How To Save Money When Shopping

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The best time to save money when shopping is critical to our budgets. I continue to see grocery prices rise and rise again. It’s getting to the point that I am thinking that families may be paying more for food than possibly their rent or house payments. I wrote this article a few years ago but I updated it for you today.

Mark and I are eating a whole lot less meat than we have ever in our married life. I will not cave into the prices of salmon, expensive beef cuts, or whatever meat is over-priced. I have a few tricks up my sleeve that  I have used for years, and if you have some I want to add them to the list so my readers may benefit from your ideas as well.

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Today I will address mainly fresh fruit and vegetables in your grocery or supermarkets. Mark and I recently went to dinner with some friends and it’s so fun to share ideas on how to save money. I told my friend I was so frustrated at not only the price of food but clothes too!

She mentioned she picked up the blouse she was wearing for $20.00 at a retail discount store in our town with brand names of clothes. We live in a small town with very little shopping options for clothes compared to the large cities I’m used to living in.

I must say, we have the best grocery store in the world here called Harmon’s, as well as Costco. If you walk into Harmon’s the employees greet you like you are their best friend and will help you any way they can. I love that store and their employees.

It’s as close to the store called Trader Joe’s that you may have heard of than any other we have here in Southern Utah. Wish we had a Trader Joe’s here!

You can buy some items online like toilet paper that are a necessity like these: Georgia-Pacific Envision 19880/01 White 2-Ply Embossed Bathroom Tissue, 4.05″ Length x 4″ Width (Case of 80 Rolls) I personally buy these for storage because they are individually packaged. I recommend getting a case or two and placing some rolls in places all over your house.

Yep, I never want to run out of toilet paper, just saying.  I’ve listed some shopping ideas below, and I’d love to hear yours.

Save Money When Shopping

  1. Make a budget and stick to it, put your grocery expense money in an envelope and when the money is gone so is your shopping.
  2. Make a menu for the week and make a list of items you need based on the food on sale that week in the FREE weekly ads paper that comes in the mail.
  3. Make a list of the things you need to purchase and stick to it.
  4. Never go to a grocery or supermarket when you are hungry, you may compulsively buy some foods you do not need or want.
  5. Use coupons only if they make sense. In other words, don’t buy the product just because you have a coupon if you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the package.
  6. Buy fruits and vegetables in season and the fruit will be cheaper and taste better. If you have a farmer’s market available use it because you will love the quality and know that it’s organic, hopefully.
  7. Please note there is a difference between a true farmer’s market and a produce market. The produce market sellers often sell the food they buy from the farmers.
  8. Remember to buy what your family will eat or you are not saving money if you eventually throw it out. Interesting article by End Food Waste Now.org
  9. Buy only the amount of food you can consume before it goes bad. I know we can dehydrate it, but we still need to buy less than we think we need, sometimes. The slogan store what you like and eat what you store is awesome. I’m not sure who came up with that but it sure makes sense.
  10. I like to buy case lot sales of the items that I use a lot when they go on sale.
  11. I love buying frozen vegetables in small packages for just Mark and me. No waste. I choose our favorites and organize my freezer so I can grab them quickly. In the past, I would buy fresh and sometimes forget they were way back in the refrigerator. This is why I love growing a garden, what we grow and harvest is what we eat. Please don’t be afraid to start a garden, I have had a garden for 40+ years. I’ve had mostly good years, but a few years I couldn’t even grow zucchini. Good grief, I used to give zucchini away to EVERYONE! But I will not give up, and I teach my neighbors to do the same, or at least those who are interested.
  12. Buy larger containers of items if they are cheaper, but only if you can use them up before they go bad. For instance, my husband and I can no longer buy large jars of pickles because they will not taste as good after being open a year later. This is an exaggeration. I do not keep pickles in the refrigerator for a year, but my husband would still eat them. I would rather buy smaller jars of pickles and have a really good crisp pickle than a large jar with a pickle that I can’t tell if it’s a dill or sweet pickle, just saying.

