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Shop Smart...

Shopping online can offer both convenience and choice. With a click of your mouse, sitting at your computer, you can be buying goods and services from home. No queues or crowds, no traffic and no need to worry about the weather.

And in most cases your shopping experience should be no more risky than buying by mail order or on the phone. But you need to be aware of possible dangers and should take certain precautions to make shopping across the internet safe.


Grocery Shopping Tips...

Let's face it Grocery Shopping is every American families most expensive shopping bill.  Here are some tips from shoppers like you around the country and how they have managed to save and shop smart.

Kroger Gives Away Food
Any item that is found on a Kroger shelf (meat, produce, etc.) with an expired date can be taken to the customer service desk and a fresh one willbe given to you, free of charge.
Veronica Winley, GA

Save Money
When I go to the grocery store I have a list which I stick to. I also clip coupons out of the Sunday paper and out of the store circular. If items do not have to be bought right away and my coupons have no or extended expiration dates I save them until the store advertises them on sale and combine the coupons. The warehouse stores (e.g.Price club,Costco) are great for buying bulk items like toilet paper for much less money than the grocery store.
Stacey Lobel, FL

Grocery List
Divide grocery list into categories: Meat, Produce, Dairy, Baking, Frozen, Canned, Dry Goods, Cleaning, & Miscellaneous. The back of the list shows Monday-Friday. When creating the bulk of the list note activities on the appropriate days; shows if preparation time is limited or if need to be done by a certain time. Plan meals; showing cook book & page #. Write needed ingredients on the shopping list. When shopping write down the price of items rounded to the nearest $.05. You can add up before you get to the checkout. The meal schedule on the back side hangs on the fridge so family knows what's for dinner each night and they don't snack on a main ingredient.
Terri Wilson, CO

Grocery Shopping
January '98 Tip of the Month

Every week I receive sale flyers from all our local grocery stores in the mail. I used to run to each store and purchase the items I needed that they had on sale. I got smart and started shopping at our local Walmart Supercenter which honors all other store sales ads. I just present my sale flyers at the check out. Doing this and using coupons my grocery bill is an average of $45.00 less a week.
Paula Clements, TX

Valuable Ideas
While at the grocery store, ideas cross our minds about how the store could improve their services, additional products that could be added, etc. Grocery store managers love to hear these ideas! When I've taken a moment to drop them a note, they've been very appreciative and I've often received a $5.00 gift certificate as a thank you!
Jill Blance, MI

Save 20% on your groceries!
Many food cooperatives offer discounts for members who volunteer. I'm an at-home mom who works six to eight hours a month at home at my convenience. In return, I receive 20% off my total grocery bill. When this is combined with bulk buying and sale items, this can add up to big savings. (I also don't buy convenience foods which also saves big bucks.) I write action letters and proofread but member work can be tailored to your talents.
Mary-Catherine McElroy-Fuchs, MA

Oatmeal Tricks
My kids love flavored oatmeal, but it's too sweet & expensive! I buy a few boxes when it's on sale, plus a large canister of plain, store-brand oatmeal. Add 2-3 packets of the flavored kind to the plain canister. It lasts forever! (Use a 1/3 cup measure for one serving) When the canister is empty, it makes a great toy box for small toys, kitchen canister for flour, sugar, etc, or use it as a gift box! Just glue wrapping paper onto the outside of the canister (or use pretty contact paper) and add a label or gift bow to the plastic cover.
Kathy Valenzuela, TX

Free bread
I volunteer for a local weekly community meals program for the needy. Besides the "service benefit," the volunteers receive a free meal and are always "asked" to take home 2 - 4 loaves of bread. There is also frequently bags of bagels and pastries available for the volunteers. I've talked to volunteers in other communities and it seems that the grocery stores who donate the food for a tax deduction always give more bread products than the local programs can use.
Jim Hasse, CA

Watch for sales in all your store papers each week to see what would be your better price for the products you want to buy that week. Look for sales and match with a coupon to even get better savings. Plus some times you can even find a rebate form on some items too. But sometimes you can find items on sale and get a good buy even without a coupon. I love to coupon and rebate plus I share my products with my family to.
Monalisa Fisk, OH

