There are lots of different ways to save money at the grocery store but here is how I do it. I suggest doing what I did and hear a few different peoples way's of doing things by reading blogs, watching "Extreme Couponing" (on TLC), and joining some couponing Facebook pages (there seems to be one for every area so find a local one). Then try everything until you find what works for you. This definitely isn't the kind of thing you will master over night. It takes a long time to figure out the sales, collect coupons, and really get the hang of things but the benefits are limitless. I saw one lady on "Extreme Couponing" who got over $1000 worth of groceries for less than $10!!
Flipp. Not only does It have lots of flyers, and not just grocery flyers which is nice because you never know when you'll find weird sales (this week Canadian Tire had crackers on sale... weird!) but there's also a handy shopping list feature so you don't need to grocery shop with scrap paper and a pen , and its got a search feature that lets you search for each item you need. If you live in the US I don't think you will be able to use Flipp but I'm sure there are plenty of great apps for you guys too.
The next thing I look though are my coupons. I have a collection of coupons, but its isn't too big yet because I just started using & collecting them. I try to use coupons on top of sale prices to maximize savings. For example, say an item is normally $3 but when its on sale its only $2. When you use a $1 off coupon your saving 50% instead of 30%, and you're getting it for $1 instead of $2. I always try to get as many coupons as I can for items my family uses (even if its things we only get once in a while, you never know when it will go on sale super cheap and your coupon will make it even cheaper... or free!). It's best to stock up on things when you can get them for really cheap, I try to get enough to last me until that items on sale again (most items at most store are on sale roughly every 6 months). If you are going to use coupons make sure you read them carefully. Its really annoying to get to the cashier and find out the terms of your coupon aren't what you thought and you can't save as much as you expected.
I also look through what I call "money back apps". These are the apps that literally give you money for buying stuff. I use Checkout 51 and Zweet because I find they have the most products that I use but there are others ones you can download from the App Store. These apps both post a list of items each week, on Wednesdays. If you buy any of the listed products you upload your grocery receipt with your camera on your phone and they give you a certain amount of money back for each product. Once you get to $20 or more you can "cash out" and they mail you a cheque. Some items only give you $0.25, but I've also seen some that give you $5 when you buy it. Either way, it all adds up especially if your buying things you would normally buy anyways. If you shop at any Presidents Choice store (Zehrs, Superstore, etc.) you will also want to check your loaded offers on your PC Plus card (don't forget to load your offers every week from the email they send out). Those points add up so quickly too, and they're nice to have if you go over budget a little because of miscalculations or unexpected purchases.
Now that you have an idea of what's on sale, what coupons you have, and what your going to get points or money back for you're ready to make your meal plan. I use a really simple chart with the days I'm shopping for across the top and daily meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) down the side. Fill in your chart with all the great meals you want to cook for the week (or however long your shopping for). Once your meal plan is made make a list of everything you need to buy to make it happen.
Ok, your list is made and you have the lowest price for each item, now it's a good idea to add everything up and make sure that you are within your budget. This is a very important step because if you are over budget it won't matter how much you've saved. If you do find that you are over your budget make some changes to your grocery list by taking some things out or substituting them for cheaper alternatives. If you are significantly over budget you may want to make some changes to your meal plan. Don't forget to look up any new/different items that you added to your list in your flyers/app so your getting the lowest price for them.
Now its time to go to the store. Be sure to bring your list, your phone or flyers, your coupons (I like to bring all of mine because they still fit in my purse and you never know what you might find when you get there), and your shopping bags. Make sure that when you go grocery shopping you aren't hungry and you are focused on the task at hand. It might sound a little silly but if your hungry or thinking about other things you are more likely to spend extra money. I also try to grocery shop alone. My husband and kids like to add things to the cart and I never have the heart to say no to them (plus the things they add are usually full price and expensive).
I shop at the Superstore and they have a very large discount/marked down section that I find very helpful. Its a good idea to know where these sections are at your store. I just found out that there's another section of marked down toiletries by the washroom (I'm not sure why its there where no one can see it) where I found sunscreen bottles for $1. I find that even the bread and produce that is marked down is still in great condition, especially if its being used very soon or being frozen (I make my own baby food that I freeze).
While your at the grocery store, don't forget to keep your eyes open for coupons on the shelves. Some stores also post all of their coupons in one location at the front. It's still a good idea to keep your eyes open because sometimes you'll find products with additional coupons, or other coupons that are not on the board. Another place to look for coupons is online. If you subscribe to coupon mailing lists or go straight to manufacturers websites you will get lots more coupons, however usually you can usually only get one at a time. One more place I've seen coupons are couponing Facebook pages. Usually on these people are willing to trade close to expiring coupons, or coupons they won't use. As I said you need to collect coupons for a while but also keep an eye on the expiration dates so your not trying to use expired ones.
Now that you have all your groceries its time to go to the checkout. I recommend getting to know the cashiers at your grocery store because they can be very helpful, or a pain in the @$$. I try to shop at the same time each week and have been known to wait in super long lines just so that I get the cashier I know will help me out. Some benefits to a cashier that knows you is they are more likely to let you know if there's an item you didn't price match that you could get cheaper, combine offers, let you buy more than 1 item with a coupon at a time, and help you bag your groceries... all things I doubt they are supposed to do or that they do for everyone. Plus, it's just good etiquette to be nice to service people... And all people for that matter!
Some stores have a policy called the "Scanning Code of Practice". This handy little rule says that if an item scans for a price higher than the price it says on the shelf you get the item for free... yes, I said F-R-E-E. So, say you are buying an item that is supposed to cost $4.44 and it scans for $6.97 (or whatever), tell the cashier and you will get it for free. This mostly happens on sale items when they haven't been entered into the cashiers system properly and I'm told that Shoppers Drugmart and Freshco are the best places to go because it happens there frequently. I just found out about this little gem and have yet to use it but you better believer I watch everything being scanned in now. It is hard to keep all the prices straight but again it gets easier with practice. Check with your stores customer service desk to find out exactly how your store does things. Some stores policies vary slightly with resect to how many items you are allowed and maximum price of things you can get for free.
Finally, make sure you scan your loyalty card before paying (and if you shop at Superstore remember you get the deal of the week for free if the cashier doesn't ask you if your interested in it), pay for everything, and give yourself a pat on the back: your grocery shopping is done for another week.
Like most things you're going to get out of it what you put in, the more planning you do the more money you will save. So far my record is $60 for a full week of groceries for 5 people, but I know one woman who's grocery bill came to $0.60!!
Have any tips of your own, or any suggestion for ways I can save even more money please comment below and don't forget to follow this blog for more posts like this one! Thanks for reading and have a fantastic day :)