|Some simple tips for saving money on the grocery bill
Caregivers and senior citizens know grocery shopping in Sonoma County is expensive. Everybody needs to eat, and everybody needs to eat properly. Some days, though, the figure on the checkout receipt may take one’s breath away.
For caregivers with an interest in watching the budget, the following are a few tips beyond using coupons that may help to reduce the grocery bill.
• Take advantage of sales: When a non-perishable staple of your diet is on sale, stock up on it. For example, if rice is a regular part of your menu and that $2.99 brand you use is on sale for $1.50, buy several boxes.
• Look at alternatives to supermarkets: Sometimes, stores that stock food as “secondary items,” such as large chain drugstores, may offer very appealing deals on their grocery items to lure in customers. Often, there are special sales that change every week but that offer prices too good to pass up.
• Look for loss leaders: Similarly, many grocery stores offer great weekly deals on some popular items to keep customers away from the drug stores and other competitors. Do your homework and compare; often you can find valuable information about sales and prices at both supermarkets and drugstores online and can plan your trips accordingly.
• Avoid purchasing hygiene products at the grocery store: Many supermarkets charge more for shampoo, toothpaste and other hygiene items than do drug stores. See if this is true of the stores at which you shop; if it is, adjust your purchases accordingly.
• Consider cheaper fruits and vegetables: You don’t want to sacrifice quality, but often when a store puts a type of produce on sale, it’s because there’s an abundance of it rather than because it’s inferior. When stores have an abundance of an item, it’s usually because that item is in season and is therefore naturally cheaper than when it’s out of season.
• Put protein first: Assuming that yours and your family’s diets allow for it, plan dinner menus so you serve a first course of proteins. Eggs and beans tend to be much cheaper than meats, so if you fill up on these protein-rich foods first, you will need to spend less on expensive meats.
• Know which brands are important to you and which are not: Generic items are cheaper alternatives to many brands. Each individual has some brands to which he or she remains absolutely loyal, and often for a good reason. However, if one brand of butter is pretty much the same as another, try the cheaper version and see whether it works for you. Be aware that stores tend to put more expensive brands where your eye is most likely to find them. Take the time to look above, below and around the top brand item for less expensive versions.
• Find uses for leftovers: The less you waste, the more you save. If you can use that leftover ham for a sandwich tomorrow, don’t toss it. When preparing those onions and mushrooms, save the onionskins and the mushroom stems, along with the tough ends that you may trim off asparagus. Save them in the freezer, and when you have enough of them, along with any carrot or celery pieces, use them to make a vegetable stock for soup or cooking.
Caregivers can undoubtedly find other ways of saving at the checkout lane. These tips are just a starting point. Happy shopping.
Julie Ann Anderson is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park; mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.