Dollar Researcher Asks: What Are Some Creative Ways to Save Money on Groceries?

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When she’s the eldest daughter in a family of three raised by a single mother, she gets a crash course on how to increase her food budget.

Keeps a mental record of restaurants in a suburban Florida town that offer kids-free kids’ food-nights—Tuesdays at Gator’s Dockside, anyone? You learn tricks to get the best bang for your buck, like swapping your Chick-fil-A kids’ meal game for a little ice cream. You get a weird appreciation for Hamburger Helper and how, if you just add a cup of sour cream and an extra bag of egg noodles to the combo, you can make enough stroganoffs for days past.

Then you grow up. All is well for a while … until the plague hits, high inflation to a 40-year high, and you once again find yourself worrying about how much money you’re spending on food.

The latest data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, in addition to shelter and Medicare, food is one of the biggest contributors to inflation. Food cost has increased 11.4% overall in the past 12 months. Items such as eggs, margarine, bread and canned fruit have seen particularly big price hikes.

What are some creative ways to save money on groceries?

I called Sarah Lundbergauthor Budget Savvy Diva’s guide to cutting your purchase bill by 50% or more, to hear their tried and true strategies. Lundberg, a mother of five, recommended trying to grow my own vegetables.

It says it’s “very simple – and you can even get free seeds” from a local library. Peas in particular are easy to grow, even if I don’t have a lot of space. (Lundberg was tracking it down, and she personally saved something like $100 on peas alone this way.) vegetables Those that are easy to grow include lettuce, green beans and radishes.

On a similar note, Lundberg also loves to forage in urban areas, which is when you are looking for unclaimed food that grows in the wild in public. She relies on an app that uses her phone’s camera to scan and identify plants she finds outdoors. recent success? Spotting berry bushes around the Home Depot parking lot.

“I always have a Ziploc ready to go urban foraging,” Lundberg adds.

In terms of shopping, advance planning is crucial, says Jessica Fisher, good cheap eats Blogger and mother of six children. She asked me to look around my kitchen and see the ingredients I have before heading to the grocery store, using these foods as inspiration for my meals for the week—that way, I don’t have to feel like I “have to go and buy all things.”

When choosing recipes, I have to think about what I like (because if I didn’t like something, I probably wouldn’t eat it, no matter how cheap). I also want to pay attention to what is on sale in the store.

Julie Ramhold, Consumer Analyst at DealNews. “Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into a rut of eating the same budget-friendly stuff from week to week.”

One way to find discounts is to explore the store’s weekly bulletin and look for a so-called loss leader – a product, usually advertised on the front page or in the top-right corner, whose prices the retailer has drastically reduced to take the loss. Loss leaders make huge sales: Lundberg remembers once she scored a pizza for 8 cents.

Make a list before I go to the store—and listen to the old advice that says “never shop hungry,” says Fisher, because that can cause a deviation from the list. Lundberg also says to avoid buying Starbucks coffee in-store because I’ll be more inclined to wander the aisles until I finish my drink, thus increasing the chances of throwing unnecessary items into my cart.

Do not forget Grocery stores Designed to “manipulate what you buy,” she says.

This includes everything from how the store is laid out—milk and eggs are often in the back, while filter materials may be hidden in the corner—to how the shelves are stored. More expensive products tend to be at eye level, says Lundberg, so “that’s where you don’t want to look.” Closer to the ground, where cheaper things are tucked away, much better.

Once I get home, I’ll want to freeze what I can use later (if I bought 2 pounds of ground beef because it was on sale, for example, I should put half of it in the freezer).

After you’ve cooked, Fisher recommends keeping track of leftovers, and reassembling portions of meat, veggies, rice, and the like into salads, wraps, and burritos as the days go by.

bottom line

Food is expensive now – but it doesn’t have to be for me. If I plan my meals, make the most of sales and Shop smart In the store, I can save a lot of money.

“You don’t have to live on ramen noodles and hotdogs,” Fisher says. “Unless that’s what you really like.”

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