About grocery savings

 Everyone is feeling the economical crunch these days. It’s nice to see gas prices finally start going down, but food prices don’t seem to be following. In fact, I’m still noticing that prices on certain items are on the rise. Most of us can’t change what we spend on our housing payment, auto payment, and utilities. We can, however, learn how to save on groceries.

Buy generic

There are many generic items available at your grocery store, and most of them are just as good as their brand-name counterparts. I buy mostly generic: cereal, tomato sauce, soups for cooking, pasta, rice, peanut butter, and jams. My family can’t tell the difference, but the prices are considerably lower than brand-name items. Every once in a while, I will notice a taste difference in a generic item, so I switch back to brand-name, but that doesn’t happen very often.

Only use coupons for items you normally purchase

It’s a commonly held idea that using coupons can save you money at the grocery store. That isn’t always the case, especially if having a coupon entices you to purchase an item you don’t normally buy. Use coupons only for the items that you would purchase without the coupon. Otherwise, using coupons can actually cause you to spend more money.

Buy fruits and vegetables in season

Fruits and vegetables are much healthier snacks, and they don’t have to be more expensive than pre-packaged, less healthy alternatives. Follow the seasons, because produce is always less expensive when you purchase it in its growing season.

Shop without your kids, if possible

I always spend more at the grocery store when my kids are shopping with me. In spite of the fact that I think I’m fairly strict about sticking to my list, they always talk me into two or three items that I hadn’t planned on buying. Not only does this throw my budget out of whack, but their choices are on the less healthy side.

Stock up when regularly used items are on sale

The best way to save on groceries is to have some staple recipes, ones that everyone in the family likes and that are easy to put together if you have the ingredients in the house. Those ingredients are the items that you need to always stock. Stores will often have stock-up sales, when canned vegetables or soups or baking supplies are drastically reduced. Use those sales to stock up on those non-perishable items that you need for your basic recipes.

Stick to the list

Before you go shopping, sit down and make up your menu plan for the next week. Then check your cupboards and shelves, and make your list based on the things you need for those meals and for snacks. When you shop, stick to your list. The impulse items are the things that will end up costing you more than you intended to spend.

Check the unit price

Buying in bigger packages seems like the way to save, but that’s not always true. Learn how to read the shelf price tags, where the unit prices are listed. These tags will tell you the price per ounce or per item in the package that you’re buying. You can use those prices to compare different package sizes and make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Shop the bottoms and tops of the shelves; avoid eye level items

Keep in mind that the most expensive items and brands are stocked at eye level. Be sure to look at the brands on the top and bottom shelves; that’s where you’ll find the best deals.

Today’s economy is tough on everyone, but by learning how to save on groceries, you can help keep your family’s budget on track.