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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Food: buy on sale, buy for cheap

I don’t clip coupons.  I also do not spent hours (or even minutes) looking at the grocery flyers that come to our house.  I am busy, and so are you (not to say that coupon clipping doesn’t work – it does!),

I do, however, buy food on sale.  I go to a discount grocery store close to home.  Not every item is the cheapest, but overall, I know I’ll get the cheapest grocery possible at that store (because I refuse to go to a ton of stores).  As well, once in the store I will check all the items on sale – this week was fish – and fish freezes well so I bought enough for 3 meals (different types) and froze it as soon as I got home.
I also needed cereal for the kids.  Now, follow carefully here to see my method: we were low on both sweet cereal (which we use as a toping on regular cereal) and regular cereal.  We were down to Cheerios and Mini-Wheats for non-sweet/regular.  This doesn’t mean that we NEEDED Corn Flakes.  Nobody ever NEEDS Corn Flakes – you may need a non-sweet cereal, but surely not a specific one (unless you have severe food allergies).  So I went to my regular, discount grocery store and looked at what was on sale: Rice Crispies were on sale, not Corn Flakes.  Ok, my kids like Rice Crispies so that’s what I bought.  For sweet cereal, my son wanted Sugar Crisps, but they were NOT on sale.  Corn Pops were on sale so that’s what we bought – he was slightly disappointed, but I explained that the next time Sugar Crisps were on sale, we would buy them; why spend an extra $3 for the regular price when I know that within 2-4 weeks, they will be on sale?

One thing I know is that cereal is always on sale – that is, some cereal is bound to be on sale every week – more or less.  As long as you are willing to buy what is on sale instead of what you had in mind, you will save money.  Or you can wait a few more weeks to buy what you really wanted.  There cannot be a need for a specific cereal when another one will do.
It’s the same for most non-perishable: there is typically some tetra-pack juice on sale, some cereal, some cans, etc.  There is also some meat (fish and chicken included here) and some vegetables on sale.  You are bound to save money by eating chicken this week if on sale and beef next week, instead of insisting that you do it the other way around.

In your food budget, there will be time when you need to buy more than others: for example, when there is a sale of a perishable that you will use for sure (before it goes bad!), such as pasta or canned soup or beans.  As well, the beginning of your ‘cook-for-yourself’ life, you will need to buy some basics: spices; staples such as flour, rice, pasta, cereal, a few canned goods, frozen vegetables, etc.  So for most students, because cash flow can be limited (as well as total amount of fund), it is wise to keep aside $3-5 per week so that when a sale comes up, you can take advantage of it.  As well, plan for the higher cost of stocking your kitchen when you start cooking on your own (when you move away from home or out of residence).

Now cook and be merry!

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