Thursday, March 20, 2014

9 Ways To Save Money At The Supermarket

Photo of a Key Food: SILive.com
As my Mom says when she looks at overpriced food, “Remember, we have to eat everyday.”

Food shopping is a huge expense for the average person, taking a big bite out of a monthly budget. So how can you "get more and spend less?" (That's right Mama, I do pay attention. :) 

Here are 9 ways to lower your grocery bills:

1) Buy unprocessed, real food: meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables (fresh and frozen) and whole grains. Not only will you save money, you will improve your diet. Shop along the sides of the supermarket where the real food is laid out and avoid the middle aisles, where sugary and processed foods tend to be.

2) Don't buy prepared food. With few exceptions, buy food you wash and cut up (and season) yourself. Fruits and vegetables you slice and dice yourself stay fresh longer, and it's not that much trouble. A whole cantaloupe is usually less expensive than slices.

3) Stock up on sales. Before going through the store, look at the weekly circular and circle items you normally buy, when they are priced to draw customers into the store. They are called "loss leaders," meaning items sold below cost.

Here is an example of what I circled recently:
Skarkist solid white tuna, 99 cents/ 5 ounce can
a dozen extra large eggs, $1.69
5 lbs Idaho potatoes, $1.79
3 - 8 oz blocks of cheddar cheese, $5
a bunch of fresh broccoli, 99 cents
plum tomatoes, 79 cents/lb
globe grapes, 99 cents/lb (big and juicy!)
frozen green beans, 16 oz bag – buy 1 get 1 free at a cost of $1.75

Stock up on staples: You might buy $10 worth of cheese, 10 cans of tuna and 4 bags of frozen green beans. They last for a while, and the savings add up. (Months ago I picked up a couple of cans of unsweetened pineapple and pureed pumpkin for 99 cents each. Nice!)

4) Unless you are planning a special dinner and need a certain type of meat, fruit or vegetable, plan your meals around the store's weekly specials. If beef, potatoes and broccoli go on sale, eat that for dinner. Cook pork chops and corn-on-the-cob when they go on sale. Have chicken, asparagus and wild rice the week they go on sale. Also pay attention to manager specials on food. Since new items go on sale weekly, you won't really want for anything, nor deprive yourself of variety. You'll just pay less if you are flexible, take advantage of specials and plan ahead. I see a few tuna melts in my future. (The pineapple might turn wine into sangria, and the pumpkin becomes either soup or a cake.)

5) Slowly change habits: Eliminate foods made with white flour and refined sugars like boxed cereal, pot pies, canned cinnamon rolls, or frozen french fries. Even on sale, they are not the real bargains, nor are they the best food choices. As a special treat, I might buy a frozen pizza or bag of corn chips, but mostly, if I want chocolate chip cookies or french fries (treats I formally bought), I have to make them myself from scratch. The result: you start to streamline your grocery list and eat healthy, saving a few bucks in the process. Grocery shopping for me takes less time too.
Photo: Frank, Jr.

6) Personally, I don't clip coupons, but I'm not opposed to using them. You can save some bucks if you find coupons for items you buy anyway.

7) If your supermarket offers a rewards card, sign up. Get something back for stuff you buy anyway.

8) Buying in bulk isn't always a good idea. Not all food has a long shelf life. Only buy what you will eat, plus a little extra, so you don't have to run back to the store the next day. Eat a variety of fresh food, so you stay healthy and don't get bored.

9) Never overbuy food (or any product) regardless of how low the price goes. Waste is waste, even if you get it cheap. If you have this tendency, scare yourself straight by watching an episode of the most frightening show on television, Hoarders. Seeing how bad it can get will cure you!

Now go back and read the words in bold to remember the 9 tips for reducing your grocery bills ... and yet still coming home with plenty of groceries.

You may also enjoy:
Eater's Beware
When is Organic Necessay?
Eat Healthy One Step At A Time
Jamie Oliver's The Food Revolution

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