31 Weeks to a Better Grocery Budget Video Series: What is the Buy Ahead Principle?

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  1. Krysten says

    I look forward to these videos each week! I can’t get off the computer and go to bed on Monday night until I’ve watched it! =) Thank you, Crystal, for doing this series.
    I’ve been working on buying items only when they’re on sale, and stacking sales with coupons. At three months into it, I’m starting to see some good results in my grocery spending. I was *almost* at my latest grocery spending goal last month (about $10 over), and I’m determined to get it this month!

  2. Marie says

    My goal is to get started on this again, but keep it up! I always do so great and then use up all of the items without replenishing anything.

  3. says

    Thanks for these great videos. I tweeted recently that I halved my grocery bill by following your tips! Anyway, I live in BC (Canada) and I have to say I’ve never seen the kind of deals on food that you seem to see on a regular basis. For example, a gallon of milk here is $4.37 (best price at all the local stores). And I’m not quite going on the coupon thing yet. Is it more of a US thing than a Cdn one? For example, the coupons I’ve been collecting are for brand name items that are already inflated because ofthe name. so I can get a lower price by just buying the non brand name stuff.
    If there are any Canucks reading, please let me know how you are doing it! Thanks again for all your ideas!

  4. says

    I’ve been reading your blog for years and these videos explain your principles better than any other method! I am still confused on doubling coupons, though. Do you use multiples of the exact same coupon?

    • says

      Our Kroger affiliate (Dillon’s) automatically doubles coupons up to $0.50 when you use your shopper’s card. So a $0.50/1 coupon will double up to $1 off.

      • Rebecca says

        Could you possibly do a Kroger 101 page? I have a Kroger here and I am so incredibly confused with the new digital coupon option, and doubling coupons and such.

        For example, the digital coupons you can load on your card. Can you use those coupons for more than one of the same item? Say I have a charmin coupon for $3 off…can I buy 2 charmin and the coupon will come off twice? Help with Kroger would greatly help me out!

        Thanks for all you do Crystal!

  5. Lyn says

    I enjoyed this week’s segment. I’ve followed these principles, but with diet changes and a more restricted diet I’m figuring out once again how to implement this. One question I have, would it be possible to move the camera up higher so you’re not looking down at it? It’s kind of an odd angle, like you’re looking down at everyone (which I don’t think is what you’re going for).

    • says

      We got a little tripod (on the recommendation of many of you) and we’re just figuring it out. I realized after we filmed this segment that it was an odd angle. So next week we’re going to try propping it up on books or something and see how that looks. :)

      Thanks to everyone for bearing with us as we learn the ropes of video blogging. It’s been a whole new learning curve for us and we appreciate your patience and suggestions as we try to figure it out!

      • Sarah says

        Glad to see this comment. I was also going to suggest having the camera up higher. Great video otherwise!

  6. Amanda Twigg says

    I am really appreciative to you for doing this series. I am beginning to notice as I watch the sales fliers when things go on sale. It is definitely helping me learn the ropes. We have implemented weekly menu planning and weekly shopping but the next step I am REALLY looking forward to :) ie shopping when things hit rock bottom on prices.

  7. says

    Always enjoy hearing these tips. Even if we are aware of some of the tips you mention it is great to be reminded. Discovering extra little nuggets of information to add to what we are already doing is beneficial for everyone. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Wendy says

    Thank you Crystal for doing this series. I have learned so much and have cut my grocery bill down to about $90 per week for 4 of us. I wanted to share that as I was at a local grocery store 2 days ago, I was in line buying only 3 items that were on sale. I watched the lady in front of me buy much the same things I do each week, only she bought everything at this one store, where I’ve learned to buy at multiple stores to get the best price. Her bill came to $214 and her grocery cart was only 3/4 full. I even noticed a coupon on an item she was buying, that she did not use. I wanted to scream, “Pull that coupon off. You’ll save $1.” but of course I didn’t. It made me appreciate everything I have learned from you and realize that I could be spending that amount each week were it not for the lessons you’ve taught me!

    • Charissa says

      So funny! I often want to talk to other shoppers when I see they’re missing out on a sale, etc. I don’t want to scare anyone, though!!

    • says

      Amen to that. Sometimes I just inwardly groan when I see how much money is wasted! Especially when they have coupons stuck to items. I was a cashier at a grocery store while I was in high school (a million years ago :) and even as a kid I just couldn’t believe how wasteful people were. And the junk they would buy. Having that job was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me financially! It was like grocery economics 101 – what NOT to do :)

      • Rebecca says

        I was a grocery clerk in high school, too! =) It was a valuable experience. I remember thinking to myself, “This customer looks intelligent, but why are they buying this junk?” (I never said that, though!) =) I also remember being wowed by the customers who could fill their cart full of good things for much less than other shoppers.

