Smart Shopping: 25 Ways to Slash Your Grocery Bills

No doubt about it, convenience foods save you time. But – and it’s a big but – convenience foods don’t save you money. If you rely on frozen dinners, helper foods, kits and take-out you are spending too much money on food. These tips will help you lower your bills and eat healthy, flavorful meals.

1. Plan meals by the week.

2. Make a grocery list, grouping foods by category. (Meat, dairy, produce, etc.)

3. Only buy what is on your list. Don’t succumb to impulse buying or kids’ demands for products hyped on TV.

4. Shop at stores that have the most specials.

5. Use coupons for healthy foods only. Don’t buy a product just because you have a coupon.

6. Roll your cart past “helper,” “partner,” “bakes” and “kits.” These products are over-priced, over-salted, and you can’t even pronounce some of the ingredients.

7. Mix up your own rubs. They take only minutes to make and you can customize them to your tastes.

8. Buy store and less-known brands, often made by top manufacturers.

9. Buy lean hamburger. It is better for you and there is less waste.

9. Drink water instead of pricey soda pop, which is often loaded with sugar and erodes your teeth.

10. Make your own salad dressing. You’ll save a bundle!

11. Make your own granola. Lots of recipes are posted on the Internet and kids will enjoy helping you.

12. Eat boxed hot cereal, not the kind in packets.

13. Buy day-old bread and coffee cake. The bread is perfect for French toast and grilled sandwiches. Stale coffee cake makes some of the best bread pudding you will ever taste.

14. Stores put pricey foods – the foods they want to push – at eye level. Bend down and look on the bottom shelves for bargains.

15. Learn how to cut up a whole chicken.

16. Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables.

17. Buy staples in bulk.

18. Make your own pudding. You will get twice as much for your money.

19. Buy a refrigerated or prepared crust and make your favorite pizza.

20. Use meat for flavor, as in stir-fry, instead of making it the feature of the meal.

21. Maximize leftovers. Make cream sauce for a little left over spinach. Use leftover vegetables in soup.

22. Put leftovers in sturdy plastic zipper bags to prevent freezer burn and waste. Label and date the bags.

23. Turn old bread into new, delicious croutons. Cut the bread into cubes, drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano and basil. Bake in a 350 degree oven until crispy.

24. Make your own baking mix and store in a tightly covered jar. (Recipes are posted on the Internet.)

25. Involve kids and grandkids. The involved kids of today will turn into smart shoppers tomorrow.

Copyright 2006 by Harriet Hodgson

Need The Key To Smart Shopping? Start Online!

Recall your last Shopping experience and list out the shopping traps, you got caught up with. Compare against this standard list of common shopping mistakes, shoppers tend to commit:

a) Forgetting your grocery list or shopping list, back home

b) Not sure, which are the items, you’re running short on

c) Enticed at the sight of all ‘New Arrivals’ and other displays at the store

d) Tickled by the idea of saving smart with “Huge Sales” and other such captions

e) Missed on one of the ‘Most Needed Items’

f) The “Impulsive shopping disorder”

g) Your kids running all over the store persuaded you, into purchasing a stack of unwanted stuff. Of course, you couldn’t say no to him!

h) You lost track of your shopping budget, going overboard!

i) Comparative shopping syndrome: Other shoppers give you pointers on what else you could need

j) Not so well Informed Store Assistants! Web could have been better than this

k) Long queues & waiting lines at the check counters. Time Out!!!

l) Jam-Packed parking lots, at the mall. And that extra effort, gas and the swelling bills.

Honestly, if you had committed even 3-4 out of these 12 most common shopping mistakes, it’s time you should look up to web for rescue. Don’t you agree overtime, your over indulgence robs you off the much needed cash at hand? Or else, shocks you with blown up credit card bills, at the end of every month. More often than not, the shopping trips culminate into a nightmare, with not so planned and unorganized indulgence at the shoppers end. ‘Online shopping’ on other hand is one where you still have a controlled shopping environment and as such, comparatively lesser chances of splurging & regretting, later on. Nevertheless, the disadvantages that accompany are as crucial to the shoppers. For instance: insecure online payments, home delivery concerns, mishandling of the stuff by shippers, late delivery, loss of shipment, visible differences in the item displayed online and in the shipment, received and much more.

Well, how about balancing your offline shopping with a little online planning? That means you can still evade a lot of differences, anxiety and shopping mistakes by combining a few web elements (or say tools) into your shopping activity. Make your shopping more planned, organized, more manageable and more fun. This is how you could do it:

1) Prepare a list of items you need to shop for. I knew you always did! But this time, I want you to do it over the web. Go online, open up a spreadsheet or a word document and quickly list out your items. Print and take them along. Follow closely, with the requirements you have listed out.

