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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Supermarket Smarts - Money Saving Tips

Stocks, mortgages, and food prices -- all my! Sometimes I find it helpful to step back from those things I can't control (like the stock market) and think about things I can control such as saving money while shopping for food.

Food costs increased by 4.8% in 2007, and increases in 2008 are expected to be greater. In the last year common food items that many of us buy all the time have seen even greater increases: milk, 13%; white bread, 16%; eggs, 35%, and bananas, 17%. With teenage boys in our house, these kind of food price increases definitely impact our grocery spending.

Americans spend about 13% of their income on food, on average. We spend about three times more on food than gas -- even though you'd think the way people monitor the price of gasoline that it was the other way around.

So, what can we do?

Shop smart! Look at your buying habits and see if there are changes that you can make easily that won't take too much time or leave you unsatisfied. Here are some tips that I think make a difference:

1) Plan your menus ahead of time. Sit down once a week (Saturday works best for me) and plan your major meals. If I come home from work and know what I will fix for dinner AND have the ingredients in the house, then it gets cooked. But otherwise I'm much more likely to order pizza -- which is not cost-effective.

2) Look at the grocery store ads for weekly specials. I find this helps me think of things to cook too! If something is on sale that 1) you use frequently and 2) store well, then buy extra.

3) Take your menu plan and make a shopping list. A shopping list lets you shop quickly and you're likely to spend less in the grocery store.

3) Try buying store brands instead of name brand products. I've been taste-testing store brands versus name brand products with people and many people find they like the store brand just fine.

4) Be aware of the cost of convenience food. Yes, it's nice to buy vegetables pre-cut but what is the cost difference?

5) When shopping check to see if which size (box or can) is the best buy. Sometimes it's the big bag, but sometimes it's not! This past weekend I bought two small bags of rice (rather than the large bag I usually reach for) because the price per pound was cheaper than the big bag.

Do you have food shopping tips to share? Click on my name below to send your tips to me. I'd love to hear your ideas!

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