March 3, 2008

The Rising Cost of Groceries

It's nothing new, foods costs going up and up, but even for those of us who've been through recessionary cycles before, somehow the good times tend to help us forget how to pinch pennies, especially at the grocery store. Today, I just want you to do something pretty simple to start saving at the store: I want you to get out your last grocerty store register tape. If you don't have the one from your latest shopping trip, then be sure you save the next one.

For now, please just check three things on that register tape: 1.) how much of the total spent was non-food items; 2.) how much did you spend on meat; and, 3.) what one item on that list could you definitely have done without this week? Under the non-food items, were there magazines, laundry products, kitchen gadgets, pet supplies, health and beauty products such as vitamins, shampoo, toothpaste?

While I certainly recognize the convenience of one-stop shopping especially for working folks, the grocery stores also recognize that convenience factor. And in many cases, you pay more for whatever time and energy you save. That may - or may not - be worth it. Using five non-food items from your list, take the time to check the prices at your nearest big-box store, probably a Wal-Mart.

For toiletries, laundry products, pet supplies and even magazines, the grocery store may very well not be your best bet. IF, IF you can do a one-trip, non-food stocking up, buying just and only what you need, you will save. A simple example? I buy spray sizing at Wal-Mart for $.93 a can, while it's $1.38 and $1.29 ( yes, same brand) at the two grocery stores where I usually shop. (By the way, I'm no big fan of Wal-Mart, just a realist!)

This simple exercise, of looking over your grocery register tape, is a start, and on Wednesday, we'll look at the part two, the meat portion of your food dollar.