What’s not to love?
Oh, February, the month of LOVE! I can tell you what I love this side of heaven! I love my husband, family and friends. I love good coffee. I love popcorn. I love a great meal. I love a fun furniture repurpose. I love cleaning! (?) I love meeting friends for lunch. I love sitting on the deck in the spring. I love planting flowers. I love the sound of snow crunching under my feet. I love little kids sitting with me in church. I love sales…..of all kinds!
I’ve always been an extreme sales shopper! My mother taught me very early, that buying on sale is a great way to help any budget. It seems like in today’s economy, we women really need to be wise with our grocery money. Doesn’t it seem that what used to be 4/$1 is now 2/$1- or maybe even not that good? I am a stickler to make my husband’s earnings go as far as possible.
There are some ways to stretch your food budget. Like all good things, it does take WORK and PLANNING. There are those words again! Ha! I always want to spend my money buying the most nutritious foods at the best or lowest prices. Part of this strategy is having some economical meals in mind. Cindy (author of the “Whether Ye Eat” column) does well in giving us nutritious meals that, with proper planning, ensures we will have ingredients in our pantry that have been purchased ON SALE!
Grocery sales come in waves. You’ll often see things you often use most, on sale every 4 or 6 weeks. This is the time to buy and stock up. Initially there is an outlay of extra money, but once your pantry is stocked, you will actually spend less.
Stores like SAM’S and COSTCO don’t always have the best prices. I know that sometimes it is the easiest and most convenient to shop there. Obviously, some prices are cheaper and the quantity is larger. Who doesn’t love the rotisserie chicken at Sam’s for $4.98. But, I most often can find things MUCH cheaper—if I am alert and planned—at the other grocery stores in town.
Now, in my pursuit of prices and sales, I came across T- Bone steaks at one store, regularly $12.49/lb., on sale for $5.98. Good treat for the hubby! I also found whole turkeys after Christmas for $.50/ lb. Bought one! Braeburn apples were $.69/lb. on a weekend sale. And, here’s the scoop on Rotisserie Chickens: Hugos- $6.99 each, Hornbachers $7.49 each, Sam’s, $4.98 each; Wal-Mart had them for $4.98 each, as well.
Years ago, I read where one should plan the family meals for the week, and then buy the food to make those meals. I think a better way- although it does take planning and creativity- is to peruse the grocery ads, and then plan your meals. If you don’t have a recipe for ground turkey or chicken legs or cannellini beans, but they are on sale- get on-line and type in key words like, ground turkey and cannellini bean hot dish. You might just find several that work well for your family. I have used many on-line recipes and most of them I still use regularly. You will also notice that often when hamburger is on sale, you will also find tomato products on sale, as well as kidney beans, etc. It can seem as though the ad is “forcing” you to make chili, sloppy joes, spaghetti sauce, etc. Again, we need to be a bit creative in meal planning!
Here are some tricks to grocery shopping:
- Don’t shop hungry. Don’t send your husband to shop if he’s hungry! It seems like most husbands tend to buy things other than what is on the list! I know this can be fun sometimes, but it can alter the budget!
- “Ad Match.” Walmart will sell the same item at the sale price of any other store. In fact, they will often match the other store brands (Our Family, Essential Everyday, Archer Farms) for their store brand- Great Value. That might be helpful if you only can get to one store a week. Just bring the store ad so you can prove the sale price.
- Shop only once a week. It’s proven that the more often you are in a store, the MORE you spend. So, if you are running to ONLY get a head of romaine, the likelihood that you will also pick up Cheetos or a Snickers, is high. A once-a -week plan seems to be more of a budget protector than once-a-month. To shop once a week doesn’t work for every family, but generally it’s a better plan; it allows you to shop for more sales and have food that you use, in the pantry.
- Watch the cashier. I can tell you that MOST weeks, there is an error at the till. Once I bought two pineapples and got charged for three. Of course, I noticed the error when I got home!
- Develop a friendship with the cashier and customer service people. I am not kidding. They are your best friends when it comes to returning or needing a problem solved. That extra charge on that pineapple— I just told the customer service gal the following week and she quickly refunded my money. It also allows you, possibly, a great opportunity to be able to speak to them about the Lord. They see YOUR life week after week, which should be a great testimony. (Another reason to look your best! J)
- Check generic products. I agree that not EVERY store brand or generic is the quality I want, but often it is just fine for most recipes. In many cases, it is even canned by a well-known producer, but for much less money than the “name brand.”
- Check cost per pound. Almost every store has that already figured out for you on the label under the product on the shelf. You don’t even need a calculator!
- Get rain checks. Stores do run out of the product. If it is a good sale, ask for a raincheck. I always get a rain check and buy it the following week at last week’s sale price.
- Use on-line aps. I don’t do much of this, but I can tell you that often a product that is already on sale and another 25-40% off is worth it to me to spend a few minutes online. I don’t do it on my phone, but I do it on my computer and generate the bar code. My favorite Larabars are $5.99 regular price, often on sale for $4.99 and another $1 off on Cartwheel is a great price. There are other on-line apps that could possibly save you more.
- Know which stores double coupons. We have one in Grand Forks.
- Shop the outer aisles in the super market. The best foods are located there!
- Some foods that you should ONLY buy on sale: Cheese, chips and snacks, soda, meat, fruit, vegetables, and chocolate chips. I guess everything you need should be on sale! J
It is work to save mone. (Some homemakers don’t like that word!), but it can be done. The greatest amount of work is to know your prices, make a plan and shop! It might take 1-2 months to understand the cycle of grocery sales. After that, it will be a piece of cake (hopefully on sale!) Challenge yourself! See how much you can save for the family budget. Proverbs 31:27a says, ”She looketh well to the ways of her household…” Oh, for the love of a sale!