Be a Savvy Supermarket Shopper

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessAnyone who has been to the supermarket lately knows that some grocery costs have hit an all-time high. At the same time, most shoppers are watching what they spend and want to get the best value. Healthy Steps offers tips for making savvy supermarket choices, while keeping more cash in the coffer.

Pay attention or you could pay more. Make sure to watch the screen to see if items ring up correctly. With large inventories and numerous items on sale each week, it isn’t unusual for something to scan incorrectly. Also make sure to look over the receipt and that it reflects the correct number of items.

Compare prices. Watch for sales. In addition to comparing prices between brands at the supermarket, check the fliers for the stores in your area. If a store has several items at lower prices, it may be worth the trip for the savings.

Follow up on rain checks. If a supermarket is out of an advertised special, ask for a rain check whenever possible. Then, follow up and use it when the item is in stock again.

Understand the marketing. Convenience sells, but you pay more for it. Prepared meals and entrées such as roasted chicken, bags of salad and baby carrots, pre-sliced vegetables and fruit — all of these cost more than if you bought the items to prepare yourself. Moreover, prepared meals, entrées and prepackaged foods can contain less-than-healthy preservatives and additives. Buy fresh or make it yourself instead.

Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk isn’t just for dry goods like flour, sugar, beans, rice and pasta. Think about buying larger cuts of meat, which may actually cost less per pound. Less expensive cuts can be marinated or tenderized and cooked longer for a delicious alternative. Leaner cuts and boneless cuts are more expensive — keep the bone and fat to lower cost. The fat can be removed later and bones can add flavor. Items bought in bulk will keep longer when stored in good air-tight containers or in freezer bags in the freezer.

Hunt down the markdowns. Many stores offer “manager specials” or marked-down items that can save plenty of money. But you do need to know where to look, so ask the personnel in the store. Your freezer is a fine way to beat the “use or freeze by…” dates listed on many packages.

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