The old adage says that nothing is certain except for death and taxes. A third thing might be that the cost of groceries will always rise. Food prices have been escalating at a greater rate than other goods lately, due to unseasonable weather conditions in many regions. Here are some helpful tips to keep you from going broke while keeping your family fed.
Keep track of food spending
Knowing what you have to spend, and staying on budget, is essential. If you know what you spend weekly for groceries, you can start thinking of ways to reduce that cost without sacrificing nutrition.
Use a grocery list
And not just the one you take to the store. Keep a running list of items needed to keep your family fed. When an item becomes short, add it to this week’s list of purchases. Constant updating also keeps you from over-spending on duplicate items you forgot that you had.
Use your kitchen
Cooking meals at home from scratch is almost always less expensive than buying prepared foods. Plus, if you have any skills at it, the food is generally tastier and more nutritious. If you aren’t a born chef, use cookbooks and follow the recipes.
Yesterday’s roast makes lunch sandwiches for the kids today. Or chop it up into a soup. Don’t let leftovers go bad in the refrigerator.
Shop at bargain outlets
Warehouse-type grocery outlets may not have the variety of choices found at Safeway, but whatever they have that is on your list will likely cost you less. If there is an item you must have that you can’t find there, pick those items only up at a major-name retailer.
Don’t shop hungry
Have a little snack at least before hitting the grocery store. It will greatly reduce the urge for impulse buying.
Shop back to front
Retailers put the items they need to move closer to the entrance of the store. Don’t be taken in. Go deep and make your way toward the check out stands, not away from them.
Avoid items at the checkout aisle
These are impulse items, designed to make you you run up your bill a little more at the last second. Also, generally they are the more expensive high-profile brands. If you plan to get gum, get it on the candy aisle as part of your regular shopping.
It’s a no-brainer, but a glance at your daily paper and a few snips can give you savings that add up. There is, however, a danger of becoming an “extreme” couponer, who invests far too much time into saving a few cents. These obsessive clippers are also sometimes guilty of shelf-clearing and other rude behaviors that hurt stores and other shoppers. Use sense and restraint.
Also keep in mind that not every coupon equals a bargain. A few cents off on a name-brand item may still be more costly than a generic version at full price.
Use your store card
Many retailers offer cards that accrue points for additional savings. Get one and use it every time you shop at that store.
Frozen over fresh
It is popular to think that only fresh fruits and vegetables are nutritious. However, in most cases, frozen produce has the same nutritional value as the more-expensive whole fruits and vegetables in the produce section.