Hey Savvy Shoppers & Savers,
You may have noticed throughout the last year that, due to rising fuel costs and increased demand, food prices have skyrocketed at grocery stores across the country. And while prognostications for 2012 aren’t as ominous, the Department of Agriculture still expects grocery prices to rise another 3 to 4 percent. So, other than swearing off grocery stores completely, how can you avoid going over your personal grocery budget? Here are 5 tips to help you stay within your limits:
1. Create a list – and stick to it
Impulse buys tend to add up quickly, so shopping lists can help you avoid last-minute splurges. Take a look at your weekly flyer for coupons and sales, and use that to adjust your list accordingly. For instance, if there’s a sale on ground beef and salsa, put Mexican food on the menu and cook tacos or chili for dinner that week.
Also, planning your meals and grocery trips in advance is a great way to avoid spending more than necessary. Doing so will reduce the number of shopping trips you make, saving both time and money. The average person goes to the grocery store 2-3 times per week, so if you plan well and limit it to once a week, you’re sure to cut down on your grocery bill.
2. Stock up during sales
Making smart purchases according to a store’s sale cycle is a great way to avoid paying full price. Also, buying several of one item when it’s on sale can be a much more effective saving technique than clipping coupons. Although it’s on a small-scale, conforming shopping patterns to the sales calendar is an easy way for the average person to ‘invest’ – and see the rewards immediately on their shopping receipt.
Often you can combine store coupons with ongoing sales to really boost your savings. In reality, a coupon alone might save you 50 cents, but when you use it at the optimum time and combine it with a sale, that’s when you’ll really be getting a good deal.
However, when buying in bulk, make sure to not ignore common sense. Ask yourself if you have enough shelf space or room in the refrigerator for everything you’re buying. Also, when buying perishable items, look for the latest expiration date you can find so as to maximize their lifespan, and thereby avoid wasting money on spoiled food.
3. Buy produce by the unit instead of the pound
A little-known fact about produce is that each state has a division of weights and measures that require a pound bag of produce to weigh at least one pound. You’ll often find more than a pound of whatever produce item per bag – up to 20 percent – and since you’ll be buying at the price per bag and not per pound, you’ll save a lot more than if you were buying loose produce. Use this strategy on things like carrots, potatoes, apples, oranges, and other similar items.
4. Store items carefully
Spoiled food means wasted money, and a great way to avoid that is by eating produce in order of its perishability. Immediately following a store run, focus on short-lifespan produce like grapes and strawberries, and then move onto slower-perishing items afterwards. Items like oranges and lettuce can last nearly a month if stored correctly. For instance, put a paper towel in a Ziploc bag with washed lettuce to absorb the moisture, and it will stay fresh considerably longer.
5. Think beyond the grocery store
Your local grocery store isn’t the only place you can find sales on food items. Places like big-box stores, drug stores, online retailers, and even gas stations offer sales that you can take advantage of. Ordering nonperishable items online is a great savings technique if you’re able to combine online coupon codes with free shipping and cash back. Not only can shopping online be a big timesaver, but it also allows you to track all of your purchases as you go, so there are no surprises when it comes time to check out. However, prices at these alternatives to grocery stores aren’t always the best deal, so make sure you do your research before developing a new shopping routine.
Use these shopping tips to not only save money when it comes time to buy groceries, but also to get maximum use out of everything you buy. As always, use BondRewards to boost your savings and find the best deals available. Our selection of over 600 stores means you’re sure to find numerous sales opportunities that will keep your savings high…and your grocery bills low.
The more shopping you do online through BondRewards – the more BondDollars you can earn. Watch your BondDollars grow into big savings that you can later redeem for Cash or U.S. Savings Bonds! It’s a win-win so spread the word, secure your future, and show some love with BondRewards!