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Nine Ways to Save Money on Groceries

Posted: 05/23/2013 1:43 pm

Saving money on the food that comes into your home can be as simple as making a few easy changes to your regular shopping and cooking habits. Try these tips to help get the most for your money, including avoiding the wasting of food, especially when it comes to kids.

1) Plan ahead: Make a weekly meal plan so that making a shop list is a breeze. Have the kids get involved by picking some favourites. Get inspiration from recipes from your favourite cookbooks or online sites like pc.ca. Shopping with a list can help you stick to and the ingredients and foods you need and help prevent you from picking up items you don't need.

2) Write or print your shopping list out, and split it up for the kids to go on a mini-scavenger hunt in the store to find the ingredients: If they pick up the wrong item, show them the right one and teach them the difference (for example icing sugar versus regular granulated sugar, or other easy mistakes).

3) Stock up on the essentials: Foods such as pasta, canned vegetables and soups and rice all have a long shelf life. Buy these in multiples when they are on sale even if they aren't on your original list. A couple of dollars in savings on the essentials can add up over the course of a year.

4) Join a loyalty program that gives you rewards for food: Grocery loyalty programs such as PC Plus rewards you with points on the items you buy most often, helping you save money when you redeem the points at check-out. This rewards program is designed for a smartphone and also has tools such as meal plans and integrated shopping lists that allow you to add foods from Loblaws flyers, from recipes and from your personalized points offers.

5) Never shop on an empty stomach: Shopping when you're hungry can make items that you don't need look more tempting and buying on impulse can run up your bill.

6) Shop the outside perimeter of the store first:That's where the fresh fruit and vegetables, bakery, meat and dairy items can be found. The internal aisles tend to carry more processed and packaged foods which in general are more expensive and less healthy. Keeping the kids out of these aisles altogether reduces temptation to buy junk food.

7) Once you have all the food at home, make sure to store foods appropriately to avoid spoilage and use up fresh fruits and vegetables before frozen or canned.

8) Get the kids involved in making meals: If they have been involved in the process from the beginning they are less likely to turn up their noses and refuse to eat the meal, reducing the amount of food which is thrown away.

9) Keep uneaten food for leftovers to be reheated, sent for lunch, or reused in a new recipe.

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  • The Offender: The Inner Aisles

    Grocery stores are designed in such a way to have the essential ingredients such as dairy and produce on <a href="http://www.curbly.com/users/diy-maven/posts/2289-top-20-ways-to-save-money-at-the-grocery-store" target="_hplink">opposite ends of the store</a>. This forces most shoppers to pass through all the aisles, often times picking up items they don't need. Try to skip the middle of the store and stick to only the items you need.

  • The Offender: Toiletries

    While buying toiletries at the supermarket may be easy, you're paying a price for that convenience. Save those items for the pharmacy, where they are usually cheaper.

  • The Offender: Brand Names

    You might be used to a particular brand of cereal or sugar, but the generic options are usually cheaper. The grocery store brands often use name-brand products with their own labels on it; and they offer it at a better price. Just check the ingredients to be sure you are getting the same product.

  • The Offender: Prepared Foods

    Don't buy the pre-made foods such as potato salad at the store, when you can purchase the ingredients and make it for a fraction of the price at home. And it'll taste much better fresh too.

  • The Offender: The Middle Shelves

    Since we tend to look at items that are at our eye level, grocery stores know to place the <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/cheap/331Ways/DailyLife/groceries.asp " target="_hplink">more expensive items on the shelves we see first</a>. When shopping, look at the higher and lower shelves for cheaper items.

  • The Offender: Shopping With Children

    While sometimes we can't avoid shopping with children, it's best to try to buy your groceries when they're not around. Children will often want to buy food items that you don't need, and it isn't always easy to say no.

  • The Offender: Grated Cheese

    Just like with pre-packaged lettuce and pre-cut fruit, grated cheese costs you extra for the convenience it brings you. But it's not that hard to grate your own cheese. With a less expensive block of cheese, and a cheap box grater, you can start saving money on this ingredient.

  • The Offender: Shopping When Hungry

    Many of us go to the grocery store after work and before dinner, which is when we start to get hungry. If you buy your groceries when hungry, you'll <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-willpower/201107/the-neurobiology-dont-shop-when-youre-hungry" target="_hplink">purchase more than you need</a>. Try to get the shopping out of the way on the weekends, when you can shop on a full stomach.

  • The Offender: Forgetting Rain Checks

    When an item that most people use (like olive oil) goes on sale at the store, it sells out quickly. Inquire about <a href="http://couponing.about.com/cs/aboutcouponing/a/raincheck.htm" target="_hplink">getting a rain check</a> on that item. Some grocery stores offer an extension on sold-out sale items.

  • The Offender: No Grocery List

    You might have an incredible memory, making it able to remember everything you need from the store without having to write it down (an admirable and uncommon skill). And while writing a grocery list does help many of us remember what we need to get, more importantly, it keeps us from buying the things we don't need (if we stick to our list).

  • The Offender: Price Comparision

    Almost all supermarkets list the unit price of their items. It's wise to look at these as they make it easy to see which brand really gives you the best deal for your money. This way you can avoid being fooled by overly packaged items with little inside.

  • The Offender: Pre-Packaged Salad

    Yes, it's convenient to have your lettuce in already-clean-and-trimmed plastic tubs, but it also costs nearly three times the price. If you buy your own head of lettuce, wash and trim it right away, and have it ready to use, you won't even notice the difference (and you'll save quite a few bucks a month).

  • The Offender: Canned Beans

    Many people opt for canned beans because they're too intimidated to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/susies-beans_n_1062584.html" target="_hplink">cook their own</a>. But making a good pot of beans is really easy. So fear it no longer, and start saving some money by buying the bags of dried beans instead of cans. While the difference in price is not enough to break the bank, these little changes will add up.

  • The Offender: Pre-Cut Fruit

    If someone is getting paid to do a job that you could easily do yourself at home (like cutting up a mango or watermelon) you're going to be paying for it.

  • The Offender: Out-Of-Season Produce

    You've heard it before, and you'll hear it again: eat the produce that's in season. Not only will it taste infinitely better, but it will save you serious money. Because it costs them less to produce fruit and veggies that are local and in season, it costs less for you to buy it.

  • The Offender: Bottled Water

    Bottled water is a billion dollar industry, and it's coming out of your pocket. An average 16 oz. bottle of water costs about a dollar, and it's recommended that you drink four of them a day; that equates to $120 dollars a month on something you can get for free from your faucet.

  • The Offender: Spice Mixes

    Fancy spice mixes and marinade rubs can easily set you back $5 a piece. This is the biggest waste of money since you can make your own spice mix with seasonings you most likely already have on hand (a large portion of most of the mixes being salt).

  • The Offender: Microwaveable Popcorn

    This item is a major culprit of wasting your money. Sometimes you can pay almost double the price just for the convenience of having individual microwaveable bags. But what you're really doing is paying more for inferior popcorn. Save money, pop your own, and enjoy the real flavor of freshly popped corn.

  • The Offender: Fresh Herbs

    You're literally throwing money away by not starting your own herb garden. Fresh herbs cost a small fortune at the grocery store. Often times you can buy an entire plant for less than you can a few sprigs at the supermarket. And while not everyone has space for a garden, most people can fit at least a few pots somewhere in their home.

  • The Offender: Exotic Spices

    While experimenting with your cooking is a good idea, it's not always wise to buy those spices at your local grocery store. Taking the time to make a trip to an international market can save you a ton (almost 10 times in savings) on spices and specialty ingredients.

  • WATCH: How To Do Your Grocery Shopping


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