Savvy Shopping at the Grocery Store
Amy: Haley, can you tell our listeners about comparison shopping in the grocery store?
Haley: Before picking an item in the store, first think about price, convenience, nutritional value, storing the product and family preferences. Most grocery stores have both a national brand and a generic store brand. You will want to compare the prices of the different brands. Generic store brands are safe, and generally have the same nutritional value to name brand, but often cost less.
Amy: Now that we know how to compare brands, how do we compare prices in the grocery store?
Haley: Unit pricing is a very useful method for comparison-shopping. The total price of the item is not always the best way to save money. Unit pricing is the cost of an item based on a specific unit or standard amount, like a pound, ounce, or per container. Using unit pricing you can compare the costs of different brands based on the cost per unit to decide which one is the most economical. You should compare unit pricing for similar items like a carton of orange juice to a concentrate can of orange juice, different brands, and different sizes. For example, if Brand 1 has 8 ounces, the total price is $.72, and the unit price is 9 cents per ounce, and Brand 2 has 6 ounces, the total price is $.62, and 10 cents per ounce. Brand 1 is the best option, even though it’s total cost is higher, because it costs less per ounce. You can find typically find the unit prices in the upper left or right corner of the price tag.
Amy: So when you go to the grocery store and you are shopping for groceries, it can be a little overwhelming because there is so much to choose from. How can a trip to the grocery store be less overwhelming?
Haley: Shopping with a grocery list is a great way to make grocery shopping a more pleasant experience and save money. Writing out your meal plans for the week or month will help you decide what foods you will need. Before going to the grocery store you should check your cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer at home to see what you already have. Try to pick meals to clean out and use what you already have. Based on what you need and already have, then you make the grocery list. On the grocery list make sure to write how much you will need. To save money only buy the foods on the list, avoid shopping hungry and avoid impulse buys. Another way to make grocery shopping less overwhelming is to try going alone if possible.
Amy: Okay, so now that we know how to meal plan and make grocery lists, what’s the best way to coupon?
Haley: Coupons can either save you money or cost you money. First, you should use coupons for the items on your grocery list or free items. Before you go to the store, make a mark on your grocery list of the items you will be purchasing with a coupon. To make it simpler at the store, only bring with you the coupons you plan to use and leave the others at home. Don’t buy items just because you have a coupon for them. You also should still compare prices and brands even for the items you have a coupon for to see if the discount actually saves you money.
Amy: Should I check the store advertisements?
Haley: Yes, while preparing your meal plan for the week or the month is the perfect time to check advertisements. Look for seasonal low prices on meat, poultry, fish, fresh produce, and grocery items and change and incorporate these items into your meal plan. When buying these items, buy only the amount you will need and be able to use before it spoils. You still need to compare prices of bulk, packaged, fresh, frozen, and canned versions.
Amy: What kind of foods can be frozen to prevent food waste and save money?
Haley: Freezing food is a good way to preserve quality of food, and just about any food can be frozen except for canned foods and eggs with shells. To properly freeze foods, use package in freezer bags or freezer containers to protect from freezer burn and store well. Foods should be cooled before being placed in the freezer. Freezer bags or storage containers should be labeled with the product and date on the outside. This helps you remember to eat the first in foods first
Amy: Where can we go for more information about saving money and buying nutritious foods at the grocery store?
Haley: Visit extension-dot-m-s-state-dot-edu , and under the “food and health” tab, click on “nutrition” for budget saving nutritious tips or under the “family” tab, click on “family and financial management” and then “basic money management” for more budget tips. Mississippi State University Extension has a wide variety of information from experts in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion and Family Financial Management State Specialists.
Amy: Today, we’ve been speaking with Haley Shrell, Mississippi State University Dietetic intern in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. I’m Amy Myers, and this has been Farm & Family. Have a great day!