How to Save Money on Groceries as Prices Continue to Rise
The following post was originally posted on 2/20/08 with a few new additions:
I have been reading a lot lately about the expected increase in food prices. Most of the articles I have been reading say to expect a 3-4% increase on grocery costs this year - and a much higher increase for some other goods (butter, milk, boxed cereal, and packaged baked goods stand out in my mind). So what's a girl (or guy) to do to save a few bucks as prices continue to rise?
I thought that my local paper had some great tips today. Here is the first article that I read about 10 ways to save at the grocery store. Here is the second article that I read about planning and preparation before going to the grocery store.
While I think there was a lot of great info in both of these articles, here are a few points that jumped out at me:
* Plan your shopping trips and shop around. Prices can vary greatly from store to store and from week to week. Shopping around and stocking up on items when they are on sale can save you a lot of money over time.
* Pay attention to what you throw away. When you throw away uneaten or expired food, you are throwing away money. Make yourself use up what you have (this means eating leftovers...a tough one for me!) If you find yourself consistently throwing away the same items, cut back or eliminate those items from your shopping list.
* Ask yourself if you are paying extra for convenience. This was an eye opener for me, because I typically don't think of baby carrots, shredded cheese, and boneless skinless chicken breasts as being convenience items. But in a way they are, because it is possible to buy whole or uncut versions of all of these at a cheaper price. Homemade is often cheaper as well. Look for ways to make as many boxed/prepackaged items from scratch as you can in order to save money.
*Look for local bakery thrift stores for bread and other bakery items. If I could find somewhere with cheaper bread (still whole grain), I could buy several loaves and freeze them.
*Sometimes buying in larger quantities is cheaper. This is only true if you are actually going to eat the extra food though! For example, I have stopped buying large bags of potatoes because we just don't eat them. I hate wasting a big bag of potatoes when we are only going to eat a few, so I just buy a few, even if they are more expensive per ounce (because the overall price is still cheaper).
*Try to limit distractions and take your time (as much as possible) when shopping. I try to shop in the evenings after my daughter has gone to bed, because I can't really focus on what I am doing when I have her with me. Even with a detailed list and organized coupons it can take a lot of brain power to save money when shopping, and it typically takes my full attention.
*Take a calculator to help figure the cost per serving! I use the calculator on my cell phone. I think that it is easy to be "tricked" by the displays and signs at most grocery stores if you are in a hurry and not paying attention. Most stores run "x number of products for x dollars" deals which aren't always deals. Having a calculator helps you determine which "deals" are truly deals. Using store ads and doing your homework prior to shopping allows you to avoid spending too much as well.
I know that I learned a few things today. Hopefully you find these articles to be useful as well. Do you have any tips on how you save at the grocery store that weren't mentioned above? Please leave a comment if so...I would love to hear your ideas!