Money Saving Tips & Tricks: Buying Ahead

8 Mar

Groceries are expensive.

Oh, you know that?

Of course you do.

So what’s the best way to get the bang for your buck? Buying ahead. But not just buying duplicates of everything willy-nilly. Nay, this kind of buying ahead requires planning, strategic timing of shopping trips, and research. It sounds like hard work. It’s not. Follow these simple tips & tricks to take the trauma out of planning and buying ahead:

Make a meal plan.

We make ours on a week-by-week basis. Usually, on Saturdays, right before we go grocery shopping. How does this help us? First, it takes the “what are we eating for dinner tonight?” question out of the equation every night of the week. This not only makes life less stressful, but it also helps us avoid those moments when I realize I’ve got nothing planned and it would just be easier to go out to eat than to plan something on the spot. We’re already saving money here, people.

Once a week, scan the paper and mail coupons for deals- on the things you use most.

Sure, getting a 2-for-1 deal on sardines is great, if you eat sardines. If you don’t, it’s just another thing taking up valuable space in the fridge, which is real estate you can’t afford to give up. However, 2-for-1 on chicken breasts? Now that’s a deal. And, you know you’ll use them. So, scan for coupons, then immediately refer to the next bullet.

Stock up on the things you use most.

Why? Because you’re going to use it. Because having it in the house makes it easier to choose eating that over eating out. And because there’s nothing more disheartening to the family trying to eat at home more often than an empty cupboard. So stocking up makes eating in easier, inspires home cooking, AND- remember this one: you never know when those awesome 2-for-1 chicken breasts deals are going to come around. So when you see it, and you KNOW you’ll use it, buy big.

Don’t buy big if it doesn’t work this week.

Wait, didn’t I just say “buy big because you know you’ll use it”? Well, that’s true, but if the hubbster doesn’t get paid til next week, it might be wise to wait for the next awesome deal. It’s okay not to catch ’em all in favor of not breaking the bank.

Buy in bulk.

Example: ground beef in 1 pound packages are, let’s say, $3. But a 5 pound package is $12. Go ahead and buy the big one. Most families love ground beef (see chili post). If that’s you, this food is an easy, quick, and awesome staple to have around. Special bulk tip: when you get home (right away) break the bulk items down into non-bulk (and more manageable) pieces. For example, ground beef- usually it comes in a tube. Bust open the tube and separate that 5 lbs into 1 pound pieces by putting it into five quart-sized ziploc baggies. These hold just about a pound of beef, and freeze beautifully in a nice organized stack in the freezer. Space saver AND money saver? Oh yes she did!

Buying ahead can save you a ton over time, but is only effective with proper planning and effort. So, take an hour on a Saturday afternoon, (after catching up here, of course), make a plan, and go after it. Your wallet will thank you.

What other tips or tricks do you use to save money on groceries?

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4 Responses to “Money Saving Tips & Tricks: Buying Ahead”

  1. literarychicks78 March 8, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    I take a little bit out of every pay check and tuck it aside for spectacular deals. Giant Eagle recently opened a new store in our area. As one of their grand opening sales, they offered the shampoo and conditioner my family uses for less than half the price. I pulled money out of my fund and bought our shampoo and conditioner for the entire year. Huge savings!

    • chefshellina March 8, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

      Awesome- that’s exactly what I’m referring to: times when you’ve got the money, you see a sale and you know it’s not coming around again for a while: WIN! 🙂

  2. Karen @ Gravy Training March 9, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Planning out meals for the week has become one of the best things I ever did to save money. You’d think planning meals would be a hassle, but really, it saves so much time. I spend 15 minutes planning meals and making a shopping list and avoid wasted time in the kitchen every night, I avoid wasted money on willy-nilly purchases at the grocery store, and there’s always awesome food on the table! I honestly don’t know how I got along without doing this before!

    • chefshellina March 9, 2011 at 9:19 am #

      I can totally relate! I remember going to the grocery store with a vague idea of what I wanted to eat that week, and coming home with a whole slew of things that were random and impossible to cook with! (usually snackfood). But now, with my list, we’re actually eating healthier AND saving money- I don’t shop with my stomach anymore. 😉

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