Tag Archive for Grocery shopping

7 Ways to Stock Your Pantry on a Budget


stock your pantryWhen you move into your own place for the very first time, filling your kitchen with food isn?t always the first thing on your mind. But, once you?re settled, it won?t take long for your stomach to remind you that your pantry shelves need to be filled, or you’ll be forced to spend money on eating out.

But with all the other expenses of moving out on your own for the first time, you may be hesitant to go all out with stocking your pantry. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to stock your pantry and stick to your budget. Here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Clip Coupons

Coupons?can be found in newspapers, magazines, online at sites like?Coupons.com, and there are even some non-traditional ways to collect more coupons to help you stock your pantry.

2. Buy in Bulk

Before you go all out with buying in bulk to save money, remember that this strategy only makes sense if you can use the items before they expire.

Buying in bulk will save you money on the cost per ounce of items, but if you waste a lot due to spoilage, you’ll just be wasting money too. If you are afraid you can’t use something up in time, don’t buy in bulk, or come up with a creative solution, like splitting a large purchase with a friend so you can both save some money and avoid wasting food.

3. Track What You Use

Set up a spreadsheet to track the items you buy, how much you use (when the items run out), and the cost of the items at the store you frequent. ?This spreadsheet can be helpful in two ways. It will help you recognize when a “sale price” is truly a good deal, and it also allows you to figure out how much of an item to buy while it?s on sale so you can make it last until the next time.

This can also be helpful when meal planning – which is another way to save money on food costs. If you’re new to meal planning or it has been difficult for you, check out $5 Meal Plan?as they get you started and provide sample meal plans to adjust to the needs of your family.

4. Rain Checks

Rain checks are one of my favorite policies that helps me save money. Some stores give out a rain check if their shelves are out of a sale item. This ticket allows you to buy the item for the sale price once they have it in stock again, even if it?s no longer on sale.

Be sure to ask if your grocery store of choice has a program like this, and what their policies are regarding the use of rain checks. Some stores’ rain checks have a pretty short lifespan before they expire.

5. Buy in Season

When you stock your pantry for the first time, don’t forget to get fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and vegetables are more expensive than others, so you can start off with some of the cheap ones first to help you save money. This is why I typically stick to basics like apples, bananas and oranges for my fruits of choice. But you can branch out and try other fruits and vegetables and save money by shopping in season.

Fruits and vegetables are cheapest, and most delicious, when they are in season. If you don?t know what is in season when, check the internet or ask the produce clerk at your local grocery store.

6. Watch for Sales and Markdowns

Sales flyers are automatically mailed out for some stores if you get on their list, or if you subscribe to the local newspaper, they are also included in there in most communities. ?You can also ask if there is an area of the store set aside for expired or nearly expired items, and items that have been discontinued or will no longer be carried at your store. These items will be at their lowest prices.

7. Check Expiration Dates & Rotate Your Food

You might be hesitant to buy expired and nearly expired food, but it’s a good strategy to save money if you use those items right away. A good rule of thumb is to always store the oldest canned and packaged foods at the front of your cupboard and the newest at the back. This is a practice I put into play so every time I bring home new food from the grocery store, I put it at the back of my pantry shelves behind the things I already had.


Have you used any of these ideas to stock your pantry??What other ideas do you have to stock your pantry on a budget?


Photo courtesy of: ErikaWittlieb

6 Simple Ways to Save $100 on Food Each Month


shopping-cart-53797_1280Food costs are one of your largest ongoing expenses. While you obviously need to eat, it would be a great help to your budget if you could reduce the amount that goes toward groceries every month.

The amount that you can save through using the tips below will vary based on where you live and your current habits, but everyone should be able to trim their costs simply by implementing the following ideas. That being said, many of these tips should help you save at least $100 extra on food each month.

Buy Generic

For many items, the difference in quality between name brand and generic options simply isn?t enough to justify the difference in price. In fact, there often is no difference in quality, and you may not be able to tell the two apart if the labels were removed. Buy generic whenever possible and you will quickly see the savings accumulate.

Stay Home One Extra Night

There is nothing wrong with eating dinner out from time to time, but it can be a major budget leak?if done too frequently. For a family of four, a dinner out can easily add up close to $100 when you add in drinks and dessert. Just by skipping one meal out each month you can do a big favor to your food budget.

Waste Not

One of the biggest keys to saving money on your food budget is to not waste what you purchase. For example, things like bread often go to waste when part of the package is used and the rest is left to spoil. Plan your meals carefully to avoid waste, and use your freezer when you aren?t sure if you will have time to eat something before it goes bad.

Shop Smart When Buying Bulk

It can be a benefit to your budget to buy food items in bulk?but only when you think it through carefully. Many people fall into the trap of thinking that everything they buy in bulk must be a good deal ? but that is not necessarily the case. Compare per-weight prices to the prices at your regular grocery store before you purchase large packages of food at the bulk warehouse, and make sure it’s something you will use up before it goes bad.

Go to the Store Once Per Week

It is easy to get into a habit of stopping at the grocery store every day after work, but that shopping method can cost you money in the long run. Make a master list for the week and try to do your grocery shopping just once (maybe on Sunday). You may need to run out for an item or two later on during the week, but limiting your overall number of trips should save you money.

Shop Sales

Keep a close eye on sales that are being offered at your local grocery stores and take advantage of them whenever possible. You will likely receive coupons and sales advertisements in the mail, so take note of the dates and even consider planning your meals around whatever happens to be on sale.