2) Shop online with smart gadgets and carts. This means, you can directly log on to your favorite stores like HomeGrocers.com or TraderJoe or any other store, you like for grocery and other related shopping. And simply, create your online shopping lists. Print them and carry it over wherever you go.

3) Try Shopping 2.0! In case, you don’t have a preference for stores and wish to shop at a combination of stores offline or online, use web applications and shopping tools like ‘Shopping List’ at Infodoro.com or Froogle at Google.com. These web based shopping lists could be created, managed, stored and even accessed online. This is the biggest advantage, if you had been forgetting your shopping lists back home. You can login and access it anytime and even over your cell phone.

4) Creating a shopping list not always means, only jotting down all items you need. This is anyways what your brain can easily store, process and recall. What could still slip off would be stuff like quantities, brands and the stores, from where you need to get an item. Utilize shopping tools like Shopping Lists and Froogle, to create an organized shopping list with items, item descriptions, stores, quantities, categories and more details you wish to capture.

5) Shopping Smart is not always about faster and organized shopping but also saving all the dollars you can. You got it right! I was coming to coupons, you could always redeem for items at the stores you shop at. After all, why end up paying more when you know you could save with coupons. Just make sure you are on the look out for coupons from your previous purchases and that in the newspapers and do carry them along when you go shopping. There would still be many, who will forget to carry them or completely miss on making use of it, while standing at the counters and making payments. The solution is to store all your coupons in a Shopping bag, no matter whenever you get your hands on one. Make it a ritual and keep doing it always. This way, next time you go shopping, you won’t have to at least forget them back home. And to remind you of the coupons when paying off the bills, simply list coupons or add coupons to your online shopping list. That means, indicate ‘Coupons’ next to items you have it available for. And do keep an eye on your ‘Shopping list’ when paying off the bills. This way, you’ll definitely utilize your Coupons and save a few dollars. Web applications like ‘ShoppingList’ at Infodoro and even online shopping stores, have a section for coupons on their online shopping list tool and shopping carts.

6) Prioritize your Items as ‘Most needed’ to have a quick list of the immediately needed items. Again, web and a few desktop shopping applications help you filter your shopping lists by ‘Most needed’ items like for Coupons. Use these web applications and you’ll realize the shift in your overall shopping behavior besides purchasing & spending patterns.

7) Make Specialized Shopping lists sorted by Category and Stores. To make you shopping chore more manageable, you can always consider staying focused. You can split your list of items and share some of your shopping tasks with your family members, children or spouse. Web applications allow for sorting of your shopping lists and segregating of items by stores and categories in ascending or descending orders. Using web, you can forward one half of your shopping list to your spouse to let her pick up stuff from a store next to her work place and you can take care of the other half with stores, on your way back home. This way, you save time and don’t have to struggle with parking problems, at all stores you stop by. You can also sort your lists by item categories and decide what are you good at & what could be taken care of by your children or partner. Suppose, you can be quick and more decisive at grocery shopping whereas someone else in your family can do well at merchandise shopping et cetra. Splitting your list by categories and sharing some of your shopping tasks with others, would also save you a lot of time, gas, efforts and struggle with the not so supportive store staff.

By integrating a little web usage in planning for your shopping tasks, you can easily spare yourself a lot of time, efforts, gas and the mistakes that you keep repeating always. What’s the harm, if you could optimize your personal time, with a little planning online? Use web to your advantage, be it concerning tasks like shopping or planning shopping! And next time, you come across a baffled shopper, don’t forget to offer tips and tricks that could make him smarter too.

“Enjoy Smart Shopping with Shopping 2.0, setting in!”

Saving Money on Back to School Expenses – Six Smart Shopping Strategies You Can Use Today

It’s time to get the kids back to school, and that always means extra expenses. With the clothes, backpacks, lunch totes and school supplies, we parents can spend a small fortune. But it is possible to save with smart shopping strategies.

Here are six tips you can use to save money today.

School Supplies

1. Stick to Your List. Plan to take just a single trip to get all the supplies on the official school supplies list, and save the clothes and shoes shopping for another day. When you take your list along, you won’t forget to buy the essentials (which can eliminate those expensive extra trips), and you won’t end up with a lot of extra stuff.

