It seems like it was just yesterday, but it couldn’t have been, because we only had 3 kids at the time. My husband had quit his job as a wholesale mortgage representative and we had no income. We had recently sold a house, so we had a meager amount from that sale to live off of, but once that was gone, it was GONE. We were living in a more expensive area than we had to, so after applying for several jobs in that area, we decided to move back home, where we knew that housing was less expensive. The only problem was that there wasn’t a plethora of jobs available there. But, since it was our hometown, we knew we’d have more leads than we’d have in a strange town where we knew no one. Plus, we’d have grandparents to help with the kids, if we needed it.
Times were getting desperate though. My husband, who had both a Bachelors degree and a Master’s degree took on a temporary job as a lawn mower tester. He literally drove across fields for hours on end, testing the lawn mowers to see if he could make them break. If they did, he’d take it back to the shop, so that the manufacturer could figure out what went wrong and would know how to make better mowers. At one point during that time, I took on another temporary job delivering phone books. It was something I could do with the kids in tow. We would walk through town, pulling the books and the toddler in a wagon and place a phone book at the door of each house on our route. We delivered them for a whopping 10 cents per book.
My husband has a memory from that time. He remembers that he was out helping me and the kids deliver phone books and he had to leave to go to work. He said he felt so guilty, making us deliver those books and he wasn’t able to stay to help us. It was hard on him. Not only that, but he was qualified to earn more money, but just couldn’t find the right position. I tend to be a little more optimistic, and saw it as a chance to contribute to the family and a chance to teach our young children about what it means to earn money. Sometimes you have to do hard things that you don’t want to do.
It was during that time that I really learned how to save money on groceries. Through the years, I’ve tweaked my way of doing things into the system that I currently use today. Let me tell you a little about it.
Get or Buy Your Meat in Bulk
If you’ve never bought meat in bulk, you may be wondering how you can do that. We’ve used many different ways to do this.
- We bought a whole case of ground beef at Sam’s Club. – At Sam’s, they have a case price and then they have the regular pricing on each of the packages. If you go to the meat department, you can read the pricing on the back wall behind the meat display. Here lately, we haven’t found that it would save us much, but we always watch it, just in case.
- Buy a side of Beef from a local farmer. I don’t know about you, but I’ve not been buying roasts and steaks any more. I can’t afford it! I’m seeing $5 per pound (or more) roasts and $10 per pound steaks. It’s crazy. We recently contracted with a local farmer to buy 1/2 of a cow. It’s much cheaper than buying those steaks and roasts at that price.
- Buy in bulk from Zaycon Foods. Another option that I recently ran across is a site called Zaycon Foods. They send a truck to my town every month with a new meat deal. I just ordered 40 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.69 per pound! I’ll be picking it up on February 29th. This will be my first time buying from them, but I’ve heard tons of good things about them. If you’d like to check and see if you have a drop point near you, go here.
- Find a hunter who doesn’t want all of his meat. If you’re OK with eating deer meat, there are many hunters who love hunting but can’t ever eat up the amount of deer that they get for the season. Often times, you’ll have to pay a processing fee, but after that, then you have plenty of ground meat and steaks to choose from. Another possibility is if your community has a lot of roadkill deer, offer to pick that up immediately after the wreck and have it processed. In our community, you can call your local Sheriff’s office and offer to be put on a list of people to call to come and get it. Then, the sheriff officer or conservation officer tags it for you and you take it to the meat processing plant yourself.
Shop at Aldi
Seriously. If you’ve never shopped at Aldi, you need to shop there! Each week, they have sales on produce. I watch those sales and stock up on the sale items. The last time I was there, I bought 3 pound bags of Gala apples for $1.49 each and avocados for 44 cents. I regularly find pineapples for $1 and 4 pound bags of oranges for $1.88. When the produce are at their lowest prices, I stock up with as much as I think my family can eat before it goes bad. In comparison, Gala Apples at our local Walmart are $4 a bag, avocados are 99 cents each and oranges are $4-$5 a bag.
We also buy canned goods at Aldi. I buy a case at a time of things like chili beans, green beans, peas, etc. They are normally the most cost effective pricing I can find.
Buy Certain Things at Sam’s Club
We have certain things that we always buy at Sam’s Club. These include:
- Cheese (it’s $5 a pound at our Walmart and less than $3 a pound at Sam’s)
- Peanut Butter
- Spaghetti sauce (occasionally)
- Spaghetti Noodles (can do Sam’s or Aldi)
- Snack foods for my husband to take to work with him
- Sour cream (occasionally)
- Lettuce (if you’re eating salad regularly and can stand to buy 6 romaine hearts at a time)
- white flour (25 pound bags)
- Gatorade powder (not for me… when my husband is working out or sweating a lot, he always wants this)
- Trash Bags – I will NEVER buy these at Walmart. They are way overpriced there. Sam’s if I plan ahead and Dollar General if I don’t.
Use a Food and/or Produce Coop
There’s several different kinds of food coops to choose from. Some are a cooperative through a farm and others are the kind that brings it in on a truck. You will have to figure out what’s available in your area and if it’s important for you to buy organic or not. Here’s what we have available:
This is another one that is new to me. It’s not available in all areas, so you’ll have to check to see if it comes to your community or not. I just received my first basket order last week. I bought 22 pounds of cauliflower for $14 and a salad pack for $11, in addition to the regular basket. At the top of this section is a photo of all the food we received this past week!
I don’t buy from this co-op often, but they regularly deliver to our town as well. I usually buy 25 pounds of oats from here, as it’s cheaper than purchasing it in a regular grocery store. I just store them in a food safe bucket with a lid. This co-op focuses on whole foods and organic foods. If you often buy food at a health food store, this one is for you.
Shop Amazon Sales
Did you know that Amazon often has major price drops on food items? If you buy the items as subscribe and save, you save even more (up to 20%, depending on how many products you’re subscribed to). They also have online coupons and free 2-day shipping if you are a Prime Member (get a free trial of Prime here). A lot of their things are overpriced, but you will find some things that are marked down and you have to jump on them quick or they’ll be gone before you know it.
Use Loss Leaders and Coupons
I almost didn’t include this, because I don’t have local grocery stores that really have loss leaders. It doesn’t pay me to use coupons either. I live in a small town with a small overpriced grocery store and Walmart. But… if I lived in a city, where there was a good amount of competition, I’d totally be doing this. You can combine coupons with weekly sales and make some killer deals! Sometimes free!
Did you know that Walmart will match any grocery store within 30 miles? Yes, they will. They even match Aldi. SO…if you know that Aldi has avocados on sale for 49 cents but don’t want to drive there, take your phone into Walmart and show them the ad on your phone and they will match it. Our Walmart used to do this for us…but then they made the rule 30 miles instead of 45…so we can’t match our Aldi any more. It’s too far away.
That about covers all the tricks that I use on a regular basis. It also covers the ones that I would use, if I lived in a different area. I hope they were helpful for you. In the mean time, I’d love to see what you’d add to the list? We’re all different and can learn from one another…so tell me…
How do you save money on groceries?