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Do It Better: Saving Money on Groceries

By Joyce Venezia Suss

The totals on grocery shopping receipts have risen dramatically in the past year, and you may hesitate to buy favorite foods that now cost significantly more. Some reasons for higher prices include surging inflation, global supply issues, damaging weather and crop disease. Until we see deflation in the future, here are some ways to trim the bill and still eat well: 

Maintain a Grocery List and Weekly Menu

Planning a weekly menu – and then your grocery list based on needed ingredients – saves time and reduces impulse purchases. Create a printable list separated by aisles in your favorite supermarket to speed up the trip. When you run low on basics, add it to the list so you don’t end up with multiples. Bonus savings if you buy foods on sale and plan meals around those! 

Try Store Brands

Even if you have been loyal to name brands, many house brands are significantly less expensive and have the same ingredients. Many are also manufactured by the same companies that sell the name brands. This includes food items like flour, sugar, oatmeal, vinegar, nuts, dried fruit, canned and frozen vegetables, and rice. As for dairy, some store brands now offer organic versions if that is your preference. Stay with name brands for certain items that may be of lower quality, such as peanut butter and olive oil. 

Look Differently at Similar Sections

The gourmet cheeses sold near the deli are always more expensive than those sold in the dairy aisle – and are usually worth it. But if you need a simple shredded cheese for tacos, buy a generic sharp cheddar and shred it yourself. 

Make or Modify Your Own Products

Homemade salad dressing always tastes better than bottled because it does not contain fillers. Homemade pancakes and waffles freeze well. Make your own mashed potatoes. If the kids love frozen pizza, get plain versions and add toppings separately. 

Check for Freshness

The produce department requires careful inspection to avoid waste. Any clear package should be checked; one rotting potato or onion can spoil the bunch. Turn over containers of berries and salads – if they are not sticking to the bottom, they will stay fresh longer. 

Take Advantage of Online Savings

Many supermarket chains now offer online shopping lists that let you apply coupons and store incentives. You can compare costs in advance, to see which prices are lower. Download the store’s app for the most convenience. 

Invest in Proper Freezer Storage Materials

Buying meat on sale works only if you can store it for longevity. Use higher quality food storage bags and wrapping materials to prevent freezer burns. Mark the date, and rotate items in your freezer to use the oldest first. 

Shop Organically Smart

If you prefer organic produce but cringe at the higher prices, know the “Clean 15” items published annually by the Environmental Working Group. Those items are safe to eat without the organic label. 

Visit Other Stores

Newer grocery chains – including some from Europe – are luring customers with lower prices. Compare the numbers to see if it’s worth an occasional visit, or maybe even become your regular supermarket.

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