    • Heather T. says

      I have given people in line ahead or behind me coupons for items they have and no one has ever been scared, they gladly take them and are happy that a perfect stranger is helping them save a buck or two.

    • Cris says

      I’m with you on that one. I can’t stand to see how much money people spend on groceries when I am standing in line. They just make this huge list and go buy everything… I guess that was me years ago!! And even if people CAN afford that, this could also be money being saved for retirement, college, car, nice trip etc.

  9. Beth says

    I’m going to confess I haven’t been watching the videos (various reasons involving which computer I use for browsing) but I do want to tell you how lovely that scarf looks on you! I’m terrible at accessorizing but scarves so easily (and inexpensively!) dress things up a bit. :) The teal is very pretty. Bright colors are my thing these days as winter (hopefully) draws to a close.

    • says

      Thanks so much! I love scarves because it’s such an easy way to mix and match and accessorize a few shirts. And the teal scarf is my very favorite. I got it on sale at Target and have worn it probably hundreds of times!

  10. Dee says

    Love these videos! Are you going to show how you organize and store your coupons? I really need ideas for this! Do you take them all to the store? Thanks, Dee

  11. says

    Thanks for answer my question, Crystal! That makes so much more sense. We are in a very small town, and neither of our two store offer store coupons or doubling the discount. I guess I just need to keep my eyes open for inexpensive recipes. So far, I’ve been able to feed our family of 3 on $45 a week without coupons. It does get a little tricky when we have guests (and we do at least once a week, sometimes up to 3 or 4 times!). Maybe the two hour drive to Target would be worth it every once in a while.

    Thanks for all your encouragement!

    • says

      Feeding your family of three on $45 per week is wonderful — especially since you’re doing it without coupons! Will your stores accept internet coupons? If so, keep your eyes peeled for the high-value ones for things you usually buy.

  12. Leslie says

    Crystal, I was wondering if you had tips on how you organize your stockpiled items. My husband and I have a goal for this year – to live simply and we are wondering how we can practice this principle without adding a lot of excess to our life that we just do not need (obviously mainly by only stockpiling on the things we use). At times it feels like our pantry is bursting and others it is bare. I was just wondering if this is typical for this practice.

    • Mary S. says

      I was just about to ask for an organization post! I know there has to be a better way than just putting it in the cabinet wherever I can fit it. I was wondering if other people buy organizers for their cabinets or have come up with any good organization ideas.

      • says

        My mother-in-law (asthetics are everything for her!) stores her extra food items in pretty baskets that sit up on top of her cupboards. You can see them, but you have no idea what is in them. She bought some really cheap, nice-looking ones at IKEA. While I am not in need of that idea myself, I couldn’t help but share it, it is such a good solution for her.

        • Maggie says

          I bought a storage shelf off of amazon (for free)! I Put it in my basement and put all my extras down there! It is almost full!

  13. says

    I think this video is my favorite in the series (so far)! :)

    I’ve been doing “buy ahead” for many years… but not with the coupons and sales. :( For some reason I have trouble finding coupons for the foods we eat (and I don’t mean certain brands…).

    Is it quite common for you to buy staples like frozen veggies or fruit, dairy products, or baking ingredients on sale w/coupons? I would *love* to do that for things like sugar (expensive!) and frozen veggies… regularly, without spending hours researching/obtaining coupons/finding the sale that matches the coupons.

    To be honest, most of the coupons I clip end up unused because I don’t find the item on sale before the coupon expires, and unless there’s a sale to go with the coupon, it’s cheaper to just buy it at Costco than to use the coupon :(

    I haven’t given up hope though! :)

    • Mary S. says

      Personally I have been able to find some good sales to pair with coupons for things like frozen veggies and sugar. Around Christmas I had some Domino sugar coupons and a lot of baking supplies were on sale so I was able to get some good deals. With frozen veggies I find that both green giant and birds eye usually have some printable coupons available so you could always just wait until they are on sale then search the coupon database to see if there are any printable available. Every couple of weeks at my store the brand name goes on sale for the equivalent price (or less) than the store brand. You probably won’t be getting a whole bag for pennies but it will still be a significant reduction.

      Also, if you are having a hard time getting into the swing of it with food you may want to start with stuff like toothpaste and shampoo. By shopping at the drugstores and just following the deals that are posted you can start getting things for free very quickly.

  14. lyss says

    I’ve heard that before-that everything goes on sale evry 12 weeks. But is that really true for all stores? I’ve never noticed any consistency about sales where I live. I can see that knowing something will go on sale again in 3 months, to buy 3 months worth of it, but if I don’t know if/when it will go on sale again, I always wonder how much to buy. Am I just not paying attention or is it only true for certain stores? Specifically, a main store I shop at is HEB. Anyone else have experience buying ahead with consistent sales at HEB? I know you do Aldi and Dillons, but those are not anywhere around here.

