In case you missed it, you can read the first post, Food Allergies and Budgets, from this guest post series. You can read more on the subject of food allergies at The Willing Cook, including budget & cooking tips, recipes, personal stories and more.
Last week, I asked the question of whether it is possible to be frugal and have food allergies? When faced with the reality of “specialty” foods, how can you possibly stick to a strict budget? Today, we start breaking down the brief list of how you can begin and stick to a food allergy budget. Of course, none of these suggestions are specific to food allergy shoppers. They are great tips for everyone to follow. However, if you find that you are having a hard time keeping a budget as you incorporate food allergies into your life, these suggestions are a great place to start.
On the initial list of how to have food allergies and a budget was “Shop the Grocery Ads.”
As soon as the week’s ads come out, take 15 minutes to find the best deals. Circle each item or write it down and indicate if you have a coupon for it. Try to minimize buying non-sale items.
Where to Shop the Grocery Ads:
- Many cities deliver paper copies of the grocery ads at the end of each week for the upcoming week’s sales. If this is not the case where you live, almost all grocery stores have websites where they publish their ads the first day the sales start.
- In many cases, you can do a google search, such as “Meijer grocery ad June 12” and come up with a number of websites or coupon blogs that have the deals listed for you. You will find a variety of features on these blogs, including customized printable grocery list, coupon match-ups, and more. Some blogs that I suggest are EmbracingBeauty, Money Saving Mom, Southern Savers, Faithful Provisions, and Happy Homemaker Cindy (note: some of these sites are region-specific).
- The best deal on certain products may not be in a store at all. I have heard from a number of people that Amazon has some good deals (they rotate) on allergy-friendly foods, especially if you use the “subscribe & save” feature. I have not personally bought allergy foods from amazon as I have always found better deals at my local stores, but it may be a good choice for people with few local store options.
- Along with Amazon, there are many other online stores that sell organic or allergy-friendly foods. Saving Naturally is a great source for the best deals on a variety of these type of stores, including the Amazon deals.
How to Shop the Grocery Ads:
- Once you have located the grocery ads (either paper copy or online source), start scouring the ads for products that you use or buy frequently.
- Circle the items that are a good price and indicate how many of that item you will purchase.*
- Look through your stash of coupons (we will discuss coupons next week) and match-up what you have with what items you have circled. If using an online coupon source, print out any available coupons that match your selections.
- Organize your coupons according to number, type and store. This really helps with the amount of time you spend in the store, especially if you are fortunate to have kids in tow.
- In some cases, there might be a coupon code available for online stores. Do searches for these codes as you might be able to get a percentage off your total or free shipping.
Learning to Shop the Grocery Ads:
- After repeat exposure to the grocery ads over time, you will start to see a cycle. Every few months, stores cycle through their product deals. If you find a good deal on a particular item, try to stock up on it until the next cycle.
- You will also start noticing what really is a good sale and what can wait for a better price.*
- If comparing between multiple stores, you may see deals rotate on opposite weeks as they compete for your business.
- Once you begin your shopping, it is very important that you stick to your list and the grocery ads. This is the only way you will stay on your budget, especially if you’re “prone to wander.”
*Note: Grocery prices are on the rise, so a current price may or may not be the best you are going to get. It’s the risk you take in buying now or waiting. If it appears to be the rock-bottom price, see if your budget will allow you to stock up.
Have I missed anything from you seasoned food allergy budget shoppers?
Up next week: Frugal Food Allergy Living: Use Coupons