Five tips for tack­ling your gro­cery bill

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - Nathaniel Sillin Prac­ti­cal Money Skills

Food shop­ping can quickly take over your bud­get de­spite your best in­ten­tions. Per­haps it’s due to im­pulse pur­chases, un­planned shop­ping trips, food go­ing bad or a com­bi­na­tion of all three. If you’re look­ing for ways to save money while en­joy­ing nu­tri­tious and de­li­cious meals, con­sider these money-sav­ing tac­tics. STICK TO YOUR BUD­GET TO SAVE TIME AND MONEY. >> Look at your food bud­get be­fore mak­ing a trip to the store. If you don’t have one yet, fig­ure out your over­all bud­get in­clud­ing food costs with a sim­ple bud­get work­sheet. Know­ing how much you want to spend and ac­tu­ally spent can help you make in­formed de­ci­sions. PLAN OUT THE WEEK’S MEALS WITH YOUR BUD­GET IN MIND. >> If you make dishes that rely on the same sta­ples, you can save money by us­ing leftovers to cre­ate a new dish. But mix things up to avoid bore­dom.

Make your trip to the gro­cery store even eas­ier with a shop­ping list. Stick­ing to a list can help limit food waste and make it easy to get in and out of the gro­cery store. If you share food shop­ping du­ties with a spouse or part­ner, you can avoid dou­ble pur­chases by us­ing gro­cery apps that let you cre­ate and sync shop­ping lists.

AND DEALS TO RACK UP SAV­INGS. » Once you en­ter the gro­cery store, it’s time to put your plan into ac­tion. Plan for the oc­ca­sional in­dul­gence and let your­self make im­pulse pur­chases oc­ca­sion­ally, but try to stick to the list.

You can also of­ten save money at gro­cery stores by join­ing the store’s loy­alty pro­gram. Mem­bers get ex­clu­sive dis­counts, and some pro­grams of­fer ad­di­tional sav­ings at part­ner

stores. Check your mem­ber­ship ac­count on­line or with the app be­fore check­ing out, as some pro­grams have elec­tronic coupons that you need to “clip” to get the sav­ings.

One way to in­crease your gro­cery bud­get is to use one, or sev­eral, of the apps that give you cash back when you buy gro­ceries. Some­times you can even earn cash back on gen­eral pur­chases like a loaf of bread or a gal­lon of milk. De­pend­ing on the app and food, you may need to ver­ify the pur­chase by scan­ning the bar­code and send­ing a pic­ture of

your re­ceipt.

The store you choose can also sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact how much you’ll spend. STRATE­GI­CALLY PLAN YOUR SHOP­PING ROUTE. » Plan­ning your gro­cery shop­ping af­ter re­view­ing your lo­cal stores’ weekly sales and coupons can help you de­ter­mine what to buy where. Also take the time to ex­plore your neigh­bor­hood stores, as one gro­cer may fre­quently have high­qual­ity yet in­ex­pen­sive pro­duce while an­other might have a great butcher.

No mat­ter where you shop, be mind­ful of how the store’s de­sign can en­tice

you to make pur­chases. The out­side ring is of­ten where you’ll find the fewest pro­cessed foods, how­ever you might no­tice that you need to walk to the back of the store to grab milk or eggs. The store hopes you’ll be tempted by some­thing you see along the way.

Stick­ing to your list, re­frain­ing from walk­ing through an aisle un­less you need to and re­mem­ber­ing that the eye-level prod­ucts aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the best bang for your buck can help you avoid these traps. STICK TO IN­EX­PEN­SIVE FOODS. » Con­sider choos­ing

store-brand rather than name-brand prod­ucts as they’re of­ten cheaper, but not nec­es­sar­ily lower qual­ity. You may also want to con­sider chang­ing what you buy. Filet mignon can be de­li­cious, but so can cheaper cuts of meat and there’s a lot of ad­vice on­line for how to best pre­pare them. Sta­ples, such as rice, beans and canned or frozen goods are also a low-cost way to sup­ple­ment meals. BOT­TOM LINE. » Buy­ing food is a ne­ces­sity, but you don’t have to over­spend to keep a well-stocked fridge and pantry. By plan­ning

your meals and gro­cery trips, us­ing the money-sav­ing tac­tics above and care­fully choos­ing where you shop, you can save time and money – and cook up some­thing de­li­cious.

This ar­ti­cle is in­tended to pro­vide gen­eral in­for­ma­tion and should not be con­sid­ered legal, tax or fi­nan­cial ad­vice. It’s al­ways a good idea to con­sult a tax or fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor for spe­cific in­for­ma­tion on how cer­tain laws ap­ply to your sit­u­a­tion and about your in­di­vid­ual fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.

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