Prices on everything from milk to gasoline are on the rise, and even doing a weekly shopping run at the supermarket can set consumers back more these days. However, for those shoppers willing to compare pricing and shop around, filling up the fridge doesn’t have to be as hard on your bank account.
Consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch said consumers are looking at ways to cut back on costs across the board, as prices continue to skyrocket due to the continued unrest in the Middle East and Federal Reserve policy in the U.S.
“Consumers were just starting to get confident in spending again,” Woroch said. “Many are taking a step back and trying to stretch dollars so they don’t find themselves in the same position they were in during the recession.”
Here are some of Woroch’s tips to cut back on the cost of food:
No. 1: Buy generic. Buying name brands can cost up to $1 more than generics, Woroch said. Looking for the same products in generic will save shoppers a bundle over time. “With name brands you pay for marketing and packaging,” she said. “Shop by price, not brand.”
No. 2: Plan out meals. Don’t wait until you get to the store to figure out what meals you want to make, Woroch said. “This is a really easy way to overspend,” she said. Instead, shoppers can save by looking for meat and produce that is in season, and planning meals through what is on sale in stores.
No. 3: Consider discount cards. Superstores like Target and Wal-mart sell food and produce, and gift cards are available online at discounted prices at sites like GiftCardGranny.com. Purchasing discounted gift cards online ahead of time and then shopping at these superstores helps shoppers to get their food for even less, Woroch said.
No. 4: Become a coupon cutter. Cutting coupons is not new, but there are more places to find discounts today online. Woroch recommends places like CouponSherpa.com where manufacturer coupons are printable on tons of items. “Many grocery stores will allow you to double up on coupons (store and manufacturer) and you can enjoy double savings,” she said.
No. 5: Hit the warehouse stores. Memberships at warehouse stores like BJ’s and Costco range from about $40 to $100 annually, but can save savvy shoppers much more. Milk, for example is about $1.50 less at bulk price, and alcohol is often 20% to 30% less. “Make sure you will use it, and you have the space for bulk items,” Woroch said. “Also, do you have the room to store it?”