For the week of July 18, 2016

Be a wise and frugal shopper

By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau

While many grocery buyers feel the pinch of price increases, there’s a way today’s smart, frugal shoppers can save money on the family food bill. Some may see a 10 -15 percent savings. On the average food bill, this could mean $600 - $1,000 a year.

Most shoppers, my wife is one of the best, have compiled a list of cost-cutting ideas. Here are some effective ways to save at the checkout counter.

First, smart shoppers should know what they are buying. Today’s modern supermarkets carry as many as 50,000 items. This number has tripled from the 15,000 items back in 1980.

Product information is essential in selecting the best buy. This requires reading, listening and studying. For example, the product label is a source of information on nutrition, menu use, quantity and quality of the food item.

Secondly, cost-conscious shoppers must buy when and where the price is right. There are many times to buy on special, buy store or generic brands or buy in quantity, if shoppers keep abreast of the price practices of our highly competitive supermarkets. Comparative shopping leads to savings because different stores usually specialize in different items.

Shopper loyalty cards may be another way to save on the family food bill.

Accurate record keeping has become an important part of a smart shopping routine. Money-saving ideas take time but result in time well spent. One-half hour of planning before each shopping trip can result in substantial savings.

Cost-conscious shoppers influence the entire food industry. If shoppers do not check prices, retailers may display items that sell by saturation advertising or gimmick packaging which increase food costs.

Retailers who respond to cost-conscious shoppers must look for the best buy from suppliers. Farmers who fill these orders must make the best use of their resources to meet the competition.

Smart shopping can bring satisfaction instead of frustration. Initially, this satisfaction results from actual savings in the family’s food budget. Secondly, the wise shopper realizes intelligent buying keeps our food industry the best in the world.

Securing the most for your food dollar is significant to every consumer. It is worth the effort.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.