About 24 months ago, the first manufacturers began to reduce the size of a half gallon of ice cream from its historical 64 oz. package to just 56 oz., without reducing the price, and barely anyone even noticed it! With retail pricing being kept at the same level, it didn’t seem like much of a hardship for anyone to have to pay for less ice cream, and manufacturers saw this opportunity to fight cost overruns and maintain or even increase their profit margin. This minor change in size can actually produce an additional 12.5% profit (and expense for you and your family). The prices of some brands and packages have continued to climb, and many are now selling their “half gallons” as 48 or even 45 oz. packages. Another loss for consumers of 11-14% from even the 56 oz. shrinkage.
Creating a grocery list will save you money, but what you really want to do is slash your food bill and save thousands every year! How can you do that?
Pick a time of day to create your list when it’s quiet and you’re not hungry. In fact, make sure you’re not hungry when you shop. Studies show that when we are thinking “hungry” we tend to stray from our list and buy impulse items, which can add considerable expense to your bottom line.
The most important step to creating a smart list is to shop the sales. Let the supermarket weekly circular serve as your guide. Each week, go online or check your Sunday ads or weekly mailed flyers to see what items you should build your week’s menu and shopping list around.
To compare supermarket prices, it’s important to look at the “per unit pricing” on every item you are buying. By law, every supermarket must have a comparable price on its shelf so that you can literally compare the “apples to apples” price. For example, let’s say you are comparing two brands of granola bars and one box has 8 bars and the other has 10. By comparing the “per ounce” prices on the shelf tag, you can easily see which one is the better value.
You probably know that in general, larger packages are sold at lower per unit prices, but it isn’t always true! The most obvious exceptions are items that are “on sale”, where literally a smaller package can be 10-80% less than the larger package of that product on a per ounce or per pound basis. When you stop and look at items, some may have 4, 5 or even 6 different sizes available! When you add coupon or discount savings to the offered price it can increase savings dramatically.
The term “cherry picking” refers to the concept that every week a grocery store will feature several sale items with extreme value pricing, so low it may be worth buying and even stocking up on them for rare dramatic savings. There may be a qualifying purchase attached such as “save $3.00 on a 12-pack of cola when you spend an additional $25.00” on your groceries that day (with reward card and coupon)! If you normally pay $3.99, this is a 75% savings on your purchase! If you can find several others like this kind of savings, it may be worth it to purchase some of your regular staples to get these deals.
There are numerous chains around trying to persuade you to shop with them. If you go to each store and “cherry pick” their best advertised sales, you will save many dollars more than using only one market that week. As long as you’re not buying things you don’t need or don’t use, or traveling outrageous distances wasting your valuable time and gas, I recommend you at least check out markets near your home and/or workplace to cherry pick.
Meat is plentiful and often is a lead item in supermarket advertising. It always has a per pound price and is somewhat descriptive in its cut, sometimes even pinpointing fat content. When you shop, there are many aspects to be considered:
- What minimum weight, if any, needs to be purchased to obtain the lowest price? Markets typically impose a 3-pound weight purchase to get the best deal. However, sometimes packages are made that may actually have less weight and still offer the better per pound price. Examine as many as are displayed if you don’t require a large amount. If you buy a large amount, consider freezing some to use at a later date.
Supermarkets are always trying to improve the speed of your shopping trip as well as keep the labor costs down and still provide you with a complete savings-filled trip each week. The self-checkout saves them money and it allows them to pass that on to the consumer in the highly competitive, low profit food industry.
The self-checkout has come to be a basic in most supermarkets after 15 years of growth. In most stores, a good 4 to 8 checkouts are now functioning for those tech-savvy shoppers who are in need of a quicker shopping experience for their very busy lives while still being able to offer all the discounts, coupon usage / distribution, and other perks.
When you think of flowers–bouquets, table arrangements, potted plants, or even corsages–most people tend to think of a florist before their local supermarket or grocery store. But not only is the supermarket convenient, it can be a great place to score cheap flowers. So with a little advice from my mother-in-law, a former floral department manager in one of our local supermarket chains, here’s what to look for:
If you want your bouquet to make a good impression, select one or two bouquets (or even three, especially if there’s a discount) and ask the floral manager what they can do to spruce it up at no extra charge. At most chain stores, the manager will gladly add some greens and baby’s breath (those tiny white flowers), arrange the flowers in a pleasing way, wrap it up in pretty curled ribbon, add a packet of preservative plant food and sometimes even offer you one of those little floral greeting cards to go with it. It never hurts to ask.
When is a sale really a sale? The best way to know if the prices you’re paying are the very best is to track the sales cycles of the stores you shop for the items you regularly buy. This will enable you to determine when the prices are the very best. Stores run their sales and promotions in cycles that can be from 2, 4, 6 or even 8 weeks in length. Often, this week’s “sale price” is higher than it was last week. Tracking will make you confident that you’re getting the best deal!
Using coupons, or “couponing”, can save you thousands of dollars a year. To gain the skills needed, it takes practice, patience, knowledge and discipline. Follow these rules and you can become an expert:
- Look for coupons in your daily mail, Sunday newspaper, online supermarket sites, and dedicated online coupon sites. You can even download digital store and manufacturer coupons directly to your supermarket reward card. When leaving for a shopping trip, always make sure you have your reward card as well as any coupons you might need.
Supermarkets have become strategy masterminds in their efforts to make you buy more and more each week. The traditional “sale”, that is, lowering a price temporarily to entice you to purchase, has been replaced in many instances by the “two-fer” the price of one, and/or “BOGO” (buy one, get one free or 50% off). Stores are also featuring 10 for $10 mix and match promotions. The word “free” lights up the eyes of most shoppers!
Stores love it because they are moving twice the number of items with this strategy and manufacturers love it because it basically shuts out their competition for a period of time. Cereal A is purchased (2 boxes) and thus Cereal B isn’t, for perhaps weeks at a time.