Fruits and Vegetables In Season:

Please note, these items could be available at different times depending on where you live and the weather conditions during their growing season.

Any time of the year:

  1. Apples (from earlier harvests)
  2. Bananas
  3. Bell peppers
  4. Lettuce
  5. Mushrooms
  6. Plantains

January through March:

  1. Apples (cold storage left from fall harvests)
  2. Artichokes
  3. Broccoli
  4. Brussel Sprouts
  5. Cabbage
  6. Carrots
  7. Cauliflower
  8. Celery
  9. Fennel
  10. Grapefruit
  11. Kale
  12. Mangoes (through September)
  13. Onions
  14. Parsnips (through May)
  15. Pineapples (through July)
  16. Sweet potatoes
  17. Turnips
  18. Oranges
  19. Pears
  20. Potatoes
  21. Squash

April through June:

  1. Avocados
  2. Artichokes
  3. Asparagus
  4. Blueberries (through October)
  5. Cantaloupe (through August)
  6. Corn
  7. Cucumbers
  8. Green beans (through October)
  9. Kiwi
  10. Okra (through July)
  11. Plums (through October)
  12. Radishes
  13. Spinach
  14. Strawberries (through July)
  15. Sugar snap peas
  16. Rhubarb (through September)
  17. Watermelon (through August)

June through September:

  1. Beets (through November)
  2. Blackberries
  3. Butternut squash
  4. Cranberries (through December)
  5. Eggplant
  6. Grapes
  7. Nectarines
  8. Papayas
  9. Passionfruit
  10. Peaches
  11. Pears (through December)
  12. Pumpkins (through November)
  13. Raspberries (through October)
  14. Swiss Chard (through October)
  15. Tomatoes
  16. Zucchini

October through December:

  1. Coconuts
  2. Oranges
  3. Pomegranates
  4. Tangerines

I hope these lists help you save money when shopping for the items you need. Please buy fresh, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables to have on hand to be prepared for the unexpected. If you can grow a garden or join a community garden co-op you will love it, I promise. I just picked my first tomato and my husband made our first BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich of the summer. Yay! I love fresh tomatoes.

25 Ways To Save Money

My favorite fruit and vegetable tools:

PL8 Professional Mandoline Slicer PL8 1000
Chef’n Strawberry Slicester Hand-Held Strawberry Slicer
Zyliss Lettuce Knife
Banana Slicer, kitchen Banana section plastic, Banana Slicer Chopper Fruit Cutter Cucumber Salad, Steel and Plastic 7″x1.6″x1.52″ Yellow

Copyright Images: Depositphotos_82938126_m-2015

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13 thoughts on “How To Save Money When Shopping

  • January 4, 2019 at 9:11 am
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    Good Day Linda,
    I look at the clearance section and those items, I use or can freeze I purchase. I have found canned fruit with a small crease in the can, but perfect for pineapple upside down cake.

    Reply
    • January 4, 2019 at 10:57 am
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      Hi Patricia, this is a great tip. I love saving money every way possible. Now I feel like making an upside down cake!!! I love it! Linda

      Reply
      • January 4, 2019 at 11:33 pm
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        Linda & Patricia,
        Pineapple upside down cake is one of my favorites and I now see one in my very near future. LOL. We always have the ingredients on hand including the required maraschino cherries. Ooey Gooey goodness.

        Reply
  • January 4, 2019 at 10:19 am
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    Thanks, Linda ~
    As a single senior, I have found it very difficult to grocery shop and manage the waste/waist!! I have tried a number of things that did not work out for me! I tried Imperfect Produce (may not be available where you live but it is home delivery of fruits/veggies that cannot be sold in stores because they are not perfect!) but I found that I still had waste; I tried Dinners Done Right and Hello Fresh but neither had single servings and the cost becomes way out of my price range. I like the idea of having a meal that is pre-packaged and I just have to throw the dinner together but…

    Anyway, there is a produce market very close to where I live and I can pick out just what I want in the fruit/veggie department. I shop at the farmer’s markets in my locale when they are open in the spring/summer/fall.

