How To Combat Higher Summer Grocery Prices


by Teri Gault

In the first few months of 2012, grocery prices rose at record breaking rates. Shortly thereafter, in the fight to keep customers, many supermarkets changed their marketingTeri Gaultstrategies to lean more towards everyday low prices, meaning they started to lower their regular prices. So what’s wrong with that???... Bear in mind that Grocery Gamers, aka smart shoppers, are not concerned with regular grocery prices, always and only buying when the foods they like are on sale, usually at half off or better. That’s called “investing”. Yep, and now, even sale prices are edging upward. Before you hang your head in despair… You’re still not doomed to pay full price…
As chief cook and bottle washer of it’s my full time job to lead you to the best savings on groceries, and we continue to do just that! The good news is that there’s still sales, plus exciting new strategies to save on groceries. Now, more than ever, families need to be proactive about saving money on groceries. Before you can go on to our land of plenty for less, you must learn our motto and say it three times a day, “Never pay full price for anything!” You are becoming an investor! You can “invest” in everything you feed your family, except for fresh produce. Even your fruit and veggie choices should be focused on sales, and what better time for that than summer!
Summer time presents some unique and fabulous savings events, and even some of the very best investment opportunities of the year on many foods you’re going to buy anyway! So you know the drill… INVEST!
Load up on the bounty of summer fruits and veggies when those killer sales hit. Freeze fresh fruit deals to add to yogurt or juice smoothies later. Simply plan your meals around whatever summer veggies are on the best sales that week. Be forewarned that many of the biggest featured produce in the supermarkets’ sales circulars will beat club stores and road side stands. So when you shop for produce at club stores and farmers’ markets, bring along your supermarkets’ circulars, and only buy those items that are less than the big featured supermarket produce sales. That’s called “cherry picking”. Now you have the best of both worlds!
Yay! It’s party time, picnic time, BBQ time, AND time to INVEST in all things summer!....
There are three summer holidays with investment opportunities that can get you all the way through the summer and into the fall at half off or better! Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day are times to stock up, not just for the holiday, but for the weeks and months to come. Fill your freezer with the best meat deals of the year, usually 67% off the regular price! Fill your pantry with condiments, salad dressings, granola bars, chips, juice, sodas, paper goods, and more at some of the lowest prices of the entire year. Invest in enough of the deals at each holiday to get you through to the next holiday. 
Finally, load up on what I call, “Last Chance Labor Day”. When you look at the picnic and party deals, think in terms of your kids’ school lunches, and load up on all things that would cost you up to three times more if you wait until you’re packing lunches weeks or months from now! Fruit cups, yogurts, fruit snacks, chips, crackers, granola bars, lunchmeat, mustard, mayo, bread, and more. Check the tiny dates on packages, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can “invest” for the fall. In fact, many condiments can last all year! Take it a step further, fill your freezer with sales on chicken breasts, and cook them up to slice for sandwiches, much cheaper than lunchmeat!
Invest in perishables! Did I say to invest in yogurt, OJ, lunch meat? Yes, when they’re on a great sale! Check the tiny date on the yogurt. Dig in the back of the shelf to find one that’s 5 weeks from now, and figure it’s good for a week beyond that, and stock up accordingly. Find dates on OJ sales that are 5-6 weeks out. Sour cream is usually 2 months, cream cheese and other cheese 6 months. Check the dates! Sales on lunchmeat? Check the dates, and stock up, and freeze even more for later!

Now, the frosting on the cake… Deal stacking! These new grocery store marketing strategies come with some real doozies in deal stacking, and that’s a good thing! The most common deal stacking is to hold a coupon until you can redeem it with a sale. Combine a store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon, along with a sale and you have a real winner!  But the grand champion of all is to quadruple stack! Many supermarkets have instant savings at the register for buying specific groups of items in certain quantities, often called “mix and match”. A typical offer would picture a number of different grocery items, with $4 off at the register if you buy any combination of 10. In essence, you may already be buying 7 of them without realizing it, which could make the last 3 free! Add manufacturer and store coupons to those same great sales, and there’s no end to how much you can save! 
Summer grocery prices going up? Yeah, maybe. but not for you!!  Work the deals, baby! Be a smart investor. Then enjoy your bounty, and soak in some rays while you sip that two cent glass of lemonade!