November 2011

Free Range Organic Eggs: A Better Choice?

If you have the option, you should absolutely be supporting local farmers

Most of us have heard or read about the awful conditions chickens are kept in at commercial egg factories, and most of us vow never to support that type of industry again.  The obvious choice, it would seem, would be to buy free range eggs where chickens are allowed room to roam over peaceful pastures.  The reality of those “free range” eggs may come as something of a surprise to many people.

Avoid Convenience Sizes

"Bagging your own allows you to use reusable bags and save on your garbage bill, as well as the toll on the environment. "

One of the quickest ways to throw your money away when you are grocery shopping is to give in to the appeal of convenience size packaged foods.  Not only do convenience sizes cost staggeringly more than large sizes, they also result in much greater packaging waste.

Visit the Dollar Store First



The amount of products that are now available in dollar stores across America has skyrocketed. This may be due to the high demand for low cost products, as those affected by the bad economy can no longer pay full price for their needs and wants. Fortunately, dollar stores carry food items that are much cheaper than grocery stores so it makes sense to go there first.

How to Buy Produce like a Pro

 Fruits and vegetables can add up to a substantial portion of your grocery bill, especially if you shop without a strategy. Read on to learn how the art of selective produce shopping can save you money.

Produce for the Present

One of the most common mistakes shoppers make when buying produce is buying too much, or buying too far ahead of time. While some produce like garlic and onions can last a long time, fruits like bananas and kiwis spoil quickly. Organic produce is particularly vulnerable to rapid spoilage, as are many of the fruits and vegetables you'll find in the “manager's special” discount section. When we hit the produce aisle without a plan other than “we need to eat more fruits and veggies,” we're likely to end up buying a lot of expensive produce that will get old before we get around to eating it.

Dinner plans change, and the corn you bought on Monday to use in the soup you're making on Friday might go unused if you decide to eat out, leaving you with a dried and withered cob of wasted money to cook for Saturday's lunch. Meanwhile, three of the ten apples you purchased earlier in the week have graduated to “maybe I can still use it in a pie” status. Wasting food and money is a shame, but that's no reason to skimp on the fruits and veggies. Instead, buy only what you need for the next two to three days, and use it. Avoid keeping fruits and veggies hidden in the back of the refrigerator or tucked away into a cabinet. Instead, put veggies in a visible place in the refrigerator or cabinet where they won't get lost, and keep fruit in a bowl or basket on your table or kitchen counter. If you see your produce, you're much more likely to actually use it while it's still fresh.

Now that you know how to avoid wasting money on your produce bill, the only thing left to decide is how to spend your savings--how about a fruit bowl?


Buy Meat in Big Packs for Great Savings

When you go shopping for meat at the grocery store, it is usually available in both single serving and family packs.  Hamburger is a great example of this.  You can buy it in one-pound packages, or larger packages of up to five pounds.  While you will only use one pound at a time, you are missing out on some big savings by buying individual packages.

The savings per pound by buying the large packs can be quite substantial, sometimes even enough to get one pound for free.  And in cases of meats that need to be cut, like large sections of pork, the meat department of your grocery store will often cut it to your specifications at no extra charge.  This is how we buy pork chops, and we get them sliced the exact thickness we prefer.

When you get home with your bulk purchases, immediately divide them up into serving sizes.  Plastic freezer containers and zipping food storage bags are ideal for this.  If you have a kitchen scale, you can get very exact when dividing your food, or you can eyeball it like we do.  Divide your meat into separate servings and freeze what you will not immediately use.  This makes meal planning easier because you already have food on hand, and you can have more freedom to shop when things are on sale, further adding to your savings.

I have heard that frozen meat doesn’t taste as good as fresh, but even with my pregnant taste buds, I don’t really notice a difference.  In any case, a slight difference in flavor is well worth the cost savings when you are shopping on a budget.

Take Advantage of Walmart’s Free Samples

Many shoppers aren’t aware that Walmart actually partners with large companies, who offer Walmart customers free samples. There is no catch to receiving these free samples. All you need is a computer that has Internet access. If you don’t have one, you can always visit your local library for free Internet access.

First, head to Walmart.com and look at the menu down the left-hand side of your screen. You will see a hyperlink that reads “Free Samples.” This is under the “In Stores Now” heading. Click on it.

Using Double Coupons to Save Big

"Even if the product that you want to purchase isn’t on sale, you are still going to save yourself a ton of money."

There is now a way to save even more money each week at the grocery store, and you can do this by using two coupons on a single purchase at the same time. The popular super store Walmart allows its customers to use two different coupons on one product.  To show an example of how this method can save shoppers a ton of money, imagine a jar of peanut butter is on sale. You have a buy one get one free coupon, and a $1.00 of coupon.  At Walmart you can buy the peanut butter that is already on sale, get a second jar free, and save $1.00 on the purchase.

 

That’s a lot of savings, and often you are paying a fraction of the price for one item and you are getting double the product.  This can be used with many items throughout the store, even bath and beauty items like shampoo and body wash. You no longer have to take the time to decide which coupon is going to save you more money, you can use both at the same time. Look through the newspapers, coupon savers, and online to find coupons for the products you love, and then wait for those products to go on sale.

Make a List and Stick to It

It has been said before, but bears saying again.  You will always spend less money if you make a shopping list and firmly stick to it.  Nothing kills a budget faster than impulse buys, and grocery stores are pros at making you spend money on unplanned purchases – it is their bread and butter.

Whether you shop weekly, twice a week or monthly, make a realistic list of what your family will need to get you through until the next shopping trip.  If you find yourself running out long before the next trip, try keeping a log of what your family eats in a given period.  You may be surprised at how much slips through the cracks, such as an extra package of crackers or box of cereal.  Have your family work with you to write down everything you eat and before long, you will be able to accurately plan your shopping trips.

Plan Your Grocery Menu Around Store Sales

"When planning dinner, consult the meat section of the grocery flyer."

Food prices are skyrocketing, and planning a weekly menu based on desires is becoming costly. If saving money is key for your family, consider creating a menu based on the sales flyers for your local grocery store. You could easily save $100 over the course of a month, if not more.

Start with your breakfast items, since they are the least expensive. Cereal often runs above $4 per box, but stores have weekly sales on cereal that can be as low as 2 for $4. Choosing the cereal that is on sale will allow you to basically buy 1 and get 1 free. Aunt Jemima waffles and pancakes also go on sale frequently for family members that prefer a hot breakfast.

Searching for sales on lunch items isn’t hard either. Deli meats do go on sale, but you will have to settle for the sale brand. For example, if you want to have grill cheeses for lunch one day, you can still get American cheese. You may have to choose the store brand, however, which is on sale for $4.99 a pound, instead of the Land O’ Lakes cheese that is currently selling for $6.99 per pound.