Supermarket savings: Tips that can save big bucks

Published 12:39 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2011

By ANGELA TREADWAY / Guest Columnist

It’s possible to save money shopping for groceries without cooking everything from scratch, packing your purse with coupons, or purchasing foods in season. Here are some easy tips that can total big bucks.

1. Keep a grocery list. Gas for an extra trip to the store easily can add a dollar or more to your grocery bill. And the less you shop, the less likely you will make an impulse purchase. Keep a grocery list where it’s easily accessible, such as on the fridge and remember to take it with you to the grocery store. Stick to your list for added savings, but do stay flexible if you encounter a sale.

2. Garbage check. We lose money whenever we toss food because it spoiled before we got around to eating it. If leftovers get the “heave ho” because they’re left too long, we’re putting money in the garbage can. Make planning to avoid tossing foods a priority.

3. Avoid shopping when hungry. Everything looks good on an empty stomach. And, it’s all too easy to buy something to tide us over in the car until we make it home. Eating before going shopping not only helps forestall impulse buys, it may save calories.

If you’re shopping with your kids, feed them in advance, as well.

4. Brown bag it. If you normally eat out at noon, consider brown bagging it at least one day a week. The typical fast food meal out easily can cost $5 or more. Take food left over from the evening meal to work the next day. A peanut butter sandwich and a piece of whole fruit can be packed quickly from foods on hand.

5. Coupon common sense. Use coupons only for foods you normally would eat, rather than for “extras.” Don’t miss out on potential sources of valuable coupons. Check your grocery receipt — sometimes there are great coupons on the back that help save money. Also, if you have access to a computer, check online for coupons.

For starters, check the website of the store where you shop or of products you use. Often the website address for many foods is given on the product label.

If possible, shop on double or triple coupon days when a store increases the value of coupons. Grocery store loyalty cards may be another source of savings, offering in-store discounts to cardholders.

6. Check expiration dates. Avoid buying a food that is past its prime. If it’s on sale and near its expiration date, use it soon.

Angela Treadway is the Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety Preservation and Preperation with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. She can be reached at 410-3696.