Saving money on groceries: Don’t shop without a plan -- here’s what to do

‘If it’s not part of your meal plan then you have to remember to skip over it’

It’s not just the shortages many of us are worried about -- it’s the rising prices, too.

It’s not just the shortages many of us are worried about -- it’s the rising prices, too.

In our recent ClickOnDetroit Insiders poll, 90 percent said they are worried about the higher prices they’re paying on just about everything. Is there anything we can do to counteract these rising costs?

Rising grocery bills

It seems like everyone I talk to is seeing it: Rising grocery bills week after week. While you can’t change the price of a gallon of milk or a pound of meat, you can change the way you shop.

“We were just talking about it, the prices going up and the shelves not being quite as stocked as they have in the past. We’re definitely feeling the pinch here,” said Felicia Kendrick, of Dearborn.

Kendrick is watching how she spends

“The price of meat, chicken, beverages, pretty much everything. Even snack items that were 25 cents before are double the price now,” she said.

Planning is key

Money saving expert Andrea Woroch said planning is key.

“The most important thing that you can do to cut your grocery spending and to stop wasting food is to meal plan,” said Woroch.

Saving on rising food costs means doing some homework before heading to the store.

“Run a pantry and fridge audit. Just go through what you have at home chances are you have some ingredients that you could use for your meals or maybe you decide what to cook based on what you really have at home,” said Woroch.

Woroch has a family of her own. She said making a shopping list from the meals you plan, and sticking to it, will save you money.

“If it’s not part of your meal plan then you have to remember to skip over it because that is going to add to your overall spending every week,” she said.

If you can’t avoid the impulse buys in the store then consider ordering online and picking up curbside.

“Look for those manager mark-downs. These could be perishable foods that are nearing their expiration date. So it could be meat, poultry, fish, maybe dairy products,” said Woroch.

When you’re in the store look at the prices of products on the lower and higher shelves -- the ones out of your line of sight. They’re often cheaper.

Go for the generic brands

Also consider generic over name brands.

“When it comes to those baking supplies -- flour, sugar -- these are one-ingredient items. These are single-ingredient items. So a name brand can’t make it any differently from a generic or store brand. So don’t spend any more just for the marketing and packaging,” said Woroch.

Consider buying generic brand spices, too.

“Yeah like the store brands, maybe the Kroger brand or here the Holiday brand instead of like Faygo, or something,” said Kendrick.

Bulk produce only and meatless meals

Woroch suggested only buying produce in bulk if you plan to eat it all. Frozen fruits and vegetables are cheaper, hold their nutrients and are always on hand.

And include some meatless meals to help save on the rising costs of meat, chicken and seafood.

No matter what prices or shortages you’re seeing in the stores:

“Be very cost conscious, notice there is a price difference, and please don’t take it out on the staff because they’re just trying to do their job,” said Kendrick. “You know this is a global problem.”

Another trick Woroch recommends is with cereal: Compare the ingredients from a name brand versus a generic. If you have a child that really wants the box with the character on it, then keep the box and sub out the new bag inside of it. They’ll never know.

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About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.