In a FOX 32 "Money Saver" Special Report, we look for some new ways to pinch a penny.
The weekly battle of buying groceries and not breaking your bank is heating up. While you can’t fix supply chain issues or reduce inflation, you can spend less.
"Perhaps the most important thing anybody can do is start meal planning," said Andrea Woroch.
Woroch is a nationally recognized consumer and money saving expert. She says it’s important to take time to plan your meals because it will reduce the amount of food you throw away each week.
"With ingredient prices going up, whatever you’re throwing in the trash is your hard-earned dollars," she said.
Woroch says the average us family throws away $1600 worth of produce every year.
"Begin by looking at your calendar. What meals – lunch or dinner – are you eating away from home," she said. "This could be pizza party for your kid’s soccer game. Maybe it's an after work meeting or lunch with a co-worker."
When picking your recipes, Woroch says look for ones that use some of the same ingredients.
"This ensures that you use everything in its entirety … nothing goes to waste," she said. "And then just cross-reference what you have at home. Look in your freezer, your fridge, your pantry so you don’t double up."
If you started shopping online for groceries once the pandemic began, Woroch says that’s actually a habit you might want to keep.
"Although you might see index prices slightly up when you order online or maybe you are paying a delivery fee … you’ll ultimately save more because you’re gonna buy less food on impulse," she said.
Plus, there are also coupons to cut delivery fees.
If you do have to run to the store for just a few things, Woroch recommends grabbing a basket.
"Once you start filling it up with items you don’t need, you are going to realize it’s time to put them back … because you won’t have room for your essentials," she said.
She also says using the self-checkout is a good idea, too.
"There was a study that was done that found people who use self-checkout made much fewer – at around 30 percent - impulse purchases," she said.
Scanning the items yourself also makes you more aware if you are being charged the right price.
"In recent trips, I’ve noticed grocery errors. They could be as little as 50 cents off up to a few bucks off," Woroch said. "You might not catch that if you’re going to a cashier who’s doing it for you."
While you are at the checkout, food industry analyst Phil Lempert also has this advice.
"While there are not a lot of coupons out there since the pandemic … make sure you sign up for that frequent shopper card … use store brands," he said. "Store brands are typically anywhere between 10 and 30 percent less expensive … they all have a money-back guarantee … so check them out … if you don’t like it, bring that unused portion back to the store."
If you don’t already have one, our experts add now is a good time to get a credit card that offers cash back on groceries.