Save Money

A family of five now spends an average of $135 a week according to the Food Marketing Institute’s U. S. Grocery Shopper Trends report for 2008. Here are some tips on how you can make the most of saving money in your local grocery store.

1. Prepare! This is the first and most important step. It is a proven fact that individuals that go to the grocery store without a list spend more money. They also have a tendency to spend money on impulse items or items found in special displays throughout the store.

2. Compare Stores. Every Wednesday, stores in your area mail out their new sales papers for the week. Once your have your list, see which stores are offering the items you need this week on sale. Also check once you are in the store for special store coupons that may be available that week. If you did not get a flyer that week, stores put these right inside the front entrance for your convenience.

3. Use coupons. Coupons are a great way to save money in the store. If you save $5 a week with coupons, that’s $260 a year! You can find these in your local newspaper, on manufacturer’s websites or at coupon sites like www.smartsource.com or www.coupons.com. Once you prepare your list, go and search for the coupons you will need for that week. Look in our All About Coupons Section for even more tips.

4. Try Store Brand. Store brand products are items that have the store name on them or a generic name attached rather than a name brand. These items can be everything from potato chips, to canned items, to laundry detergent. Oftentimes, these items are the exact same quality as the name brand item and are made by a name brand manufacturer. There are some exceptions to this rule, but definitely give them a try. Consumers can save up to 25% on a shopping trip by purchasing store brand products. If you spend $200 a week and save 25% by buying store brand, you will save $2,600 a year. If you don’t know what the store brand is in your local store, ask the store manager or store personnel and they will be happy to assist you.

5. Buy in Bulk. It is much cheaper to buy items in bulk. Take cans of potatoes for example. A small can of white potatoes is $1.29. The weight is 14.5 ounces. A large can of white potatoes is $2.39. The weight on the large can is 49.5 ounces. You would have to buy 3 ½ small cans to equal the weight of one large can. $1.29 x 3.5 is $4.52. You can get the same amount in the large can for $2.39. That’s a savings of $2.13! This also can be said with fresh meat items. If you buy in bulk, the cost per pound is cheaper. So buy the large packages and freeze the rest. Just make sure you label the date on the item so you consume it before it goes bad. We want everyone to practice good food safety! Another tip on bulk is to buy the large sizes of chips and crackers and put them into the small Ziploc bags yourself instead of buying them already done for you. You can save more than half by making your own.

6. Use your store’s shopper card. If you local store has a frequent shopper card, use it! There are often deals just available to those customers that carry the card and use it at the register. Often stores that have these cards will e-mail you with special deals on items that you purchase frequently from the store. This is a free card to consumers.

7. Buy fresh/local fruits and vegetables. Fresh and local fruits and vegetables tend to be much cheaper because they are from your immediate area and do not have to be transported from other areas of the country or from overseas. They taste great and are also supporting your local economy. To see when Alabama products are in season, please click here.

8. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry, tired or rushed. This is never a good idea. You will definitely pick up impulse items you don’t need and spend more money.

9. Don’t take your kids to the store. Kids love impulse items and manufacturers have cartoon characters on the box for a reason. You will spend as much as 40% more if everyone tags along.

10. Ready-Made Items Cost More. Instead of buying a ready-made meal with all the sandwich ingredients in the box, try buying all the ingredients yourself. A premade meal can cost somewhere between $2.50 and $5.00 a person. If you bought the bread, meat, cheese and condiments and made the sandwich, the cost per serving would be about $.50. That’s 1/5 the cost by just making it yourself. If your afraid your items will spoil, just freeze them. Bread that is frozen will last 3-4 weeks after defrosting before molding.

11. Make your snack mixtures. Buying already made snack mix is expensive. Try buying all the ingredients separately and combining them yourself.

12. Eat At Home! The average price for a meal at home per person is $5, compared with $12 to $15 in a restaurant. If the average family of four gave up one night a week out, the savings would be almost $1,500 in a year!