I used to shop in a very different way than I do now. I would decide what meals I wanted to make that week, head to the store, cross off the items on my list, and buy a few other things that caught my eye (or that my kids nagged me to buy!). Probably a few of the things I needed were on sale, but I didn't really pay much attention to that. I would repeat this process the next week.
But once I had a better grasp of the prices in our area, it really changed the way I do meal planning and shopping. I'm still not nearly as frugal or efficient as I could be with grocery shopping, however, I do find our grocery bills have lowered significantly.
Now, I definitely pay attention to what's on sale when I go grocery shopping. Sometimes I sit down with my Price Book, calculator, and a sales flyer or two (paper or online). I will circle the great deals, and make plans to stock up! This works especially well for canned items, and anything I can put in our freezer. I try to make a meal plan that revolves around what's on sale that week, particularly when it comes to perishables like fresh produce.
Sometimes I don't take that time, and just notice what's on sale once I'm at the store. The other day I went to the store for milk and eggs, but ended up also buying 8 cans of diced tomatoes and 4 jars of peanut butter. The prices were too low to pass up, given that these are staples in our house. The goal is to end up with a kitchen full of food purchased at the lowest possible price. In addition to saving money, it makes life easier because I always have the ingredients in the house needed to make simple meals.
Three ways, not just two
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