Galway Advertiser 2010/GA_2010_03_11/GA_1103_E1_067.pdf 

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March 11 2010



Getting better value for your grocery spend
Spending less and getting better value for money is high on everyone's agendas these days. After a belt tightening 2009 and a lean start to the New Year we are all looking at ways of trimming costs and making whatever cash we have go further. The weekly grocery shop is one area in which savings can often be made. So, where should you start and how can you ensure you get the most for your money? Ann Marie Lydon of the HSE West's community nutrition and dietetic service, suggests beginning by taking extra care when menu planning, shopping and managing your food. That way you and your family can eat healthily without spending a fortune, she says. "Take time to plan what you will eat during the week. All it takes is five minutes to decide what you will eat for the seven days. Try to include all the food groups and a mixture of different coloured fruit and vegetables. For example, you could have chicken, broccoli and potatoes on Monday, shepherd's pie with onions and carrots on Tuesday and salmon, frozen peas and pasta bake on Wednesday. "Once you have a plan of your weekly menu you can check what foods you have at home and make a list of what you need to buy for the week. A list will keep you focused when you get to the shop and limit impulse buys which research tells us can account for up to 40 per cent of what we buy." She says keeping a well stocked store cupboard is the starting point for easy and economical cooking. If you keep a good selection of tinned and packet foods such as baked beans, dried fruit, pasta and rice then it will be easy to create something tasty with whatever you have left over in the fridge. "These ingredients tend to have a long shelf life which means you can rely on them to create quick delicious meals or use them as a basis to use up your leftovers. Keep your store cupboard well stocked by replacing any foods you use up." She recommends drawing up a food budget monthly and dividing it by four to come up with the amount of money you can spend on food each week. "Check the local newspapers for advertised food savings and specials before you plan your meals for the week and make your grocery list. This is a good way to find places to cut costs and get an idea of what you want to eat for the coming week. One key to keeping to your budget is to limit the number of times you go to the shop each week. Try to avoid going every day and buy enough perishable foods such as milk and bread to last for two days." Here are some tips to help you keep grocery costs down:9. "Own brand or generic products are certainly worth considering to ensure that you stay within your grocery budget and are generally of similar nutritional value as the more expensive branded products. Compare labels of own brand and branded products to ensure you are getting the same nutrition for less money. " 10. Seasonal food usually costs less and tastes better, the HSE outlines. "Your grocery shop will advertise which fruit and vegetables are in season so look out for these notices. Additionally, farmers' markets always carry what's in season. It is always a good idea to stock up on frozen vegetables as these are nutritious and good value. They are also a good way to meet the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day by having two portions of vegetables with your main meal. "Pre-prepared foods such as bags of washed lettuce/ prepared vegetables and even jars of sauce can save you valuable time but they are much more expensive. A bag of washed lettuce leaves can be nearly three euro whereas you can buy a lettuce head for less than a euro." 11. Not all special offers are bargains. If the item is on your list and the price is it. But if you did not need it in the first place it is not a bargain no matter how good the price is. 12. Buying big is not always the reliable rule-of-thumb it used to be. Check different sizes and prices. Buy bigger packs if one bigger one is cheaper than two small ones and you know you will use it. But don't forget, the more you've got the more you'll use. 13. Look at food advertisements to determine best buys. 14. Cut out coupons offering money off foods you will use. Put these in a small box so you can check them before shopping. However be careful because sometimes one brand, even with the price reduced, may be more expensive than another equally acceptable brand. 15. Buy food in quantity, particularly staples like bread, cereals, rice and pasta if you have the storage space and the cash. 16. Watch out for packs that only look like better value but actually contain less. Check prices and compare the contents and weights. 17. Limit the amount of perishable food to the amount that you will use before it goes off. Always check the "best before" date on perishable goods. 18. Change your shopping habits to suit the seasons. Do not buy lots of soup during summer or too much ice-cream in winter. 19. Do not presume that you will always get the best bargains in supermarkets. Research reveals that fruit and vegetable shops are often cheaper. 20. Check if there is a free delivery service where you shop. 21. Buying meat/fish/chicken can often be the most expensive part of your weekly grocery shop so it is important to look for value, according to the HSE. "There are a number of ways you can reduce the cost of your meat bill such as substituting skinless dark meat chicken ( legs/ thighs, etc,) for white breast. Pork can also be an inexpensive meat alternative. Fresh fish can be costly but look out for the specials of the day. Canned fish such as salmon and sardines contain the same healthy omega-3 fats that fresh fish contain and are good value for money. 22. Use leftovers carefully - even the most basic of foods can be creatively brought back to life in soups, casseroles, sauces or stock. Use your vegetable trimmings to make a nutritious stock which can be used to make home-made vegetable soup. Avoid throwing out overripe fruit but use instead to make smoothies. Leftovers from dinner, such as cold meats/ pasta/ potato can be used for lunch the next day. If you are reheating leftovers ensure they are piping hot whether using a microwave or conventional oven. Do not re-heat fish or re-heat anything more than once. * The HSE West's community nutrition and dietetic service offers a free health service called Supermarket Nutrition Tours. A nutritionist/dietitian will accompany participants through supermarket aisles helping them learn about reading food labels and the nutritional information of the foods they buy. For more information telephone (091) 548335.

Wise buying
1. Make a list. Research shows that two-thirds of shoppers who do not use a list overspend while two-thirds of the ones who do use a list actually spend less. 2. Do your main shopping once a week to cut out unnecessary trips and impulse buys. Allow plenty of time to do your weekly shop so you can work out which are the cheapest options or hunt down any bargains. 3. Decide how much you want to spend before going out and stay within that limit. If you are using cash do not take more than you need. 4. Leave the family at home if you can. You will spend more with your family in tow. 5. Try not to shop when you are tired, hungry or in a hurry. You will overspend in these situations. 6. Do not pick things up unless you want them. Shopping surveys indicate if you pick up an item you will buy it - five times out of 10 whether you need it or not. 7. Check the higher and lower shelves. Good merchandisers display the particularly profitable things they most want you to buy at eye level. 8. Buy basics, such as fruit, vegetables, meat, etc, first, the HSE advises. "Try to purchase bags of apples, oranges, potatoes, onions, etc. It's cheaper than buying singly and will fill more lunch bags and cover more meals. However only buy large bags of fruit and vegetables if they are going to be eaten up quickly. Otherwise they may go off and end up costing more than they're worth.



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 Galway Advertiser 2010 / GA_2010_03_11