Make a list of 10-20 nonperishable items that you buy regularly, and keep tabs on their prices for a few weeks so you'll really know when you find a good deal. Stock up on these essentials when prices hit rock bottom.
Scour Bargain Racks
Mark-down meat is fine if you eat or freeze it the same day. Ditto for fruits and veggies. Get good deals on baked goods at wholesale outlets. Buy soaps and paper goods at discounted stores (example Grocery Outlet). Ive been doing this for years. I buy marked down meat, take it home and either cook it that night or I put it in a ziplock bag (I wash and reuse them until they fall apart) and freeze it for later use. I do this for everything. Veggies can be done this way too. Just cut up, freeze on a cookie sheet not touching each other and then take out to put in a ziplock bag. Bread can be frozen for a while. I choose to only freeze for about 3 weeks, I find it gets that freezer taste if its in their any longer.
Watch For Shrinkage
Manufacturers are dealing with rising cost by downsizing packages:12 oz of coffee instead of a pound. 20 cans in a case, not 24. Know exactly what you're getting before you consider it a bargain. I stopped buying most food from stores like "Costco,Sams Club" a long time ago due to this. I always found I could get things much cheaper in smaller packages even added up to the same size from these stores. Only thing I buy from them is frozen vegies, milk, and things like that. I do buy home goods like vacumes and such from them because they have the best return policy.
Hunt High And Low
Wholesalers pay extra to have brands shelved at eye level in big supermarkets, and that cost gets passed on to the consumer (thats you). To find the most economical deals, look on the top and bottom shelves. Look for store brands, they are almost always 1/3 cheaper. My rule of thumb is always look for what ever item you need in the bulk section first, then the aisle. chances are its cheaper in bulk. Added note: Stores are starting to have alot more organic, low fat, low sodium, etc items now. Bobs Red Mill is a favorite of ours and Winco now carries it in their bulk section. Yipee!
Beware of Overcharges
Watch closely as the cashier rings up your items-or go over the reciept once you leave the register. I wouldnt wait until you get home. You will have to drive back and waste your gas. Do it then while your there. If you spot an error, go to the customer service desk immediately. They will always be willing to fix the problem. Some stores are natorious for this. I find that Albertsons, and Safeway are always offenders of this. My daughter now reminds me to check my reciept. I think she has seen me get angry a number of times and tries to help me out. lol.
Be Brand Flexible
Buy what's on sale and in season. Dont pass up the store brands. The same companies that make make brands often manufacture store brands, so you may be paying a premeium for that well-known label. Most name brands are starting to carry their items in the bulk section now as well so dont forget to check there.
Coupon Clip but be wise
Not all coupons are good deals. Yes I could get a box of Cheereo's for 2/$5 with a store coupon. Or I could get the store brand of cheerio's for only $1.99. Yes, its a savings of only 51 cents but that change add's up after a while. Here is my rule of thumb. Use coupons only when these things happen.
1. Get it for free. Of course free isnt always good. Free box of chocolates? No. We dont eat that much sugar. So I will use this item as a gift for a friend who has a sweet tooth.
2. Get it for almost free. Example. Target has Goldfish Crackers for $1.69, their is a printable coupon on Targets website for $1 off 1 pack. I can get 1 package of crackers for only .69 cents. Good deal in my book. My kids just love these.
3. Staple item. If its a brand I buy always, I use the coupon. Since my girls and I have Excema, certian brands of lotion are a must and I have to buy them. So when I see a coupon, I will use them with a sale to get them for much cheaper. But if I can buy the store brand and get it cheaper than the name brand with the coupon, I will get the store brand. Im about whats cheapest.