ShopSmart’s Secrets for Saving Big at the Supermarket Without Coupons

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A month-to-month breakdown of what to buy when, plus storage tips to make food last

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"Supermarket sales cycles typically occur every 12 weeks for many major food categories. When they do, it’s a great time to stock up and save big on everything from meat and cheese to family staples like bread and cereal,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in

Clipping coupons can be a chore, but there are secrets to slashing grocery bills without using coupons. The April 2015 issue of ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, uncovers ways to track supermarket sales cycles and other special discounts for big savings, plus food storage tips so shoppers can stock up on items when they are on sale.

"Supermarket sales cycles typically occur every 12 weeks for many major food categories. When they do, it’s a great time to stock up and save big on everything from meat and cheese to family staples like bread and cereal,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "Tracking prices can help you know a good deal when you see one.”

To maximize savings, ShopSmart recommends using timing strategies to buy and store family favorites and pantry staples. The full report features a month-to-month breakdown of what to buy when at the grocery store. For example, April is a good time to buy Easter staples (lamb, ham, eggs), Passover foods (macaroons, matzo, gefilte fish) and Cancer Awareness Month deals (healthy low-fat, whole-grain foods).

Below are five of the ten major food categories – and ways to snag them for a steal – featured in the April issue of ShopSmart:

1.    Meat and poultry. They’re usually the priciest items on a grocery list but can last for months in the freezer. Stock up on birds, cutlets, roasts, ribs, steaks and chops when deals are at least 50 percent off; supermarkets typically offer barbeque specials, including meat and poultry, in July. Meats and poultry can be frozen up to nine months to a year depending on the item. And sliced deli meats are freezable for one to two months when well-sealed.

2.    Cheese. Snatch up cheese favorites when sales reach up to 57 percent off. Unopened blocks of hard cheese such as cheddar and Parmesan can last six months in the fridge; sliced and shredded cheeses can be frozen up to four months. For the lowest price per ounce, buy cheese in blocks, shred it, then freeze. Price cuts on cheese and other dairy items typically occur in June.

3.    Baking supplies. Most baking items are often steeply marked down in December around the holidays. And a once-a-year sale is all shoppers need for most ingredients. Some, like sugar, never go bad. Cool, dry, airtight storage is a must to preserve quality; freeze anything that doesn’t contain oil or a leavening agent to extend its life even longer.

4.    Bread, cereal, and granola bars. There are often great discounts in this category that can top 50 percent. Sealed boxes of cereal and granola bars will keep in the pantry for at least a year. Many breakfast favorites are on sale in September. The bread aisle usually has buy-one-get-one-free offers, so freeze spare loaves for three months’ worth of sandwiches. To avoid freezer-induced dryness, work the air out of the bag before freezing.

5.    Condiments and pasta sauce. The best sales on mayo, ketchup and salad dressings – 40 to 60 percent off – happen during the summer months because of picnics and barbecues for summer holidays. Unopened containers last at least six months. Tomato products last up to 18 months. Also look for soups on sale during the cold months.

For the complete list of ShopSmart’s top 10 groceries to buy on sale, along with a calendar of what to buy when, pick up the April 2015 issue on newsstands now.

About Consumer Reports:
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

About ShopSmart magazine:
Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication’s celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. It’s ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at http://www.ShopSmartmag.org.

ShopSmart is available 10 times a year. Subscribe at http://www.ShopSmart.org.

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Melissa Valentino
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