Grocery hacks, tips amid rising fuel prices, pandemic

MANILA, Philippines — Grocery shopping can be fun and therapeutic, but these days it can be stressful with commodity prices rising twice as much as usual.

It pays to be strategic and wise with your money, especially in these difficult times of rising fuel prices and inflation confounded by the pandemic and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Savvy internet users and financial experts have taken the time to share their money-saving grocery tips and advice that you might want to check out.

1. Check your pantry or fridge inventory before you go grocery shopping.

Most vloggers start their grocery tips by creating a meal plan. While this is one of the most basic tips to learn, content creator Mommy Ruth says it should be different.

On her YouTube channel, she advised to check your pantry and fridge first before anything else.

That way, you’ll know what to buy first without repeating stock you might already have around the house. She advised heading to what’s on sale once at the grocery store or supermarket and choosing what suits your needs.

The result is your “ulam” or food for the day. “Nakatipid na kami na hindi nagdo-doble-double ng gamit sa bahay,” she said.

Related: ‘Wais tips from Lola’: Alden Richards shares his grandmother’s shopping tips

2. Make the list.

It’s a must, definitely. Most money-minded people know the value of listing so that every peso is audited well.

Civil engineer and owner of the award-winning financial blog, Ready To Be Rich, Fitz Villafuerte also shared expert advice on food and groceries in addition to crash courses on stock market investing on his TikTok.

“Never go shopping without a shopping list. Otherwise, you might forget some or you’ll end up buying on impulse. A shopping list helps you stay focused and stick to your budget. It’s an effective way to to avoid impulse buying,” he said. on one of his TikTok videos.

@fitzvillafuerte Lists are top for saving money. #PeraTips #TikTokU #LearnOnTikTok #TikTokFinance #Finance101 #EduWOW #PersonalFinance? Corporate Motivation – AudioCoffee

Finance expert and wealth management coach Chinkee Tan also thinks making a list is a smart thing to do because it saves you from spending up to 30%.

“If the item is not on the list, do not buy it. Based on a study or a survey, it is possible that one can spend up to 20-30% if you don’t make a list,” he said on his YouTube channel.

Related: “Sana tumataas din sweldo natin”: Alden Richards shares 6 smart ways to manage income

3. Make a meal plan.

Tan said it’s best to plan your menu on a daily basis. Adobo is ideal because it can be reheated or made into Paksiw (meat usually roast pork or Lechon simmered in vinegar and spices) the next day.

4. Ask and compare prices.

Mom Ruth shared that some products may seem cheaper at first glance, but it’s always safe to compare prices by weight. This is true for basic groceries like canned goods and oil.

“For example, 100 grams of ‘yung isang produced tapos’ yung is 90 grams. One hundred (100) grams divided by 100 equals P1 per gram while ‘yung is 90 grams divided by 100, mas mahal siya compared its isang mas malaki “Pag ginawa niyo ‘yun, makukuhang niyo ‘yung tamang presyo per article, per gram or per milliliter”, she explained.

She added to regularly check your current list of palengke (wet market) and groceries prices. You might also want to check out a neighbor or places near you that might end up being a supplier of staples like eggs. This way you can have a suki (preferred seller) and save you money on the extra cost of going out and buying certain items.

5. Look to the side, up or down, but never at eye level when walking the aisles.

Mum Ruth said she learned from many documentaries not to choose exhibits at eye level. She said it has something to do with strategic placement that benefits the retailer more than you.

American consumer expert Matt Granite, also known as TheDealGuy on YouTube, explained this setup.

“Stores place the items that generate the highest profits for the retailer at eye level, in the center of the front-end. Some of these items have markups to the benefit of the store. Look up, look to the side , look down for cheaper options,” Granite shared.

6. Know the best day to shop in the week.

Granite said it was often on Wednesdays.

“For some reason, most grocery stores release their flyers on a Wednesday and restock that day with lots of promotions,” he explained.

Reddit user Kurosagi_ichigo replied to a thread asking for the best advice from palengke.

“‘Wag kang mamimili in palengke ng linggo. Mas mataas ang bilihin. Martes o myerkules ang ideal palengke day namin dahil dyan. Ayaw mo maniwala? Subukan mo. Pagkumparahin mo yung mga presyo ng bilihin. para kumita sila,” said the internet user.

7. Be brand smart, not brand conscious.

Mom Ruth said the quality does not match a known brand. A generic brand can be as good as a brand.

Similarly, Tan said to avoid going to high-end grocery stores because prices are more or less 20-30% or even 50% higher than in wet markets.

8. Bring your own bag of groceries.

Always be prepared and help reuse, reduce and recycle by bringing your own eco bag. Those P10 to P20 that you shell out for a new eco-friendly bag every time you forget the ones already at home are extra expenses you shouldn’t make.

9. Set a limited time and day for your purchases.

TikTok creator YouNeedABudget says it’s ideal to make one big purchase every two weeks or two big purchases once a month.

10. Stick to your budget and use the envelope method.

Tan said to always practice within your own budget and bring the exact amount. He also advised against using a credit card/ATM.

Mommy Ruth, meanwhile, cited the envelope method used by Jordan Page, an avid American lifestyle, budget and frugal living. Page listed his own method on his YouTube page.

The method essentially observes a strict process of tracking expenses. Page categorized his budget into three: Family, Grocery, and Other.

“Family” refers to all utilities and family needs, “Grocery” includes not only food but all consumables, and “Other” refers to non-essential items like dining out and groceries.

The envelope method encourages you to keep a list of the prices spent written on the envelope. The money set aside should be strictly spent for its purpose and never borrow from next week’s grocery budget, but instead you can borrow from the money allocated to the “Other” category.

Mom Ruth said that while using a debit/credit card is your preferred method, you should keep receipts to track your expenses and strictly adhere to envelope method rules. Put these receipts inside the envelope for easy reference.

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