Trim Your Grocery Expenses Despite Rising Food Prices
By Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA
As if we needed any more grime news, recent headlines are highlighting the increase in food prices due in part to rising fuel costs, decreasing levels of production in major food producing countries, and the increasing use of food crops to produce fuel (ethanol and biodiesel). With this in mind, I decided to focus this month's column on tools to help save on groceries.
The first tool, which I can personally vouch for, is an e-book, Save Thousands Grocery Shopping and Cook Great Food. For a one-time fee of $19, you can download a copy of the e-book which shares ideas on saving on everything from asparagus to paper towels and cleaning products. Savings are realized after you create a master list of food items along with the lowest prices per ounce that they have ever been offered for in your area. This master list, which is started for you in the e-book, becomes your tool for identifying whether an advertised deal is in fact a good bargain. The e-book also shares insights on using coupons to save and comes with a recipe book. While this method requires your personal time on a regular basis, I found it to be truly effective in helping me to trim my grocery bill and quite intriguing for someone who loves numbers and math.
The second tool, which I learned about via one of the local news stations, is The Grocery Game, an internet coupon and grocery store service. With The Grocery Game, you visit a website prior to each shopping trip to learn about the latest deals and coupons on advertised and unadvertised items in your immediate shopping area. The website does the market research for you thus reducing the amount of time you spend preplanning your trip (going through the store ads) and in the store browsing for hidden specials. You can try The Grocery Game for four weeks for only $1.
Whether you decide to follow one of these methods or not, it is important to give a little more time and effort to saving via coupons. Additionally, by focusing your meals around the loss leads, products advertised on the front and back pages of weekly ads, you can save every time you shop. One of the most notable facts that I learned in the news broadcast that I mentioned earlier, is that grocery stores usually run sales on the same items every 12 weeks. For this reason it makes sense to stock up on essential items until the next sale cycle.
Now is also a great time to invest in a membership at one of the discount shopping clubs. These clubs send out sales advertisements to its members on a regular basis. Furthermore, one of the major warehouses, BJs Warehouse, even accepts coupons. If you don't want to purchase a membership, BJs offers free one day passes to nonmembers. While there may be a surcharge on your purchases, it can be applied towards the membership fee if you decide to join. One day passes can be found in local newspapers and on the store's website.
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Michelle is a freelance writer based in Waldorf, Maryland. Her areas of expertise include finances and parenting. .
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