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Managing that grocery bill

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Greg Peck
January 3, 2013

If you’re like me, the person buying groceries for your household, you find the tab at the checkout counter chipping away at more and more of your “disposable” income.

It seems I can’t grab anything off the shelves these days that isn’t $3, $4 or more—from peanut butter to raisins to peanuts to chips to toilet paper.

Even worse, have you noticed how small those bags of chips are getting? I can’t be sure, but I think my large-size Cheerios box got slimmer in the last year or two, as well.

I’m just glad our congressional reps apparently got around to striking a last-minute deal on farm programs to avoid the so-called “dairy cliff” that had some experts suggesting a gallon of milk might spike to $8 or $9. Imagine what that would do to other dairy products and your favorite pizza’s price.

Meanwhile, our paychecks will be trimmed by higher payroll taxes approved by Congress this week. So what can we do today to reduce food costs? A story in Sunday’s Gazette Marketplace section by Anya Kamenetz offered suggestions. Besides the obvious, such as eating out less often or buying foods in bulk or in season, she suggested staying away from center aisles of grocery stores and avoiding temptations near the checkout counters.

In other words, fresh foods such as produce, dairy, meat and breads, which ring the typical grocery, are better nutritional values and can help you cut costs. Processed foods and sweets such as soda, cookies, chips and ice cream gobble 20 percent of our grocery dollars and are the types of foods we should consume less often.

I’ll try to keep that in mind and reach for the “goodies” in those center aisles less often. Perhaps, too, I’ll explore ways to cut up and freeze more fresh foods before they spoil.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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