It probably comes as no surprise to you that food prices at the supermarket are continuing to surge. But what might surprise you is how simple it is to shrink your grocery bill. Use these tips to (literally) bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.
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It’s not your imagination: There really are fewer print and digital coupons overall lately — and the biggest decline is in food coupons. One key reason is the rising price of materials and labor, which has increased costs for food manufacturers.
Luckily, there’s one easy way to not only get paper and digital coupons sent straight to you but have them customized to save you cash on what you buy most: Sign up for your store’s loyalty program or download their app. More retailers (including Winn-Dixie and Harveys supermarkets) are using artificial intelligence software that picks which coupons to send you based on your previous shopping purchases. The way stores and food manufacturers see it, giving you coupons that you’re most likely to use fosters more brand and store loyalty.
Look more closely at your credit card.
If it’s been more than 30 days since you checked the kinds of rewards you can earn with your credit card or store loyalty program, check again. With grocery prices so high, credit card issuers and supermarkets have responded by offering more generous rewards to help you save cash on food. For example, the Discover It cash-back credit card is giving cardholders 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases at grocery stores between January 1 and March 31, but only after you activate the offer on your account online or in their app. And Kroger’s new Cash Back Offers program refunds a portion of your purchases to your loyalty account after you load qualifying offers to your Shopper’s Card. Once you accrue $20, you can request payment via PayPal or opt to apply it toward future purchases with your Shopper’s Card.
Nab hidden deals at salvage stores.
A new type of retailer you can head to that will save you on your food bill: salvage grocery stores. These discount food retailers sell a wide selection of canned, boxed, and frozen goods for up to 50 percent less than traditional supermarkets. They buy items other stores don’t want because they’ve been discontinued, the packaging was damaged, the store had excess, or other reasons that don’t impact product safety or taste. To find these stores near you, log on to BuySalvageFood.com, tap “Start Saving,” then search for your state.
Grab ‘unwanted’ bargains.
A growing trend among supermarkets, farmers, and restaurants: selling items that are close to their expiration date or look imperfect (but are fine to eat) for up to 50 percent off. The free app Flashfood (Flashfood.com) pinpoints flash sales on discounted produce and other groceries from more than 1,400 supermarkets nationwide (including Giant, Giant Eagle, and Save A Lot), and TooGoodToGo (TooGoodToGo.com) shows you restaurants selling discounted prepared meals in your area. You can also order discounted imperfect produce and other foods from delivery services like HungryHarvest.net (starting at $15 a box) and MisfitsMarket.com (starting at $35 per box).
Heads-up: Problems with weather, crop diseases, and supply chains are causing shortages in certain foods this year, which is raising their prices. These include almonds, beef, lettuce, oranges, and rice. As a result, you may want to adjust recipes to substitute these now higher-priced ingredients for cheaper alternatives. For example: Use chicken in place of beef for casseroles and other meaty dishes. Chicken prices are dropping, thanks to an increased poultry supply!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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