How to Save Money Grocery Shopping
By Steve Gillman - 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.
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
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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For more on how to save money grocery shopping, see the following:
Money on Food