I keep a well-stocked pantry and an accurate ongoing pantry inventory. A small notebook hanging out of sight on the inside door of a pantry cabinet allows me to quickly update the list as inventory is added or used. This inventory list allows me to see at a glance exactly what is in the pantry and how much there is of each item.

I keep a second list for items I will need to buy at some point in the future. Adding items to the list before we are actually “out” of them means that nothing on the shopping list is particularly urgent.

Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

I check the online circulars every Saturday morning for our two favorite stores. Usually there are some “buy one, get one free” and special discount offers for several items that are on my list… and I’ll wait for similar deals for the rest of the items another week. Or I may decide not to shop for groceries that week at all. Because of the well-stocked pantry, my shopping list is very flexible.

I read the labels on EVERYTHING I buy, and I buy whole unprocessed foods almost exclusively… whole grains, fresh fruit and fresh or frozen vegetables, etc. For us, soy is always an issue, but another reason I do not buy processed foods is because I’m concerned about genetically modified foods, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, excessive amounts of sugar and salt, artificial colors, and preservatives.

I take advantage of the individual store savings programs… the kind where the store issues a card that you must present to the cashier at check-out time. Most of the best sales on produce and whole food items are linked to these cards. And recently we participated in a “fuel advantage” program where using the card entitled us to discounts at a local gas station. Just by using the store card and buying the groceries we would have bought anyway, we were also able to buy gas for only $1.09 a gallon!

I always ask for a rain check if an item I want is on sale and the store has sold out. At the moment we have rain checks for ten pounds of organic butter for $1.99 a pound and six pounds of California organic red grapes for 99 cents a pound… both substantial savings over the regular prices.

Finally… I check the cash register receipt before I leave the store. It is amazing how often the sales receipt will show the wrong price or list the wrong item… mistakes that are easily corrected when the groceries are right there in the cart. One of the stores even “apologizes” for each mistake with a $2.00 coupon towards our next grocery purchase.