3 Top Tips to Save A Penny

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I've admitted before, I'm cheap. I just can't believe the prices on things.  

I have a hard time thinking about how net pay per hour equals barely a half bag of groceries.    

And it's really the grocery prices that bother me, especially how one product can turn into an entire category of food choices, based on preparation and packaging, which causes the prices to sky rocket.

Cheese turns into sliced cheese, which turns into cheese strings, which evolve into cream cheese baking sauce, etc. with each one exponentially more expensive than the last.  So here are my three favorite ways to make that grocery bill a little less.   One -- stock up on perishable foods that can be frozen. My favourite is yogurt tubes.  These go on sale randomly, and when frozen -- last for ages. Also -- much healthier than a freezie, and just about magic for a teething child.  

Fresh fruit, marked down for overstock reasons, cut and washed immediately and frozen on trays, then collected into a large freezer bag. Perfect for smoothies or muffin mix, depending on the fruit. I recently emptied my fridge freezer of all "the last brown" bananas that my kids didn't eat in time ... 10 minutes on the counter, sharp knife to peel them, and voila - banana pancakes. Plus, those things are like lead weights when they fall out and hit your toes, so it was about time.  

No. 2 -- don't buy "instant." The convenience of instant anything is pretty much always twice the price.  Minute rice?  Nope, long grain is so much more flavourful, especially when made with broth instead of water, same method, just a little more time.  Instant potatoes, instant side dishes, instant coffee, instant spice packs, instant jello ... We really don't need to rush every night of the week.  

Spend some family time in the kitchen, cooking with your kids, teaching them to taste, showing them how to measure. Everyone complains about not having family time, but some of the best family times I have ever had were in front of my stovetop with my kids directing me. And of course, price-wise you just can't go wrong.  

Scan code policy. This is my absolute favourite. It is also the least known policy any store has (that uses barcode scanners). It is a consumer protection policy that states that the scanned price of the barcode on any item must match the advertised price (shelf or paper). If not, the item is discounted by $10. When the item is under $10 this equals FREE. No stipulations, no fine print. Just free. Almost all grocery chains in Prince Albert abide by this policy, which is Canada-wide, but not a single one will voluntarily tell you this, and if you come across the chance to use this, be prepared to explain it.  

Watch for the decals on windows, placed under plexiglass at counters, and taped to the bottom or sides of the grocery aisles.  I would estimate that I've received more than $160 in free products this way.  

If this makes you feel guilty or squeamish, just remember that I also would have overspent by this amount, if I had not known about this policy.  It is in place to ensure you are not being taken advantage of. I repeat, scan code policy ... So there are my tips for the week.  I don't clip coupons and save them in a binder to haul out in front of a lineup of 20 people, but I do save a little here and there without trying too hard.  

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