You’re on your way home from school after a hectic day when you remember that you have “nothing” at home for dinner. Although grocery shopping is the last thing you want to do, you make an exhausted detour to the market. Of course you don’t have your list with you, but somehow manage to fill your cart with items. After spending much more than you intended, you arrive home to realize you forgot all the items you needed and rebought ones you did not need.
It’s a scenario to which every teacher can relate.
But this school year is going to be different! With just a few some simple routine changes, advance planning and insider tips, you are sure to save money every month on your grocery bill. Check out our nine top tips to save on grocery shopping (and your sanity).
1. Make your list at home before shopping … or shop online!
Simply wracking your memory to create your grocery list between class periods is a recipe for overspending. Resolve to always draft your list on-site in your kitchen, or even better, shop online right in your kitchen thanks to Walmart Grocery. Walmart has launched its online grocery pickup service in over 100 stores nationwide and the list is growing (check to see if it’s available at a Walmart near you!). Choose from 30,000 different grocery items and then simply pick them up curbside at your local Walmart store without even leaving your car!
2. Plan meals with an aim to use up all your stuff.
Minus that bag of peas in your freezer that serves as an ice pack, there’s no reason to treat our pantries like bomb shelters. On you next pre-grocery run audit, plan the week’s meals based on the (unexpired) items you have hanging around. Random box of fish sticks in the freezer? Buy tortillas, cabbage and queso fresco for a fish taco night. Multiple cans of tomato sauce in the cabinet? Time to pick up spaghetti, ground turkey and break out Grandma’s recipe for homemade marinara.
3. Buy just enough produce.
The simplest way to save on produce is to not buy fruit and veggies that will over ripen before they are consumed. While stocking up on deals on shelf-stable pantry items is a great way to save, keep your produce purchases to no more than one week at a time. Healthy living and frugal living goal: before you hit the store or farmer’s market, commit to finishing off all items in the crisper drawer.
4. Shop the weekly specials.
Grocery store’s weekly specials featured in their flyers and online aren’t gimmicks—these special sales are big ways to save. Often an excess of meat, poultry, produce or staples causes these specials, other times the stores plan sales on seasonal favorites to draw shoppers. Whatever the reason, using store specials as your list-making and meal-planning guide will help you to save.
5. Seek out coupon doubling.
Coupon clipping can be an art, but the biggest shorthand to coupon savings success is to identify which grocery stores near you double (or even triple) manufacturer’s coupons. Start with this list of stores that double coupons as a guide, and then call your local store location and speak to a store manager to verify the policy before clipping and shopping.
6. Stick to your list at warehouse stores.
While the siren call of new jeans, sweaters, bulk candy and paperbacks at Costco and Sam’s Club are hard to resist, resist we must. Instead enjoy the free samples and low prices on the chicken breasts, coffee, lettuce heads, peanut butter or whatever items you and your family consistently consume.
7. Join store loyalty card programs and link your card online.
It’s amazing how many people do not own their grocery store loyalty cards and just opt to use “the store card” at checkout. They are leaving money (and gas points, and big coupons, and special perks) on the table. Always opt to join the programs and then register your card number online with your email and phone number. At some stores you can have coupons delivered to your account digitally, saving you time clipping as well as cash. Be sure to sign up for loyalty cards even at the groceries you shop infrequently. You never know who will mail you a $50 coupon incentive before Thanksgiving or offer a new gas rewards program as the year progresses.
8. Order organic essentials.
We see you, health-minded educators, and we know how pricey are the coconut oil, chia seeds and non-GMO foods that stock your pantry. Organic foods and personal care products are often found priced at their lowest online. For instance, Thrive Market is an online marketplace that offers favorite organic foods and products at up to 50 percent off, delivered right to your door. Thrive market is offering an exclusive 25 percent off, plus free shipping, for WeAreTeachers readers! Access this awesome deal here.
9. Save the coupons that come with your receipts.
Buy the same dog food, yogurt and seltzer brand each week? Thanks to using your loyalty card (see #4!) your store is noticing and will often offer you coupons on those favorite items along with your receipt. This brings you back to the store, and saves you cash on the items you were going to buy anyways. Win-win!
Don’t forget to try Walmart’s free online grocery service with curbside pickup and get $10 off your first order of $50 or more with promo code TEACHERS at Walmart.com/grocery!