Saving Money on Groceries with Loss Leaders

by Derek Clark

What is a loss leader? Essentially it is something that a store will sell either close to or even below cost to get you in the door. For example, a tech company will advertise a Blu-ray player at cost, and then hope to make up the money on all the Blu-rays and HDMI cables it can sell you as well. This works for grocery stores as well. Each week they have certain items on sale, and they hope these things will entice you to buy everything you need there.

Use this to your advantage. Generally the way people grocery shop is they decide what they want to eat that week, and then they find their recipes and write down a list of all the things they will need. Then they go to the store and get all of the things on the list. Many people will tell you this is a way to save money on groceries, as opposed to just going to the store and getting random stuff that looks good. It could, especially if you happen to be hungry when you go, but it still isn’t the best.

Instead of making a list of what you want to eat and then shopping for the ingredients, turn the process around. Take the flyer for your local grocery store each week, and find out which ingredients are on sale. From that, you should be able to find recipes to fit the ingredients instead of the other way around.

Food is not something we are too frugal with. We have worked hard to get out of debt and save up an emergency fund, and we for the most part now we eat pretty well. Our budget is less than some I know, but certainly much higher than what you could eat on reasonably. For those that are wondering, our grocery budget is approximately $75 a week for the two of us. That being said, I still like to save money where I can, and I think this is a great way to do it. After all, we can always use the money we save to help pay off our mortgage early.

A few weeks ago we got the flyer and put together some of the ingredients that were on sale. Things like ground beef, pasta sauce, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and Velveeta were on sale. Out of those, you can pretty easily think of some cheap meals that can be made. We had spaghetti with meat sauce, chili, and chili-cheese dogs for starters. The chili I made was a huge pot, and not counting the leftovers I froze, it accounted for dinner 3 separate nights and about 4 lunches. Overall, shopping this way we spent around $90 for 2 weeks of food. That’s a pretty significant drop from $150.

If you haven’t tried it, give it a try this week and let me know how it works for your. Make your grocery list based on the ingredients for sale instead making a list to fit what you want to eat this week.


Jazzy L December 14, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Very Helpful Article. Thanks! I heard about a new site at Church. It compares prices at the 4 top stores here in Atlanta. From what I’ve read, it updates every week and shows where the lowest prices are on a few hundred items. You can print out your shopping list or have it sent to your phone. (I’m not savvy enough for that though). I email them since their not up yet, and they told me they will be up in January in Atlanta and Birmingham AL. then other cities. I can’t wait to try it.

Kim D April 13, 2011 at 7:19 am

“$8.50 per month”……I don’t think so! That is how much it costs for the noted website listed from Jazzy. I know you weren’t aware of this since it wasn’t even up and running yet. However, there are several great websites that are free that can help you compare prices, some even give menu ideas that coordinate with the supermarket deals. One I love now is Mr. Ramsey, thank you for all your wonderful and biblical information on an issue that was NEVER taught to me, and now I am wading through the deep and stormy waters of debt, trying to get to the calm waters of financial freedom!!!

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