smart spending

Skip the supermarket and save

Highlights
  • Specialty stores may offer better sales support, service and special deals.
  • Thrift stores are outlets for single brands and you'll find all your favorite products for a lot less.
  • Buying in bulk does save money, but it isn't practical for single people in small homes.

When grocery prices skyrocket, fight the urge to scream. Instead, think of creative ways to find food. If you're used to one-stop shopping at your local supermarket, these unexplored options may help you drastically slash your grocery bill.

Smaller, local stores: Specialty stores may offer better sales support, service and special deals. You'll get selection galore at a supermarket, but you won't necessarily get the best products or salesmen.

Farmer's market: You'll find plenty of veggies and fruits, and they'll be a lot fresher than in the air-conditioned grocery store. Since the stuff at a true farmer's market is going to be local, it's also going to be only in-season. But do you need strawberries in February or asparagus in October? It tastes best when it's freshest. And you're saving money by eliminating the middlemen. At these markets, you can also often get other products such as meats, breads or flowers. Many farmers' markets or green markets are only available on weekend mornings, so plan your schedule accordingly.

Bakery outlets and thrift stores: Again, eliminating the middlemen saves you some bucks. Thrift stores are outlets for single brands, like Entenmann's or Pepperidge Farm, and you'll find all your favorite products for a lot less. Additionally, you can save up to 50 percent on day-old goods. And day old does not have to mean low quality.

Wholesale or warehouse shopping club: These clubs often require memberships, but you can save significantly on bulk or large-size purchases. Know your prices, however, because not every purchase would be a savings. Additionally, be careful not to go crazy buying products in bulk that you are never going to use. One last warning: Brand selection can be small.

Food co-ops: Buying in bulk does save money, but it isn't practical for single people in small homes. In a consumer cooperative, you can take advantage of the bulk savings, but the food is divided up between members. You can save 15 percent to 50 percent, since you are eliminating those pesky middlemen again. This plan can require more work from you as a member of the cooperative, but the savings may make it worthwhile.

Your own kitchen, yard and time: Hey, there's nothing like the old-fashioned way. Consider growing your own garden and baking your own desserts.

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