Quick Shopping List
Save several grocery receipts. From these receipts, prepare on your computer a generic grocery list, sorted either alphabetically or by department. Use three columns, one to contain the item name, another to place a check mark indicating if it is a coupon item, and another with a blank line for the "write in" items that are not frequently purchased. Print two sets of grocery lists to a page, in landscape format (11 x 8.5). Make several copies. The next time you shop, just highlight with a marker or circle the items you need to purchase. This method also serves as a quick reminder and eliminates unnecessary store revisits.
Coni Esposito, CA

Saving on Babywipes
I used to buy the cheapest baby wipe available in the store, but they are usually very thin, so now what I do, I buy Huggies, which is very thick, then I cut them all in a half and put them back in the container. If the baby only had a pipi diaper, I use half of the wipe, if the baby had a pupi diaper I use two half wipes. This helps me save money.
Marla Allen, IL

Keep up with it
Keep a database of sales and loss leaders of items you frequently use, even if you don't actually buy the item at that time. Often you will notice that a pattern appears. For example, if you are going to need chicken breasts at some time in the future, you can pull up your database and determine that someone has them on sale about once a month.
Barbara Hibberd, TX

Cutting Your Budget
Before you leave the house, sit down and plan a menu for how long you want your groceries to last. Then write up a shopping list from that menu. Planning is the best way to cut your budget.
Karen Gosser, WA

Save Those Ingredients!
To keep your family from foraging on important ingredients for your weekly recipes, put a fluorescent day-dot on the items that are to be used at a later date. You can find these day-dots at any office supply store, or Wal-Mart in a variety of colors. You can also color-coordinate your dots according to the ingredients you need for a specific day (blue for Monday, pink for Tuesday, etc.). These colorful dots will tell your family immediately: Hands Off! :-}
Lori Bowen, SC

Spices for less
I recently spent $10.00 on spices in the grocery store and I thought how ridiculous! When I got home I cleaned out my spice cabinet and realized that I had a lot of spices that were almost finished or had lost there freshness.I washed the bottles and saved them. I am so glad that I did because when I went back to the grocery store I noticed that the spices that come in a plastic bag were 75% cheaper than buying the glass bottle spices. I also realized that if I put the "unfresh" spices in the food processor their flavor came back. I also use my left over spice jars for sauces, candy, or mini-leftovers or for office supplies (e.g. paper clips, thumb tacks, etc.)
Stacey Lobel, FL

Out of sight
Having a pantry area and deep freezer in our basement has saved us money. Not only can I buy in bulk, but I also keep unopened snack foods and drinks there. When a family member comes into the kitchen looking for a snack, they usually grab what's there instead of making an extra trip to the basement. Distance not only makes the heart grow fonder, but the treats last longer!
Lianne Westcot, IA

Bulk section not always cheapest
Large supermarkets have "bulk" sections where selections from bins which are sold according to weight or number. Many assume that they will save by bagging and weighing their own dog biscuits, oatmeal, or cookies. Know your prices! With coupons, sometimes the Quaker oatmeal in the nice-sized canisters is actually cheaper per pound--at least that week. As items go on sale, with coupons, sometimes the convenient packages of name brand products are at the same price or less than bulk, without having to inconvenience yourself and provide your own storage containers at home.
Kate Nash, NY

Cheap Cereal
When grocery shopping, keep your eyes open for the small trial size boxes of cereal. They are generally sold for under $1. The last time my store had trial size cereal, the 9 oz box of Golden Grahams was 99 cents. The 18 oz box was $4.15! You may be able to use a manufacture's coupon and save even more. But don't wait until the next time you go to the store, because the cereal doesn't last long!
Amy Bronkhorst, MN

Knowing What You Will Spend at the Grocery Store
I keep a list of the prices of grocery items from my grocery receipts in a spreadsheet. Then when I sit down to make my grocery list, I have the list of prices and the sale flyer for the grocery store. I plan meals based on what is on sale and add any other items we need. Then I go back and put the prices of the items next to each item. If I have gone over budget, I cross off items or plan different meals so as not to go over our budget. Then when I go to the grocery store, I know exactly what to get and how much it will cost me. I also don't buy anything not on my list.
Trisha Farrell, NM

Food Savings
A great idea for grocery shopping is to go in the mornings because not only are they selling the bakery goods at reduced prices from the day before but they're also reducing the meats in bulk and that really adds up.
Tina Smith, TX

