Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cheap Eats - Slashing Your Grocery Bill To The Bare Bones

There seems to be a common theme lately on the blogs and message boards that I frequent as well as among my friends and relatives and that is how to slash the grocery bill even further.
There are those who are much more experienced than I am, but I have a few hints and tips that I use with great success.
I don’t spend hours clipping coupons and making price-books and such- however, if it is something you might be interested in, Google couponing and you will find more info than you can possibly process in this lifetime.
I find, however, that a lot of times they don’t include staples or are for highly processed foods, which I appreciate and use, but I don’t want them to make up the majority of our diet.
Enough about what I don’t do, here are my tried and true tips for saving money on our grocery bill.
Cherry pick - I absolutely have no problem going into each store and only buying the best deals even though some of them are loss-leaders (meaning the grocery store takes a loss on them hoping to make it up on your other purchases).
I shop at several stores - all within a couple miles of each other and on the things we buy every week I know which has the best regular price so when someone has a sale I know if it is worth stocking up on.
I only buy meat when it is a great sale. I ask at each butcher department when they mark down the meat that is getting ready to hit the sell by date and then I get the exceptional deals. Today I got two gorgeous pot roasts for less than half-price, and the ground turkey breast cheaper than I would have paid for regular ground turkey.
I have rewards cards for the stores I shop at to get the best possible prices and sometimes they also come with extras- Kroger gives a discount on gas, Price Cutter gives green stamps (points per dollar spent) and lets me get things like salad or coleslaw mix for 9 cents or Milk for $1 a gallon.
I shop the Oops we baked to much rack often and well and I can usually get something delicious. Today we got onion buns and Kaiser rolls cheaper than I would have paid for a loaf of no name white bread. Many times you can get baked goods- cakes, cookies, donuts or cupcakes for less than it would cost to bake them yourself.
I used to go to the bread outlets but they both raised the prices and started charging like $1.69 for bread that was 3 days out of date- these were on the regular shelves and some were moldy. I don’t think so. Everyone gets used to something being the cheapest way to do it and assumes it is always the case and I’ve found that’s just not always true. I do much better even with the regular sale prices in the different stores and better still at the Oops rack. It pays to be an aware consumer.
Buying your lunch meat at the deli instead of pre-packaged is usually cheaper, better quality and doesn’t have as many preservatives and you can buy just what you need- either by weight or how many slices.
If your deli area has fancy-schmancy cheeses and dips they will get marked down near their end dates and I stock up. I can get brie or Havarti or fresh mozzarella as cheap or cheaper sometimes than what it costs to get sliced American cheese on sale.
Conversely, I can buy the same wedge of Parmesan back in the dairy aisle for a couple of bucks cheaper than buying it in the gourmet section. Same brand/label/everything, just a different price per pound.
Also in the deli area of our Kroger I can get the rotisserie or fried chicken cold for half the price as the fresh hot ones. For 3 dollars I can nuke it myself if I want it hot. They are great for casseroles, quesadillas, stir fry, sandwiches or salads. It works out cheaper than buying a whole raw chicken and cooking it myself.
In the butcher area they have pre-marinated and ready to cook meats or sometimes whole meals. These also get marked down close to the end date. One of my favorite things is to get the $10 pre-marinated pork loins or turkey tenderloins for $4 and change. I really stock up and put them in my freezer when I have the chance then on busy nights I can toss them on the grill or in the oven and make a salad or veggies or whatever and it is enough to feed all 7 of us (plus dog scraps) for about 7 or 8 dollars depending on the sides I choose.
In season produce is of course cheaper and tastier, so we try to really get a ton whenit is at it's peak.
Fresh produce also gets marked down- I personally am picky and won’t get it if it looks iffy and full of brown spots (unless I am making banana bread) but I can get the expensive fancy lettuces for under a dollar, today I got 6 eggplants for 50 cents each and 3 cukes for less than a dollar, it just depends what is close to the edge. Some stores I would never buy the marked-down produce from because it just looks nasty, but our Kroger is absolutely wonderful. I get the box of organic baby spinach for less than half price and it lasts me all week in the fridge. Today we have a bag of organic baby carrots in with the pot roast that I got for 99 cents- cheaper than the $1.50 I usually pay for bags of regular baby carrots.
Most stores also have an area where they keep the really deep discounted items or bang and dent cans or whatever, find out where they are and you can really save a bundle, just be willing to be not so rigid with your list or plan to bring a few extra dollars for those steals.
Many times you will find things much cheaper in the ethnic section. A little box of pasta stars cost $2.79 in the pasta aisle, the only kind they had. In the Hispanic section they had a little bag of stars for 39 cents. Alphabets for 59 cents. It shocked me but when I checked some other items I found that was frequently the case. It is really worth the time to learn your stores, then you will know where to check.
I hope you have found some tips that will help you save some money whether due to necessity or to be able to spend more on the things you want.
For those of you in a desperate financial situation, we have some friends who are in really serious straits due to a mix up with a job not paying for two months so we are putting together a care package of inexpensive foods as well as the recipes for our very cheapest meals and it can be found here. I hope you don’t need it, but if you do I pray that it helps.
If you have any great tips, please share them, we can use all the help we can get in these trying times.


Posted by Sherry of Loon-atics In The Kitchen

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