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Tips and Tricks for Saving Money at the Grocery Store.

There are quite a few ways to save money when you are grocery shopping for food and supplies for your family. Many people write about food co-ops and warehouses, but I'm not going to do that. Not everyone has access to these types of resources; I sure don't. Assuming you have access to one or two grocery stores and at least some money, lets learn how to save money on food!

Plan to make more foods from scratch. For example, if your family loves waffles, you can purchase a waffle iron and make them from scratch. The waffle iron will pay for itself in no time.

Check your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you already have. Plan meals that will use these items and you will spend less at the store. Visit Recipe Matcher to find new recipes using the ingredients you already have.

First, get the weekly ads for the local stores that sell food. On the front and back of the ad they advertise what is called "loss leaders". These are items that they are selling for a great price, so low that the store is likely losing money on it. I know it sounds crazy, but the idea is to get you in the store and display all sorts of other things in the hopes that you will buy more than what you just came in for. I love loss leaders because they instill some variety in my family. For example, I refuse to pay more than $1.50 per pound for fruit, and my optimal price is $0.99/lb. The type of fruit that is priced this low varies week to week at the store where I shop. This week my children are having green grapes, last week they had Gala Apples, and the week before that it was peaches! The trick is to only get what you must have and only buy what is on sale if you are really going to use/eat it. For example, don't grab the caramel apple kit just because the apples are on sale. It just doesn't make sense.

Keep an eye out for meal deals, buy one get one free or buy-this get-that-free deals. Sometimes these are a great money saver.

Second, make a list of what you plan on preparing at meal time for the next week, two weeks, month, whatever. Some people prefer to shop for a week at a time, some prefer to shop for a month at a time. Using a pencil, I like to write down the approximate price of the ingredients that go into a meal in my recipe book. That way, if I know money is tight this week, I can flip through the book and avoid the $15 a meal recipes and be more likely to stay in my budget. Make your list of everything you will need to make dinners, lunches, breakfasts, and snacks keeping in mind anything that you already have in your house. If you have that lone can of Cream of Mushroom soup tucked in the far reaches of your pantry find a new recipe to try that needs that ingredient! Take your list to the store with you, and cross off each item as you put it in your cart. You are sure to remember everything this way. The most important thing is to not buy anything extra. Also, never shop when you are hungry. People are much more impulsive shoppers when they are hungry, cranky, and in a hurry.

Third, be careful with coupons. Familiarize yourself with your store's generic brands. Most of the time, they are just as good. I have noticed that even with a coupon, name brand items are still more expensive than the generic brands. However, it may be interesting for you to clip some coupons and take them and a calculator along with you on your next shopping trip. The only times I use coupons is when I buy diapers for my son (he uses Luvs) or when my store has coupons on something that I would have already bought. Sometimes these coupons are for the store brand, sometimes not. I hear about people saying how much money they "saved" using coupons, but I would be willing to bet that they might have "saved" even more had they ditched the coupons and bought generic brands instead. Check out the prices at your grocery store and find out whether coupons are worth your time or not.

Finally, get into the habit of comparison shopping. Some people I know like to keep a "price book" to help them remember which stores have the best prices. They will get some things they need at Store A, some at Store B and some at Store C. I personally do not do this because I live 45 miles away from the nearest decent grocery store. So, I do get everything at one time at one store. This is why loss leaders are so important to me. If you comparison shop some day you are going to catch yourself in Store A getting ready to buy something and remember you can get it cheaper at Store B!

Implement some of these strategies, and you might even come up with some new ones that work great for you. Remember, only buy what you really need. Money doesn't go stale sitting in your wallet.

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