The secret to lower grocery bills | Planet Ryan - Republic-Times | News

The secret to lower grocery bills | Planet Ryan

By on August 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

PlanetRyan copyDid you know that back in 1913, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a loaf of bread would set you back nearly six cents? Or that a gallon of milk was a whopping 35 cents? Let’s not forget sirloin steak, which would burn your wallet up at 24 cents per lb.

Yeah, the good ol’ days.

Even adjusting for inflation, something has gone terribly wrong in modern times as far as grocery prices are concerned. Doesn’t it seem like in the last five years or so, your bank account takes a much larger hit than it used to at the supermarket? What’s up with that?

I know that recently, I’ve been a lot more conscious of how much I spend at the grocery store and I try to get the best values I possibly can without sacrificing too much on quality. And it’s definitely possible. I’ve rounded up a few tips to help you out.

The List. Never walk into your favorite grocery store without a list. And yes, check it twice. Because if you don’t, your bill will definitely be naughty and not nice. Seriously, going into the store without a list of what you need and thinking you’re going to “wing it” will only end up in disaster at checkout. Keep a running list pinned on the fridge, or if you want to get fancy, download any one of the dozens of grocery list apps on your smart phone.

Time between visits. Try to see how long you can go between visits to the grocery store. Make a game out of it if you have to. Chances are, you have a pantry but you don’t browse it as much as you should. Most would be shocked to see how many extra meals they can squeeze out of the average pantry each week. Stretching out your visits has the potential of saving you hundreds of dollars, maybe more, each year.

Grow it yourself. I know I’ve talked about my humble garden a lot this year, but rightfully so. I use every bit of what I grow, and not only has it provided me fresh, healthy foods, but it has more than paid for itself. Best of all, it still has another month of production! Not to mention the taste factor – garden tomatoes are highly superior to the store-bought ones. If you disagree, you’ve never had a tomato straight from the vine.

Go in full. Perhaps the most important tip on this list – do not, under any circumstances, go into a grocery store hungry. A recent study from Cornell University’s Food and Brand lab showed that shopping at a grocery store while your stomach is growling not only caused participants to buy 20 percent more food on average, but they also bought a much larger percentage of processed junk food than usual. That’s a double whammy.

Buy more store brands. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: do not be afraid to try and buy store brand alternatives. They have come a long way in the last decade and a lot of times are spot on compared to their brand-name cousins, in taste and quality — and are usually 30 percent less in price, or more. This is another way to make a huge, positive impact on your grocery spending over the course of the year.

If you follow the basic tips above, I will guarantee noticeable savings over the course of your fiscal year – especially if you have a spouse and children. That $1,500 in savings will go a long way toward your vacation next year. You’re welcome.



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Ryan Ledendecker

Ryan is a biweekly columnist for the Republic-Times newspaper. When he's not working, he enjoys a good movie, bass fishing, and CrossFit.