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Dozens of Ways to Save Money on Food and Groceries

Miscellaneous tips on shopping at a supermarket. The most expensive items in the supermarket are shelved at eye level and most bargain merchandise is shelved just above eye level or below knee level.  Most supermarkets have a bargain area at the back of the store while most warehouse stores put the bargain area in the center, although some will put it in various locations throughout the store:

  • Find out which supermarkets in your area will double or triple coupons, will honor their competitor’s coupons, will stack coupons (accept more than one coupon for a single item), and will accept expired coupons.
  • Be aware that when you see a deal marked something like “three for $3”, you usually don’t have to buy three of the item to get the discount – you could just buy one for $1.
  • Items in display cases that jut out at the end of aisles are not necessarily on sale.  The supermarket puts them there because people assume they’re on sale.

Compare supermarkets.  Don't shop at the closest supermarket just because it's more convenient.  Driving a mile or two down the road can save you as much as $50 per week on groceries.  You might find that products you routinely buy at one supermarket are priced as much as $1 or $2 less than they are at another supermarket. One should also compare the unit prices on the store shelves to find the better bargain.  For example, many people assume you get a better deal if you buy more product, but often the unit price reveals that buying the 8 oz. instead of the 12 oz. is more economical. 

Keep an Eye on Supermarket Prices.  Most supermarkets change their prices so often that the price you’re charged at checkout doesn’t match the price on the shelf.  Keep tabs on what everything costs using an app or writing it down on a piece of paper while you shop, then compare it to your actual sales receipts to find out if you were overcharged, then demand a refund. 

Don't buy frozen meals .If you empty the contents of a frozen dinner onto a plate you will quickly realize that you are getting very little food for what you are paying.  Do you realize you are paying $300 a pound for that tiny bit of veggies on the side?  If you lead a busy lifestyle, set aside a weekend afternoon to make your own frozen dinners and meals prepared from scratch.

Buy cheese at the deli counter, maybe. One would think that purchasing cheese from the deli would be more expensive than picking up a block of cheese in the dairy aisle but often the opposite is sometimes true.  Compare the price of deli cheese to that in the dairy section before you buy to find out where it is cheaper. The prepackaged artisanal and specialty cheeses sold in the deli area are usually 30 percent more expensive than those in the dairy aisle.
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Fruit.  Buy fruit that is in season to get the lowest price. Fruit that is out of season and must be shipped in from far away countries is very expensive and often doesn’t taste that great because it is picked before it is ripe.  Fruit that has already been washed and pre-sliced costs 75% more than fruit you have to wash and slice yourself. For example, sliced watermelon costs three times more than buying it whole.  It is often cheaper to buy frozen fruits, particularly when they’re out of season, since frozen fruit costs 50% less than fresh fruit.  The oranges and applies that are already in bags are 50 percent cheaper than buying loose fruit.

Vegetables. The bulk packaged vegetables, such as onions and potatoes, are usually 50 percent cheaper than the loose produce. The opposite is true of many vegetables, such as carrots, that have been pre-cut for you.  Pre-cut vegetables sell for as much as five times more.  Cut your own carrots and save a bundle.  An even cheaper alternative might be to pick your own fruits and vegetables at a food co-op in your area.  Search for one at LocalHarvest.org.

More Tips on Saving Money at the Supermarket
Don't buy pre-cut meats. You’ve probably seen the packages of meats already cut up for you in the supermarket -- a package of two pork chops, some chicken tenders or ground beef already formed in to burger patties. You are paying a premium for the supermarket to cut up your package meat for you in this manner, usually more than double the price.  Doing the cutting yourself will save you about $1 per pound or $223 per year for the average family of four. Often the store’s butcher will do it for you free. 

Don't Buy Pre-Washed and Prepackaged Salad Mixes.  The pre-washed and pre-cut salad mixes are very convenient, but they are priced three times higher than the loss salads you can buy whole and wash and cut yourself.