Wallet Watch: Buying Groceries by Christine Boutross

In these lean financial times it is imperative we learn how to shop wisely for groceries and at the same time save money.

Wallet Watch: Buying Groceries

1. Did you know that you never should shop on an empty stomach? Shop after you've eaten a meal or a protein snack and you will save money.

2. Comparison Shopping: Know the prices of items that you buy on a regular basis at several stores. For instance, if you buy several containers of broth; some markets offer discount prices on a regular basis while others may provide even deeper discounts on limited time sale items.

3. Only buy grocery food items at the grocery store. The big warehouse stores such as Costco, BJ's and Sam's Club offer much better prices on your household items.

4. Be cautious with coupons. Most coupons are for processed food. When shopping for food, most of your groceries should be vegetables, fruits, whole grains, meat, fish, etc, which goes on sale but you rarely would find a manufacturer coupon for. Fill your shopping cart with these whole foods first.

5. Forget about buying food that is already cut up. It's cheaper to buy a food that needs some prep work on your part.

6. Take a look at store brands to see if money can be saved compared to a well known brand. Again, be careful because this applies usually to foods that are processed and your goal is to stay away from processed foods.

7. In season fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper. Shop at your local Farmer's Market for seasonal vegetables and fruits which are locally grown.

8. Never shop without a shopping list! On the weekend you should look over the store circulars to see what fruits, vegetables and meats/fish are on sale. From there, plan your weekly meal menu around the sales. Then create a shopping list for ingredients you need and stick to the list!

9. Buy staples such as rice, beans and pasta in bulk. They can be stored in airtight containers.

10. Don’t linger in the supermarket. Studies have shown that the longer shoppers are in the store, the more they spend! So grab your stuff and run!

11. If at all possible, leave your children at home. Kids always get us to buy foods that we don't want to buy.

12. Buy high quality meat (grass fed) and reduce your meat consumption. Plant foods are less expensive and loading up on them will improve your family’s health.

13. Read labels. If you can't pronounce the ingredients don't purchase the food. (If anyone wants to learn more about reading labels, just email me for information on my "Label Reading 101" class.)

14. Leave the high calorie, low nutrient extras such as soda, chips and cookies in the store.