How to avoid spending more at the store
Food prices are soaring, and stores are pulling out all the stops to create the illusion of savings, value and good deals. Here’s how grocery stores get shoppers to overspend — and how to defend yourself…
Self-defense: Ask the manager whether you can buy one item for half the price of two. Stores don’t advertise this alternative, but it often is allowed.
Self-defense: Purchase only the amount that you reasonably need and can use, no matter how good the price.
Self-defense: Look at the fine print on the shelves to see if the store does “unit pricing” breakdowns for you (showing the final cost per ounce, pound, piece or whatever the unit is). Or better yet, bring a calculator to cut through the number games.
Self-defense: Don’t trust store signs for foods’ countries of origin. Check origin labels on the products.
For organic foods, which often are priced higher, look for proof of authenticity. To be 100% sure that the product is organic, the packaging should carry a stamp that reads, “OTCO” (which means it is certified by Oregon Tilth, a national nonprofit organic certification organization) or “USDA Organic.”
Self-defense: Buy from an end-cap only if it is truly a good deal. Be wary of freestanding (island) displays as well. They offer a different kind of impulse buy — expensive, “integrated” merchandise. For instance, an island display may group pricey strawberries, pastry shells and whipped cream together so that the customer thinks, I’ll make strawberry shortcake for dessert.
Self-defense: Pay value-added prices for prepared meals only if they really save you significant time and effort. Example: A ready-to-eat whole chicken may be worth twice as much to you as a raw one if it saves you an hour of so of preparing and roasting. I also am willing to pay more for packaged, combination salads because doing so saves me time and money. To prepare the same kind of salad myself, I would have to buy four different varieties of lettuce.