Have you noticed? The cost of food is once again soaring. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported last week that inflationary food prices are going up at nearly double the uptick seen last year.
This is not the first time in this column that we’ve visited the subject of how to get out of the supermarket with at least some money left in your bank account. Still, who doesn’t need an occasional reminder—a mental tune-up—to remain vigilant and razor-sharp when it comes to making our food dollars stretch until they scream.
1. Don’t go in hungry
You believe that you can simply dash in to pick up the infamous few things. But if you’re starving, you’re a dead aim for a couple of steaks and a load of snacks. You know what I’m talking about. This is because anything can happen when you are hungry.
2. Don’t try to remember
Sure, playing Brain Age on your kids’ Nintendo Switch has revitalized your dead brain cells, rendering you the mental acuity of a youngster—but don’t push it. Without a list of the exact items you’ve come to purchase, who knows what could happen? It’s normal for our brains to slip into neutral in the face of fabulous food. A written list is the crutch you need desperately to make sure you do not slip and fall, so to speak. Know before you go.
Hint: Go to your supermarket’s website where you can see its weekly sales flyer as well as the entire contents of the store. It’s easier to make your list at home away from all of the marketing ploys of a typical supermarket. Use the search function to find the exact brand, size and price for each item on your list.
3. Don’t pay full price
Here’s the Golden Rule of Groceries: Eat the sales. Don’t put anything in your basket that is not on sale. If it’s not on sale this week, it will be next or soon enough. If chicken is the loss leader this week, don’t plan meals around beef. And when that happens, try to buy enough chicken to last until the next time it’s on sale. You may need to stop being so brand loyal. Typical supermarkets and grocery stores work on a 12-week rotation. That means everything will be on sale at least once every three months.
Hint: Consider the sales in several stores.