Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thursday Money Tips: Grocery Savings Edition

Every Thursday, Ms. Moneypenny posts 5 savings tips. If you have tips you would like to share, post them in the comments and I'll use them in a later Money Tips edition.

Since grocery prices are rising, I thought I'd list out a few things that might help us all save at the grocery store. Since I don't shop in the typical way, these aren't the typical tips, such as 'shop only on the perimeter of the store'. But they do work, and manage to keep our budget controlled.

1. No store has the best price on everything
I've blogged this before, but it's worth repeating. I hit 5 or 6 places over the course of a month, because no one store has the best price. Over the course of a month, I shop at BJs, a big-box store, Market Basket, a local chain that offers the best prices on boxed and canned goods, our local farmstand/co-op, Whole Foods, and occasionally Shaw's or Stop and Shop. Each has particular items that we use, and prices are

2. The perimeter of the store isn't the only place for healthy food
The baking aisle contains the ingredients needed to bake wholesome, rather than packaged goods. It's often cheaper to bake from scratch, and it's certainly better for you. But be careful about where you buy - BJs, our big-box store, sells 2 1-lb packages of yeast for $3.99 I recently priced out the single-use packages at Market Basket, and they were $2.99 for a 4-pack. Even if some of the yeast goes unused, BJs is by far the better deal. I give the other package to friends or family.

3. Constantly seek out new sources of food
I do this through word of mouth. Via friends, family and message boards, I look for new options. Recently my husband and I were in New York state to visit family, and came home with our produce for the week at a significantly lower cost than we might have found it here. Look around - are there farmers near you? Friends who are willing to split large orders? Creativity will help you save.

4. Buy in bulk
No, you shouldn't go buy 400 pounds of rice. That type of hoarding only contributes to the skyrocketing food prices and could turn the fears of shortages into reality. What you should do, is consider buying larger packages of things when it's cheaper. A 20-lb package of dried beans is significantly cheaper than the same amount in cans. I keep some cans on hand for days when I have little time, but soaking beans isn't that big of a deal, and the beans taste better.

But watch your prices, because not every bulk deal is a real deal. Check around before you spend on 80 lbs of beef, or 100 lbs of flour. You may find dramatic differences in prices.

5. Plant something
Even if it's a few herbs in pots, or a tomato plant on the deck, it will save you money. Ask your gardening friends for the plants they thin, or to try a few spare seeds (trust me, we all have more than we need). It's cheap, it's simple, and there's nothing cooler than watching the little seed become a big old plant.

Next week, more grocery saving tips. And we're going to learn how to create a price book!

1 comment:

Our Common Cents said...

Another great grocery tip is to look for deals in unexpected places. For example, I've found the best price for boxed cereal and milk in our area consistently at Walgreens. Who would have thought that?!