Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wallet Friendly Wednesday 22 Ways To Fight The Rising Costs Of Groceries

The head lines are telling us that groceries are going up. To bad my or hubby's social security did not go up.
I have the same amount of money coming in, but I am hearing that more of my money will go out for groceries.

I have blogged before about saving money at the grocery store. I think that I am pretty thrifty buying groceries but I know there are ways that I have wasted money weekly at the store.

One item I use to waste my money on was rotisserie chicken. I would spend $6.00 to $7.00 on a cooked chicken. I am guessing that I did this on a weekly basis for at least a year. Yes bring that chicken home was a fast easy dinner but at what cost. Over $300 on rotisserie chicken in a year.

Lets not even get started at that little plastic container of potato salad from the deli that we would bring home every few weeks.

As prices of groceries go up while our pay does not go up at all or very little we need to get even more clever at the grocery store.

Here is an article I found at MSN money.. " 22 ways to fight the rising cost of groceries"

1. Eat at home
Dining out is expensive. Just about any nutritious meal that you buy in a formal restaurant can be made at home for a fraction of the price. Even good coffee is cheaper to make if you do it yourself. Fast food is excluded from the category, as high-calorie, low-quality food can be had a bargain price, but the impact on your long-term health overrides the benefit of short-term savings.

2. Shop with a plan
If you stumble around the grocery store and fill your cart with everything that catches your eye, chances are you will spend a lot more money that you need to. To minimize your cash outlay, prepare a shopping list before you leave home. Plan your meals for the week ahead, and make careful note of what you need to buy in order to prepare those meals. Once the list is made, purchase only the items on the list, and avoid impulse buys.

3. Put on blinders
Grocery stores are designed to make you go through a maze to get to the most basic items in the hope that you will make a few impulse buys along the way. If you keep to your planned list, you won't be tempted when you get forced down the junk food aisle to get at the milk. Because most necessities and basic cooking items are found along the outside edge of the store, start there and work your way around the perimeter and step into the maze only to grab any leftover items on your list.

4. Eat before you shop
When you are hungry and you walk into a building full of food, you're likely to fill your cart with unnecessary and expensive purchases that appeal to your taste buds. To keep your costs down, eat first and shop on a full stomach.

5. Avoid prepared foods
Our fast-paced society encourages convenience, and grocery stores have capitalized on this trend. Ready-made meals are easy to buy, but they come with a premium price tag. Instead of putting that rotisserie chicken and macaroni salad in your cart, buy the ingredients and prepare the meal yourself. The same concept applies to frozen entrees, baked goods and any other foods that have been prepared in some way for added convenience.

6. Skip the bottled water
If you don't like the water that comes out of the tap, buy a water filter. The per-gallon cost is significantly less than the cost of bottled water -- and without all the plastic bottles to discard, it's a lot easier on the environment.

7. Shop without the kids
Hungry, tired, cranky children increase the amount of time it takes to get your shopping done. Every extra minute that you spend in the grocery store increases the likelihood that extra items will find their way into your cart. Making shopping a grownups-only activity will keep you from spending on toys and snacks designed to keep the kids quiet while letting you focus on finding a few bargains.

8. Buy in bulk
Bulk buying can save you a significant amount of money. Pay attention to the prices and pick up the family size package if the per-unit cost is lower and you have a place to store it. Shopping at big-box bulk retailers like Sam's Club and Costco can also save on your bill if you shop there frequently enough to cover the cost of membership, but pay careful attention to your spending habits. The big boxes are often no bargain compared with sale prices and coupon savings at other stores. In addition, they may encourage you to buy more than you need, driving up your grocery bill.

9. Use store reward cards
If the store you visit most frequently has a reward card, be sure to sign up. In some cases, stores raise their prices when they offer reward cards, and without the card your bill will certainly be higher. If the reward card offers other benefits, such as a ham for the holidays or a discount on gasoline, be sure to maximize your benefits by paying attention to the cutoff dates on such offers and cashing in your points before they expire.

