written by Cheryl Maguire
My teenage son stood in front of the opened refrigerator, gazing into the abyss. I envisioned dollar bills floating by his head as the cold air escaped, no doubt causing our electric bill to skyrocket.
“Could you please close the refrigerator door?” I asked trying to remain calm.
“There is nothing to eat and I’m starving!” he groaned as he dramatically held his stomach.
“The refrigerator is empty because you ate everything from my grocery shopping trip three days ago.”
My son began his growth spurt over the summer. He sprouted up a full three inches, rendering him unrecognizable to our friends and family. At the same time, something else was unrecognizable and growing exponentially—my grocery receipt.
As an avid coupon clipper and money-saving guru, I knew I needed to do a “deep dive” of this situation to figure out how to reduce the spending. Otherwise, his college education fund will dwindle down to nothing because all the money will be spent on feeding his endless appetite.
I’m sure there are many other people like me out there. So I’m sharing with you what I learned from my comprehensive money saving research so your money will go towards that college fund instead of your grocery bill.
Save Money On Protein
A research study found that a group of infants who ate one egg per day had a 47 percent lower rate of stunting (being too short) than the control group. Protein is essential for teens to eat since is it is responsible for tissue growth. Most teens need ½ gram of protein per pound of body weight. Eating protein will also help your teen to feel full.
Protein can be found in eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese, milk, fish, chicken, meat, turkey, tofu, broccoli, beans, and nuts. One way to save on these items is to check your weekly local grocery sales flyer and then purchase protein foods on-sale. You can cook meals for the week based on the weekly sales flyer. So if chicken is on-sale you can look up chicken recipes.
Another money saving tip is to ask the meat department what day they offer marked down meat. Sometimes the meet can be as much as 50% off the regular price because the expiration date is near.
Stock Up On Sale Items and Freeze
When items go on sale, stock up and freeze it. Instead of buying one pound of meat purchase two; use one and freeze the other. This will hold you over until the next sale since most grocery items have a sale cycle. For example, ground beef may go on sale every three weeks.
Buy Frozen Fish and Fruit
A Norwegian research firm found that frozen fish is the same quality as fresh and is often significantly less expensive. Sometimes frozen fish is marked down as much as 50% off the regular price.
Similar to fish, fruit is frozen when it is ripe and maintains all of its nutrients. When fresh fruit isn’t in season, it can be pricey but the price of frozen fruit remains the same all year (with the exception of sale prices). The price also does not fluctuate between the types of frozen fruit. For example a 16 oz. bag of raspberries is the same prices as a 16 oz. bag of blueberries. But the price difference between fresh raspberries and blueberries is usually significant.
Clip Paper and Electronic Coupons
Coupons are no longer only found in the newspaper. You can print coupons online by going to the manufactures website or coupon sites like Coupons.com, RedPlum.com, SmartSource.com or Lozo.com. There are also electronic coupons which you clip online and it is added to your store card. Similar to a paper coupon, when you purchase the item the money is deducted on your receipt. These electronic coupons can be found at grocery store websites or SavingStar.com.
If you don’t get the newspaper coupons, some libraries offer a coupon box containing the newspaper coupons which are available for anyone to take.
Use Money Saving Apps
There are a variety of cash back grocery store apps. After you purchase select items you can earn money back by submitting your receipt. Some grocery store cash back apps are Ibotta and Checkout51.
Who’s Ready To Save Money On Groceries?
Saving money is an investment of your time, but it is worth it. Once you figure out how to cut spending even in one area such as on buying protein, you will see your grocery bill start to shrink.
On my most recent excursion to the supermarket, the teen cashier proclaimed, “Wow, you saved over $100. I’ve never seen anyone do that before.”
When you can impress a teenager, you know you’re doing something right. Now if only I could figure out a way to make my grocery shopping trip last longer than three days.
Cheryl Maguire is the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Parents Magazine, Upworthy, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessing, Your Teen Magazine and many other publications. You can find her at Twitter @CherylMaguire05