I truly believe that the two best money savers is establishing a well-stocked pantry and cooking from "scratch." We'll cover the pantry this time and get to the "cooking from scratch" as we go along.
Having a pantry can help you save money by not having to run to the store to pick up something you might be out of and that you desperately need for dinner. It allows you to buy things in "bulk" as well, which usually comes with a cheaper price.
Ok...so you agree but where do you start. First, you'll need a list of things you normally buy in the course of a month. So sit down and make a list of all the different meals you normally cook. You can usually make a list of your normal purchases from that list. Another way to figure it out is simply keep your receipts for one month and make your list from them.
After you've made your list, start watching the sales flyers to see when those things go on sale. When they do, stock up on those items. A price-book helps if you really want to track the price of things but I usually go mostly on memory or have a general idea what something should costs and now I can spot a bargain from a mile away.
Remember, don't break the bank! Try to set aside money each month to build your pantry instead of stocking it all at once. If you really want to get it stocked up fast, have a yard sale or something to earn the money.
I usually spend one day a month doing the "big shopping" at my normal stops and then I check the weekly sales flyers for their bargains and just purchase those through the month. This allows me to take advantage of the sales but keeps me from overspending through the month. It also cuts down on the time I spend in the stores. Yes, I spend a lot of time on "shopping day" but the quick stops through the month are to pick up the "bargains" and are short and to the point. I don't browse at all, I go with a list...pick up the bargains and my fresh vegetables or other perishables and I'm out of there.
That should get your started for now. Next time we'll talk about where to put all of that stuff!
Have a great day!