Save While Shopping at the Grocery Store

Time is money. You might be surprised to learn that you can save money on your grocery bill even before you get to the store by adopting these practices.
Save While Shopping at the Grocery Store - Videos


Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Food Families and Health Home Food Preservation Personal Financial Management Diabetes Management

More by Robin Kuleck, RN, MSEd 

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- [Robin] Hi, I'm extension educator Robin Kuleck and I'd like to talk to you about saving while grocery shopping.

Saving while shopping starts at home by developing a menu of foods your family enjoys, creating a shopping list and continues during your visit to the store.

Here are some suggestions to practice while at the store to save money and ensure the purchase of healthy foods.

Shopping with a list helps you avoid buying unnecessary items.

Avoid shopping while hungry and, if at all possible, shop alone.

These practices will reduce or eliminate the chances of unhealthy foods and snacks, such as cookies and chips, from sneaking into your cart.

If you must take your children with you, have a discussion beforehand of your expectations of their behavior.

This is no time to give in to the gimmes and the I wannas.

You can involve them in the shopping experience by giving them the task of choosing a fruit or vegetable and allowing them to purchase that item separately from your grocery order.

Other strategies for saving money at the store include shopping primarily the perimeter of the store, instead of wandering up and down each aisle.

Most stores are laid out with the fresh produce, meat, dairy and bread aisles on the outside edge of the store.

Eating the same thing is boring so, periodically, try out a new recipe.

Cookbooks, magazines, and the Internet are great sources of new ideas.

Don't feel like you have to tell your family the ingredients and don't accept "ew" or "I don't like it" as a response to your hard work.

It is okay not to like everything that is served but children, and even adults, can learn to describe what it is that they don't like and how to tactfully explain their feelings about the meal.

Saving money at the store also involves checking the dates on the packages.

This can be confusing, since there are four types of dates.

Open dating is found on perishable food items, like meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy.

These dates help let the store know how long to display products for sale.

A sell by date tells the store how long to display the product for sale.

Often foods with an expired sell by date are sold on clearance and should be consumed quickly after purchase.

A best by date is a date that indicates when the product should be consumed in order to receive the best flavor and quality.

And use by dates are the last dates that it is recommended to consume the product while at the best quality.

Make sure that you keep a running list of items that you've run out of.

You can keep the list on your refrigerator or even on your smart phone.

Compare brands.

Store brands are often a fraction of the price of nationally advertised brands.

Have a calculator handy to make sure that you are getting the better buy.

Clip coupons and keep them organized in a small box in your car where they're convenient.

Planned over uses of leftovers, use the freezer, and keep a list on the outside of what you put in and when.

Throwing away food is throwing away money.

Another way to save while shopping is the use of unit pricing.

Unit pricing on the store shelves help you determine which brand and size is most economical.

Unit pricing allows you to compare the pricing of different brands, based on the same unit size rather than pricing by package.

Often buying in bulk will save the most.

Make sure you have enough storage for those items that need freezing or refrigeration.

Use the look up, look down method.

Stores tend to have the higher priced items at eye level, so it is important to look above and below them to ensure the item you choose is the best price.

And grab from the back.

The newest items are normally placed behind the older ones.

When choosing items such as produce, meat and dairy, grab from the back to receive the freshest product.

But remember to check the package dating.

This increases the length of time that the item will last.

What happens when an item on sale has run out and you just so happen to have it on your grocery list?

Don't fret.

Just ask the store for a raincheck.

Once the item is restocked, the raincheck will allow you to purchase the item for the sale price.

In the meantime, look for an alternative ingredient to use in its place or move the recipe to a day in the following week.

Remember that some produce that you purchase may take a few days to ripen before you can use them.

Convenience foods are costly.

Bagged salads, pre-peeled fruits and vegetables save you time but the expense of paying someone else to do the preparation can add up.

Make it a practice to keep a small cooler in your car, especially during the warm summer months.

The food safety concept of danger zones says that harmful disease causing food borne bacteria thrive between temperatures of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

Animal protein foods, such as meat, milk, yogurt and cheese will retain quality and food safety if stored in the cooler on your way home.

By following these suggestions, you will be saving money while shopping at the grocery store.


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