Squeezed by rising food prices? Helpful hints
October 1, 2012 4:00PM
Updated: November 4, 2012 6:01AM
Small changes in your shopping habits can mean saving money at the grocery store.
What can you do to save? Check the tips below that can work for you and your family.
Remember changing habits is hard! Try one or two each week. Soon you’ll see some relief in your grocery bills!
Before you go to the store
• Make a list. Why? You’ll spend less time in the store. For every minute in a supermarket, you spend $2.17, according to the Food Marketing Institute. Also, if you have a list you will make fewer trips to the store and save gas.
• Plan meals. Look for specials and seasonal foods.
• Where you shop may cost you money. Bulk food stores may not always be a good choice. You may be tempted to buy foods you don’t need and can’t store properly. Large food packages make it too easy to eat larger portions.
• Use coupons for foods you need. Sometimes coupons tempt you to buy unneeded items.
• Convenience foods can drain food dollars. You pay for convenience such as a ready-to-cook chicken breast. Prepare it yourself to retain control over what goes in the food — less fat and salt.
• Looking for the best value? Foods high in fat and sugar, like cookies, chips, doughnuts and soft drinks, have fewer nutrients than nutritious fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and lean meats. Remember, the fiber in fruits and vegetables fills you up and keeps hunger away.
• Buy nonfood items like pet food, cleaning supplies and personal care items from discount stores. These items cost more at the grocery store.
At the store
• Shop alone. Shopping without kids can help you avoid the nag effect.
• Shop on a full stomach so you are less tempted to buy more.
• Consider store brands. Many taste the same as name brands and are from the same companies as name brands. If you are making a dish where appearance doesn’t matter, like using frozen vegetables in a mixed dish, buy a store brand and save money.
• Bigger is not always cheaper especially if you buy a large size food package and throw food away. Bring a calculator to compare unit prices. Sales tags often do not re-compute unit prices.
• Shop the outer aisles where you find nutritious fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats. The inside aisles are where you find higher priced processed foods and snacks.
• Look high, look low. Bargains are usually on the top or bottom shelves, not at eye level.
• Track your store’s loss-leader items. What are loss-leader items? They are low-priced items to get you to the store so you buy other higher priced items. Different sections of the store are featured each week. Stock up on each week‘s loss-leader items, especially things like cereals and juice.
When you get home
• Store food properly. Food that gets thrown out is money lost. According to a University of Arizona study, households throw away about $600 a year .
• Eating out costs money and uses extra gas. Food prepared at home can be healthier. If you have children, involve them in the meal planning and preparation to build their kitchen skills.
• If you must eat out, share an entrée. Or choose appetizers which are smaller portions of food.
Eating at home
• Portion sizes. Serving food on smaller plates and drinks in taller, thinner glasses can help us eat or drink less.
• Eat slowly. Put the fork down between bites. You’ll eat less. Try to be the last person who finishes eating.
• Repackage large containers of food into smaller bags and containers. If you must have snacks on hand like cookies, smaller portions help you avoid overindulging.
• Keep healthy foods in sight — like fruits on a bowl in the kitchen or cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator. You are more likely to choose them over unhealthier snack foods.