    I also purchase my canned fruits/veggies in the single serve cans/containers. They are a lot more expensive but create a lot less waste. I used to keep a container in the freezer (when I had a family at home) and put the left over veggies in the container. Then when I made soup or stew, I took it out and let it thaw. I added those left over veggies to the soup. Sometimes it was only a spoonfull of green beans or corn but it all went into the freezer for soups. Now, I don’t have room for it and don’t make a lot of soups/stews as I have NEVER figured out how to make smaller batches!!

    Also, let your readers know that if a veggie is sold by the pound (i.e. broccoli, asparagus, etc.) you do NOT have to purchase the whole bunch. It is OK to take one head of broccoli instead of the double bunch that I most often see. If I want asparagus but only want 4-5 spears, and the veggie is bundled with a rubber band, I only take what I want. Most grocery stores in my area have a section of single veggies: ribs of celery instead of the whole bunch. I rarely purchase celery other than the individual ribs now days. I have also asked the produce manager/worker if I could purchase only 1/2 of say a head of cabbage (even that is way too much for me as a single) and I have always walked out with a smaller portion! I have asked the produce manager to remove the leaves/stems, etc., from my veggies. I don’t have a place to compost those things and frankly, I don’t want to pay for them either!! Just remember, if you ask, you have a 50-50 chance of getting just what you want! If you don’t ask, you have a 100% chance of NOT getting what you want.

    I also purchase meat at the meat counter rather than the pre-packaged meats. That way, if I only want 1/2 pound of ground beef, that is all I get. If I only want one chicken breast, I can do that. The cost may be a little higher but in the end, I have less waste so it turns out to be less expensive. I only have so much freezer space!

    A vacuum sealer has saved me a ton of money on meats especially. If I do buy a package of meat larger than I would normally be able to use in a reasonable time, I can save it from freezer burn by vacuum sealing what I don’t use right away.

    When one lives on a fixed income, it is absolutely necessary to budget: not only food but all areas of the money suckers!!

    Reply
    • January 4, 2019 at 11:00 am
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      Oh Leanne, what a great comment today! You and I are so much alike. I LOVE your comment today. We must all be mindful of waste and the money suckers!! Love it! Linda

      Reply
    • January 4, 2019 at 11:48 pm
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      Leanne,
      Your comment about weighing produce and purchasing what you need is a good one, and something we do all of the time; but, one I wouldn’t have thought to add, since it’s common practice around here. Our local Wal-Mart, Meijer’s, and Kroger all have scales in their produce departments with bins of loose fruits and vegetables and bags for bagging your selection. We are also able to be “picky” and only take the produce that looks and feels good and is not openly damaged, meaning it is likely to keep longer.
      Last July I attended the local weekly Amish produce auction where I purchased a lot of sweet potatoes, candy onions, and tomatoes. Those tomatoes have all been dehydrated, vacuum sealed, and frozen; but, we are still eating onions and sweet potatoes, since with proper storage they keep for a long time

      Reply
      • January 5, 2019 at 10:16 am
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        Ohio Prepper ~
        Another thing that I do that I don’t see often is when the produce department is misting the veggies that are sold by the pound – I shake the veggies to get as much water off them as possible. That way, I am not paying for water (or much water)! Not something that I see many people do as they are likely in a hurry to get their groceries and get home.

