Bag yourself a bargain!

Bag yourself a bargain!

With the economy slowly recovering and fears of a triple-dip credit crunch looming large, cutting back on expenditure is a prime target for many households.

However, with so many other sacrifices necessary, cutting back on your groceries can feel like a step too. Nevertheless, with a few small adjustments, it is possible to still enjoy the food you want but for less money.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is raiding their savings accounts for cash when it is possible to simply find a smarter way to shop.

Research has consistently shown that many people stick to brands and stores simply out of habit, yet switching can bring surprising results, making it unnecessary to touch the dollars in the savings accounts.

Branded items have a reputation for tasting better but in reality, many own-brand products are made by the same firms that produce the more expensive goods. In blind taste tests, volunteers were unable to tell the difference on a surprisingly high number of items.

There are some things that have such an iconic taste it is impossible to replace them – goods such as certain brands of breakfast cereal or ketchup, for example. However, recipe ingredients such as canned tomatoes or other tinned staples can be switched without anyone being able to tell the difference.

Couponing is a craze that has been in the news a lot recently and it is certainly a good way to cut costs. However, don’t get carried away – coupons are sometimes available on items that are more expensive and an alternative would be cheaper, even when taking the coupon saving into consideration.

Rather than planning the week’s dinners in advance, pop down to the grocery store and just see what’s on offer. Items that have been discounted because the date is due to expire are a good place to look and if there is too much to eat before the date, simply cook it and freeze it – a timesaver at a later date.

Buying in bulk is one of the best ways to save money and joining a club such as Costco, Sam’s or BJ’s can work out much cheaper and prevent you having to raid your savings accounts.

However, buying in bulk only works if you are able to use the items before they expire, so either pick goods with a long shelf life or make time to cook up a batch of dinners and then freeze them.

Markets are another good place to get cheaper groceries, especially fruit, vegetables and meat. Foregoing pre-prepared packs already sliced and diced and buying the items in their original form can work out a lot cheaper.

Market traders are usually also willing to allow you to barter for the best price, especially towards the end of the day – they really would prefer not to be carting their goods back with them.

If you don’t have a specific item you need, visiting the market just before it is due to start closing can bring fantastic bargains – be cheeky, what have you got to lose?

Of course the internet is a marvellous invention and great for finding items far more cheaply than available in store. Some places offer discounts for online shoppers or deals not available in the store and this, coupled with the saving on gas, can bring big savings.

For non-perishable goods or non-food items such as shampoo, buying online and not at your favorite store means big savings – even auction sites sometimes sell off goods more cheaply, but just remember to take the cost of getting it mailed into account.

By thinking about grocery shopping differently and being open minded, it is possible to save money whilst still getting nice foods. The extra pounds you save can go straight into your savings accounts – after all, what you never had, you won’t miss!

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