Grocery Lists
If you remove the front page of greeting cards received (the back is usually blank) it works very well when used as a grocery list. I can attach coupons with clips and shop. Also very useful to use as score cards when playing games such as dominos. I have used envelopes that would normally be thrown away, as grocery lists for years. Coupons can be held inside until you use them. The weight of the card is preferred though.
N. Lyon, NY

Better than Warehouses
After years of warehouse shopping, my family recently dropped our membership due to rising fees & prices, crowded noisy stores, dodging forklifts and, worst of all, terribly long check-out lines. Our stress-free solution to getting good deals: restaurant supply houses! Great prices, fresher produce, friendly service, easy parking and no lines. Many restaurant supply stores happily sell to the public with no membership fees. Besides all this, the selection is better: gallons of molasses, bags of instant pudding mix, many varieties of flour and paper goods, for example. Plus they're great places to find appliances and gifts for serious cooks.
Deb Keller, CO

Self-Imposed Grocery Exile
Every once in a while, my shelves get way too full of groceries. I have a grocery exile! I limit my weekly purchases to things I run out of or perishable items. I give myself $10.00 a week (family of 3). I do this for a month to six weeks. I get rid of all the things I stocked up on and save money too. Coming up with new recipes is fun as well! Anyone can do this and can easily change it to fit their own family's needs.
Tamara Rutenber, FL

Freezer Meals
Cook freezer meals to avoid the urge for fast food after a long day at work or away from home. What I do is make extra quiches, lasagnes and the like and freeze them. After a long day at work I remove them from the freeze, pop into the oven and viola! Dinner is served.
Kitty German, CA

Locating Grocery List
Instead of keeping your grocery list somewhere in the kitchen, keep it in your purse or wallet ... then you'll never go to the store without it.
Jennifer Coy, CA

Foolproof Lunch Box
My husband was always forgetting his "brown bag" lunch, so I created a permanent lunch box to keep in the refrigerator at work. In a rubbermaid type container, I included all kinds of sandwich meat, condiments, snacks, even some breakfast items for those "running late" mornings, and some plastic cutlery. He keeps bread on hand and always has an emergency lunch. No more excuses for eating out!!!
Lori Southerland, GA

Grocery Shopping for Bakery Items
You can really save a lot on your grocery bill by finding a bakery thrift shop in your area. The thrift store where I live is a Wonder/Hostess store and has bakery items whose "purchase by" date is either the current day, or the day before. You can buy Wonder bread (normally $1.69 to $1.89 at a regular store) for .45! Hostess products that are individually sealed that sell for $2.99 and higher in the regular stores can be purchased for $1.00! I find this to be a great savings on my grocery bill.
Sandy Basham, VA

Freezer Meals
When you make a nice meal for your family DOUBLE IT and put the 2nd half in the freezer. I've always done this with Lasagna but last night I did it with Apple Crisp too. It took me about 6 extra minutes (cutting apples, putting it together, and wrapping it for freezing) but it just needs to come out and be baked. Many of our meals could be prepared this way for days when we are too busy to cook. Saves lots of Fast Food dashes and $$$.
Denise Waterworth, CA

Buy it 4 Less
If you can shop early in the mornings (1 to 2 hours after grocery store has opened) look for meats, produce, bread, and bakery items that have been reduced down from previous day. Also this usually ensures they will have sale items on hand from previous nights stocking of shelves. Shop first day of sale to get better quality meat and produce. Many times "sale" items are of less quality but by shopping first day you get left over product that wasn't supposed to be part of sale.
Gary Miller, AZ

Save 5% on Grocery Shopping
If you buy gift certificates at your supermarket, you usually get a 5% discount on large purchases. Pool your money with a few friends so you can purchase the amount needed for the discount.
Brenda Melstein, NY

Cheap Groceries
I love it when coupons come out in the Sun. paper. I go through them and cut out what I use and need, usually Fred Meyers have store coupons on name brand items. You can use the manufacturers coupons on the Fred Meyers store coupons and get twice the amount off. I usually do this on cereal as they will have a coupon for 2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios for $4.00, I have a manufacturers coupon for $1.00 two boxes so I have paid $3.00 for two boxes of name brand cereal. I never buy cereal unless it is on sale and I have a coupon.
Vickie Laird, ID\


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