“Honey, I Shrunk the Groceries!” — Supermarket Savvy
When I was a kid, ice cream came in two-quart bricks, carried home in brown paper freezer bags, folded neatly at the top. In 2008, the standard ice cream size was downgraded to 1.75 quarts, and this made news.
Now many ice-cream makers sell even smaller tubs, often at just 1.5 quarts — and it’s the norm. It isn’t just ice cream, either. The size of most food products at the grocery store is shrinking, while their prices stay the same or go up.
The New York Times reported last year that this devaluing is the result of increased raw material costs. Package amounts that were the industry standard for decades — a one pound box of pasta, or can of coffee — are now noticeably less. Not only is this disappointing, it can cause problems for shoppers, who grab the same number of containers they’ve always needed and don’t realize until they are back at home that they are short a key ingredient.
Here are two ways to keep shrinking packages from exploding your budget:
• Food producers often redesign the packaging of downsized foods so the reduced amounts don’t look so tiny — so always check your unit price (e.g., price per ounce) to see if you’re still getting a good deal.
• Generics are often still packaged in those old-school, larger sizes. This morning I noticed that jars of name-brand peanut butter looked a little smaller than usual, and sure enough, they were only 15 oz. … sitting right next to 16 oz. jars of generic P.B., for the same price.
Shop smart and save! Check out more tips on couponing and savvy shopping!