SURVIVING THE SUPERMARKET
By Nancy Dell'Aria
I've spent more time in supermarkets than I care to imagine and if there's one thing
I've learned, it's that most of them spend a lot of time and money trying to separate you
from your hard-earned dollar. Those aisles can be perilous, unless you know what tricks
are in store."
* Grab a bite. You've heard it before but I'll say it again: Try not to shop when you're
hungry. Everything looks good, especially high-priced convenience or takeout foods.
* Don't judge a book by its cover. The manufacturer of my favorite brand of canned
beans just reduced the contents of the cans from 16 ounces to 15. The can looks exactly
the same, and wouldn't you know, so does the price. It's nothing but a sneaky way to
make more money.
* Don't be a slave to brand names. Canneries and packing plants often handle several
name brands as well as store brands. What's inside the store-brand packages may be just
as good as the big-name version, but for as little as half the cost.
* Bigger isn't always better. When you are comparing various brands of the same
product or different quantities of a single brand, read the unit price (those labels on the
shelves that break down the cost by ounce). Larger containers often work out to be a
better deal, but not always. It may even be cheaper to buy two of a smaller size than a
single large one.
* Don't go coupon crazy. If you didn't want it in the first place, getting something for
less is no bargain. And just because you have a coupon for something doesn't mean it's
the best deal. Check other brands!
* Make a list and stick to it. But if you see a sale on a nonperishable food that you use
often, stock up.
* Bend and stretch. Higher-priced products are often placed at eye level; lower-priced
versions of the same item are usually on the top or bottom shelves.
* Look twice. Be careful of those big sales displays at the ends of aisles. The same item
can sometimes be found for less in its usual place on the shelf.
* Stick to your mission. This is especially true when you're picking up just one or two
items. Getting milk, for example, means walking all the way to the back of the store and
passing all sorts of temptations. If you think you'll succumb, bring only enough money
for what you need.
* Check out the checkout. Those scanners at the checkout line are connected to a central
data bank, but shelf tags or computer listings aren't always updated promptly. Watch the
numbers, and don't be afraid to speak up if you think you should be paying less.
You've worked all day, made it through the store with your budget intact, and now
the family wants dinner. For days like this, try these super-quick, five-ingredient
burritos. With iceberg-lettuce wedges and salsa on the side, they're virtually an instant
Prep: 3 min Cook: 8 min
Cost per Serving: $1.23
1 can (16 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 ounces) whole-kernel corn, drained
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chili-style stewed tomatoes
4 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
8 burrito-size flour tortillas
Heat oven to 400 F. Mix beans, corn, tomatoes and cheese. Spoon on flour tortillas,
fold and bake in a 3-quart shallow baking dish 8 minutes to heat tortillas and melt
* Serves 4. Per serving: 654 cal, 25 g pro, 100 g car, 18 g fat, 30 mg chol, 1,773 mg sod.
Exchanges: 6 starch/bread, 1 vegetable, 1 medium-fat meat, 2 fat