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20 ways to slash your grocery bill

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:23 pm    Post subject: 20 ways to slash your grocery bill Reply with quote

Thanks to Bank Rate

Would you know a good price on peanut butter if you stumbled across it?
Here's how to spot bargains, cut waste and work the system.

When it comes to the grocery store, the rules are the same as those for the stock market:
Do your homework, don't fall for the hype and buy low.

Here are 20 ways to bring your food bill under control without sacrificing time, your family's health or your own sanity:

Eat your fruits and vegetables
"When you think about it, fruits and things like that are really fairly inexpensive compared to the packaged things," And almost any time of year, stores have "a good selection no matter what you like, You're bound to find something year-round that's in season and, therefore, affordable."

Want to find the freshest and the cheapest?
Investigate a local farmers market. With less middlemen involved, the produce tends to be "fresher, treated with less chemicals and cheaper".

Give those shelves the once-over
"The marketers aren't foolish," They know that we're generally lazy." So they position the items they most want to sell on the shelves between knee- and shoulder-height. "The highest markup items are the ones at about chest level -- to make it really easy for you to grab it and toss it in the cart".
And that's where the most expensive name brands will be, says Jyl Steinback, author of "The Supermarket Gourmet." "You can save up to 40% by selecting house or generic brands."

Stick to the edges
For the most part, the healthy, less processed foods are at the edges of the grocery store: dairy, fruits and vegetables, meats, etc..
Those are the most nutritious options, and they also go further in the kitchen. In addition, "the main areas where you're walking, the paths to milk and bread, are usually strewn with high-priced land mines," says Ellie Kay, author of "Shop, Save, and Share." "Avoiding those pricey areas will really help."
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Shop early and alone
"Try to shop when you're alone," says Steinback. "Those little helpers can quickly boost your bill." And if you shop early in the day, you get through the store faster with your list and spend less, she says.

Set your shopping mood
Nearly everyone knows that if you shop for food when you're hungry, you'll buy more. But did you know that you're also more likely to reach for those expensive snack foods if you're tired or angry?
"When you're tired, you try to get more energy through food," says Steinback, who has many of her personal training clients keep food diaries. "And people will grab the wrong choices: more sweets, more high-carbohydrates. When you're angry you go for crunch food, the junk food. So if you just had a fight, that's not the time to go shopping."

Operate by the book
You really want to beat the stores at the pricing game? Start keeping a book, says Foreman, who has a background in purchasing. His theory: most families prepare the same 10 to 20 recipes again and again.
His advice: Start a notebook, with one page for each item your family buys regularly. Note what you usually pay. If you see an especially good price, make a note of where and what it is. Without a book, "I can't remember what I paid (for something) six weeks ago," says Foreman.
But if you have a crib sheet, you know if a store sale or special is hype or a good buy.
When you find a real bargain, stock up!
The trick is "to buy on the markdowns," he says. "It's not at all uncommon for people to save 15% to 20% on groceries. You don't have to change your habits. Just buy when (items) are at low cost."

If you want to win the savings game, learn the rules
Read that weekly food section and check the Sunday paper to see what's on sale.
And don't forget the fine print in those offers. For example, at some stores "buy one, get one free" items ring up at half price, which means you can use a coupon on each one and double your savings, says Kay.
But other stores mark one item full-price and give you the other for free, allowing you to use only one coupon.
In addition, some retailers guarantee that if the item doesn't ring up at the correct price, you get it for free or at a discount. "Be sure you pay attention to the details," Kay says.

Know when to use a list
For staples, stick to what you'd already planned to buy before you walked into the store. "The only time to go off list is if you can combine savings factors (store sales, double coupons, etc.) and get a good buy," says Kay.

Know when not to use a list
When it comes to produce, take the farmer's market approach: Buy what's fresh, inexpensive and in season. Then adapt your menus accordingly. That way, you get good buys and your family gets the freshest food.

Grocery stores are for groceries
"Avoid purchasing nongrocery items at a grocery store," says Steinback, who advises consumers to weigh convenience vs. cost when they pick up supplies like painkillers, contact lens solution, mouthwash or toothpaste at the grocery store. "I know it's convenient," she says. "But, you double your cost."

Take a rain check
If you know that your store is offering a great price on something you use, but it's all gone when you arrive, get a rain check, says Kay.

Know the system
When does your store mark down goods that expire, like meat or bread?
"You can get significant markdowns on meats if you buy things that are about to expire that day," Foreman says. The deal: Use them that night or freeze them, he says.
Your store might also have a small section where they discount products that aren't as popular as the manufacturer had hoped. This area can be a gold mine for bargain hunters, Foreman says.

Realize that more isn't always cheaper
"It's not uncommon for readers to say they found things in lots of 24 where the unit price was higher than if they bought one," says Foreman. "The days that you could take one big package and know you were saving money are over."
His credo: "Unless you're better at math than most people, shop with a calculator."

Request price matching
Want to get the best prices on everything without driving all over town? "Find a store in your area that will honor all competitors' ads," says Kay. You'll save money, time and gas.
This is also a good way to get bargains on things like meat or vegetables, where coupons are rarely an option.

Look for double coupons
"In most places, what you will find is that a coupon will let you buy the nationally advertised brand at the same price as the generic or house brand," says Foreman. Instead, if you favor coupons, look for stores that offer double coupons, which "can be a real saver," he says.

Weigh before you pay
All 10-pound bags of potatoes "are not created equal," says Kay. "There could be a pound's difference." Weigh the pre-packed bags and get the most for your money.

Beware of "discount store syndrome"
Just because you're in a bargain store doesn't mean you're getting the best price on every item. "You have to consider whether it's a good bargain or not, and not mindlessly buy because it's a thrifty store," says Kay.
Her example: a warehouse club sells paper towels for 89 cents a roll that you normally see in your grocery store for 99 cents. Good buy? Not necessarily. If you have a 40-cents-off coupon that the grocery store will double, the grocery store cost is 19 cents. So do your homework before you shop.
Realize that sometimes the best bargain isn't the lowest price. There are times when you want to spend a little more on things that are important to you. For instance, a good-quality ground chuck with a little less fat or a loaf of really good whole-grain bread. Saving is great, but beware of buys that could be "penny-wise and pound-foolish," says Foreman.
"Your health is worth that," he says. "Medical bills are tough, even if you do have a good health plan."

Check your receipts
No matter how careful you or the store staff might be, mistakes happen. "I can't say it's widespread, but I do get reports of people saying they check grocery bills, and very often they find mistakes," says Foreman. "And, 4 to 1, they are in favor of the store."

Put your savings to work
Whether it's a trip, a car or a savings account, have some specific goals for the money you're not spending on food. Says Kay, "What good does it do to save all this money in the grocery store if you don't have a plan (for) what to do with that money?"
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Freebie Goddess

Joined: 28 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:08 am    Post subject: here is another little tip Reply with quote

Never grocery shop when you are hungary.If you are hungary you will buy foods you normally wouldn't.You will buy larger quantities of food.You will impulse buy because you will think that sounds good to eat and you will buy several items that way and it will drasticly increase your bill.
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Freebie Goddess

Joined: 18 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you do have to shop with little ones or the "big one" make sure that they are not hungry either. When our children where little I used to take a snack into the store for them. My mom also discovered that the deli will frequently give you "samples" and that they will give you a slice of cheese or meat and that the kids think that they have gotten something extra special with no cost out of your pocket. Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Supertarget will give kids free cookies if you ask. Its my sons treat for helping out. Wink
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