Friday, August 16, 2013

Cutting the Grocery Bill Down to Size

It seems as if everything is going up in price. School supplies are more than last year and gas consistently flirts with four dollars, which is why we need to get a handle on sky rocketing grocery prices. Here's part two. Use what you can.

How to Save Money on your Groceries, Part 2

1.       Bottled Water runs up your grocery bill. Studies have shown bottled water may actually have more contaminants than regular tap water. Contrary to commercials, it is bottled in a factory not the mountains.
2.       Bottled drinks such as Gatorade, Kool-Aid, and flavored water are all simply water. You can buy the mix and make it cheaper at home.
3.       Designer salt and seasoning might be labeled Cajun, Country or Seasoned Salt, but they are 90% salt. Salt is relatively cheap, so why are you paying four dollars for salt?
4.       Buy bagged fruits and vegetable, especially if they are on sale. Open the bag at home and remove any bruised or rotten ones. One bad apple or potato can ruin the whole bag.
5.       Do not buy individual items. Chips, soups, macaroni and cheese, or even frozen veggies for one. Often the single serving is almost the same price as a family size.
6.       Cook differently. In America, we expected everyone to get his or her own hamburger or steak. In other countries, the same meat is used in a stir-fry for the entire family.
7.        Make your own popcorn from actual corn as opposed to resorting to microwave bags. You’ll need a hot air popper for this, which you can find at Goodwill.
8.       Weigh your produce. That bag of grapes sounds like a great deal until you discover it will be nine dollars instead, of the four you thought.
9.       Know a bargain. A store I shop began labeling everything super sale when it wasn’t a better buy than previously. Keep track of your prices, so when something goes on an extreme sale, you’ll know it and stock up.
10.   Watch out for the displays. Often when we see a tower of breadcrumbs or a wall of beer that it must be on sale, right. No, this is clever marketing.
11.   Numbered sales that urge you to buy five or ten items will penalize if you do not buy the full amount. They didn’t use to, but now they do. If the ad is for three for $9, you’d naturally assume two would be $6. You’ll find at the checkout that two is actually $10.
12.   Buy cold cuts in the deli. You seldom get a pound of meat in your prepackaged containers. Do the math to see what the best deal is. If you have a coupon for your prepackaged meat, it might be the better deal. Deli meat often goes on sale too. When using deli meat, use it quickly because it spoils faster.
13.   Leave the kids at home- trade off childcare with a friend or relative. Not only will it make shopping faster, but it will also cut down on the whiny buys. The ones where the kids beg for it and you give in or you promise them a treat if they don’t whine.
14.   Watch the cash register. In the last year, 2.5 million dollars of mistakes were on the grocery receipts and these were the ones caught. It can be little things as sales items not registering, not using your loyalty card or coupons, not entering produce correctly.
15.     Have an extra freezer to stock up. Chest top ones use less energy.
16.   Stock up in November and December-this is the time of most sales and coupons. The freezer will come in hand for an extra turkey.
17.   Size does matter when it comes to stores. Bigger stores often have more items on sale, but not always.
18.   Neighborhood matters too. A recent study revealed that grocery chains sell the same items higher in low-income neighborhoods because the residents do not have transportation to go elsewhere and they’re using food stamps. I have seen a single egg sold for as much as a $1 in these neighborhoods. In the other neighborhoods, people simply drive to the cheaper store.
19.    Volunteer at your local food pantry. Many markets donate produce and fresh products to the pantry that spoils quickly. Often volunteers take these items home with them.
20.   Barter for your food. This works better if you are talking to a farmer. I have golden delicious apples on my trees that I can trade with my neighbor for her red delicious. You can barter actual work for food or go on barter sites such as Barter Quest.
21.   Buy frozen. Fresh strawberries are appealing, but have a limited few day life span.
22.   Pick your own. Be careful here because some farms have found they can actually raise the price on produce and let people pick them. Apples are probably easiest to pick. Often you get the better price the more you buy. Fresh apples can last a couple months in cool dry temperatures. Once they start getting withered looking, consider applesauce and pies.
23.   Avoid impulse buys at the checkout. There is a reason those items are there. Gum at the checkout is $1.29 while elsewhere in the store for three packs for $2.39.
Now that you know what to look for, Happy Savings.
Special thanks to Homestead for some of these money saving tips.

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