With spiraling food prices, it is smart to shop smart. Buy what you want when it is on sale. Are there some foods that you need everyday? Stock up when they are cheap if they are nonperishable. If they are perishable, buy when they are on sale and substitute with cheap perishables. Saving money on food can be fun.
You get a variety of what you want, because all core foods go on sale once in a while. Here are ten more ways to get cheap food.
- Plan your shopping. Make a written shopping list or a computer shopping list from your favorite store. Avoid impulse buying. Supermarkets have made it easy to make lists online. Read the newspaper on Wednesday to see what’s on sale. When you are ready to go shopping, go to the computer to make your list. But remember, saving money on food is not just about reaching that 30% to 60% savings goal; it’s also about not buying on impulse. Make a list of what you need and stick to it. If what you need is not on sale, buy the store brand until what you need goes on sale, then stock up.
- Stock up when your favorite supermarket has sales. But don’t buy just because it is on sale. Supermarkets often use loss leaders to entice spontaneous buyers into their store to buy more than they need. Again, buy only what you need or can use later. Stock up on toilet paper, soap and other such items on sale. Canned vegetables are a good substitute when produce is not on sale. So stock up with canned goods use them when you can’t buy the fresh ones. In other words, buy the cheap food. You can also buy meat on sale, cook up some extra and freeze for sandwiches.
- Buy store brand products. Retail stores often have brands, usually specific to a chain (e.g. Kroger, Select, etc.). Some store brands are better than the national brands. Occasionally, national brands may be on sale, but the store brands are usually cheaper since the retailer can save on production and advertising costs. Store brand products are often manufactured by these same national companies. Look for products advertising “no added sugars” or “packed in juice or water.” Spice the product up with spices, vegetables and other mixtures. For example, buy the cheapest brand of spaghetti sauce and add onions, mushrooms and tasty spices.
- Buy produce in season. The quality of fruits and vegetables is best when the price is the lowest. Generally, the supermarket ads will let you know what produce is in season by the sales that are currently running. It is a good idea to buy the freshest produce possible; otherwise you will find yourself throwing away overripe fruits and vegetables.
- Watch those coupons. If your favorite store doubles the value of your coupons, there must be a reason. Perhaps, it’s an item that is hard to sell or maybe the coupon is for items that you don’t need. Compare the coupon items with store brands; in most cases, the store brand will be cheaper. And be careful on 2-for-1 sales. The store wants you to buy more than you really need.
- Be wise when buying by the piece or pound. If cucumbers are on sale 5 for $1, buy the larger pieces. If bananas are on sale for 39 cents per pound, buy the smaller bananas. Don’t forget, people concerned with their weight are always on a diet. Eat the smaller fruit.
- Use a small cart or no cart at all. If your list is small, carry the small hand carry cart or don’t use a cart at all. Using the large cart facilitates impulse buying.
- If you are hungry don’t go shopping. It makes impulse-buying easier. Go shopping after a meal or eat a snack before going to the store. If you forget to eat before shopping, go to the produce section and smell an apple. Supposedly, that will curb your hunger. It works for some people and others say it does not work for them.
Unfortunately, unless you want to grow your own vegetables, bake your own bread and raise your own meat, it’s pretty hard to eliminate all of those unintelligible additives in your diet. And buying “all natural” foods can put a serious dent in your wallet. Use the above simple and affordable changes to help you along your path to better health.