1. Know Your Budget! Awwwe, the dreaded "B" word. You are either a person that loves a budget (like me!) or hates a budget (also like me when I want to buy something I didn't set money aside for). A family budget, household budget, personal budget, whatever you want to call it, it has to happen. Think of yourself as the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of your
2. Know your prices. This may take a little time but eventually you will know the lowest cost for your regularly purchased items. In my area right now I won't buy milk if it's over $2 a gallon (not organic but rbst free) or a pound of chicken breast if it's over $1.99 a pound. I know how much organic apples should cost ($2.99 for a 3lb bag) and I have a limit for what I'll spend on a pound of brown rice pasta. When I see the prices fall to "my" price, I buy for 2-4 weeks if I can freeze the item or stock it in my pantry. Some store will always have my price, and when I'm in the area of the store throughout the week, I'll pop in and get my items. My personal rule is I need to get at least 4 items from that store in order to make it worth my time.
down the items you purchase most. When you go to the store, take your notebook, put the date at the top, and write down the prices next to each item. The next time you go to the store, start a new column with the date at the top again and write the prices down next to the item again. Do this for about a month or two comparing prices at the different stores you shop at. You may find you're paying to much, find the lowest sales price, or discover that certain items go on sale at the same time every month. That's when you want to stock up.
I've never had the patience to do this, but over the years, I've gotten to know my prices and that is essential.
A price log looks like this just with the dates at top. If you shop at one store and don't want to change that, log your items and dates anyway. You'll see when your items go on sale and when you should stalk up.
3. Gather your inserts and compare grocery store prices. You know what you're willing to pay for your groceries, so now it's time to see which store has your price. My grocery inserts come each week on Tuesday. New sales prices start on Wednesday (usually) and end the following Tuesday. Some stores like Sprouts have specials on Wednesdays where they combine the sales from last week's inserts and the new week's sales. I don't shop on Wednesdays but these little things are always good to know. On Thursday night, I look through the inserts, plan out a menu, and make my grocery list. I'll shop on Friday afternoon, hitting two grocery stores (usually) and Costco. It takes about two hours, but it's worth it. Like I said, we're below the USDA's "Thrifty" food plan budget. Plus, I see my grocery errands as part of my "job" at home. Mr. Lewisville gets up early every morning, irons his own clothes, and works hard for his family. I can certainly spend a few hours and take my troops to the grocery store. They love it...no not really, but we do it anyway.