Everyone loves to save money and coupons certainly help. However, according to Kiplinger.com, we can save a lot of money on groceries even without coupons.
• Shop around at grocery stores for the best buy. Kiplinger tells us to think of grocery shopping like we do when making a big-purchase item, such as a TV set. Checking out sale ads and comparison shopping can add up over the course of a year. Normally, if you spend $200 a week, you’ll shell out over $10,000 yearly. That’s several televisions.
• What about alternatives for the expensive items on your grocery list. Consider lower-cost articles. For example, if you buy four sirloin steaks, you’re spending three times as much as a package of four chicken breasts — plus, the chicken (and pork) is healthier, too. Watch out for the more expensive organic items and cheeses. Shop in season and, again, comparison shop.
• Plan your menu for a week before you walk out the door. Not only does this limit trips, thus saving money in gas and shopping, you’ll eat much healthier and you’ll use what you’ve got on hand. Check out www.ziplist.com to create an easy shopping list and one you can use even on a regular phone while you’re out. Even better, if you do use a smart phone, it can scan items at home and in the store to go along with the more than 300,000 recipes on ziplist’s site.
• Skip prepared and convenience foods. Cook fresh beans, for example, instead of packaged ones for savings and taste. Make your own salad instead of eating the bagged variety. Yes, you’ll expend more time making your own foods from scratch, but it’s worth it in the long run from a taste, money, and health perspective.
• When you’re making a regularly-scheduled trip to the store and see an item that you like or need on sale, then stock up. This particularly holds true if it has a long shelf life or you have plenty of freezer space.
• Check the lower shelves. Grocers tend to stock name brand items at eye level. Shopping from the lower shelves can save you several cents to several dollars.
• Compare prices of personal items at the grocery store with drug stores, which sometimes price such items cheaper.
Tax Tip: Personal exemptions increase to $3,700 for filers and their dependents. (Higher-income earners don’t lose any itemized deductions and personal exemptions.)
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business.