Grocery shop as if budget depended on it By MARY WHITE Emanuel County Extension Service

by | April 13, 2005 12:00 am

No, it is not your imagination — the cost of food does go up. This year we had a bad winter. Vegetable and fruit crops in Florida and the west were dealt a blow. The problems that California and other states have had with their power supplies has increased production costs in many food factories that supply our nation. Grocery shopping is a serious chore, and families who want to be sure they get the most for their money need to follow a few simple rules. Here are some suggestions.

Plan your menus and make a list of the items you need. Be as detailed as you can in making the list. Include food that is in season because it is usually lower in cost than out-of-season food. Include food that is on sale. Read the specials in the newspapers and flyers that are often posted near grocery store doors.

Stick to your menu plan and shopping list. Impulse buying often takes you over budget. Stores often try to tempt shoppers into buying more costly items. They place them near the checkout lines or in glamorous displays. The exception is when staples or food your family likes are an extra good buy. Then you may want to buy a larger quantity than planned if it can be eaten before it spoils.

Do not shop when hungry. You are tempted to buy more snacks and ready-prepared food.

Shop alone. Try to arrange the grocery shopping time for when someone else can take care of your young children so you don’t have to take them along. Children often want special treats, and most of us have given in. Grocery stores also may put items that appeal to children within the children’s reach, making it more difficult for those shopping to refuse the children The choice you are making may be between peace and quiet and a balanced grocery budget..

Compare prices. Compare the prices of different sizes as well as different brands. Take a calculator and figure the unit price, which is often on the shelf by the item. Different sizes of the same product often have different unit prices.

Check the “sell by” date on food. Many items will be safe to consume after the sell by date, but it is best to get the freshest products. Milk, for example, if it has been kept cold, will usually stay fresh for seven days after the “sell by” date.

Then when you get home, store that good food safely and cook it correctly. Food that goes in the garbage can because it’s spoiled or un-eaten wastes money.

Yep… food prices go up when weather is bad and production costs go up. Most of the time you can back those costs up by being a smart shopper. For more information call 237-1226, or come by the Emanuel County Extension office.

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