FRIDAY, JUNE 15: I wrote about saving money at the grocery store a few years ago when we were really feeling the economic crunch brought on by the recession. It seems that this topic is more relevant now than it was back then - the increasing cost of groceries is a big concern for most consumers.
The rising price of gas has increased transportation costs, utilities have increased and not to mention the rising costs of doing business here. We are all noticing an increase in our grocery bill but if you follow these 10 tips, you can save yourself some money.
Plan what you and your family will eat for the next week or two.
Factor in leftovers and use this menu to create your shopping list. Buy fresh foods as you need them, to avoid spoilage.
Plan to shop on days when the grocery stores are offering specials and compare to make sure that these ‘specials’ are actually a savings.
Have a list and stick to it
Prepare your shopping list while you are at home and start by taking inventory of what’s in your fridge, freezer, cupboards or pantry to assess what you will need. Avoid buying items that you will not use in the near future. It’s good to remember that grocery stores are places of high impulse shopping. Take the list to the store and stick to it.
Shop the perimeter
Fresh foods (healthier and less processed) — fruits, veggies, dairy and meats — tend to be around the perimeter of the store. The milk aisle is typically placed in the far end of the store so you’ll have to walk through aisles where most of the processed foods are. If you’re trying to stay away from processed foods, avoid the aisles and stick to the outskirts of the store.
Don’t shop hungry
It goes without saying that when you grocery shop on an empty stomach, you tend to pick up a lot of junk and things that you really don’t need. Everything looks good when you are hungry.
Leave the children at home
Unless your children are trained not to harass you in the grocery store, leave them at home. Most often children will pester you for some sort of junk that is not on your grocery list and you will more than likely give in after telling them no repeatedly.
Look high and low
Grocery stores rarely randomly place items on shelves. They have a strategy. Items at eye level are usually from those companies that have the most leverage, and more importantly, money to stock their products in the most ideal place. Take a few minutes to check the shelves above and below eye level – you may find the same product by different brands, cheaper. And don’t be so brand loyal that you don’t consider the ‘no-name’ brands if they will save you money.
Watch those specials
First of all, do you need it? Would you buy it if it weren’t on special? Is it really a savings if you can get a different brand cheaper? As well, watch those 2 for 1 deals or specials that offer multiple items cheap. If you’re not planning on sharing the extras they will most likely end up in the trash.
Use your arms
If you are just going in for a few items don’t use a cart or basket. This will help you stick to your list and avoid impulse shopping for items that you don’t really need.
Know the butcher
Don’t be afraid to ask the butcher to cut up large pieces of meat – especially if they are on special – so that you can freeze it for future meals.
Eat in season
Finding fresh quality produce can be challenging and it’s good to know when fresh fruits and vegetables are in season. There are generic charts available on the Internet but your best bet is to speak to local farmers. Get to know their schedules and prices as well - buying produce directly from local farmers is a good way to enjoy fresher produce and can some-times save you money.
Honey Adams is the education officer for the office of Consumer Affairs. For more consumer savvy information visit our web-site, www.ca.gov.bm.