Buy One, Get One Free

How to use supermarket savings to slash your budget

Neville Bonitto, of Brooklyn, New York, always knows if the price is right. “People at work come up to me and ask me what’s on sale and I usually know,” he says. Bonitto, a 41-year-old corrections officer, regularly clips coupons, takes advantage of mail-in rebates, and shops on double-coupon days to trim his family’s weekly grocery bill. “I probably save $10 out of $30 that I spend,” he says.

Savvy shoppers such as Bonitto save thousands of dollars each year. According to the U.S. Statistical Abstract, an average family of two spends $4,366 a year on food, while a family of four spends $6,280 annually. To get the best deals on your next grocery-shopping trip, take these tips along:

Shop in the evening. “After 6 p.m., doughnuts are buy one, get one free and those that are not sold are marked down for a quick sale the next morning such as a $1.50 for six when the regular price is 65 cents for one,” says Karen Womack, a pricing coordinator for Tops Market, a supermarket chain located in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Meats are also discounted as they near their sell-by dates.

Use coupons. Often, supermarkets have special days, where they offer savings of double or triple the coupon value. On a triple coupon day, for example, a coupon worth 50 cents off equals $1.50 in savings. Websites like www.coupons.com, www.ecoupons.com, and www.valuepage.com offer printable coupons. You can also get coupons from the Sunday newspaper or your community circular.

Buy store brands. According to Consumer Reports magazine, national companies such as H.J. Heinz and Nestlé often make supermarket brands. “At Tops, they’re probably paying someone like Lays to make their chips and Breyers to make the ice cream, so they’re of a good quality,” Womack says. In a study done by Consumer Reports, 60 items were purchased at Hannaford, a supermarket chain on the East Coast — half being store brand and the others national brand. The checkout bill for store brand items totaled around $53, while the national brands totaled more than $80 — a 35% difference!

Check out discounters. Wal-Mart is a major player in the food-service industry. Last year, Wal-Mart became the country’s largest grocer with more than $53 billion in grocery sales. ACNielsen, a marketing information company, found that the annual number of trips households make to grocery stores continues to decline, while super centers have shown strong gains in household penetration. In fact, groceries were Wal-Mart’s largest source of revenue in 2002, accounting for 22% of total sales.

Bargain Hunt: Comparing Name to Store Brands

Size Price
11.5 oz can of Maxwell House French Roast Coffee $2.99
12 oz can of Pathmark French Roast Premium Blend Coffee $1.50
5 lb bag of Domino Pure Cane Sugar $4.39
5 lb bag of Pathmark Pure Sugar $2.39
Pack of 8 Kellogg’s Pop Tarts $2.29
Pack of 8 Pathmark Frosted Cherry Toaster Pastries $1.79
32 oz box of Aunt Jemima’s Complete Pancake Mix $2.29
32 oz box of Pathmark Complete

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