You’ve probably heard the good news that food prices are down month-over-month. But the great news is that you can be saving even more on food if you know how to shop smart!
These 7 food segments saw prices fall the most
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports the cost of food was down 1.9% in August. That nearly 2% drop represents the single biggest decline in food prices in the last 9 straight months of declines!
Among the hardest-hit items:
- Poultry prices decreased 0.1% from July to August. Overall, they are 2.9% lower than one year ago.
- Prices for cereals and bakery products fell 0.1% since July. Prices are 0.7% lower than they were in August 2015.
- Egg prices were down 4.5% from July to August. Prices are now 37.9% below August 2015 levels.
- Fresh vegetable prices were down 0.4% from July. Prices are now 0.2% lower than August 2015. (The price of potatoes and tomatoes increased though.)
- Prices for salad dressings decreased 1.2% from July to August.
- Carbonated beverage prices dropped 0.3% from July to August
- The cost of coffee is down 0.4% month-over-month.
So that’s all great news for your wallet. But here’s how you can save even more at the grocery store:
Know your prices
Tracking the prices of your top 10 items for a month and a half or so. If you know the regular prices of your 10 most common purchases at local stores, then you’ll really know when to stock up on something when it goes on sale. If you have a coupon at that point, so much the better!
Brand loyalty will cost you money. If you have a coupon for a brand you’re not familiar with, why not give it a try and see if you like it? You may be surprised.
Sign up for loyalty programs
You can get greats savings through gas reward programs like the one Kroger offers and other similar plans at other grocers.
But the real strength of loyalty programs may be something you don’t even think about: Because retailers are tracking your purchases through your loyalty card, they can quickly contact you in the event that some kind of foodborne illness is spreading through something you bought at their store. This could save your life!
Shop salvage stores
Salvage stores that offer ‘unsellables’ like canned food that’s past its expiration date can be a great source of savings. Find the nearest salvage store in this directory.
Of course, salvage stores are not for everybody; many people will balk at the idea of buying damaged goods. But Dr. Ted Labuza, a professor of food science at the University of Minnesota, told The Atlantic, ‘Foods can remain safe to consume for some time beyond sell-by and even use-by dates provided they are handled and stored properly.’
Scour the clearance rack
Talk to your store’s manager and find out where they keep the clearance items. Many stores will have a dedicated rack or shelf. It’s also helpful to know when new stock is added to the clearance rack or aisle. If you’re first to find it, you can score some real deals!
Pay attention to unit pricing
Paying attention to unit pricing in the supermarket can be your ally at time when manufacturers are trying to sneak by reductions in the amount of product they’re selling you.
Here’s a common scenario you might encounter in the supermarket: You’re buying the store brand of something like toilet paper and you’re confronted with the choice of either a big package or a little package.
Which is a better value? Most people would think the larger package because you’re buying in bulk, right?
Not so fast. Look at the small unit price numbers, not the actual price. The large package may have a unit price of 70 cents per 100 sheets of toilet paper, while you the smaller package has a unit price of 55 cents per 100 sheets. So the smaller package actually offers more value for your dollar, in this case. This varies widely by product, so take a closer look to find the best deal.
Change where you shop
If you’re not shopping at Aldi or Walmart for your groceries, chances are you’re throwing money away. Aldi claims to save shoppers 50% off traditional supermarket prices. Walmart, meanwhile, is generally 20% to 30% cheaper than comparable supermarkets.
Shop with the right card
Speaking of Aldi, now that they accept credit cards, you might consider getting this card: The American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card offers 6% cashback on groceries, up to a max of $6,000 annually. Be sure to pay your bill in full each and every month!
Try out Upromise at checkout
Upromise lets you register your grocery and drug store loyalty cards, and then activate the service’s eCoupons. Use one of those coupons at checkout and you’ll get money for qualifying grocery store purchases. That money can be used to pay down your student loan, save for a child’s college and more.
Read more: This couple eats for less than $60 a month