Here are ten simple — and coupon-free — tips to saving at the supermarket. Plan to use the money you save to eat a more healthy diet, by bulking up on whole grains, fresh fruits, veggies and legumes.
1. Look for sale items on end-caps — they’ve been purchased at an advantageous price from the supplier; the savings are then passed on to you.
2. Seasonal fruits and vegetables as they come to harvest offer the best value; markets cut deals with suppliers. You may find great prices on brussels sprouts and pears one week, on string beans and strawberries the next.
3. Avoid large feature presentations not on sale since they are probably precursors to sale events, and the retailer is trying to get as much full-priced business before the sale event
4. Use the unit pricing as a guide to find the best buy. Just make sure the basis for the unit pricing is comparing apples to apples. For example, you can buy tea either loose or in bags. The loose tea will be measured by ounce, the bagged tea by quantity.
5. The house brands lowest priced products are often the cheapest available in a category.
6. Pay attention to expiration dates. Unless you are going to be using it right away, a bargain with a short shelf life is no bargain.
7. Most retailers want to get you in the door with highly recognizable items, such as lettuce, ketchup or cans of tomatoes either on sale or at an everyday low price — check circulars.
8. Cut down your portion sizes. When you do buy meat, fish or chicken, this will allow you to buy healthier hormone- and antibiotic-free product. (We are a nation consumed with big things, but bigger is not always better — you already know quality trumps size any day!)
9.Do NOT buy health and beauty aids at the grocery store; they are sold as a convenience to the shopper and you will likely pay full margin unless they are on sale.
10.Finally, be flexible. I know it’s hard, but think of your recipe or shopping list as an outline. If thighs are on sale, sub them in for breasts, green beans for broccoli, Chobani for Fage.
Rosalyn Hoffman is the author of Smart Mama, Smart Money: Raising Happy Healthy Kids Without Breaking the Bank , The Smart Mamas’ Guide to Afterschool Activities, and Bitches on a Budget: Sage Advice for Surviving Tough Times In Style