Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bargain shopping for the healthy consumer

It is no secret that I am cheap, and I love bargain shopping. I'm a coupon clipper and sale stalker! I'm going to share some of my tips for getting the most healthy food for the best price.

1. Know your grocery store. Sure, Walmart is normally cheaper overall, but they don't run sales. And yes, they do accept competitors' sale prices, but I don't have time for that. And the people behind you in the check out line will hate you.  So I study the sales at the grocery store I visit most, Food Lion. At least one thing in each category I shop is going to be on sale every week - fruit, veggies, meat, toiletries, juice, cheese, etc. They rotate each week, so the items I love most are going to be on sale about once a month. After a couple of months of following the sales, you'll know what to expect.

2. Save your coupons for when those items are on sale. Saving 75 cents off on a $2.00 item is good, but if the item is on sale for $1.50, it is even better! I get the bulk of my coupons from, and they change some weekly but mainly on the first of each month. If I have a brand I am loyal to, then I will check their Web site for coupons or email them directly and ask.

3. Know the schedule for when meat is going to be marked down because of the expiration date. You can ask the meat department! Early Saturday mornings seems to be popular, so I stock up and freeze.

4. Generics are your friend, and you'll never know the difference. There are only a few products I don't like the generic version of. Don't be scared to at least try them.

5. Plan your meals and snacks around what is on sale, not just what you crave or want.

6. Visit the store's Web site for specific store coupons, and sign up for coupon texts if available. Food Lion will text you coupon offers, and if you accept they are loaded directly on your MVP card.

7. Scour the close outs, where the best deals can be found. Last week, I found a 100% juice on close out for $1.41 (normally $2.99) and a V8 juice for $1.70 (normally more than $3.00).

8. Take your time and go alone whenever possible. I do my grocery shopping on Saturday mornings so my husband can stay at home with the kids. That way, you have no one else influencing you or begging for useless stuff.

9. Try to shop mainly on the outside borders of the grocery store (produce, meat, dairy, frozen produce) and limit your time and money in the aisles or pre-packaged  items.

10. Go to Walmart, Sam's Club, etc. once a month (or less) for those items that you know you just can't buy at the regular grocery or are never cheaper there. 

I just got Food Lion's sale insert in today's newspaper. I'll tell you what I plan to buy based on it (just food).
  • London Broil - $2.59/lb. I'll buy a 2 lb. one for about $5 and it'll provide us dinner for 2 meals. 
  • Strawberries & blueberries - 2/$4. I'll buy one of each and make a fruit salad, use them in smoothies, or eat as-is. 
  • Hunts Ketchup - 10/$10 - Hunts no longer uses HFCS in their ketchup, so I'll probably buy a bottle of two...we don't use a lot of ketchup, but it keeps for a long time.
  • Capri Sun - $2.07 - They offer a 100% juice version.
  • Food Lion sliced cheese - 2/$5 - perfect for sandwiches!
  • Daisy sour cream - $1 - they offer light & fat free versions
  • Ground chuck - $2.79/lb - I prefer to stock up when it is on sale for $1.99/lb, but I'm running low so I'll buy a couple of packs. 
  • Watermelon - $4.99 - One watermelon will last us several days. 
  • Sweet potatoes -  $0.79/lb - YUM!
  • Mangoes - $0.99 each - my kids favorite, and they have a pretty long shelf life
  • Kraft cheese - buy one get one free
  • Eggs - $1 off with FL coupon
This wasn't the best week for coupons matching up with sale items, so I'll have to post about that on a week that it is better. I do have coupons for things I buy weekly like bread and yogurt that I will go ahead and use. Last week, I stocked up chicken breasts when they were on sale, so I don't need any this week. Plan ahead!

It becomes a game for me - last week, I spent $80 on all of our food for the week (3 meals per day for 4 people, except for my daughter's lunches). Not too shabby! Do you have any bargain shopping tips to share?

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