I previously wrote about saving on groceries by meal planning. But if you aren’t basing your menu off of available sales and coupons then you are basically giving money away. By being a savvy shopper, you can minimize your grocery bill while still eating the foods you enjoy. The key to save on groceries is knowing what deals to take advantage of, and which to let pass by.
In this post, I am going to walk you through the typical grocery deals you will find and how you can best take advantage of them.
How To Save On Groceries By Shopping Deals
Cartbuster events are also known as mix-and-match sales. Several different brands will be available for sale and any combination of them can be used.
As food conglomerates have gotten larger, they have been able to create cross-brand sales that leave a substantial portion of the store on sale. Kraft is especially big on cartbuster events.
Typically, these sales work by requiring a certain number of items to be purchased to get the sale price. A common cartbuster sale will require you to buy 10 items to save $5, or 50 cents each.
The downside is that you have to buy 10, or else everything is full price. Food companies use this tactic to get you to buy more, or to buy their brand over another.
When it comes to this type of grocery sale, it pays to know your prices. If you switch brands on an item to get a 10th item, make sure that you are saving more with the sale than you are paying extra with the higher priced item.
10 For 10 Sales
You know what I call this one? I call it a sale. When people see “10 for $10,” they usually assume that they must buy 10 items, like in a cartbuster sale. But check the fine print.
Usually, there is no requirement for a certain number of items to be purchased. Northeast chain Shop-Rite also calls this a Can-Can sale, because canned goods are the most common sale item for this type of sale.
These sales can have different dollar values as well. Maybe 10 for $5 or 10 for $15. 2 for $3 is another common one. While 10 for 10 sales don’t require that you buy identical items, usually they are similar, like canned vegetables, or soup.
When it comes to this type of sale, make sure you are only buying the amount you need. Remember, you typically don’t need to buy 10 to get the sale price. Just buy what you need and no more.
Buy One, Get One Free
Many supermarkets will also use the buy one, get one free sale, or BOGO. This sale requires you to buy 2 of an item. You will pay full price for the first item and get the second one for free.
A variation of this sale is buy one, get two free. This sale is not a common as buy one, get on free.
When it comes to this grocery deal, make sure you run your numbers. Most times, you will be coming out ahead. But if another store has lower prices, you might be better off skipping the sale and paying full price at the other store. Again, this is rare, but make sure you know your prices.
Sale Price After Spending Limit
This grocery deal is shady if you ask me. You will see a great sales price, but in order to get it, you need to spend a certain amount of money on other items that total up to a certain dollar amount, usually $10 or $25.
For example, you might see frozen vegetables on sale for $0.25. But you need to spend $25 in order to get the frozen vegetables for $0.25 per pack. This doesn’t mean you can buy $25 worth of frozen vegetables.
It means you need to spend $25 on other items, like bread, milk, produce, etc. Once you hit this dollar amount, then the frozen vegetables in your cart will ring up for $0.25 each.
With this sale, you have to pay attention to the fine print. I’ve gotten burnt a couple times by not paying attention and ended up paying full price for something I thought was on sale.
Supermarket Sales Cycles
It’s well known by now among bargain shoppers that supermarkets work on 3 month cycle. When Hamburger Helper goes on sale, it will be on sale for a week and then back to full price for the next 12. Then it will go on sale again.
So for those items, it makes sense to try to buy 3 months worth at once. Or arrange your menu seasonally so that you go heavy on the items that are on sale during that period and buy light on items that won’t be on sale again for a while.
Using Coupons And Sales
There are two different strategies you can take with coupons with respect to sales cycles. On the one hand, you can save your coupons until the item goes on sale again. This will give you even bigger savings.
Use this option for items that you buy in-cycle and can avoid or at least limit buying when it is not on sale.
The other strategy is to use the coupons in between sales. If you have an item that you can’t stock up on and can’t limit or skip when it runs out, using coupons in between sales will give you steady savings throughout the year.
How To Take Advantage Of Grocery Deals And Sales
Since I do the majority of the grocery shopping, I’ve been able to develop a method that allows us to keep our monthly grocery budget to under $300 a month.
It does take a little effort in the beginning, but once you have it down, the process is very easy. Here are the steps.
#1. Review your purchases. First you have to know what you buy. Since I like spreadsheets, I put all of this information into a spreadsheet.
#2. Record prices. The next step is to check on the typical price of the items. I did this for 2 stores that I usually shop at. Again, since I used a spreadsheet, I put the prices in the next 2 columns.
#3. Highlight best prices. Finally, I highlight or sort the list between the 2 stores. This allows me to know what I should buy and at what store.
#4. Review sales. Once the list is created, all you have to do is read the weekly sales flyers. You will slowly see what a good deal is on items and when you should buy.
Every once in a while, I will update my spreadsheet as prices tend to change. I then update my lists and go from there.
Overall, you can save money at the grocery store by shopping deals. You just have to know what the different types of deals are and what ones make sense for you to take advantage of. Also, you need to aware of the tricks marketers play to get you to buy more than you really need.
If you can follow my outline for saving money on groceries, you will be able to feed your family for as little money as possible.
Edward Antrobus is a food blogger, personal finance writer, ebook specialist, and construction worker.
His mother’s favorite saying is, “if you can read, you can cook.” She firmly believes that making simple dishes is not much more difficult than reading the directions on a recipe. His goal is to take the mystery out of cooking and endow everyone with the basic skills needed to cook your own food and save a fortune by not having to dine out all the time.