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Everyone knows that you have to buy groceries.

The question is how do you buy them and save enough in the process to begin building an emergency pantry? The trick to it is all in the ads that grocery stores run every week. BTW this strategy can be enhanced through the use of coupons. I can never remember the bloody things with me, so I’m not much of a coupon person. Here’s the strategy that I used to amass a substantial prepper pantry in a very short amount of time while only spending about $20-30 extra per week. I know that means that you’re having to stretch your already tight budget a little further, but it’s well worth it when you see how this works and you don’t even have to do it every week, only for the first 6-8 weeks. After that, it’s more or less optional.

First, let me give you some background information on how the grocery advertisement game is played.

Grocery store chains make deals with suppliers to buy products at prices based on quantity. If they buy enough they get special discounts that allow them to sell the products at or below normal wholesale. These are normally indicated in their ads as “While supplies last” or “limited number available”. When the stockpile that they got for a discount is gone, so is the special price. If it is a product that you would normally buy, you want to grab as many as you can afford at that special price, hence the purpose of the additional $20-30 in the weekly food budget. These kinds of sales do tend to be cyclical and are often on a 6-8 week rotation.

Another game that is played by grocery store chain is the “Loss Leader” promotion. I LOVE loss leaders. The purpose of a loss leader is to get people in the door by offering them a product at a below cost price, aka selling it at a loss but counting on making a profit on their other purchases. A good indicator in the store ads that something is a loss leader is when the item has limits to the quantities that a single shopper can buy and/or requires an additional purchase to get the sale price.

The Kroger chain of stores also run “Buy <x number> of a product and get <X number> of dollars back” promotions. I love to take advantage of these promotions because they seldom have any limits as to how many items you can buy and get the money back on. They actually deduct the amount of the money from your total at the register. What’s your net cost on $1.19 packages of pasta, that are on sale for $.89 but you will get back $5.00 if you buy 10 of the listed items? (yes you can mix and match items to hit your ten items!) Your end cost is $.39 which means that you can buy 3 for what 1 package normally costs. Sealed in an air tight container (20 mm  metal ammo can in my case) the pasta will last almost indefinitely.

Here’s how all of this ties together. You go to the grocery store on Wednesday or Thursday (the slowest shopping days of the week) and get that week’s flier. Easy enough so far right? Go looking for the ads that are for stuff that you would normally buy and is on sale. You do all of your regular shopping, but buy extra of those non perishable items that are on sale like soup or pastas. You don’t buy anything but enough to get by on of anything that isn’t on sale. I like to use Campbell’s Chunky Soup as an example. The MSRP on a can of it is $2.59. That’s over $31.00 a case of twelve. The local Kroger store has a sale in their rotation where they sell it for 4 cans for $5. That makes it $15 dollars a case. Now if you were planning on buying 4 cans at the regular price of $10.36, wouldn’t it be smart to spend the $4.64 more to buy a case of twelve? Or if you can swing it, spend the $19.64 extra and get 6 times as many cans? They aren’t going to go bad, and you won’t have to buy any for at least a few weeks, so you can spend your grocery money on other things that are on sale.

Let me lay out an example of how this works

Week 1

Buy Loss leader meat item for substantial discount off of regular price

Buy pasta and sauces on sale with buy 10 get $5 back (Save over half of costs for these items)

Buy minimal amounts of everything else.

Week 2

Buy Loss leader meat item for substantial discount off of regular price

Buy soup and canned vegetables by the case on sale for 1/3 to 1/2 off regular price

Buy minimal amounts of everything else.

( You don’t need to buy pasta or sauce because you got it in bulk the week before. You probably still have some of the meat from previous weeks frozen in the freezer)

Week 3

Buy Loss leader meat item for substantial discount off of regular price

Buy whatever other items that you would normally buy in bulk if they are on sale, minimally if they are not.

(You do not need to buy pasta, sauce, soup, or canned vegetables unless they are on a very good sale since you already have them stocked in your pantry.)

Follow this strategy of only buying large quantities of your favorite items ONLY when they are on good sales, and then skip buying them when they aren’t (Unless you absolutely HAVE to have them) and you will find that spending as little as $10 a week can make a HUGE difference in your food preparedness. Of course, the more that you budget to buy extra sale items, the faster that you can build a solidly stable food supply that is almost impervious to market changes (fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy items and meats being exceptions since they are perishable) On one occasion, I managed to hit a sale where I got 4 CASES of canned goods for $20. Two were cases of Ranch Style beans and the other two were cases of generic canned vegetables. The canned vegetables were on sale for 3 for a $1.00. The beans were on sale for 2 for a $1.00. On another occasion, I bought over 100 cans of slightly out of date spaghetti Os for under $40. They would be safe to eat for the next 5 years, but my friend’s grand kids made short work of them. I got them for under $8 a case with 24 cans in each case. I hit a closeout on canned cat food at Walmart where I got 96 cans for under $10. The lady at the humane society was very grateful for the donation. It’s all about keeping your eyes open for the opportunities that surround you.

 

Using this strategy, I have had my bill at the register go from over $130 to under $90 and the $130 was already a discounted price. I bought enough of the “BUY this get money back” items that it took over $45 off of my bill. My girlfriend at the time was concerned I wouldn’t have enough money to pay the bill, as the register hit the $130+ subtotal. Then the computer began deducting the savings. It was like getting $50 worth of food for free. How can you go wrong with that?

 

Now I am going to give you one last tip when it comes to saving on groceries and that is what happens at after holiday sales. Big chains (Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, etc etc) buy foods in huge quantities before some holidays in order to run sales on them before the holidays to attract customers. Baked beans and other picnic foods are normally on sale before the Memorial Day and July 4th holidays, but they have to move the left overs out after the holidays to make room for the items for the next sale. I have gotten some incredible deals by grabbing these items on an after the holiday clearance sale. The sales only last a day or two until the quantities are depleted, so you have to act fast.

 


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