May 26, 2009

Aisle by Aisle Savings at the Grocery Store

In these tough economic times, saving money where you can is important. Since food is a flexible expense, there are some things you can do to save money at the grocery store. Here are just a few.

General tips:
Shop the perimeter
. Fill your cart with the basics first—vegetables, fruit, protein foods and milk. These foods are nearly always found around the perimeter.

Arrange your list according to the store layout. This strategy is a big time saver as it prevents backtracking.

Look up, look down. Since food companies pay for prime shelving which are those at eye level look to higher or lower shelves for less expensive versions of a product.

Try the store brand. Sometimes the only difference between store brand and name brand is the label; sometimes it’s more. The only way to know if you’ll like a product is to try it.

Concentrate on buying the food, not the convenience. You can save money when you buy the basic ingredients in your recipes and meals and skip the prepackaged products.

Don’t venture down the “snack food aisle”. Stay out of the aisles where you find the empty calorie snacks like potato chips, crackers, candy, and soda. These items can put a dent in your family food budget, and provide little nutrition in return.

Breads and Grains
Look for whole grain
Whole grain products may cost a few cents more but the added nutritional value makes them a smart buy.
• Choose products with whole grain listed as the first in the ingredient: whole
wheat, whole rye, whole grain corn, whole oats, graham flour, oatmeal, brown
rice, and bulgur.
• Don’t choose by color alone. Caramel coloring may be
added to give
some bread products the appearance of being whole
• Look for products that have at least 3 grams of fiber per

Dairy Foods
Compare unit prices—larger containers tend to be the best buy but only if you use this amount.

Add your own fruit to yogurt. Fruit-flavored varieties may cost more and include jam-like fruit that adds extra sugar. Also, the sweetened fruit replaces some of the yogurt in the carton so you get less of the calcium-rich yogurt.

Protect your diary food investment by keeping the refrigerator at 40 degrees.

Fruits and Vegetables
Purchase fruit and vegetables in season for best price and quality. Consider frozen or canned at other times of the year.

Freeze extra fruit and vegetables if time and space allow.

Choose the smaller size when buying apples, oranges, bananas, and other individual fruits that are sold by the pound. The smaller size fruits are closer to the 1 cup serving size which helps with portion control.

Pre-cut fruit and vegetables are at least 3 times more expensive and spoil faster.

Meats and Other Protein Foods
Check store ads to see what meats are on sale and plan your meals around them.

Stock up if you have the freezer space. Meat and poultry can be frozen in their original supermarket packaging. If storing more than a month or two, place the store package inside a freezer-weight plastic bag or overwrap it with airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper; label with contents and date.

Consider using canned or dried beans and peanut butter. Plant protein is generally less expensive than animal protein.

For other money saving tips, check out these publications.

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