Grocery Shopping Savvy - Little Ways to Save Big

Filed under: Expert Advice: Just For You

Kathy Peel The Family Manager

My grocery-shopping strategy is pretty simple: plan menus, stick to a list and shop on Tuesday mornings. Fewer people shop on Tuesdays (shorter lines) and the food is usually fresher. Shelves get restocked with fresh goods on Mondays after weekend plundering.

Like you, I'm constantly looking for ways to cut food costs. But I've never been much of a coupon clipper -- until two weeks ago. That's when I met Ashley Nuzzo, the Frugal Coupon Mom. Ashley, a new mom, wanted to stay home, so she and her husband decided to scale back to one income. She treats saving money like a job -- using Web sites, reading blogs, printing online coupons and scouring the newspaper for discounts. Last month U.S. News & World Report reported on her savings of -- brace yourself -- about $1,500 a month!

While you may not be up for a program like Ashley's, here some simple ways to whittle away at your grocery bill:

Select items from the top and bottom shelves on aisles. More expensive merchandise is usually placed at eye level. Costly children's cereals and candy are at their eye level, for example.

Don't buy health and beauty items at the grocery store. Usually prices are lower at a discount store or drugstore.

Try less-expensive store brands. Many are made by national brands you know, and they have the same quality the name brands offer.

Buy bread and baked goods in bulk at bakery outlets and freeze. In its original wrapper, frozen bread will last two to three months.

Buy bagged fruit and vegetables instead of loose and save about a dollar a pound. No two bags weigh exactly the same, so use the produce scale to weigh a few bags before you choose one. You could get a few apples for free.

Buy canned fruits and vegetables in smaller pieces. For example, pineapple chunks and diced tomatoes typically cost less than pineapple rings and whole tomatoes.

Buy a beef or pork tenderloin and cut it into fillets and stew meat yourself. You'll save 25 to 30 percent over the cost of pre-cut fillets or cubes.

Expect about 45 percent waste if you discard the skin on chicken breasts. Boneless and skinless breasts may be a better buy.

Don't let marketing phrases fool you. "New and improved" might mean only a new color or formula. Before you buy a product labeled "10% More Free," compare it to other packages of the same product to be sure it's really economical.

Be cautious of companion foods displayed together. The chips may be discounted, but the salsa could be premium priced.

Ask for a rain check. In some states, you have a legal right to one if the store doesn't have the advertised special you want. When the item is back in stock, you can buy it for the sale price.

Your turn: How are you cutting your grocery bill?

Kathy Peel is CEO of Family Manager Coaching and the author of 20 books. Her latest, The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home, won the 2009 Mom's Choice Award for Best Family and Parenting Resource. You can find her on line at www.familymanager.com

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