As much as we hear about rising food costs, the skittish also economy offers some benefits to grocery shoppers. Retailers are adapting to changing shopping trends, making it possible to stretch your grocery budget with more size options, competitive offers and quality generics.
More Size Options
Until recently, traditional grocery and discount stores featured large packages and bulk products similar to what I expected to find at a club store. Trying new products or making a midweek run to the grocery store was a bit of an investment since my limited choices included products such as super mega packs of toilet paper and giant bottles of dish soap.
Stores are now offering a better selection of smaller package sizes with many products at a wallet-friendly price point. Although single-serve snacks and smaller package sizes generally are not the best value when comparing the unit price, they are sometimes the better buy.
For instance, smaller size options make it more affordable to purchase multiple ingredients when trying new recipes. Coupons can also lower the price, making smaller packages the best bargain.
Saving Strategy: Consider buying smaller packages when a coupon or your usage needs make it worthwhile.
More Ways to Save
Daily deal sites, such as Groupon, offer a variety of discounts. I recently purchased a $10 Whole Foods gift card for only $5. Although sporadic, these offers are an easy way to save money.
Budget-friendly retailers such as Trader Joe’s are shaking things up by adding more locations. ALDI plans to open 80 U.S. locations in 2011. Grand opening celebrations usually include special promotions and prompt rival retailers to offer competitive prices.
Saving Strategy: Comparison shop and watch for special bargains offers to save money on groceries.
More House Brands and Generics
Stores are offering more house brand and generic products. Today’s generics often rival the taste and quality of familiar brands and many stores offer a guarantee on their brands. ALDI’s double guarantee includes a refund and a replacement product.
Single-serve snacks are pricey when marketed as diet food, lunch box-friendly or affordable indulgences, but store brands offer cheap alternatives. For example, I noticed a variety of single-serve desserts, including frozen pies, priced less than a dollar at Kroger.
At three or four for a dollar, I did not expect much from Kroger’s 6-ounce frozen chocolate frosty malt, but the low price and guarantee enticed me. The affordable frozen treat tastes remarkably similar to a fast food favorite.
Saving Strategy: Verify the store’s guarantee policy on house brands and make a habit of trying store brands to discover new treasures.