  15. Anna says

    I tried to stay up and watch the video last night but I was too tired. This past weekend I did several things. Checked my stock pile first. Made and typed up my menu plan. I also typed up my dinner plans for the dinners I was using this week. I put my menu plan on the refrigerator. Then made my grocery list. I went shopping at 3 stores with my grocery list in hand and spent about $75 cash total (family of 5) which is $50 under budget. (Side note: I cleaned out my stock pile and found items that I forgot I had. I reduced the clutter in my stock pile by giving away several boxes of things we did not eat and was not expired as yet.) Checking what I had on hand really helped and also I found I was more creative in my menu planning this week. I also attended a 3 hour coupon workshop over the weekend–interesting experience. (Another side note: The coupon workshop was at a church and the church offered it for free and treated the audience with graciousness. I wrote a thank you note to the pastor of the church for being so kind. At the end of the workshop, a woman gave me a coupon book that has lots of good coupons for free–two freebies, workshop and coupon book!)

    Moral of story–I think I am practicing what is being taught in the video. The hard part is planning and getting practiced. I did come under budget and I put that money “aside” for the moment. Getting my stock pile cleared out helped too. By knowing what I need for meals/dinners I can plan future trips for stock piling more efficiently. I agree with the “buy ahead” principle but I think I bought some things we did not eat or need–lesson learned. Another moral of story–a family needs a menu plan to figure out what they like and need and to stock up on. One last note, I added to my weekly grocery list little items to make meals pleasurable something I usually forgo but was able to this week.

    I still have not quite gotten a pattern for all of this advice going but am improving.

    By the way this is frozen food month :)!

    • Anna says

      PS-I printed your book on time management off. I have been reading it as well. I noticed that “playing the drug stores” was not a priority for you. I was glad to read that. Last week Walgreens was having some really good sales. After looking at my menu plan and grocery list (and household & personal lists), I decided not to shop there as there was not anything my family needed. I also was “listening” to the advice from other guest “speakers” on your website about spending grocery money, healthier foods, paying higher prices. I am still investing significant amounts of my time in learning “the ropes” to grocery shopping but I think it is paying off. You see I work full time, have a child with special needs plus 3 more and always have medical bills to pay. Now I have $1000 bills that just came in for medical expenses at Xmas sitting on my desk. I only say that because juggling my budget and time is a constant balance. The medical bills will get paid and now I am discovering how to have wonderful meals and a lower grocery budget.

      Your videos with all of their creative nuances (i.e. angling) are much appreciated and making a difference in our daily lives (as well as other parts of your blog).

      My apologies for the long notes. I am chatty tonight.

  16. says

    Crystal, I just wanted to tell you how much I’m learning from this video series. I’ve only been couponing for about 5-6 weeks, but in the last 4 weeks I’ve saved almost $100 in coupons alone…that doesn’t include the sales with which I’ve stacked those coupons! Woohoo! My husband is quite pleased (we’re a single income family of 6). Your website (among a few others) has helped me so much and I just wanted to thank you. :) Looking forward to next week!

  17. Kisha says

    Something you might point out about menu planning that I have always appreciated. If you have it posted where everyone can see it, then you don’t get asked a a dozen times what you are planning for dinner. My kids loved knowing ahead of time & being able to pick the meal from the selections on the menu. They would get so excited to see one of their favorites on the menu for the week. Also, if my husband got home before I did, he would start or cook the meal since it was planned out & he knew what to prepare. My children are grown now, but my son does the cooking now that he is married & I love to see that he plans his meals out for the week. He makes healthier choices by planning ahead.

  18. Aimee says

    Hi! I am wondering if it is okay to post this video on my blog. I don’t want to do anything wrong so I decided I should definitely ask before doing so. I am blogging about learning how to save money on groceries and thought my (few) readers would enjoy the video. I would definitely post a link back to your blog. If this is a problem, I won’t do it. Thanks for all you do! I am learning so much!
    Aimee
    P.S. I saw you at the Dave Ramsey event last weekend. =)

    • says

      Yes, you are more than welcome to share it. You are so kind to ask to do so.

      And I’m sad I didn’t get to meet you last weekend. :(

      • Aimee says

        I will most definitely be posting it then. Thanks! I was sitting up behind you when you were doing your interview (at D.R.) Your purse/bag was adorable! Thanks again for all do with these videos. They are MOST helpful.

  19. says

    Crystal, thanks for another great video. I buy ahead occasionally, but since we eat mostly organic there seems to be limited sales and coupons. I do try to stock up for at least a month when staples go on sale, even if it’s just a little bit. It all adds up in the end :)

  20. Diana says

    I love your classes I have a question How do I figure out when is 12 wks when the items are at rock bottom price?