Have you used these tips to save money on your grocery bill? What other tips do you use to save at the grocery store? How often do you go grocery shopping?



Photo courtesy of: Pixabay



Generic vs. Name Brand – What Will You Pay More For?


13065042035_4ca6f93236_zBuying generic food and household products is just one way to save money at the grocery store. But unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who won?t buy generic for various reasons, one of which is their perceived difference in quality.

Marketing companies spend millions of dollars each year trying to convince consumers that certain brands of products are better than others and that generic products are of inferior quality. It may surprise you to learn that generic products are usually very similar quality-wise to name brand products, but for a much lower price.

In the past, this wasn?t true and many consumers still hold on-to the notion that generic products are inferior because they were when they first introduced in the 1970s.

There are still some items I buy name brand, but for the most part, I?m a fan of buying generic products to save money. Here are some?generic things I will and won?t buy.

Things I Will Buy Generic

Most boxed generic foods are just as high quality as name brand boxed foods, so I generally buy generic for pantry staples: baking mixes, flour, sugar, dried beans, canned fruits and vegetables, bottled water, pasta sauce, nut butter, and bread. My parents always bought these things name brand when I was a kid, but now that I?ve compared prices I can see how much money they were wasting by buying name brand, plus I can?t tell a difference between name brand and generic on these products.

There are also some household items I?m not afraid to buy generic, like q-tips, napkins, pain reliever, facial tissue, some electronic products, shampoo, and hand sanitizer.

Things I Won?t Buy Generic

As much as I like to buy generic products to save money?on my household and grocery bills, there are a few things I?ve tried generic and was disappointed by because of quality or taste.

At the grocery store, I buy these name brand products: meat, cheese, other dairy products, coffee, creamer, salad, salad dressing, cereal, and breakfast pastries.

Likewise, there are a few generic household products I?ve tried and was disappointed in too. Therefore, I buy these things name brand: paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap, cosmetics, some medicines, and batteries.

I can?t imagine how much money a large household could save every year by switching out some of their name brand purchases for generics, but I know in my one-person household I save at least $20-40 each month by making these small substitutions.

Of course, not every generic brand or product is a winner. So before you buy a large quantity of generic products, you should try them out in a smaller quantity first. Just because your friends, neighbors, or a review says a generic product is good doesn?t necessarily mean it will work for you.

Before you put name brand products in your shopping cart next time, you should at least consider the financial ramifications of buying name brand vs. buying generic products.


What’s your view on buying generic products? What items are you willing to pay more for in order to get better value? What are some other ways you save money at the grocery store?



Photo courtesy of: U.S. Department of Agriculture

How to Shop Smart for Groceries


GroceriesGrocery shopping is something that we all do, but how many of us truly enjoy it or are ?smart? at doing it. Sure, we can drive to the grocery store and pick some food off the shelves for us and our families to eat, but what kind of deal are we getting?

As we started our family and lived much more closely to a budget we found that a key part to that was being wise when it came time to go to the grocery store. If you?re looking for some ways to shop smart for groceries, the below tips should help.

Try Your Hand at Couponing

We don?t do a whole lot when it comes to couponing, though we used to. The reason? It largely goes back to lack of time and not really buying most things there are coupons for. That said, when we did clip coupons we could easily save a good bit of money at the grocery store.

There are many who will spend hours looking for coupons as a means to cut down their grocery bill as much as possible. You certainly don?t need to go to that extreme, but it can be a good way to save money on groceries.

Make Friends With Aldi or Save-a-Lot

The grocery stores might be called something different where you are, but Aldi is the grocery store to go to in my area if you want the cheapest prices. I know in other area of the country that Save-A-Lot is another similar option. These stores only employee two or three workers that either run the cash register or stock the shelves (which means putting the box on the shelf for you to see).

Their operation is very basic, which enables them to save money on useless costs and then pass on the savings to the consumer. There have been numerous studies that compare Aldi to Walmart and other grocery chains. In almost every study I have seen, Aldi always wins ? they always have the cheapest prices. If you don?t like to mess around with coupons, then a store like Aldi can save you a good amount of money on groceries.

Buy in Bulk

If you have a big family and can go through a considerable amount of groceries in a month or two, then you might want to look at buying some things in bulk. Typically, when you buy more of something the per unit price goes down. So, instead of buying a single box of cereal for $3.50, you can buy a carton of 10 boxes for $25.00, which means you?re now only paying $2.50 per box.

The beauty of this technique is that there are many non-perishables that will stay fresh for quite some time, so as long as you have somewhere to store the food, you can save a fair amount of money by buying in bulk. We buy some items in bulk at Costco, but have to be careful in order to make sure it?s food we?ll be going through as otherwise we’d simply be wasting money.

Don?t Let Your Food Go to Waste

The downside to buying in bulk, or any shopping really, is the risk of food going to waste. I absolutely hate dealing with food waste as it?s pretty much like taking cash and putting it in the trash can.

Don?t believe me? I guarantee you that if you cut your food waste down you?ll see your grocery budget working that much better for you. There are many ways to help cut food waste from shopping with a list to freezing meals that can help you immensely in terms of killing that waste.



What tips do you have to shop smart for groceries? How much is your grocery budget per month? Do you coupon, and if so, how much time do you spend on it per week?



Photo Courtesy of: greggavedon. com