One way to start significantly lowering your grocery budget is to stock up on food and any other items you or your family regularly uses, when they are at their lowest price.
If you are new to couponing and bargain shopping, and you start to observe your local stores circulars, you will see that sale prices on many items are on a cycle. Sometimes sale prices are seasonal (such as: spices, canned goods, and baking supplies are always great prices starting now, and lasting for the next 3-5 months on and off), and sometimes sale prices are on a regular schedule. Different stores and different items may be on a different schedule. If you want to start saving lots of money on your groceries- begin to watch your local stores sales prices, especially on items that your family uses regularly. If you pay attention, and learn what the lowest prices are on your family's favorite products, you can plan ahead and buy all that your family will use before that sale price comes around again. Here are two different examples of different sale schedules for two items that my family uses often:
- #1: Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts. My local Walmart's regular price for this item is $3.30 per pound. I never buy it for that price however, because a number of local stores have it for $2.00 per pound at least every other week. I ad-match it when it is at this price, and only buy what I will need over the next 2 weeks, because I know it will be on sale again for that price within that amount of time. About once per year, my area may see a sale price on boneless skinless chicken breast for around $1.49-$1.69 per pound. This is the rock-bottom price for my area, and it this case, I may buy 20 pounds and freeze them if I have room in my freezer, because I know this price won't come around for another year.
- #2: Swanson Canned Chicken Broth. My family uses chicken broth regularly for a variety of different soups, so I like to stock up on it when it is at a great price. In my area, our favorite brand of chicken broth is at a great price around the winter holidays. When it hits it's rock-bottom price(usually around .50 per can), I may buy enough to last me through the coming year. I know that the rest of the year it will cost around $1.50 per can, and canned chicken broth is usually good for several years.
With observance of your area's sale prices, and a little bit of planning, you will probably never have to buy your regular items for full-price again.
In order to stockpile effectively, you need to have a plan. Some years ago, I did stockpile occasionally, but I felt ridiculous buying 5 canisters of coffee at the grocery store. And in reality-it was ridiculous because I had no plan for the items I stocked up on. Now, when I see coffee for it's rock-bottom price, I may buy 15-20 canisters (if I have room for it), because I know it will be used up before it expires.
If you want to start stockpiling food and other items, you may need to think creatively about your storage solutions. Think about places other than your usual cabinets for storing it, such as in plastic containers under your bed, or in your closets.
Once you start to build up your stockpile, you can start to only buy items at the store each week that are at their lowest prices. Is what I buy each week what I am feeding my family that week? No, not at all, with the exception of fresh fruits and vegetables. Each week, when I plan my menus, I first "shop" in my pantry, taking into account any items that may need to be used sooner if they are nearing their expiration dates. This is one of the biggest ways I save money and am able to feed my family nutritious food for $50 per week.