CHICAGO – According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, grocery prices are expected to increase about 7% this year.
That’s definitely not the news consumers want to hear.
“It’s crazy. The difference that what it was before and what we are spending now, it’s crazy,” said Nora Guzman, a mother of four.
Guzman says shopping for groceries and sticking to your budget is definitely a challenge these days, especially when you have teenagers at home.
“I don’t think our budget that it was before is going to work at all. Especially because we’re basically four adults that eat and we eat all our meals at home,” Guzman said.
“You really need to adopt a new way to shop for groceries and even planning for your grocery shopping trip if you want to save money,” Woroch said.
While the working mom from Cicero already follows some of Woroch’s tips — like some meal planning and shopping sale items — what else can she do?
“The first thing you need to think about is how much food are you wasting each week,” Woroch said.
Woroch says one way to reduce that waste is to rethink expiration dates.
“The reality is these aren’t expiration dates and they are not regulated by the FDA. These are sell by, best-by-dates that reflect when the food is best to consume for quality rather than safety,” Woroch said. “There are various guides that show you how long certain foods are good and safe to eat past their recommended sell by dates.”
The website StillTasty.com is one of those sites that will give you that list.
Next Woroch recommends shopping the perimeter of the store. She says that will ease any temptation you may have when shopping in the aisles and see what’s on sale.
But you still have to be careful on the perimeter.
“Be aware of the end caps,” Woroch said.
Woroch says bulk deals on end caps are there to get you to buy more.
“So say you see a deal for Gatorade. Buy 10 for $10. Well, you might be influenced to buy all 10 because you see it as a better value, but if you read the fine print you will see you could buy one for $1,” Woroch said.
Next, get a grip on your impulse purchases.
“Grocery stores rely on your impulse purchases to make money. I don’t think people realize how much extra they spend each time they shop on food they didn’t plan to purchase,” Woroch said.
Woroch says using a handheld basket instead of a full-size shopping cart and using the self-checkout will help.
Overall, she says the biggest mistakes consumers make when grocery shopping are not comparing prices and always buying the same brand.
“As long as you are open to trying different brands, trying those store brands, you can stand to save a lot of money,” Woroch said.
Woroch says sticking to these saving strategies should help reduce some grocery store sticker shock, even for smart shoppers like Guzman.
“Before I used to buy organic eggs, organic chicken and now it’s just like impossible it’s not doable. It’s too much money,” Guzman said.
One last tip, Woroch says make sure you pay for your groceries with the credit card that gives you the most cash back rewards.