As the holidays will soon be upon us, it seems that my mind is once again on food. I would like to share some posts about food in the coming days with the hope that someone else may benefit from them. I will also share some links to past posts that might be helpful, too.
I have so much sympathy for young people and families that are trying to make ends meet these days. Everything is getting more expensive by the day with no relief in sight on any fronts. While making the family budget balance was a challenge at times for us as we raised our own family, I don’t think it really even compares to what young people are facing today.
First, I should disclose that I try to save money on groceries and purchase only things that are on sale or discounted, if at all possible. A stand-alone freezer is pretty much a must to help save money, but the grocery savings achieved can easily be recovered in a year or less. I usually plan most of our weekly meals after reviewing the weekly grocery store ad on Wednesdays. I also have a full freezer to store items purchased on sale, as well as the items that I have put up from the summer from our garden or the farmer’s market, such as fresh black-eyed peas and yellow squash. But, that is not how I save the most money every week. That is more of a personal preference of ours. In years past, I also clipped coupons, especially when we had a store that would double or triple them. I seldom clip coupons now, but for some people, that is still a great way to save money.
I just returned from my weekly morning trip to the grocery store to buy some ad specials, and I actually wrote a point of thanks in my daily gratitude log that I was able to once again save money on some items we needed. Out of my own gratitude, I want to share my little secret tip for big savings that requires very little effort. My little secret is really no secret and is very, very simple. While I know some grocery stores do not make this available to their customers, many of them do. You may need to even ask about it in some stores, as well as some stand-alone meat markets. I’ve mentioned this to many friends locally that never even knew about it, too.
So, what is my little “secret?”
I buy more than half of our meats at 40% off. Every. Single. Week.
Here are photos of my meat purchases this morning, as proof. And while I did not buy any breads or fish today from those separate discount bins, I often purchase those items, too. My best guess is that I buy about 75% of our meats from this bin, while taking advantage of weekly ad specials for the other 25%. But for this post, I’m going to talk specifically about the 40% off bin, since this is the one I purchase from the most.
On today’s fresh meat purchases from the 40% off bin, I saved just under $15 on six items. (I bought two packages of the bacon-wrapped steaks and two packages of the steak fingers.) This was an average day’s savings, although some weeks I am able to save more and some weeks a little less. When multiplied by 52 weeks in a year, this is almost $800 a year in savings to us, a family of only two, with little extra effort on my part. People buying for larger families could certainly save much more, for sure. I also purchased some fresh chicken and shrimp on the weekly ad special for some additional savings of about 25% on those items.
I actually look forward to my weekly morning trip to the store, just to see what goodies will be waiting for me in the bin, and I also enjoy the challenge of looking for ways to prepare some of the items that are new or infrequent purchases for me. The bacon-wrapped steaks are now in the freezer, and we will take those along on our next camping trip in a couple of weeks to toss on the grill, along with my easy Kensington Steak Marinade. I’m still looking into recipes for that marvelous rib eye pork roast, and the Montreal seasoned sirloin pork chops may go on the grill next week, weather permitting, for an easy meal. We will easily have leftovers from them, which should be nice for a pork sandwich or wrap for lunch one day, too.
I’m not sure why, but many people I know will not buy meat items from the closeout bin. This honestly makes no sense to me, especially since these items are always within the “sell by” date on the label. These items are put in the bin early each morning, but not too early. I’ve learned this little fact as I have checked the bin regularly over the years. If I arrive between 8 and 9 am, I usually find the meat bin full from items that were not sold the previous day. I also know that this bin is almost always emptied every day by other shoppers like me that will not let those great deals go to waste.
I know this puts people at a disadvantage that work regular office hours, and this is where I would like to offer a couple of suggestions. If you have such a bin at your own grocery store, see if a friend or family member could possibly shop for you. I know that I would be happy to shop for a young mom that worked but could benefit from buying meats so much cheaper. I seldom, if ever, find items in the bin after 4 pm, and most of the better buys are gone by lunchtime. My other suggestion would be to check the bin on a Saturday or Sunday morning early, if possible. Our bin is stocked every day, but I only go during the week so that I can let some working families have the opportunity to buy from the bin on the weekend.
I usually bring my meats home, wrap them in parchment paper (a large roll that I buy from the club store), label them, and put them straight in the freezer (newest to the back), unless I decide to go ahead and cook one of the meats that same evening. Many times, I come home and toss a nice roast or some chicken in the slow cooker right away. And for the record, I have never bought one piece of meat that was even close to being bad.
One other thing that I have enjoyed from buying meats from the 40% off bin is buying some different cuts of meat that I have never tried before, as well as a few things that I can splurge on just a bit at 40% off, such as a couple of good rib eye steaks that I seldom buy unless they are on sale.
My area does not have much competition as far as grocery stores, unfortunately, and the prices we pay are probably higher than many other cities that have more competition. But the main grocery store chain that we have is known for good quality meats and other foods. So, by purchasing our meats regularly at 40% off, I’ve found that I’m still getting some pretty great deals.
Just for the record, I often buy some freezer entrees from our local club store, too. We have a few favorites that we really like, such as Chicken Cordon Bleu and frozen Fried Cod, that I always keep on hand for a quick lunch or dinner solution. These are much better than the frozen entrees at our grocery store and worth the trip to the club store to stock up on them. I’ve also discovered that it’s good to keep them on hand to toss in the freezer of the RV when we decide to make a quick weekend trip. In fact, I think I will do another post sometime on how I plan our food for our RV trips. After going camping once a month for the past two years, I think I’ve come up with some great solutions for our RV meals, as well as ways to get that task done quickly.
I hope this has helped someone to save some grocery money today!