There are a number of ways you can save money at the grocery store, and they don't have to be all that complicated.
1. Leave your calculator at home.
Don't assume that just because an item comes in a larger "value size" that it is actually less expensive per ounce. Make sure you take your calculator to the store with you when you shop, and use it!
2. Don't watch the display when the food is scanned at the register.
Believe it or not, grocery stores do make mistakes. Keep an eye on the display while your food is rung up, and if you see something ring up at a price that's different from what you expect, ask the clerk about it. Don't hesitate to hold up the line if it means the store is overcharging you.
3. Don't take advantage of Wal-Mart's price-matching and $3 guarantee.
Wal-Mart will price-match any items that are advertised in other local store's circulars. Just remember to bring in the circular to show the cashier when you check out.
Wal-Mart also guarantees that their listed prices match what actually shows up in the register when the item is scanned. If the prices don't match, point it out. Wal-Mart will take up to $3 off the cost of the mis-priced item. I've gotten dozens of loaves of bread for free in this manner. Just remember to pay attention to the prices on the shelf.
The Wal-Mart price-matching and $3 guarantee policies are usually posted in their stores in the check-out line.
4. Assume that Wal-Mart is always the cheapest place to shop.
I've found Wal-Mart to be cheaper on a lot of items, but not on everything. Check out other grocery stores like Target, Kroger, and CVS. I haven't done it yet myself, but a lot of bloggers are getting fantastic deals by shopping at CVS on a regular basis.
5. Don't use coupons.
I don't get the Sunday paper, but I do download online coupons (from Smart Source, Coupons.com, etc.). It may not seem like you're saving a lot by using coupons, but it does adds up. Think of it this way: how would you feel if someone took a couple dollars from your wallet and then set a match to them? If you don't use the coupons that are freely available to you, that's essentially what you're doing—burning money.
6. Forget to write a shopping list.
There are a couple reasons to make sure you always shop with a list. First, it can help you cut down on impulse buying if you determine only to purchase the items on your list. Second, a list made ahead of time will keep you from forgetting items you need, and you'll avoid having to purchase the forgotten items at the more expensive grocery store closer to your home (unfortunately, I've done this many time!).
7. Drive extra miles just to get a better price on only a couple of items.
With the cost of gas now, take into account how much it costs to drive to the grocery store that has the better deals. If you're determined to drive the extra miles, try to combine the trip with other errands to make it more worthwhile.
8. Choose brand name all the time.
If there's a generic brand available, give it a try before you discount it entirely. Also, don't buy brand name food just because you have a coupon for it. You may still be able to get good quality food by buying the generic food at the regular price.
9. Buy food in individual servings.
From chips to macaroni and cheese to juice boxes, everything seems to come in individual servings nowadays. You can usually buy the food you want in larger quantities, and then repackage it yourself into individual servings for a much lower cost. It takes a little time, but the money savings are worth it.
10. Avoid shopping at discount bread outlets.
We have a local Mrs. Baird's discount bread outlet that we patronize frequently. We buy several loaves of bread at a time for very little money. At home we freeze most of them, put one in the refrigerator, and then have one in the bread box. When the bread box is empty, we simply rotate the bread from the freezer into the fridge, and then from the fridge to the bread box. Do a little research to see if you have a bread outlet in your area.
11. Spend enough time shopping that it runs into dinnertime.
You've always heard that you're not supposed to go shopping on an empty stomach. But I'd like to add that you shouldn't shop on a full stomach either if you end up spending so much time at the store that it runs into dinnertime. If you know your shopping trip is going to take several hours, it's always a good idea to take a few healthy snacks in the car to stave off hunger until you get back home.
12. Grocery shop with your husband.
If your husband is like mine, he hates shopping, so whenever we grocery shop together I tend to hurry faster than I would normally go, which means that I don't spend as much time comparison shopping as I'd like. Unless your husband enjoys accompanying you on shopping expeditions, leave him at home with the kids.
13. Promise your kids you'll buy them a surprise if they're good.
Do I really have to say anything more?