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How to Save Money Grocery Shopping

By - 2005

One of the most common ways to save money on your grocery shopping is to start using manufacturers' coupons to get things a bit cheaper. This is not only time consuming, but it rarely saves you much money in the end. Even with the coupon a given product is usually more expensive than a perfectly adequate alternative, such as a store brand version. There are better ways to cut your costs, including the following.

Calculator and Cash

If budgeting for groceries is necessary, then bring only what your budget allows for the week - and bring it in cash.A debit or credit card makes it too easy to go beyond your budget. With just the cash for the week's needs, you'll have no way to spend a penny extra. Of course, you don't have to tell the cashier to take half of your things back, which is why you need a calculator. Add as you go, and allow for sale's tax too.

Fresh Versus Frozen

Sometimes fresh fruits and vegetables are cheaper and sometimes the frozen versions are less. Buy where the value is, if either will work. If you are buying strawberries for "fruit smoothies" that you blend up in the morning, for example, it doesn't matter whether you use frozen or fresh, but sometimes the frozen ones are half as much for the same amount. And the good news is that frozen fruits and vegetables may have more vitamins according to some studies, because they are flash frozen shortly after picking, locking in the vitamins, while the fresh ones travel for days in hot and cold trucks, and then sit for days on the shelves or in the storerooms.

Eat First

We laugh about this, but it is absolutely true that we tend to buy more when we are hungry. Then, when we have more food to eat the house, we tend to eat it. The type of foods we buy is affected as well. Go grocery shopping on an empty stomach and you'll probably buy more snack foods that aren't as healthy.

Check Unit Price Tags

Many grocery stores, including the largest, are playing with prices on different sizes of products. Don't assume that the larger sizes are a better buy, costing less per ounce. It isn't always the case. The "family size" may actually cost more per ounce or pound. Who can say if this is being done on purpose, but it is common now, so check those tags to see which size is actually the better value.

Watch Pricing Patterns

Grocery store chains regularly change prices of popular items for marketing purposes. The 9.5 ounce box of Triscuit crackers in our local Wal-Mart is currently (fall 2009) $2.99,which is the same price as the 13 ounce box at the moment. It seems strange, but there is a reason for it. I'll get to that shortly.

When watching those tags you might just think you should always buy the big box. In the example above it comes out to 23 cents per ounce, after all, compared to 31.5 cents per ounce for the smaller one. It's not that simple though. In about a month or so the price will go back to $2.00 for the 9.5 ounce box, which is only 21 cents per ounce. In fact, the price goes up and down throughout the year, so it makes sense to buy an extra box or two when it is low and hold off when the price is up.

These pricing games have to do with legal and marketing considerations. It helps sales to have a "new lower price" on an item, but they can only legally say it if the price was actually higher for time. The law says it has to be at a given price for thirty days to call it the "regular price" or to say that the new price is lower. This is why some stores rotate prices from time to time. Once the crackers are $2.99 for a while they can be lowered to $2.00 and it looks like a major discount - and can be advertised as one. Do this with enough products and it can appear as though all the prices are always dropping. Keep an eye on cycles like these and stock up during the lower-price times.

These few examples of the ways to save money on groceries should get you thinking and save you some money, and none of them require clipping coupons.



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