meal for which you don’t have the ingredients at home, you must see if those ingredients can be replaced by others that you will find in your kitchen. This way you won’t go out to the store to buy any more ingredients. This will help you save money and space in your pantry.
Check Receipts for Mistakes
You must check your receipts and check for any errors which are quite common and tend to favor the vendor. If you notice any such mistakes, bring all the errors of your receipts to the store’s attention. You never know, you might just get your all the mis-rung items free of any cost at all!
You can use all that money you saved on groceries for a family vacation, to pay off debt or sock it away in your kid’s College savings accounts. Or maybe even perhaps get a jump start on next years Holiday gifts! The choice is yours!
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