Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tips to Fight Rising Food Prices

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I found this article on While it's targeted for Canadian audience, I think these tips can be adapted to suit your lifestyle no matter where you live. 

When we compare only our basic needs, food takes a higher priority than clothing and shelter. Under normal circumstances you are unlikely to die if you don't have clothes or shelter. I have the feeling some people might even really enjoy living naked under some tree or in a cave. Hunger and thirst on the other hand will definitely kill you. There is no getting around that.

The unfortunate fact is that food prices are on the rise across the board, all over the world. These tips are to help you make the best of money when doing your grocery shopping.

These are some of the tips. You can read the full article here:

Eat at home
If you are eating all three meals, every day from restaurants and fast food joints, then it's going to break your bank. It may be easy, it will add up in the long run, both financially and more importantly, health-wise. It might not always be possible, but if you live in a home or an apartment with a kitchen, there is no excuse not to cook. I believe everyone should know how to cook. At least how to make a bowl of rice and a coconut sambol, and if you are feeling adventurous,  parippu. If you know these 3, it's hard to go hungry. Luckily I know and enjoy cooking so I know that I can make do with something as long as I can get a fire going. Keep dinning out for special occasions. it makes the experience more pleasurable.

Shop with a plan
As with anything, make a plan before going out shopping. Make it simple. First, set a budget of what you can/want to spend for a week. Then, see what are the essentials you need for the week and budget them in first. Afterwards, budget in other things that you like, all keeping within the overall budget. What happens when you don't plan is that you end up buying things off the shelf because you like them, and not because they are essential. Sometimes you might even forget the essential items.

Also try to find out where you can get the best deals when shopping. Which shops, and on which days they offer the best discounts, offers and sales.

Put on blinders
It's hard to not give into temptation when walking through aisle and aisle shelves stocked with goodies. Minimize impulse buying. Stick to the plan. Focus, and find the things on your list, and check out. Don't go wandering the aisles.

Avoid prepared foods
Ready made foods are a great time saver, but they are generally more expensive than getting the ingredients and making it from scratch. The other more important factor is that ready made foods are not always the healthiest choice.

Avoid bottled water
Don't buy bottled water for the home.  I wouldn't recommend drinking straight out of the tap, so get a kettle and boil the water, or get a filter.

Buy in bulk, keep your kitchen well stocked, and shop infrequently
Buying in bulk can save you money when it comes to the per unit cost. However one thing to consider is storage facilities in your home. On the other hand, there is no point in buying in large  quantities if you can't properly store them and leads to additional waste.

Use store rewards cards, and coupons
If the store you visit frequently offers rewards cards, then sign up for them. These will get you discounts, offers and other rewards, grocery-wise. Supermarket chains like Arpico, and Keels have them, but I don't think Cargils does. The other money savers are coupons, but I don't think we even get coupons in the newspaper in Sri Lanka, but if you do get them, then better to make use of them.

Buy locally
Try to but locally grown or made products. Theoretically they should be much cheaper because of the reduction in transportation cost. It actually offers two benefits. One, it is easy on the buyers pockets, and two, also helps benefits the economy of the local community, and encouraging entrepreneurship and self employment.

Look down
Apparently stores will put the more expensive goods at eye-level, and the less expensive ones along the bottom shelves. So check the bottom shelves.

Avoid the end caps and checkout temptation
Those small items placed near the checkout are there to temp you, and are usually premium items. So don't get caught.

Watch for 'Best Before' and 'Sell By' dates
Stores will give discounts on product when it's close to the best before date because they want to get rid of the stock. Please note that there is a great difference in buying something with a close best before date and past the best before date. Don't buy anything that is past it expiry date no matter how cheap it is.

Substitute recipe items
When cooking according to a recipe, it might call for ingredients that are more expensive than others. There is no need to go broke just because you want to make that dish, or be disappointed that you can't make that dish because of unavailable ingredients. These are the times when you need to be creative and start experimenting and find substitutes for those ingredients hard to find or purchase. Who knows, the substitute ingredients might even make the dish better than the original.

Pay in cash
Unless you pay your credit card bills in full every month, don't pay for groceries in credit, because it will only add to your interest. Always pay in cash when possible. That is why early budgeting is important, at least for the groceries.

Check your bill
Cashiers are people too and can make mistakes. To be on the safe side, check your bill. Why pay for mistakes of others.

Grow your own
This is an additional point I would like to add. Having a home garden is not for everyone. You need to have patience, because plants don't grow instantly. It will take time and caring before you can actually harvest something. You don't need a big garden. The key is to make the maximum of the space available. The program on Rupavahini  called 'Rividina Arunalla' offers a lot of good practical tips on home gardening. Even if you don't have a garden or live in an apartment, you can have a window box and grow herbs, or Karapincha,  and Rampe, in our case.

I wasn't a big fan of gardening before, but my dad started growing stuff and now it has kinda grown on me. I find myself checking on the plants several times a week. Its cool to see the growth of the plants and their fruits, and finally cook them right of the production line.

It is not feasible to follow all these tips. You have to decides what's best for you and realistic according to you situation.

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