When sales are not matching up with the foods your family loves to eat there are still options for saving money and staying within your monthly budget.
Shop Discount Stores
My favorite discount store when I need to do a shopping trip and don’t see much in the sales circulars for what I need to purchase is Winco. Winco does not put out ads, but instead has really great prices all the time. There are unadvertised sales so you have to go in to find out exactly what is on sale but since their prices are regularly much lower than other grocery chains I can trust that I will be getting a good price. Coupons are accepted at Winco so I always go in with my coupon binder ready to match up great prices with coupons I have. The bulk foods section at Winco has some of the best prices I have seen on staples that I use all the time like all kinds of flour, sugar, beans, spices, rice and many other items. All around I find that if I have a grocery trip to make and the sales aren’t doing it for me Winco is a great alternative that offers amazing prices and a great selection.
Likewise in the California area we have FoodMaxx. They have ad-beater prices and accept manufacturer coupons as well. FoodMaxx also doesn’t have ads and you need to bag your own groceries at the end, but if you bring in your own shopping bags they give you a discounted price per bag.
Another option is the Grocery Outlet. The Grocery Outlet purchases overstock items from manufacturers. Although Grocery Outlet does not take coupons there are a lot of great deals to be had in their store. Their stock is not consistent so you have to be flexible with your shopping list. I have found items like cereal, juice, frozen foods and produce at a huge discount over the grocery stores.
Big Lots is another store that purchases overstock or liquidation items. They do not take coupons, but I have found some really great deals in their grocery section.
Dollar stores are a great place to find snack items, juice and other food products for a dollar. I have always had good experiences at the Dollar Tree. They have a great selection of products and friendly staff. In WA most of the Dollar Tree stores have added a frozen section with things like waffles and frozen vegetables.
Bakery outlets have great deals on bread items and cookies. The best buy date is usually soon but if you plan to use it or freeze it soon after you get it home then they have some amazing prices. I have found loaves of bread normally priced for 3.50 for 1.25 before.
If I have to go to the store to pick up a few items that are not on sale and there are no coupons then generic items usually are much better priced than name brand foods. I have even purchased generic brands when the sale and coupon price are still more than the generic would be. This is where paying attention to all of the prices for the foods you are buying comes in handy. A lot of times stores will put the name brands at your eye level, but keep the generic and less expensive brands on the upper or lower shelves. Be sure to look up and down and see that you are getting the best overall price.
Farmers Markets are great resources during warmer months to purchase fruits, vegetables, honey and other goodies for a good price. Locally grown and many times organic items can be found for a much lower price than you would find it at the store.
Make it yourself
Okay so this one may take some getting used to but I find some of my best savings comes from just throwing together my own batch of jam or homemade bread rather than buying it at the store. Recently, the red plum inserts stopped their contract with the paper I purchase. This was a huge bummer since I got all my coupons for All laundry detergent in those inserts (which happens to be the only kind of detergent I am not allergic to). I bought one jug of detergent at 13.99 and just about fainted from the price. Wow I knew then and there that I had to come up with an alternative or our grocery budget was going to suffer. A friend mentioned that she had been making her own detergent for a while, so we got together for a play date and a round of laundry detergent making. It cost me a total of 6.00 to get all the stuff for the first batch and I had enough left over from two of the three ingredients for two more batches and the first batch made five gallons of laundry detergent. Wow that is an amazing savings. I ended up with six months of detergent for less than 3.00. Compare that to my 13.99 bottle that lasted a month and that is some serious savings.
Substitute for less expensive products
Meat is one of the most expensive ingredients in most of the meals I prepare so I have started cutting down the amount of meat I use or substituting part beans for some of the meat. I try to cook one or two vegetarian meals a week to cut down the amount of meat we are using as well. Make friends with your local grocery store butcher. A lot of times they will tell you when things are going on sale, or when they put the clearance meat out. Most grocery stores have a clearance section, but a word to the wise … make sure that none of the meat has discolored or has started to smell. I would recommend either using the meat from the clearance section that night or freeze it right away.
Always buy produce when it is in season. Most veggies and fruit you can freeze and use it later. We’ll have a segment on this soon. If there is an ingredient that isn’t in season see if you could substitute for something similar that is.
Wait it out
There will always be another deal on the items you use, if you can live without it wait until the next time it goes on sale and stock up so you are good until the next sale. It isn’t going to hut to go without something for a little while in order to save money in the long run. Right now I am completely out of conditioner and due to my irritating allergies I can only use one brand, so while I don’t enjoy not having conditioner and wish I did, my hair is not going to fall out while I am waiting for the next sale. I will live without it and when it goes on sale I will stock up a few bottles to make sure I have it next time.