More supermarket savings: tips to save money

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2011

By ANGELA TREADAWAY / Guest Columnist

Here are seven easy tips that can save you big bucks at the grocery store.

1. Small scale experiments. Before trying a new food, buy the smallest size of package. If your family doesn’t like the food, you won’t be stuck with a big box of it.

2. Costly convenience foods. How much time do you really save when you buy a convenience food? It takes just a few seconds to mix your own sugar and cinnamon rather than buying it pre-mixed. Microwaving a bowl of regular oatmeal rather than pouring hot water over a pre-measured package adds only a few minutes. You’re likely to save by cutting fruits and veggies yourself. Plus, the precut ones won’t keep as long.

3. Staple food stock up. Invest in staple foods when they’re on sale. Buying a boatload of bananas (and other perishable foods) isn’t a good long-term investment. Stocking up on staple items such as reduced-price canned tuna, tomato sauce or mandarin oranges can be. Remember to check expiration dates.

4. Bulking up when the price is right and you can use it. First, do the math and check if you actually do save by buying a larger package. The cost of two foods of the smaller size may be a better price than the larger one. Plus, will you use the food while the flavor is still tasty? If the larger size meets your criteria, go for it!

5. Prevent food flops. Check preparation methods for unfamiliar foods. Perhaps that tropical fruit looked enticing at the store. However, if you’re not sure how to prepare it or where to find more information once you bring it home, think again. 6. Beware of snack attacks. Unless you’re fairly active and need the calories, enjoy snacks, such as chips, cookies, candy, etc. in limited amounts. You’ll save money and may lose unwanted pounds at the same time!

7. Shop the specials. Plan your menus around sale items, especially more expensive purchases, such as meat. Buying several packages of meat when it is on sale and freezing it may save quite a bit. It is safe to freeze meat or poultry directly in its supermarket wrapping but this type of wrap is permeable to air so unless you will be using the food in a month or two, over wrap these packages as you would any food for long-term storage using airtight heavy-duty foil or freezer plastic wrap, or place the package inside a (freezer) plastic bag.

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