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5 Secrets to Saving on Groceries

By Charlotte on March 27, 2013 6:03 AM

By Michelle Snow, Author Quality Cooking at a Fraction of the Cost

We all need to eat and we all want to save money; so why not do both? Follow these grocery saving tips and you'll become a savvy saver in no time:

1. Be willing to get down and dirty for your grocery dollars.

Some time ago, I asked a meat department manager if he could tell me when steak was going on sale. He stared at me with a look of utter disbelief and said, "I don't even know. Nothing in the grocery business is more highly guarded than weekly advertised specials."

I laughed because I never thought of grocery ads being a security issue. He quickly added, "No really, we have other stores calling, incognito of course, trying to find out what our ads will be."

I quickly realized that advertised specials are the bait to lure customers and their grocery dollars in for their weekly shopping...sounds dastardly doesn't it?

Knowing that weekly grocery ads are protected like Fort Knox, you will not be surprised to learn that some grocery stores price match. A savvy shopper uses this to their advantage and does so efficiently. If a grocery store price matches, by all means take advantage of this. Be sure to bring a copy of the advertisement and make sure that the store name and effective date is highlighted. This will save you time and hassle when the grocery clerk tries to verify the competitor's lower price.Michelle Snow 300.jpg

Michelle Snow

2. Save loyalty for your spouse, not your grocery store.

Don't go to the grocery store that you always go to just because you have always gone there. Go to the grocery store that will save you the most money. Plan your meals around advertised loss leaders. Loss leaders are grocery items priced so low that stores do not make money; in fact they often lose money on the purchases.

3. Remember what a rained out baseball game and an empty grocery shelf have in common.

Both offer rain checks. Always ask for a rain check, even if they say it will be here in a day or two. If your rain check is about to expire, and they still do not have the item, ask for a new rain check. You'd be surprised how often an advertised, too-good-to-be-true loss leader doesn't arrive at the store until after the sale expires.

4. Think: That's my grocery list and I'm sticking to it!

Stick to your planned weekly menu. It's okay to switch the daily menu around using the weekly menu for exchanges; however, try not to come up with unplanned meals. Why not? You'll more than likely need to visit the grocery store again, which can mean trouble for your budget.

If you must go back into the grocery store, walk directly to the items you need, place them in your basket and walk directly to the checkout line.

5. Realize the fastest way to a man's wallet is through his stomach.

Have you ever noticed that when you haven't had time for breakfast and rush into the grocery store on the way to work you're greeted by the sumptuous aroma of fresh brewed coffee, hot croissants, bagels, muffins and donuts? Or, how about in the evening, when you're starving after a long, hard day at the office and you become seduced by the aroma of a succulent rotisserie chicken and French bread that conveniently just came out of the oven? I promise you it's not a coincidence. After all, what did the devil tempt Jesus with when he was hungry? The Bible says bread; but if you ask me, more than likely, it was French bread.

All joking aside, having hot and delicious foods ready for purchase when customers are hungry is a clever marketing strategy. That is, a good marketing strategy for them and a bad practice for your food budget. What's the solution? Don't go to the grocery store hungry and if you're the type that can't refuse a hot crusty loaf of French bread, hungry or not; go to the grocery store in the early afternoon or later in the evening after the tempting aromas have dissipated.

And if you just can't resist the temptations, you might want to make some oven-roasted chicken and French bread at home before shopping.


Roasted Chicken

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in an oven-proof pan. Sprinkle with season salt, fresh basil, oregano and thyme. Add carrot chunks, potatoes, onion and celery. Place a fitted lid on top of pan. (I prefer oven-proof glass lids so that the chicken browns to perfection.)

Roast chicken for 2 hours or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. Allow chicken to cool for 15- 20 minutes before slicing.

Roasted Chicken 600.jpg 

French Bread

Bread:French Bread 300.jpg
Egg Wash:

Place an empty pie pan on the bottom rack of your oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, add yeast to water. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients.

Stir dry ingredients into yeast mixture, and work dough with your hands.

Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

Punch down the dough and place on a lightly floured counter. Divide the dough into two parts. Shape.

Place the loaves on a greased cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise again.

Blend egg yolk and cream or evaporated milk to make egg wash. Brush tops of loaves with the egg wash so the bread will be shiny. 

Pour 1 cup of boiling water in pie pan, immediately place bread in oven and bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Brush again with egg wash about 5 minutes before loaves are done. Cool before slicing.

Recipes reprinted with permission; all rights reserved. 

Quality Cooking cover 250.jpg



PhD, RN Michelle Snow's many years of meal planning, creating recipes and saving money have led to the creation of her new book Quality Cooking at a Fraction of the Cost: Mastering the art of Lost Leader Menu Planning (Cedar Fort, Inc., January 2013, $18.99). For more information, check out her blog Queen of Common Cents and website.
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Diabetes-Friendly Chicken Burrito Bowl

ChickenBurritoBowlEverydayDiabetes 600.jpg

By Laura Cipullo and Lisa Mikus, authors of Everyday Diabetes Meals
Image credit: Colin Erricson

Prepare your own Mexican quick fix with this Chipotle-inspired bowl. Carbs are moderated by filling the bowl with beans, extra veggies and chicken. No need for rice, since the beans count as carbs.


If you love tomatoes, increase the quantity to 1/2 cup, but note that the carbohydrates will also increase.

If preparing this recipe for one person, cut all of the ingredients in half. Or simply prepare the full recipe up to the end of step 2 and store leftover chicken and vegetable-bean mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through, and continue with step 3.

Health Bite: The iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans help to keep bones strong and healthy.

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