How can you get more out of your grocery money?

We asked Toni, one of our dynamic Tellers, for advice on saving money at the grocery store. With a calculator and pen in her hand, she's ready to score her family a dealand stretch the food budget. Here's what she had to say!

"My parents taught me to buy items when they are on sale. If its something you use on a regular basis, buy in bulk when its on sale. This way you save money on the purchase, but you also save time not having to go to the grocery store to buy it over and over.

For example, my family of three uses a lot of chicken breast and super and extra lean ground beef. I will buy 10-20 lbs of chicken, trim off anything that needs to be trimmed, and put each family dinner portion into a quart zipper bag and freeze them. For the ground beef, I cook up most of what I buy before I portion it out and freeze it in a quart zipper bag. Come dinner time, I only need to take out the portioned bag, defrost it and add the other ingredients. It has become a big time saver, especially when I have to work late. How can you afford to do this? I take about $5-10 per pay period (more if you can afford it) and put it in my savings account I named Food. You could also use an envelope you would hide somewhere so you dont use the money for something else. By the time the items go on sale, I have the money from the account to use instead of using the regular grocery money. The last time we bought 20 lbs of chicken, it only cost $35 since it was $1.75 per pound. For the ground beef, it was $50 for 20 lbs, as it was $2.50 per pound.

I also look at all the food ads for the week and make a list of what I want or need, the price and store. That way I can compare prices between stores and make one trip. If you make a list and only buy what is on it, you will stay within your budget, especially when you are hungry and want to buy EVERYTHING you see!

We also have a Costco membership where you always buy in bulk. I take a calculator with me so I can calculate the price per can, pound, etc., so I know if it is a good deal compared to the other stores. Costco is definitely the place to make a list and stick with it. We have a game plan before we walk in: get what is on the list and walk so fast we cant see anything else. We usually only spend $20-40 that way. They also have coupon books and I stock up on items we buy often when theyre on sale.

If you buy lunch meat, always check the Deli section of the store. Most times, you can find it on sale for less money per pound than you can get it pre-packaged. Plus, it is usually healthier because its not processed like packaged meat.

One more way you can save is by signing up for the club cards at stores. For example, Safeway has the Just For You section on their website and app where you can add coupons and special deals to your club card and not have to clip coupons. Sometimes it takes awhile to add them, but if you do it every Wednesday after the new ads come out, its not that bad. They will sometimes offer you free items to add to your card. I have received a free box of Lipton tea, sauce for lettuce wraps, salad and chip dip to name a few. One of the very first times I used the club card after the program started; my total was around $85. Once I swiped my card, it went down to around $43! Saving that much for just a few clicks of the mouse, I was happy and so was my wallet! I dont usually save that much every time, but every little bit helps. Plus, they have gas rewards which can be used at their gas stations or at participating Chevron stations. They do expire after two months if not used, but I have saved as much as seventy cents per gallon on one fill up! You are allowed up to one dollar off per gallon at a time and, once again, every bit helps!"

-Toni/ Teller, mom, and raving fan of the 49ers!


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