How to save on groceries

By Heinz Bulos

1. Comparison shop. Compare supermarkets based on prices, not on distance and convenience. Make a list of regular grocery items you buy and compare how much each item costs at two or three supermarkets. Definitely avoid convenience stores where prices are marked up much higher. Compare also across brands based on the unit price to find the better bargain.

2. Buy in bulk, or not. For regular stuff you use like toiletries and certain ingredients, consider buying them in bulk at a wholesaler or discount warehouse store. Alternatively, buy bigger-sized packages. But—and here’s the big but—only if they are cheaper on a per unit basis. Some items, such as shampoos and vinegar, in smaller packs or sachets may end up cheaper per unit, so consider buying several of those instead of buying an entire bottle or the bigger can.

3. Shop smart. The layout of your neighborhood supermarket is designed to get you to buy the higher-margin items. Often, you’ll find them on the shelves at eye-level. Reach up or look down to find cheaper alternatives. You’ll also find high-markup prepackaged and preprocessed items in the aisles. Stick to the perimeter to buy meat, dairy, and produce. A few more things to remember: always shop with a list and stick to it. Don’t bring the kids (your hubby sometimes belong to that category) or you’ll end up buying more stuff. And don’t shop when you’re tired or hungry because you’ll end up buying junk food you don’t need.

4. Buy generic. Consider buying generic and store-brand products. They’re usually cheaper than name brands, even though they’re processed at the same plants.

5. Buy fresh produce at a wet market. You spend only a fraction of what you pay at the supermarket for fruits and vegetables, which are often fresher as well.

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