Joy Magazine

Saving Money At The Grocery Store

With the cost of living rising, we're all left looking for ways to save some money on groceries. Local grocers and a marketing expert offer their input on how to revamp your spending style to get the most out of your dollar.

Shop before you go shopping.
Shop in your pantry, fridge and freezer before you make your grocery list. Organize your food, and then take inventory of what you have before deciding what you really need.

"Don't buy something just because it's a great deal if you already have a six-month supply of that at home," says Scott South, the store manager at Ray's Food Place in Central Point.

Check the ads. But don't buy anything you normally wouldn't.
Sherm's Food 4 Less and Ray's, like many local grocery stores, send out weekly flyers in the newspaper. Many stores have unadvertised specials and loyalty cards where "members" receive additional discounts. Just be wary of seemingly excellent deals on items you wouldn't normally buy.

"If you get a great deal on a huge bag of broccoli, and you only use half of it, then it's not a good deal when half goes bad," says South. To prevent perishables from going bad, he suggests buying a one to two day supply unless you plan on freezing them.

Make a list and stick to it.
Once you've discovered your pantry's true contents, and you've checked out the week's coupons and special sales, you can add just the lower-priced essentials to your list.

A word of caution: South advises shoppers not to take your kids with you to the store. They may influence you to get things you weren't planning on buying.

Don't shop hungry.
A sure-fire way of veering from your carefully planned grocery list is to go to the store hungry. Don't let your stomach do the shopping for you. Have a snack first or even pull into the drive-through before you head to the store, then revert back to your original, well-intentioned list.

Get to know your grocer.
Check perishables for close to expiring dates. Asking, "Do you have any close dated items available?" is a good way to find discounted items the store may be looking to sell quickly.

Many items are good for three to five days from sell-by dates, says South. Be sure to check the dates first and consume the food quickly.

Keep it simple.
A lot of people spend money on overly processed, fancy goods when simpler products like raw produce will do just fine. Think a head of lettuce over a bag of salad.

"My advice is less is more. Go simple as much as possible. Go back to nature instead of buying highly processed pre-made and packaged foods. That is where the majority of costs are incurred," says Charles Jaeger, Ph.D, a marketing professor at Southern Oregon University.

Take advantage of seasonal specials.
Terry Allphin, store manager at Food 4 Less, says prior to holiday weekends are good times to stock up.

Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day are prime times to purchase products like chips, soda, hot dogs, paper plates and the like because they are promoted and discounted heavily.

Weigh cost over convenience.
"It doesn't look like there's going to be a break in gas," says Allphin. "So make a list and get enough food to last you so that you don't have to make additional trips."

Stay away from individual portions. For many, 100 calorie packs have been a lifesaver. But you pay a premium for that pre-packaged self-control. If you can stay disciplined while making your own portion-controlled food packs, then you'll save not only calories, but money.

Prepare your own food.
"The more food you prepare yourself, the more you'll save," says South. Prepare your own food, then freeze half of it, and put a date on it. Use it between 30 to 60 days. It will still taste good and you'll have a ready to make home-cooked meal that saved you money.

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