(Article by S. Denise Hoyle)
As an experienced couponer, I consistently save between 70% and 90% on my grocery bill, but couponing isn’t for everyone. The amazing thing is that only about half of that savings actually comes from coupons, which means that you can easily save 35% to 45% on your grocery budget WITHOUT even using one!
Here’s how it works – a couponer’s strategy is to only buy things when they’re on sale, match coupons with the sale items wherever possible, and buy enough of the discounted item to last until the next sale comes along. Sounds easy, but it does take time and for some people it just isn’t worth the trouble. If you’d like to save on your food bill without the hassle, just drop the coupon clipping part!
1. The BOGO (Buy One Get One Free)
Most grocery stores run different buy one get one free deals on a weekly basis and odds are that a couple of those BOGO items occasionally show up on your grocery list. The BOGO sale items are typically pantry staples like breakfast cereal, peanut butter, pickles, tea, margarine and fruit juice that you may buy on a weekly basis. The trick to saving a bundle is to NOT just pick up enough for this week, but to buy enough cereal when it’s half price to last say the next two months, or less depending on the item’s shelf life.
Start out slowly using this strategy and you’ll quickly figure out the sale cycles. For example, I stock up on BBQ sauce, salad dressing and razors during the summer months when they’re promoted heavily and then don’t buy any again for the rest of the year. It’s a nice feeling to know you’ve got a small stockpile, but don’t buy more than your family can use or comfortably store.
2. Menu Planning
Shopping sale cycles will save the biggest chunk of change, but menu planning can save you 10% to 15% more on your budget, and can greatly reduce your food waste as well. Start by taking an inventory of the things you already have in your pantry and freezer and set aside half an hour each week to plan that week’s meals around the things you already have on hand or that are currently on sale. If you need some meal inspiration use a free online service like Recipe.com where you can type in the ingredients you have and get a list of recipes in return.
You save money with menu planning because you’re shopping at home first, you’re not buying things you don’t need and you’re reducing waste, but the best payoff in my opinion is the much lower stress level that comes with always knowing in advance what you’re having for dinner.
Guest post by S. Denise Hoyle – the Chief Exhausted Officer of SpecterWeb.com LLC, a domain investment firm, and a proud shop-a-holic with frugal tendencies who blogs about deals and steals at ShopperStrategy.com.
(Photo by kodomut)