        Reply
  • January 4, 2019 at 11:27 pm
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    Linda,
    Our clothing budget is rather minimalistic, since at our age we don’t dress up much, so jeans & T-Shirts are normal most of the time, with the occasional flannel shirt or wool sweater layered on top in the cold weather.
    One thing we do on the food front is have the ability to spend money to save money. Back in April of 2017 we purchased a half of a beef from a local farmer. You do need a freezer to store such a haul; but, in the long run it makes the meat much less expensive and gives you a longer term supply to keep on hand. I “brokered” the sale with him as I had done before and had two other families who each took a ¼ share. The breakdown for us on the Black Angus was as follows:
    An Angus steer with a hanging weight after slaughter of 660 pounds @ $2.25 per pound to the farmer = $1485 with our ½ = $ 742.50.
    $65.00 slaughter fee to the processor or ½ of $65.00 or $32.50 for our share.
    $0.55 per pound processing fee with the meat cut to our specifications for 330 pounds = $ 181.50 also to the processor.
    Our total was $ 956.50 all in for 330 pounds or $2.90 per pound. That was for bones and stew meat and ground beef; but, also the same for numerous cuts of steak and roasts. The other families did not want any of the sweetbreads like kidney, liver, tongue, and heart so we also got all of that along with the bones. I don’t really care for the kidneys; but, cooked and cut in pieces, the cats love it as would dogs if you have those. Since the kids are all gone, this large chunk of cow will likely last us for many years and while $ 956.50 is a fair amount of cash, even if it only feeds us beef of all sorts for 5 years, that works out to only about $16.00 per month for beef that is better quality than you can purchase at nearly any grocery.
    For TP we watch the sales and purchase the 20 pack of Scott single ply (we have a septic system) at the local Wal-Mart. If you keep an eye out, you can often see the same price for a 24 pack of the same. Other items are purchased on sale at numerous grocery stores, restaurant outlets, with a lot of great bargains at the local Aldi’s that we are lucky to have around. I have a sister who lives in Key West who always brags on the deals she gets at Publix, so a lot of the bargains and stores are no doubt regional and the luck of where you live.
    All of these strategies do have one thing in common. You need to have some free cash up front to get the savings and you need storage space for your bargain purchases. With years of planning and a bit of luck, we have both of these prerequisites available and of course, your mileage may vary.

    Reply
    • January 5, 2019 at 1:46 pm
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      Hi Ohio Prepper, Mark and I used to buy a 1/2 beef, haven’t done that in years. I’m going to see what they sell for around here. Great tip! Linda

      Reply
  • January 5, 2019 at 8:36 pm
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    Linda,
    With only 2 of us at home now, a half beef is a bit overkill; but, when we purchased the beef I had three other families each in for a quarter and one backed out at the last minute. I had already made the commitment to the farmer and since we had the money and freezer space we just opted for the half, which will be perhaps a lifetime supply of good beef, LOL.
    You could check with either local farmers or slaughter / packing houses to find someone with a steer or bull to sell, and maybe split it with friends as shares.

    Reply
    • January 6, 2019 at 7:59 am
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      Hi Ohio Prepper, I’m going to look into the beef idea. After the kids grew up I sort of forgot about buying half a beef. I will say this, there is something awesome knowing your freezer is full of meat for the family. Linda

      Reply
  • January 7, 2019 at 3:36 pm
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    I use my store card to get some really good deals. I went to Gerbes the other day and
    they had their 5 item sale. Ocean Spray juice was 2.99 but if I bought 5 and use my card I could buy them for $1.49 each. I can always use juice to drink. Also at one time I got Country time Lemonade
    for 99 cents if I used my card and bought 5. Not a problem. Another thing they had on sale which
    was a huge surprise was in the meat department it was Buy one get one free. We are talking good
    cuts of meat. So my brother and I split this deal. Today I went to another store and I was able to buy Christmas wrapping paper for 34 cents a roll ( not a huge role but I won’t be wrapping in the same paper forever) also I got 100 Gift tags for 49 cents. I just hope with the government shut down that people will realize that the ones of us who have stored up food are the smart ones and after this is over that they will do the same thing we are.

    Reply
    • January 7, 2019 at 6:17 pm
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      HI June, I love the good buys you got! I love getting good deals on stuff we eat or drink all the time. It’s called frugal and we are prepared for the unexpected. Linda

      Reply

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