Food prices have seen about a 20 percent increase in prices, the highest cost increases since the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) began measuring it three decades ago.
Their Food Price Index is bleak enough, but the United States forecast (USDA) indicates much more increases will follow.
Tips for Grocery Shopping
Note: As a 25-year executive for the highest rated grocery chain in America, writer Jack Dennis was over the Facilities Management Division of H-E-B FOOD/DRUGS. The Texas based retailer is prominently known for their friendly people, clean facilities and good prices.
The Tuesday Benefit
If you want to shop on the least crowded day of the week, pick Tuesdays. Often you may find discounts on meats, chicken and packaged produce that are close to their expiration date. We select such items that are freezeable at a cost of 25% to 50% off regular prices.
Never Shop Hungry!
Plan your grocery shopping trips to take place after a meal, or at least an hour or two before the next one. If you shop when you’re hungry, you’re much more likely to come away with food and snacks you didn’t plan on buying.
Even if the price increase is subtle, the yearly cost for your weekly supermarket trips will be substantially more. If you depend on restaurant take-out and delivery, the price surges will be even more eye-opening.
Keep your mind and body focused on the food you need. Don’t fall victim to the traps of grocery store marketing and product placement.
🔹Make a list of the items you intend to purchase to keep you on track.
🔹Plan your meals. Prepping a batch of meals will save on time, money, and unneeded calories.
Pick The Shortest Line
No one likes waiting in a long line at the checkout stand. Experience shows it is best to choose the line with the least amount of people in it, regardless of how full their carts or baskets might be.
At H-E-B and some other chains, checkers are graded by their IPMs (Items Per Minute) across the checkstands. It takes at least a minute or two to check someone out, even if they’re buying just a couple of things. Each item only adds about 3 seconds to the total checkout time, so a cart full of items doesn’t actually take that much longer to scan.
Look Up (And Down)
Only about one-third of in-store purchases are generally preplanned. Believe me when I say grocers and product experts know where shoppers look and even which patterns their gazes follow, in order to find the optimum position for products and to drive sales.
There’s a time tested adage in the grocery industry: “Eye level is the buy level.” These shelves are prime real estate at stores, but not every manufacturer can afford to stock their products there. When you’re shopping, be sure to scan the higher and lower shelves too.
When you see items on a supermarket shelf, you are actually looking at a planogram. These are diagrams that indicate the placement of products to maximize sales.
Get Cheese Sliced
Some of the best prices on cheese are on large blocks of it, but if you’re using it for sandwiches or burgers, slicing it at home can be a hassle. Instead, head over to the deli counter and ask if they’ll slice it for you.
Be Sure About Savings
If your grocery store has a 10 for $10 promotion on an item or items, be sure to check the original price of the item. While it probably won’t be that much more than $1, you definitely want to be sure it wasn’t less.
Use Meat Department Services
The meat department at your store may offer free services that many customers don’t even know about. Most butchers are willing to slice, tenderize, trim, and even grind cuts of meat for you. All you have to do is ask.
Compare Seafood Prices
When checking out the offerings at the seafood counter, look at the small type on the labels. If a product is labeled “previously frozen,” it’s worth it to head to the frozen section of the store to compare the two prices. Occasionally seafood is slightly cheaper when still frozen, so it’s an easy way to save some cash.
Of course, couponing is still a good idea as long as it is for an item or brand you need. Don’t forget to check in-store and online coupons.
Check The Clearance Shelves
Keep an eye out for your grocery store’s clearance section and visit it often. The marked down items you’ll find there are not necessarily about to expire—the store or the manufacturer may be discontinuing them.
Don’t Assume Bulk Is Cheaper
You know what they say about assumptions, and it’s just as true when it comes to bulk pricing. While larger quantities do often cost less, that isn’t always the case—for instance, produce items like peppers, apples, and avocados are often cheaper when purchased individually than in pre-packaged bags.