10. Use coupons
Coupons provide an easy way to save money. Clip them and cash them in, paying particular attention to stores that double the value of manufacturers' coupons. A number of websites also offer coupons exclusively, and they are a great place to search for discounts on the items you have on your list. If you frequent the websites of your favorite brands, they will often offer discounts to their faithful customers. A few minutes of surfing online can make a big difference at the register.

11. Buy locally
Locally grown or produced food is often available at a lower price because you don't pay for long transportation costs. Farmer's markets, fairs and the local aisle at your grocery store are all game for deals on tasty and fresh food.

12. Look down
Stores often place the most-expensive items at eye-level. To find less-expensive items, look down. Also, by searching the area around brand-name foods, you can often find a cheaper generic alternative. Generic label products are often nearly identical to name-brand goods (in fact, they're often produced in the same factory), so don't pay for packaging when what you really want is the food inside.

13. Avoid the temptations at displays and the checkout area
Those displays placed at the end of each aisle often feature premium brands. Rather than grabbing high-priced batteries or an extra box of cereal there, walk down the aisle. Chances are good that taking a few extra steps will reward you with a less-expensive option.

Further, many grocery stores now offer checkout lines that don't feature candy. Using these lanes not only helps you avoid the temptation to spend your money on sweets, but it also encourages a healthier lifestyle.

14. Compare prices and stores
Some consumers often have trouble calculating the per-unit cost in their heads, but it's something that gets a lot easier with practice. You can even carry a calculator. Looking at the brands and comparing prices is an easy way to shave a few cents off most purchases.

The store that features the lowest average prices in your area is often the best place for routine shopping, but the higher-priced competitor may run sales on specific items that beat the cost at your most frequented venue. Watch for these sales and take advantage of them when possible.

15. Shop for sales
As mentioned above, sales can be a great incentive to switch stores -- but only if you need the items on sale. Pay attention to sales on necessities and stock up on non perishables and freezer goods. Keep an eye on prices so you know when a sale price is merely a small savings and when it is a significant discount to the normal price.

16. Watch 'best before' and 'sell by' dates
As the "sell by" or "best before" date approaches, you are virtually guaranteed a discount. For example, grocery stores lower prices as meat ages. Ask the butcher when the meats get marked down. Most stores have a fairly regular schedule that you can learn and follow. When you get a good deal, stock your freezer so you can avoid buying when the price is high. And if you plan on freezing the food, "best before" dates shouldn't worry you; the product will stay fine until you thaw and cook it.

17. Substitute recipe items
If you have a higher-priced item that recurs in your favorite recipes, it may be time to shake up your taste buds. Often a lower-priced alternative can be found. For instance, if you consistently bake with olive oil and you see that the price has skyrocketed, a simple switch to applesauce (something that you might even be able to make if you have an apple tree) can make for a cheap and low-fat substitute in many recipes. (You can discover other such substitutes at the Cook's Thesaurus.)

18. Keep your kitchen stocked
A well-stocked kitchen means that you won't run out of staple items and need to buy them on the spur or the moment. Knowing what you have in the pantry means that you can wait to make your purchases until items are on sale.

19. Shop infrequently
Reducing the number of trips you make to the grocery store reduces the odds of unnecessary purchases and minimizes the amount of gasoline spent getting there.

20. Pay attention to time
Weekly sales often run from midweek to midweek. If you hold off on your shopping until after you've clipped coupons from the Sunday paper, you could end up getting both the coupon and sale discount on some items. Shopping in the evening or early in the morning also helps you avoid the crowds so you'll spend less time in the store.

21. Pay in cash
When you put groceries on your credit card and don't pay off the card in full each month, you pay interest on the balance. To avoid this extra cost, pay in cash when you shop and keep necessities off your credit cards.

22. Check your bill
Electronic scanners make checkout faster and more convenient, but scanners aren't perfect. Get in the habit of taking a look at the receipt to make sure your coupons and discounts were taken into account.

Shop smart
Food is one of those purchases that you just can't avoid, but careful shoppers can minimize the amount spent on this necessary purchase. All it takes is a little time, patience and effort.

This article was reported by Lisa Smith for Investopedia.
I am sharing this at Wallet Friendly Wednesday
thanks for stopping by... lets keep saving together and please remember
Never under estimate the value of a small amount of money... Grace

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