You can also avoid those extraneous purchases by shopping online, where you buy just what you need and check out, without the lure of eye-catching (and more expensive) backpacks and lunchboxes. This time of year, the online office supplies stores frequently offer discounts via coupons and coupon codes ($30 off $150 and free shipping, for example). Other sites offer free gifts with purchase. You may get a free calculator, for example, with a purchase over a certain dollar amount.

2. Watch the Sunday circulars or your favorite online stores for back-to-school sales and specials. Stores slash prices at this time of year to almost ridiculous rates. You should be able to get folders and notebooks for about 10 to 25 cents each.

3. Hit the Dollar Stores. Stock up on items such as pencils, scissors and glue at the 99 cent stores. And if you belong to one of the many discount stores, such as Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ, purchase supplies in bulk throughout the year. Just keep adding to your stash of such supplies whenever the items are on sale (or whenever you have a coupon). Items such as pencils, pens, colored pencils, glue sticks and markers will never go to waste. They tend to always get used eventually, whether at school or at home.

4. Stay in Control. Kids often want those trendy items that can be more expensive. Try to steer them toward other things, or make a compromise by agreeing to buy just one trendy item. Another idea: split the cost of the more expensive item. For example, if the trendy backpack is $20 more than the one you have picked out, agree to pay the same amount toward the backpack that the backpack you chose would have cost. The child pays the difference.

Clothing

5. Establish a clothing budget for each child. This allows your children to be in control of their own wardrobe (under your guidelines, of course), and it requires them to make wise spending decisions. Help your child to comparison shop once they decide what they like.

6. Don’t Buy Lots of New Clothes Before School Starts. All kids love to have something new for the first day of school, but you don’t need to purchase a whole new wardrobe. Many schools start before Labor Day, when the weather is still too hot for fall and winter clothes. If you shop for these items too far in advance, your child could actually outgrow an outfit before it’s time to wear it. Buy one new outfit (or pair of jeans, for example) for that first day to heighten the excitement. And save the rest of the wardrobe budget for a few months down the road. If your budget does not allow for a new clothing item for each child, treat your kids to something smaller – but still exciting: a new pencil bag or a new package of pencils printed with their name, for example.

Try to make back to school shopping a fun event that you share with your kids. Create a ritual around going to purchase those school supplies every year, and make it a game for your kids to stick to the list – and the budget.

Pendants For Women And Women Bags: Smart Shopping Guide

For many women, bags are possibly the most expensive item on their shopping list. However, it is also one of the most satisfying purchases, according to a recent survey. In fact, the kind of pleasure which is associated with the sheer idea of digging out the right arm candy often out shadows the pleasure of snapping up a pair of high heels. In a recent survey, one in four women said that they have enjoyed buying snappy women bags even more than buying those high heels and stilettos.

Handbags are perhaps that ultimate accessory, which women use the most; therefore, it needs to match well with every outfit. Well, it goes without saying that bags for women need to match well with every occasion.

Buying a well fitted pair of jeans and pendants for women also made the top ten as per the survey and almost three quarters of women actually agreed that they simply could not wait trying out the jeans or the jewelries after making a purchase.

The journey of pendants for women is long and rich and is steeped into the antiquities of the bygone era. Perhaps, they might have evolved from the basic rock and uncomplicated twines to today’s dazzling jewelry versions. Indeed pendants and neck pieces are one of the earliest womens accessories, which have ever existed. Yes, they were there right at the start of civilizations and they are still there. This season if you want to stand apart in the clutter then it’s time to shop smart.

Here are few ideas for your pendant shopping

Journey curve pendant: Yes, this is possibly the classical embodiment of sophistication, grace, style and femininity. Seven small stones (preferably rhinestones) are typically set to form an S like frame.

Floating heart pendant: This little charm is sweet in typical girly heart design and is also immensely sexy with the slight lopsided overtone. Bowling pendant: Gone are the days when wearing a medal was only restricted to the athletes because nowadays you can also choose your style from the incredible range of sport medal necklaces.

Argent Pendant: These styles are typically hand crafted using the recycled sterling silver. Well, there are million ways to show off your style, and this Argent pendant is indeed one memorable way to show yours!

Ideas for finding perfect bags for women

Digging out the right bags for women demands a careful eye and also smart shopping ideas. You should choose a style that matches your body’s silhouette. For instance, if you are thin and tall then carry a slouchy and rounded hobo bag. In fact, this will help to add at least some curves to your figure.

On the other hand, if you are voluptuous and short then select women bags that are tall or rectangular or choose one that is sleek and long. The bottom line is simple, rounder your figure, more structured your bag should be.

Does that mean bags for women can make you look thinner or make you look pleasantly plump? Yes, the right choice can flatter your shape.