Sunday, June 30, 2013

Grocery Store Secrets

I know we all go to the grocery store and this carnal  beast within us takes over and $500 dollars and 43 different kinds of apples later we are thinking---UGH WHAT THE HAM.  Well, I have some tips for you. Not only do I love cooking, I love coupons.  But, alas, like many of you--AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR DAT.  So, I've compiled something I've learned over the last couple years to make your life easier.

1. Get a Store Card
I am not kidding when I say it takes less then 5 minutes to sign up and they hand you over a card.  So, stop being lazy.  It comes with several perks such as:  being able to access the sales,  being able to download and access the stores app, and most store have yearly promotions like "spend $300 this month and get your free holiday turkey".  Do I personally need an entire turkey?  Of course not.  What the hell would I do with a 12 pound turkey?  It doesn't matter what I'd do with it because it's free.  So--you take the damn turkey and you feel good that you now have a 12 pound turkey and if you wanted you could have 12 of your friends over for turkey!

2. Download the App
Just like everything else in the world grocery stores have technologically advanced.  Almost every store now has an app that you can download on your smart phone making circulars and coupons obsolete. Look:
Everything you ever needed to do is now at the touch of your fingertips.  You can look at the weekly ad and create your shopping list directly from it, or create your shopping list as you go.  Your looking at the coupons part aren't you?  Okay okay let me explain..

How many times have you seen a dude in the grocery store with his coupon binder?  Yeah, me neither.   Now, you can just download them to your phone and when the cashier swipes your club card BAM the coupons come off your total.  I have also found any coupon you can print off line or cut out from the paper is also available online on the app.
All you have to do is browse for the coupons you want and hit load to card.  Also,  look at the circular that week.  Generally the things they are offering coupons for are also on sale as well at that store.  Sometimes if your smart you can get something for free or almost free.

4. Understand the Sales
Grocery Stores are a multimillion dollar industry--so it's safe to say the owners of these conglomerates are no dummies.  It is our job as consumers to at least investigate their sales.  Here is a quick guide to understanding the sales available at grocery stores:

a.  Fish goes on sale biweekly---see below:
Week 1 Cod will be $5.99 a pound, week 2 cod will be $8.99 a pound
So, as a consumer you should be looking out for week 1 and plan to eat your favorite fish.  I can almost guarantee the following week that same fish will be more expensive.  The grocery store owners bank on you not catching on to that--but I just told you what's up.   
I've found generally week 1 is the first week of the month, and week 2 is the second,  week 3 is cheap again, week 4 is expensive.   See makes sense don't it?
b. Hardy or green vegetables go on sale bi-weekly--  Broccoli in week 1 is generally 99 cents a pound, and $1.99 cents in week 2.   Okay, now you got that--it's super easy to understand. The same thing will happen with different kinds of lettuce.

All you really have to do it check the circular and follow the sales.  I have it down to a science now so I know which weeks what is going to be cheap and what is going to be expensive. 

c. Do not fear the manager special
Generally in every store the manager will have the butcher create something they like and will sell it for cheaper.  Look in the meat section next time you are in the store and see how much cheaper that special is.  As far as chicken it's usually a thigh that's on sale, because its a cheaper cut of meat.  If you cook it right it's also much better.  Meat with a bone in it is always so much better. THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID. See. even the fish man will do that with a certain kind of special they created themselves--
I made them last week, amazing!! I made them with grilled pineapple and had my girlfriends over for dinner.

5. Don't Buy Pre-made
Be shopping smart by eating before you go and sticking to the outside of the store.  On the inside of the store you will not find any food you need.  When your hungry and you see it your like OMG This will make my life so much easier--nope, that's gross.  This picture refuses to turn the right way, which is annoying, but you get the point:

Meat flavored sauce? Really? What the hell is meat flavored?  Gross.  It cost 1/2 the price to make the sauce yourself and it won't suck.    It is so easy to make sauce, chicken stock, beef stock, etc.  There is no reason on this earth why you should be purchasing things with the words " flavored" on it.

I know you, you are so tempted when you see these signs:

Unless you are feeding John and Kate Plus 8--why would you need 3 bags of spinach?  It's always on sale like this so don't be sucked in.  I have a secret for you--you do not have to buy the full amount unless it says so!!! If there is a sign that says MUST BUY 3 or MUST BUY 2, then duh you have to.  But, if not--DO NOT BUY3 BAGS OF SPINACH.  THAT'S SILLY.  This is even sillier:
 Really? Four bags of cole slaw?  What are you throwing a graduation party?  If the answer is no--buy 1, or 2, and still get the sale price per each one.  You do not have to buy 4 (unless specified).   A lot of times when soda is on sale it will say you have to buy the amount specified. 

And, I know this looks like such a steal: Whatever this picture won't go the right way either!! UGH I GIVE UP

Sometimes a box of 6 is on sale for $4.99, so buying 5 for 5 dollars is not a steal.  I know I know, I love cliff bars too.  I buy them all the time when they are on sale.  I have a stock pile--ask my girls.  I have an assortment of different protein bars because I am too lazy sometimes to make breakfast--and by sometimes I mean all of the time.

6.  Lastly, bigger is not necessarily better
 Sometimes the larger version of something will be on sale, but when you compare the two smaller versions of the same thing it's cheaper to buy 2 small then 1 big.  The store wants you to believe the bigger container is better, even though it's really not MORE.  Look...

The larger one on the left is $7.99 for 28 oz, on average.  A smaller can is $2.88 for 12 oz. on average.  So two small cans equals roughly 48 ounces and only costs $5.76.  OKAY OKAY OKAY it doesn't seem like much, I know,  but it will add up.  The store will do this will all sorts of foods and goods so just keep a look out.  A big deal isn't always the better deal.

Now, I am not saying go all coupon crazy cat lady nuts.  I am saying be careful about what you purchase and just keep an eye out.  There is no reason to go all nuts and buy a heavy duty printer for all of the coupons you expect to print, just be mindful!