We are all looking for ways to save these days, and the place we all go to and spend a good bit each week--often more than once a week--is the grocery store. If you go with a plan, a list, and price leaders and coupons, you have a better chance of spending less than if you don't. But we all can use some fresh reminders and strategies to bring down grocery bills throughout the year.
So, I was happy to pick up my May issue of Consumer Reports to find "Shop Smart & Save Big" on the cover. You always know Consumer Reports will take as unbiased a look as possible to find the best deals and values. Check it out to find out how your store compares overall (Wal-Mart, the nation's biggest grocer, not so great). Then read on for 13 ways to save at your grocery store.
You'll find conventional advice, such as reminders to go with store brands and check unit pricing to see how the items you are choosing compare with other brands' prices. But there are some good, off-the-beaten-track tidbits, too. Such as:
Be wary of "end cap" items, the items on display at the end of aisles. Sometimes they are on sale, sometimes they aren't. Sometimes, companies paid the stores good money to dislay their wares there, so you won't get them at a good price. And, sometimes, one item might very well be for sale at a good price, but accompanying items are not (chips but not the dip, for example.)
Look high and low. Again, because companies may be paying stores for prime eye-level placement of products, be sure to look high and low to compare prices of like items.
Avoid convenience. Shredded carrots, the writers note, are more expensive than a bag of whole carrots. "Is it that much work to cut up carrots, celery, lettuce, and cheese?" CR asks.
Buy bagged produce. For the same reasons, a bag of potatoes, onions and other produce items are generally cheaper by the pound than buying them individually. Be sure, of course, that you will use all of the produce. Any savings realized is less meaningful if you throw half of the food away.
Bankrate has 20 good tips to check out, too. This one is my favorites: Beware of "discount store syndrome," which involves thinking everything at a big-box department store is a wild deal and walking out the door hundreds of dollars poorer and with things you don't really need.
Also: Stick to the outside aisles. They are generally filled with fruits and dairy and bread -- everyday staples we need. The processed foods we don't are often found in the middle aisles of the store.