The Cost of Convenience
How often have you gone shopping and bought something because of a special offer? We all love a good deal but it is only a deal if you end up using it and not wasting it. Here we outline a number of key things to be aware of when you are food shopping.
Unit prices and the cost of convenience
When you are on the run or are too weary to prep veggies, convenient options are attractive. However, while convenience foods make life easier, have you ever checked out what you actually pay for this convenience?
It can be hard compare things that are similar but different. The easiest way is to look at the unit price. Shops already do this for us when they print price per kilogram (kg) on display labels. The only problem is you often need glasses to see the SMALL PRINT! Stop Food Waste, with thanks to Wicklow County Council, have produced a poster outlining how the convenience on 5 basic items (porridge, rice, carrots, lettuce and pineapple) can cost over €40!! In addition to the cost, convenience usually means more packaging and often the pre-prepared fruit and veggies go off much faster than their whole counterparts.
Buy one get one free (BOGOFs)
BOGOFs and other such offers can be a great deal. For staples, or things that won’t go to waste (toilet rolls, pasta, tinned goods, etc.) they are excellent but when if comes to food that might go off quickly (fruit, veg, meat, etc.) they will cost you unless you use them.
Beware, many deals appear to be deals when they actually aren’t. Ever wonder why we have to buy 2 to get one free instead of getting one at half price? While 5 for €10 might sound great, often you’ll get the same savings even if you only buy one. One grocery store survey found that people buy far more items when they see bulk deals. So, even if you don’t want all the items in a deal, you get tempted into thinking that it is such a great deal that you have to get it. Apparently it is all about the power of suggestion!
Labelling – fine art of distraction
Did you ever go to the shop, see a bag of 5 bananas with a different coloured label underneath and think – ‘ah, that’s a deal, I’ll have that’. Yet, when you add up the cost of 5 loose bananas that are sold next to this deal they end up being cheaper. Labelling can be a powerful tool to convince you that you are getting a deal and while this isn’t always the case, it is one to keep an eye on.
Checking your receipts!
Do you check your receipts to make sure they tally with what you thought you were being charged? Most of us don’t even keep receipts, never mind check them against what was advertised in the shop. It has been shown that about 6% of grocery receipts are overcharged. This can occur for different reasons – honest errors, mis-advertised prices, offer not taken into account at the register, etc. To make sure you are not overcharged try the following:
• Either add things up with a calculator as you go (most phones have them), mark it on your list or do some mental sums!
• Check your receipt before leaving the shop and make sure it tallies with your maths
• Also, watch the cash register screen while checking out to make sure any deals are taken into account
Remember, don’t be shy about going back afterwards – it is your money so you have the right to question if you think your receipt is wrong.